Cathy Rogers and Jason Gibb had successful careers in television production in Los Angeles, with homes both in the U.S. and their native England. Finding themselves restless, they wanted some physical work that would challenge them and produce something of which they could be proud. After some searching around, they decided that moving to Italy and making organic olive oil would be a grand idea. Oh yes, they added a brand new baby into the mix as well.
On a bit of a wing and a prayer and with the naivete of those who try to start businesses, let alone an organic food business, let alone in a foreign country where they had to learn the language, they made their way and began what seems to be a very successful enterprise called Nudo. They now produce all kinds of organic food products. Their original brilliant idea was to offer up their olive trees for adoption, and after the pressing, they would courier you the olive oil which came from your tree (more or less). The description of the pressing of their very first harvest instantly transported me back to my food trip to Italy where we saw olives being pressed by massive stones that had been doing the job for hundreds of years.
Photo from The Dolce Vita Diaries
When you make this kind of life decision, often documenting the insane things that happen to you becomes important, and that's where The Dolce Vita Diaries comes in. It's a bit of memoir, a bit of travelogue, a bit of cooking and a bit of humour. The book is written in a charming, breezy style and was a quite enjoyable read. There's a good balance between the travails and the joys and there are some nice portraits of people they've met along the way. The book is punctuated with delicious sounding local recipes, many of which I would like to try. In fact, my only real quibble with the book was the terrible production quality of the recipe photos, but it's a small point.
Photo from the Nudo website
If you don't have a present for your mother for this Sunday, you could always adopt a tree for her, and maybe she'll share some of the fabulous olive oil she will get. If you aren't up to that, then buy a really good olive oil (go for the Nudo if you live in the UK), some rustic Italian bread, a bottle of prosecco and this book. Then set a chair up in a sunny spot, leave her alone with her book and her snack and let her spend the afternoon enjoying a trip to Italy.