Sagrantino di Montefalco

After the storm has arrived sunshine, clouds scud across azure skies and the greens for which Umbria is famous are ever more intense and verdant, the air feels fresh as if it has been washed (as has my car for once!) and luckily the garden has survived with only minor damage.

For once I had been in time and picked the soft fruit that was ready, plums, blackcurrants, apricots and figs.  Some made jams and marmalade, others bottled or made into sauces.

I am cooking dinner tonight at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, and thought to cook chicken cacciatora, or at least my version of it.  I have lovely plump red juicy tomatoes, a  gift of red peppers and herbs aplenty in the garden, and so thought to make this traditional dish.

To these ingredients I want to add some wine, it has to be red.  I have a bottle of Sagrantino di Montefalco.  This is a wonderful wine from vineyards around the pretty Umbrian town of Montefalco to the south of Perugia.  A wine that is well worth searching out at your local wine merchant. The bottle was opened last night and I had planned to continue drinking it tonight.  The question is do I sacrifice a glass or two and put it in the chicken dish, or do I open another less fine wine and add that instead?

Hum…. I shall ponder the answer.


Last night here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria, Italy we decided on a barbecue.  Stephen loaded our bbq with fragrant wood, and I busied myself with making salads and baking potatoes and sweetcorn.

The fire stubbornly refused to provide us with the necessary embers first off so it was a late start, however made up by scrumptious bruschetta, local Umbrian bread toasted, rubbed with garlic and drizzled (oh how I hate that word, but it is apt in this instance) with our own Bellaugello cold pressed olive oil.

Grilled corn, chicken, meaty sausages and plump ribs were devoured as the conversation reverted to English, which seems all to often to be the common if not first language of those round the table.  A sagrantino di Montefalco, good robust Umbrian wine complimented the food.

A gentle breeze wafted as we tucked into chilled water-melon and imbibed a variety of grappas and discussed whether or not a midnight dip in the pool was in order…….


Nihal and her three year old son Jibril drove through last night from their stay at La Foce in the Val d’Orcia.  They have been staying in one of the Origo’s cottages and kindly made a detour to Bellaugello Gay Guest House on their way to Milano.

We dined on courgette flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies washed down with a bottle of Sagrantino.  Jibril was fascinated by my dogs and eventually after supper ended up falling asleep on the floor next to Milo whilst his mother and I sipped a Grappa  di Chianti Classico and conversed about setting the world to rights. An utterly delightful evening.

Christmas is coming

Gubbio is full of christmas cheer.  The weekly market postponed to wednesday this week on account of the public holiday heralded the onset of Christmas.

Stalls were laden with huge hunky hams and  thick firm sausages, whole pecorino cheeses and crumbly parmesan.  Plump phallic Artichokes are very much in season (here they are sold with a large stalk attached) and clementines, oranges and satsumas all freshly delivered from Sicily literally overflowing  their containers.  Baskets of nuts of various sizes and shapes hang on every corner.  The perfume of porchetta, the herb stuffed whole roast pig which is a particular speciality of Umbria, lingered in the air as perople munched merrily.

As dusk arrives  the fabled World’s Largest Christmas Tree now erected over the town is lit and suddenly comes to life.  The streets of the old town are festooned with christmas lights, creating the effect of magical winding tunnels, brightly lit shop windows dressed in reds, greens and golds, abound with multitudinious presents as people bustle past in the chill crisp winter air.  Small side streets hide christmas displays, garages and caves transformed into biblical scenes with full size working models and astonishing reality.

The Rocca Paolina in Perugia is currently home to a ginormous craft and ecological market, ith stalls selling goods ranging from panettone, chocolats, prosciutto, peccorino, sagrntino wines, ceramics, knitwear, hats, leather-goods and hand crafted papers, indeed all your christmas shopping needs in one ancient underground medieval city.

More social whorl

Out at dinner – what again I hear you say! Yes again.

This time at Marco’s house at the head of the valley.  It actually rained for a while this afternoon and for a bit looked as if dinner would be cancelled, but fortunately not.

We feasted on fresh picked corn on the cob roasted over the glowing embers of the barbecue, accompanied by a wonderful mature Pecorino brought by Valeria recently returned from a holiday at her house in Sardinia, a fine Sagrantino di Montefalco, prosciutto di Norcia, and of course Bruschetta with tomatoes from Marco’s orto.

Simple wholesome food, fine wines and great company that is Umbria…..