It’s that time of year again as the clocks once more are turned back one hour meaning that darkness falls a good deal earlier …. the nights are drawing in.
The unmistakable smell of wood smoke is once again in the air as dusk arrives and the temperature starts to fall.
In Barga Vecchia, that tang of woodsmoke has also been heightened by the log fires burning outside the unofficial cultural centre of Barga – Da Aristo’s bar, as Mondine, roast chestnuts are prepared daily.
This week there has also been the added fragrance of Vin Brulé, or mulled wine heating up over the fire.
The tradition of spicing wine goes back to the Ancient Greek wine hippocras, and was subsequently kept alive by Italian monasteries and a long tradition here in Tuscany.
To a large container of red wine add sugar, lemon and orange with a mix of star anise, cloves, cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg.
As for the Mondine – the roast chestnuts, what is needed more than anything else is a good wrist action.
Most of the old school chestnut roasters are no longer with us but as the video below quite clearly shows, that technique can also be learnt – all it needs is a little application.