Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” is a line from a famous Christmas carol. This Sunday I dined at what had once been a chestnut farm way high in the mountains of Italy — another Italian adventure. Up until now my only experience with chestnuts had been in my Begijnhof refectory nut basket. In this region of Italy, chestnuts are an art form. chestnuts2Chestnut flour is available locally and hand ground. Chestnut pancakes are nutty and heavenly. The friend’s home literally clinging to the mountain side was reached only after 30 minutes of hairpin turns straight up and leaving the automobile at the end of the paved one lane road with a 50 foot drop off on one side which we had been following for several kilometers. Now we abandoned the car and hiked a jeep trail complete with walking stick wrested from the forest floor. A steep goat trail which went straight up or straight down was another choice and was a good deal shorter BUT, no longer being young, I opted for the jeep trail! It was also 10 degrees colder than my little walled city far down the mountain! We were welcomed by 5 dogs, several cats, and a flock of chickens as well as host and hostess. We chestnuts1ate a delectable duck dinner, but the duck herself had come from the butcher not the local terrain, mostly I was told because the wolves got any ducks before the humans. Lovely vegetables, myriad local wines, Prosecco, a delicious after dinner local licorice liquor, a South African pudding cake and chocolate gelato which was our offering, rounded out the dinner; all of the cooking being done on a wood stove. Wood was plentiful all around. When we left for home, snow was whirling around the jeep trail gusting horizontally not vertically! There were many prayers on the hairpins as we descended, arriving safely, happy again to be in our small walled city after our adventure on a mountainside in Italy.

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