You’ll forgive my break since I started writing about my Roman countryside holiday over a month ago. I came home, started baking and canning a ton, got so excited I needed to write about that, and then went on another trip.
I can’t complain. If I did, it’d just make me a serious asshole.
But the trip I took with some friends earlier in July was one of those trips you can’t talk enough about. The food. The people. The experience. The food…OMG! So. MUCH. Food.
After visiting Venice for a few days, we set off to the medieval small village of Castro dei Volci in the Frozinone Province for our cooking extravaganza. Our 1st day in the Italian kitchen, we baked our hearts out using recipes that have been tried and true in the kitchens of many Italian nonnas…the same recipes that our chef’s grandma mighta made kinda thingee.
Each day we’d be in the kitchen for instruction and hands-on cooking, and then the rest of the day was spent learning about the origins of some of the products we were using and visiting the sites of the area- Frozinone Province has agricultural roots, and the people are known for their rustic, but delicious dishes, and the area is rich in ancient villages and churches.
After our morning of baking, we set out to visit Vincenzo and his family’s orchard. The people who run Casa Gregorio met Vincenzo at an agricultural fair, and they learned they were quite close to one another, and formed a working relationship, and we thank them immensely for this. We were told upon getting out of the van that his English wasn’t the greatest, but just look him in the eyes when he spoke.
Clearly, many women before us were quite enamored with his eyes, and rightfully so. Vincenzo’s eyes were this glassy pale green, a slightly lighter shade of the color of his olive oil. And it didn’t hurt that he was quite well built.
Or that the video he showed us of olive harvesting was him with his shirt off.
While we nine ladies were ogling over Vincenzo, he talked to us about how olive oil is made, and the importance of 1st cold press. His family has owned this farm and mill, and been working this land and craft for over well 250 years – their website says since ‘800, and I believe it, but there were tons of translation issues, so let’s just say his family has been farming this land a really long time.
Agricola Di Folco is a small production farm, but one of the highest quality- both in product and passion for this craft. Even with Vincenzo’s broken English, the passion he had for his product was beyond evident. This is a humble man who comes from a proud family who honors the land, their craft, and their final product.
You can taste all of this in the oil.
If you want intensely delicious olive oil at a ridiculously good price, even with the shipping costs, give Vincenzo a call or shoot him an email:
+39 328 7174929 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Um, no. He didn’t give me this info on the down low. I bought a case of his oil and had it shipped across the pond, and it was waiting for me when I got home. This info comes from the label itself. I have not purchased olive oil from a grocery store in well over 6 years, and I have absolutely no intent of doing so ever again, especially when I can call up hunky Vincenzo and have his goods in my house within a week.
Vincenzo and his family helped prepare a simple, hearty, and delicious meal (more like a feast) made from his farm and local ingredients. The younger girls were a bit sad to learn that the insanely delicious dinner presented to us was cooked by his girlfriend.
Who am I kidding, even the moms were having visions of hunky Italian olive dude whisking us away for our Under the Roman Countryside Sun moment.
Honestly, in the end, life is all the simplest things: good food, family, and friends.
“Salute” to all these things.
And yeah, 2L of Vincenzo’s family olive oil that came across the pond is already gone… it’s that good.
After our feast, we all said goodbye to hunky olive guy, and since we were in the town of Arpino, which is about 1000 years old, we visited Civitavecchia, a small village that sets atop a hill, which has a wall that was built in 7BC to fortify the area. 7BC…. kinda mind blowing when you think about how not old the United States in compared to so much of the history that exists throughout the rest of the world.
And when you’re on a 7BC wall, you’re oddly not the only one who does yoga on it… I’m just sayin’ there were others, too. I tried to live by the motto, “When in Rome” kinda thing.
Civitavecchia also has the Cicerone Tower, which was built in 1720, and the tower was later blessed by Pope Benedict in 1726. Here, our guide Patricio told us that Cicero was credited with being the 1st to bring over the olive tree from Israel to Italy.
Curious and curiouser. When you think you know the origin of one thing, you learn no one food really is what you thought, especially when you trace its roots back to the absolute beginning.
The views from atop this village were absolutely stunning. It’s moments like this when you know you’re blessed. Maybe a part of something bigger than you. When you realize we’re more alike that different.
And that’s about as philosophical as I get. I just could’ve stayed here for much longer than I did.
After a brief walk through the village, we went for… you guessed it, more food. Gelato!
In Italy, they have these massive gelato stores… like a restaurant, but dedicated to just gelato. It was after this night that I said, Self, you might want to slow down on those portion sizes.
Inner -Self responded, Screw you. We’re in Italy for almost two weeks. You’re gonna put on weight.