A beautiful morning here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House deep in the tranquil Umbrian countryside sees my friend Anne out early picking figs.
Whilst the guys have a leisurely breakfast on the terrace, Anne who flew in last night to nearby Ancona airport on a direct flight from Stockholm is already hard at work under the shade of the large fig tree collecting the juice ripe fruit, yes, it seems I will be making marmalade once again today.
As those of you who have stayed at Bellaugello will know the tree is old, very large and majestic and laden with fruit. It usually fruits twice a year. The first fruits ripen in late June early July and are those wonderously large pendulous erotic figs, plump, juicy, warm, heavy in the hand, firm but at the same time supple, a delight, a real good mouthful. The second crop generally ripen in late September and are somewhat smaller and to my mind far less erotic or sensual, but still delicious.
This year we had a cold snap in early April and the tree lost all of its fruit. At the time the fruit were small, the size of a pea, one morning the tree was full, the next zero. There were no figs, July came and went no fruit, I thought that there would be no fig marmalade this year, a shame as the marmalade which I serve at breakfast is so loved by guests. However by sheer determination and despite the chronic water shortage the tree is now heavy with fruit.
However the tree came good. This year it seems we have August figs. I celebrated the other day with a ricotta and fresh fig cake, today it will be boiling fruit and sugar to make more marmalade.
Reading the newspaper yesterday I see there is yet another anti-cyclone on its way from north Africa, the temperature is set to rise again to almost 40˚c it will be hot work making marmalade…..