Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Toscana!


Tuscany is on my short list of most-wonderful places to visit. This photo is taken next to the rural winery/vineyard B&B property (an "agriturismo" in Italian parlance) where we stayed, near Greve-in-Chianti.
What you don't see in this pic is all the native forest: miles and miles of wonderful oak forest, with wild boars lurking therein (which show up in various menus in all kinds of wonderful ways). The vineyards are remote islands amidst a huge expanse of forest. Most of Tuscany is undeveloped, with gorgeous rolling hills. Not at all what I expected.
Almost all the grapes are Sangiovese, and almost all is made into Chianti wine. This photo is in the Chianti Classico district; there are seven Chianti districts, but Classico and Ruffino are probably the two best-known. This is DOCG territory--the highest designation given to Italian wines. Good Chianti is medium-bodied, with fairly high acidic structure, which marries well to a wide range of foods.
I heartily recommend a visit to Tuscany. The people in all of Italy were universally wonderful. The food is fantastic. And, in Tuscany, don't spend all your time in Florence (very large; hard to drive in; takes a long time to park and walk to the core sights) and Siena (easier to get into and just about as wonderful in terms of sights). This is because almost every small village offers a great visiting experience, with the wonderful shops, restaurants, and great old buildings--so why put yourself into all those crowds when you can stroll more comfortably in smaller towns, with more-personal treatment from the locals?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Recycling the humble wine cork



Thanks to Nick W for this info:





Whole Foods is now accepting used wine corks, for a recycling program.





With more than 13 BILLION wine corks made annually, of which about 8 billion come to the U.S., of which about 99% are thrown into landfills, this is a great idea.





Factoid: Cork is harvested from the bark of a special oak tree species in Portugal. The cork is harvested sustainably--a tree can provide cork for wine corks, for many years, even decades.

So please take your used wine corks to Whole Foods. Maybe other sustainably-minded stores, such as New Seasons, will get into the act?