A caring, passionate foodie
When much of Europe was emigrating to the States, my eccentric American/Canadian parents with their 6 children moved the other way - shuttling us between Rome and London.
The memories I have from these formative years left a deep impression and survived more than 30 years as a lawyer in England until, in 2006, I purchased a farm of some 25 acres in the Abruzzo region of Italy. This was the culmination of a 6 month search through Umbria, Tuscany and the Abruzzo, armed only with a guidebook, a fluency in Italian and a few connections I made along the way. I went on to build a house, nearby, on a hillside with stunning views overlooking the mediaeval town of Penne. The Abruzzo has a rustic beauty in its landscape, and especially its mountains, but it was the people and culture that drew me to the region. Cut off from the rest of Italy until recently by the Apennine, it has retained the values of a simpler life. Business is not just local but untouched by the globalisation of brands or chains. Success does not mean franchising an idea but providing a business that sustains and keeps a family together.
Recently retired, I now have the time to pursue the things that really matter to me: food, cooking and of course Italy and its culture. I care deeply about the quality of ingredients, where they come from, and the care and attention that Italians still have for what they eat. They have a love of culinary traditions that is not seen in Britain: a dish made even in the next province can be regarded as strange or foreign and each region will have its own unique variations, typified by the wide varieties of local pasta and sauces.
By exploring this region for over ten years, making friends and connections within the local community and becoming part of that community and its families, I feel a tangible connection and an indebtedness to the region. As I find myself putting more of my energies into developing the farm I get a greater sense of satisfaction in return. A particularly satisfying labour of love has been around the care and harvest of the 500 or so olive trees at the farm. Each year we collect and bottle the high quality single estate extra virgin olive oil using traditional cold-pressed methods which produces an exquisite, peppery oil. Only a 1000 litres of oil are produced - and next to no profit is made - but it is perfect.
It is this sense of the real Italy that I hope to showcase to our guests on my Italian Foodie Adventure in 2017. .