Goodbye Old MacBook. Hello NEW MacBook Pro!

Yes, yes…It’s taking way longer than promised to get that last Italy journal entry posted.  I could give you a list of excuses.  It’s a long list.  I’ve been busy with holiday merriment.  I went to California.  I came back.  Work has been crazy.  I got a new fuzzy robe for Christmas and I just can’t seem to get myself off the couch when I’m wearing it.

But, the real culprit is this:

Isn't that just the saddest sight you've ever seen?

Isn't that just the saddest sight you've ever seen?

Yes, folks.  That’s a completely dead, ancient, white macbook.  I came home from work one day and that was that.  No recovery.  No hope.

(Actually, my little brother is working hard to get it back up and running.  Should he manage to do so, I’ll have a back-up computer for the first time in a long time.  My last macbook was stolen, and I left the world of PCs behind when I got divorced.)

Anyway…I’m writing this from my brand new, spiffy clean, macbook pro!  It’s awesome.  Happy Christmas, Merry New Year, and Happy Birthday to me!!

And, for more big news…I’ve signed up for a grad school class!  I’m considering starting a Master’s degree in Gastronomy.  (That’s “food” to you and me!)  BU has a program with a communication focus, so I’d actually be getting a degree in writing about food.  Just think…I’d finally have better descriptors than “yummy” and “colorful” to describe my recipes!

I had to write a 400 word essay to apply for this program.  The essay had to be in the third person and it had to be about food.  So, this professional sports writer and less-than-professional food-rambler pretty much had to start from scratch. In the interest of keeping this blog semi-up-to-date, I thought I’d share my sad, sad attempt at “real” food writing here. Clearly, we’ve got some room for improvement!

I do not enjoy eating olives.  Olive OIL is another story!

I do not enjoy eating olives. Olive OIL is another story!

It’s no secret that Italians are serious about their olive oil. The nit-pickiest producers press only olives that have fallen naturally to the ground during a single 24 hour period, and extra-virgin is the only option on tap. Second and third pressings are considered blasphemy.

Italians won’t cook with olive oil that’s more than a year old, and many prefer to get their oil from the north Tuscan area of Lucca.

The town of Lucca is a tourism gem in its own right. Famous for the wide walls that surround the ancient city, Lucca is a treasure of slow paced Tuscany, where tourists can wander through narrow cobblestoned streets and shop in a market that occupies the footprint of an ancient Roman amphitheater.

But, outside Lucca’s ancient walls and beyond the urban sprawl of gas stations and strip malls, Lucca’s real treasure is produced.

About ten years ago, Renzo Baldaccini bought an olive oil grove and began running it as an agriturismo, a business that supplements farm income with money from the tourism industry. Today Villa Baldaccini is equal parts bed and breakfast and working farm, and sometimes visitors are even put to work.

“In November, our guests can take part at the harvest of olives and assist to the oil pressing in the oilmill,” Renzo Baldaccini says on his website. Of course, he adds, a feast including fresh squeezed oil follows every hard day’s labor.

On a recent October afternoon, professionals were tending to the harvesting, using bright blue vibrating rakes on long poles to gently shake the olives from their branches.

The olives were caught in soft green nets lining the ground. As Renzo Baldaccini led the group through a section of orchard that had already been harvested, a small group of miniature ponies interrupted the tour. In his broken English, Baldaccini explained that the ponies trimmed the grass and provided natural fertilization for the olive trees.

Back at the Villa, Baldaccini presented the group with bruschetta, canapés, and pasta, all practically glistening with his farm’s product. The day’s harvest had yet to be pressed, but at nearly a year old, the samples of oil Baldaccini brought from the kitchen were fresher than anything found in American supermarkets. The taste was bright, clean, and positively green.

After spending time on Baldaccini’s farm, it will be hard to go back to cooking with olive oil available in the United States. Luckily, Baldaccini sells his product on site, hand filled from a gleaming stainless steel tank and packaged for easy transport across the Atlantic.

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