It’s Vendemmia (grape harvesting) weekend in the garden where I’m staying in Florence. It’s been a buzz of work for those who actually work, they’ve been prepping all week for the Sunday harvest.
All the tools used to pick, collect, crush and store the grapes need to be cleaned and organized. Each year hundreds of families repeat this process in order to harvest their vines. At Residenza del Palmerino, in addition to inviting family & friends, Federica and Stefano have graciously extend the invitation to guests staying on the property, to join in this once in a lifetime experience. (this is my 2nd Vendemmia, they can’t get rid of me)
As my cottage is in the vineyard, I have a front row seat to the comings and goings of the various family and helpers who make this day possible.
My role will be to stay out-of-the-way… if I achieve this basic task, I’ll be allowed to assist Federica with cooking, as well as table & chair set-up. If I’m particularly well-behaved, I’ll be authorized to rake the leaves gathering on the outdoor dance floor.
Yesterday, I offered to make an authentic Italian salad for the event… I experience a pang of fear at the thought of serving this traditional salad to women who have been making and eating said salad since their first vendemmia: In this next video are random thoughts and hollow promises to myself:
This morning, as I sat curled in a chair, savouring the first whisper of daylight, I noticed movement in the vineyard. There have been wild boar spotted on the property and the activity caught my attention.
As I squinted in the early morning light I realized it was the resident gardener, Beppe, he was hunched over removing the protective netting from the vines.
In the heat of summer, a netting is placed over the ripening grapes preventing birds from enjoying the fruit prior to harvest. Beppe was starting his long day of preparations for our enjoyment.
Most of us rarely think of the work that goes into throwing a party. From my vantage point, it’s unmistakable the effort that goes into this one and I for one feel privileged to be invited. As the guests arrive, I snap a few shots of grape harvest 2015:
The family hired a band and the below video is their introduction to the Vendemmia:
We dance into the night:
This last video is of an impromptu performance by one of the woman staying on the grounds and two of her colleagues from the university:
By the way, the Italian ladies kind of liked my salad. I noticed a few plates with the onions picked out. I guess I need to pull back on my amounts.
Below is the recipe in case you’re a fan. FYI- I’ve adjusted the onion amount in the recipe
**Italian Cannelloni Bean Salad**
Dried Cannelloni Beans – 1 package (680 grams or 1.5 lbs) Soak in plenty of water in a large dish over night, careful your bowl is large as they will double in size.
Yellow Onion – 1 – Peel and cut into 4 sections
Sage ~ 1 bunch (of herbs of your choice Rosemary-Orageno)
Garlic – 5 cloves- peeled
Sea Salt ~ 8-grams – 1 Tablespoon
Place drained beans in pot and fill with water- add Onion, Sage, Garlic and Salt.
Bring to a boil – Simmer 2-3 hours until beans are cooked. Reserve (260 grams – 1 cup) cooking water and drain off remainder. (this step can be done a day ahead. You can use canned beans, however, they won’t have the same flavour without cooking them yourself in the flavour enhancing ingredients)
In a serving bowl lightly mix:
Purple Onion ~1 small – sliced paper thin (250grams-1 cup) soaked in water 30 min.
Olive Oil ~ (76 grams – 1/3 cup)
Reserved Water from cooking beans – (250 grams – 1 Cup)
Sea Salt and cracked pepper to taste.
Garnish with fresh chopped Rosemary ~ (optional)