The Journal

I like ruins | Xavier Llarch Font

‘The most enigmatic aspect of the time of ruination is the manner in which it points towards the future rather that the past, or rather uses the ruined resources of the past to imagine, or reimagine, the future.’

Brian Dillon, A short history of Decay, 2011.

Just 10 minutes walk from Villa Lena there is Toiano Nuovo ,‘New Toiano’, an apparent abandoned village on the top of a sand hill, accessed by a medieval bridge. Toiano started its decay back in the 1960s when the majority of its inhabitants moved to nearby towns in search of work and a better life. Since then, its population has gradually decreased up to today with just two people currently living in Toiano, Rosita and her husband.

The Tuscan countryside have many abandoned and semi-abandoned villages like Toiano. By now most of these villages have been partially privatised and transformed into holiday resorts, like the nearby village of Castelfalfi and Tonda. In contrast, Toiano has been left in a state of decay. The hill in which Toiano is located is rapidly eroding and, in recent years, many of the houses have collapsed due to the lack of maintenance. This, together with the fact that Toiano still doesn’t have running water, have turned away many regeneration schemes and potential investors.
This project is an investigation of Toiano’s past and present to build a picture of what Toiano is now so we can predict what it could become in the future.

Sweet dreams are made of cheese | Butternutten AG

17 August 2017

Villa Lena, Tuscany

Stimulated by a common passion for food and cooking, Butternutten’s Luki + Oli hosted a four-course cheese dinner at Villa Lena.

Every course featured ceramics made in Butternutten workshop by hotel guests, staff people and artists in residence at Villa Lena; the ceramics are inspired by human body parts.

The individual and unusual tableware invited the guests to interact as well as to enter in dialogue with each other. The “cheese dreams” dinner is a way of questioning what eating can be more than food intake and how our being can be shaped.

At a time when food in general is becoming a minor matter due to busy days, Butternutten is concerned with the necessity and requirements of dishes, glasses and cutlery, equally with edible content, and further with the subject of hospitality.

The cheese menu included baked ricotta and blue cheese with fresh herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, rucola and nuts as starter, fresh hand-cut pappardelle, burnt radicchio e gorgonzola as primo and torta di formaggio with cacio e pepe crisp for dessert. The last course was a piece of Roquefort served in an envelope together with a sheet of paper. According to a new study by the British Cheese Board, different cheeses can give you different types of dreams. That’s why the guests were invited to write down their cheese dreams to their sheets, which were collected by Luki + Oli the next day.

The dinner was prepared in close collaboration with Villa Lena’s kitchen chefs; a publication including some of the dreams will be released soon.

Interview of a truffle hunter

villa-lena, tuscany, italy, fresh, garden, vegetable-garden, kitchen-garden, organic, vegetable, vegetables, cooking, workshop, workshops, truffle, truffle-hunt, truffle-experience, truffles, truffle-dog

 

Q: Is there any secret rule guide that handles relationship between hunters? Like a code since it is almost considered as a “war”?

A: There are regional rules setting out timetables and areas where hunters are allowed to go. In fact, the season starts on September 10th and the daytime is from sunrise to sunset. These rules are not always respected; many go by night to anticipate the next-day hunt, even though this is absolutely prohibited. In addition to the rules there is a personal respect that keeps the relationship between the hunters who works in the same area: where is someone’s area the others should not go, each has its “own” zone. Additionally, in some lands, like Villa Lena, which is private, gathering is only permitted to authorized people. Unfortunately some hunters can act as barbarians reacting badly against dogs or personal properties, like the cars of their competitors.

Q: Make us jealous and tell us what was the biggest amount you reached in one day?  Which were the factors, beside luck, that made this result possible?

A: The best gathering I had was of 5 kg in two hours. A good knowledge of the ground and of the truffles’ growing phases as well as a proper training of the dogs are the key elements for a successful hunt.

 

villa-lena, tuscany, italy, fresh, garden, vegetable-garden, kitchen-garden, organic, vegetable, vegetables, cooking, workshop, workshops, truffle, truffle-hunt, truffle-experience, truffles, dog, dogs, truffle-dog,

 

Q: Which is the best time of the day to look for them and which are the best spots?

A: The season starts in September and then goes on until December, however November and the beginning of December are the best months for the white truffles and from January to March for the black ones. The truffle needs some specific factors to grow, these are usually found near the trees’ roots where the soil is humid and adaptable to the truffles needs.

Q: How do you think the truffle hunting will develop in the future? Would there be a way to grow them anyhow?

A: A way that is already applied is the “Improved truffle” method – it consists in adding to the soil the favourable elements so that it increases the semiotic soil for the truffle. It will depend on the evolution of the climate. Temperatures made the ground very unsuitable for truffles at the moment. If you then think that it is a mushrooms existing only in Italy and in some other countries of the Balkan Peninsula, it is clear that it will make it something more and more rare.

Q: If you have just one piece of truffle left in which way would you love to eat it?

A: Just one portion? If so in neither ways…a truffle has to be eaten only if shared.

Q: Ok so lets say for two people, but only one way to cook\use it?

A: On top of a fried egg.

Q: How did you learn the process of being a truffle hunter?

A: From my grandfather, it is usually a knowledge, which is handed over inside a very close family or specific circle.

 

villa-lena, tuscany, italy, fresh, garden, vegetable-garden, kitchen-garden, organic, vegetable, vegetables, cooking, workshop, workshops, truffle, truffle-hunt, truffle-experience, truffles, truffle-dog

 

Q: Which reasons drive someone to become a truffle hunter? Money, love for challenges? Love for dogs and nature?

A: I could say all of them, which is actually true. But if I should think of the main one I would say; money.

TRUFFLE HUNT AT VILLA LENA 5/5

Come and visit us in Autumn, the local truffle hunters will roam the woods around Villa Lena for the precious, highly prized white truffles. Join them on their forage and learn more about the distinct flora and fauna the historic grounds offer. After a successful hunt, truffles are best enjoyed freshly shaved over home made pasta!

Happy truffle season!

villa-lena, tuscany, italy, fresh, garden, vegetable-garden, kitchen-garden, organic, vegetable, vegetables, cooking, workshop, workshops, truffle, truffle-hunt, truffle-experience, truffles, dog, dogs, truffle-dog,

TRUFFLE HUNT AT VILLA LENA 4/5

NiklasAdrianVindelev_Truffle_Villalena_tuscany_hunt_lagotto

A Tartufai knows where to look for truffles in the dense and wild forests of Tuscany, but only the keen nose of a canine companion will sniff out the exact location. Hence, the truffle hunt has always been a team sport, consisting of a human and animal collaboration.

The highly trained truffle dogs took over from the female truffle pigs in recent years. The pigs simply enjoyed their findings so much, they refused to retrieve them…

NiklasAdrianVindelev_Truffle_Villalena_tuscany_hunt_lagotto_searching

TRUFFLE HUNT AT VILLA LENA 3/5

villa lena, searching, hunt, truffle, trees, woods, tuscany

As mentioned above truffle is par
t of the fungus family, growing with the roots of certain trees. What sets them apart from other mushrooms is not that they grow underground, but that they have a symbiotic relationship with trees. They attach to the roots of trees and issue long tendrils that gather nutrition for the plant. The carbohydrates that are returned from the host tree eventually form the “fruit” – the truffles. The white truffle can reach 12 cm diameter and a weight of 500 gr.

villa lena, plants, mushroom, roots, trees, truffles,

Sophie Monet Jewelry in Siri Thorson flower settings

LA-based jeweler Sophie Monet partnered up with her co-artist in residence florist Siri Thorson to create a dreamy editorial of special edition jewelry, presented within a flowery setting.

Sophie Monet_Siri Thorson_Villa Lena_01

Gold plated earrings made of wood and found terra cotta with sun flowers and fennel blossoms

Sophie Monet_Siri Thorson_Villa Lena_02

Gold plated earrings made of found terra cotta and beach stones with a medley of wild grapes

Sophie Monet_Siri Thorson_Villa Lena_03

Gold plated earrings made of wood and rose quartz with unripe pomegranates

Sophie Monet_Siri Thorson_Villa Lena_04

Gold plated earrings made of wood with crape myrtle petals

Sophie Monet_Siri Thorson_Villa Lena_05
Gold plated earrings made of beach stones with Villa Lena peaches and wild oats
Sophie Monet_Siri Thorson_Villa Lena_06

Gold plated earrings made of found terra cotta and pebble stones with fossils from Tuscan soil

Special edition jewelry and Art direction by Sophie Monet

http://www.sophiemonetjewelry.com/

https://www.instagram.com/sophiemonet/

Styling and photography by Siri Thorson

http://sirithorson.com/

https://www.instagram.com/thelittlebanana/

TRUFFLE HUNT AT VILLA LENA 2/5

truffle, ceramics, three, smell, hunt, truffle pasta, unique flavour

The region around Villa Lena with the cities of San Miniato, Montaione, Montespertoli, Volterra and Cartaldo is one of the the most important areas in Italy for truffle hunting. During the truffle festivals over the last three weekends in November, the precious produce of the Tuscan soil becomes gold! Each variety of truffle has its own particular aroma, which is suitable for specific culinary uses – butter, pasta, olive oil, sauces…. Among the numerous varieties the white truffle is seen as the most valuable one, with a market prize of up to 3000 EUR per kilo!

villa-lena, tuscany, italy, fresh, garden, vegetable-garden, kitchen-garden, organic, vegetable, vegetables, cooking, workshop, workshops, truffle, truffle-hunt, truffle-experience, truffles,

villa-lena, tuscany, italy, fresh, garden, vegetable-garden, kitchen-garden, organic, vegetable, vegetables, cooking, workshop, workshops, truffle, truffle-hunt, truffle-experience, truffles, summer-truffles

Kana London Ceramics under the Tuscan sun

Four simple, seasonal summer salads from the Villa Lena garden, prepared by Sarah Angileri – presented in limited edition ceramics by Kana London. 
Kana London x Sarah Angileri_Villa Lena_01Charred aubergines with lemon, tahini yoghurt, mint, wild blackberries & honey
Kana London x Sarah Angileri_Villa Lena_02Roasted carrots with curry, rice, pickled onions, black olives, vinegar marinated sultanas & mint
Kana London x Sarah Angileri_Villa Lena_03Cooked and raw beetroot, salty ricotta, basil, balsamic candid orange & pistachios

Kana London x Sarah Angileri_Villa Lena_07Cucumber, pickled red onions, chickpeas, black pepper & rosemary 

 

Limited edition Ceramics

& Art direction, photography

Ana Kerin, founder of Kana London

http://www.kanalondon.com/

https://www.instagram.com/kanalondon/

in cooperation with

Sarah Angileri, Personal Chef

https://www.eatpropermeals.com/

https://www.instagram.com/seaishewas/

 

 

Truffle hunt at Villa Lena 1/5

Tuscany might be known for its beautiful landscape of rolling hills, its breathtaking sunsets and most astonishing architecture. But above all, there is the Tuber Magnatum Pico, also known as the worlds best white truffle or the diamond of the kitchen. The subterranean fungus makes foodies swoon and converts fungi rookies into truffle aficionados. While the Tartufai (truffle hunters) are very secretive about their hunting grounds, one might be successful close to the roots of some species of forest and shrubs, in particular oaks, holm oaks, poplars, lichens, willows and carpini.

 

http://