Saturday, 25 April 2009

Using Your Marbles

Out of the 20 or so allotments in our association, three of our members are Italian.
Last year, I begged some beans from Francesca as I had admired the vigour and productivity of the unknown (to me) climbing dried bean she’d grown last autumn. Returning home with my generous haul, I immediately went on-line to discovery what exact my bounty was. I had some difficulty finding the variety even with the World Wide Web at by fingertips. A type of climbing marble bean was the only clue, so I checked my favourite Italian seed suppliers. The closest I could find was the glorious borlotti bean, but as I had grown those for years as bush beans I had no idea they came in climbing form, anyway these where slightly different. Although a little smaller than other borlotti beans when freshly dried, the beans swell vastly when soaked and cooked, resulting in a much larger, almost butter bean sized seed. They are the most buttery, earthy and delicious beans I’ve ever tasted.
In the photograph, as well as the mystery beans (left), there are some bush borlotti beans I saved for planting this Spring. The difference is small on first glance, I grant you, but when studied more closely there are some variations in colour, particularly around the ‘eye’ which is bright orange in the mystery bean. I think what clinches the climber as a borlotti-type is the occasional, strange, wine-coloured bean in each group, maybe a throw-back to the same genetic parent and speculatively, I think they could be something like Borlotti Bean Lingua di Fuoco or the Fire Tongue Bean, well we’ll see. I’ve just sown the puzzle marble beans, in the conservatory for now, as being so enigmatic and exotic I’m not sure they will take our night time temperatures just yet.
Curzio, another Italian down on the allotment grows solely grapes for his much admired wine, so he and Nick have a ready made conversation based on weather conditions, yield, soil (sorry, terroir!) and general grape-talk. Nick won’t be chin wagging or doing much of anything else at the allotment for a while as he has injured his back digging my half of the plot. So, he can’t bend and I can’t lift (arthritic wrists); we make a pretty pair when trying to empty the dishwasher, I can tell you!

Clematis Montana ' Pink Perfection' rambling across the garden shed.


Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Hiya Fay

I love borlotti beans. In fact I love beans/pulses of all sorts.
In fact, I'll admit to being a fellow gastronaut!

I liked the post from the other day:) The Carluccio recipe, was it from 'Passion for Pasta'?

So I'll lay my cooks credentials out in that I too was nursed through the nineties with the River Cafe's use of Cime de Rapa through to the naughties and Heston's cooking of rib beef for 9 hours at exactly 50C. Fay, if I had a fellow alotmenteer who was making his own wine, indeed celebrated shant at that, I'd consider him a friend for life!

PS I had a look at the blip photo stuff and think you take a great pic.

Woodland Fay said...

Rob, what can I say, except you're my hero!
The Carluccio recipe was out of an golden oldie, The Taste of Health, a BBC publication from the early 80's that I'm still stay faithful to. I have experienced Ravioli con Cime di Rapa at the River Cafe and I concur. As for Heston, yet to visit the Fat Duck, but may have to travel there via Périgord!
So pleased you are attracting the following you deserve. Big Up!!

Carol said...

Your photo of Clematis Montana is perfection ... beautiful! Love your blog!