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House hunting in Costigliole D’Asti

October 23rd, 2012 | Posted by Ruby in Favourite Places | Italy - (Comments Off on House hunting in Costigliole D’Asti)

We’re recently returned from Italy where Jacques and I spent a week house hunting in the Asti province, mostly around Costigliole D’Asti with a few around the Moncalvo area which is a little further away. (I wrote about this a little while ago)

So what are we looking for – well we need something that has the potential to develop into 3 separate homes but probably within a single physical structure.  A space big enough for Cheri and her family, a space for Trish, and a space for J and I. Each of us needing our own living space while still being close enough to enjoy the extended family life; and develop our joint projects together. We also need space for chickens, goats, orchards and growing vegetables.

I expect that we will not find anything remotely close to our needs that is affordable and we’ll have to do a lot of renovating and improving to get it just so.  With budget constraints this is going to be a multi-year project.

Here are some pics of Costigliole D’Asti and the properties we looked at.

We looked at 10 properties in all and shortlisted 2.  The plan is to pursue our first choice and only if things don’t pan out will we pursue our second choice or possibly even do another round of viewings.   With a list of questions our property advisor is helping us get answers to that will hopefully lead to us making an offer.

Why make your own Pickling Spice

October 12th, 2012 | Posted by Ruby in Condiments - (Comments Off on Why make your own Pickling Spice)

You may wonder why anyone would want to make there own pickling spice when it’s easy enough to buy ready made – only problem is it s not always that easy to find.  And of course when you make your own you can adjust each of ingredients to suit your own palate.  So here it is.

I’ll be posting some recipes that use these pickling spices shortly.

Pickling Spice Recipe

2 Tablespoons mustard seed

2 Tablespoons black peppercorns

2 Tablespoons coriander seeds

2 Tablespoons whole allspice

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

6-9 bay leaves crumbled

1 cinnamon stick broken (about 2 inches/5 cm)

2 teaspoons whole cloves

1 teaspoon ground ginger

 

Method

1.  Lightly toast the mustard seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns then smash with a rolling pin

2.  Mix all ingredients together

makes about 3 small spice bottles

 

3.

Seeking the Slow Life

September 25th, 2012 | Posted by Ruby in Favourite Places | Italy - (Comments Off on Seeking the Slow Life)

From the region known for its Slow Food movement we’re hoping to find a slower, more enriching lifestyle.

For some time now we’ve been talking about relocating to Italy.  We being Cheri and her family, Gareth’s mother Trish and me when I can retire sometime in the future (hopefully near future).  The intention being that Cheri, Trish and the children will make this a permanent base and Gareth and I will commute to our various work commitments.  Having spent many months researching areas we have decided that the Piemonte region, and in particular somewhere within the Asti province is where we need to look.

Why Piemonte – well that requires a fairly lengthy answer.  Firstly – Geographic:  its proximity to the mountains (skiing for Jacques and the children), the Mediterranean (beaches, seaside and fish), 3 nearby international airports (so that Gareth and I can commute for work), and close enough to a few big cities for necessity or convenience but far enough away to be rural countryside within the Monferato hills..

Secondly – Food:  I probably don’t need to elaborate but I will.  Beautiful fresh produce (tomatoes that taste like tomatoes – do you remember those?), fruit and nuts in abundance and some fabulous typical Italian dishes and ingredients – all at affordable prices.  Each of the villages hosts weekly markets as well as regularly celebrating various harvests and events with great feasts. And then there’s the wine, at truly ridiculous prices, possibly the most underrated quality wines in Europe.

Thirdly – Lifestyle:  rural countryside within the Asti Province – we’re looking for a house that has some land – possibly a hectare or a little more, close enough to village schools for the children with lots of great restaurants nearby for when we don’t want to cook and yet close enough to Turin to be practical (culture, retail therapy).  Here the pace is slow – not surprising the slow food movement was born in this region.

Part of our plan is to grow at least some of our own produce, raise a few goats (to make cheese) and experiment with growing a few items for sale to nearby markets.

We’ve been house-hunting on-line for quite a while and have, with the help of a few local agents, shortlisted some possibilities. Jacques and I will be visiting soon to start making the usual arrangements and to view our shortlisted properties.