Sunday, April 20

Buona Pasqua - A Podcast from Italy!

Happy Easter - Buona Pasqua to all our friends and family out there!
To celebrate this year we are eating with friends, this will be the first year in many that Jason is not stuck in kitchen! Finally, we have posted another podcast - it's up on iTunes & Stitcher available to download or stream! This episode Jason and I talk about the lunch to celebrate a local Chef's book on self-sustainability and reminisce of Easters' past... be sure to listen all the way to the end when the Italian fighter jets fly by!!

Podcast from Italy: #73 on iTunes

....and even though Jason's right and it looks like 'stock-photography' another Easter pic:

Friday, April 18

A Pre Easter Party Celebrating Self-Sustainability...& the Blues!

Last weekend we were invited to our friends pig farm to celebrate the publication of Italian Chef, Ivan Fantini's new book on self-sustainability. More than just a "0 km" diet (which this chef despises the term) it's about eating what you grow/what nature gives you and not just eating but living a self-sustainable life. 

Our friends, Carlo & Gigia hosted the event with a big burger bbq - everything was from their farm & homemade keeping in mind with the book (and the lifestyle they live) -from the meat, buns and even the ketchup! And with Easter around the corner there was a basket of hard eggs and Gigia's homemade crescia di pasqua!!

We took the opportunity to shoot footage of the bbq and interview the Chef and few other characters we met along throughout the day...we'll post something soon! (We're still trying to nail down the name of our 'production company'...any suggestions?)

I had my eye on this home-made, self-serve wine contraption (made with a hose and old brass spigot) - Jason and our neighbor Louk are already designing one for pizza nights at our place!

After the burgers were eaten, the music begin to play...

Italian blues singer Joe Galullo a self-proclaimed reincarnated Native American had a twinkle to his eye that made me instantly like him. This old spirit is certainly young at heart and let me tell you, this ol'boy could play the blues! He sat down with me before his show began for a short interview on his life, his music and how it intersects with nature and food.

Sunday, April 13

Rustic Italian Tart with Fresh Strawberries, Topped with Mascarpone

Traditionally made with marmalade, this rustic tart is found kept under a kitchen towel in most homes in our area.  With strawberries in abundance this time of year, we use fresh fruit instead of jam.
This recipe is enough to make two 9-in/22cm tarts with lattice. Use what you have for the tart pans, we use round pizza pans.

Italian Rustic Tart with Strawberries
Crostata di Fragole

1 1/3 cup, 250g butter
4 cups, 500 g of flour
1 1/4 cups+ for dusting, 250g  sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon, 5g baking powder
2 full eggs + 3 yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
drop of booze - grappa, rum, brandy, anything you like
about a pint of fresh strawberries per tart, sliced
Optional: Serve with whipped cream or mascarpone cheese thinned out with milk.

Cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla a few drops of your favorite liquor and beat in.
Sift together all the dry ingredients.
Incorporate the dry ingredients into the butter & egg mixture with a few strokes of a wooden spoon forming a dough.  Take 1/3 of the dough & and roll it out slightly larger than your  parchment lined tart pan. Roll down the edges of the dough to create the crust.
Arrange the strawberries slightly overlapping to cover the tart. You can sprinkle a little sugar over the strawberries, if they are in season this is not necessary.

To make the latticework top:
Pull off a pinch of dough & roll into a long snake. This is an easy dough to work with if it breaks just pinch it back together. This is a rustic tart. Moist hands will help if the dough is sticky.
Continue until you have enough to make your lattice top.

Bake in a preheated 350F/175C degree oven for about an hour or until the top is nice & brown, the bottom is cooked & the dough should shrink away from the pan a bit.

(Thank you Kelly from The Meaning of Pie for the photos taken during our cooking class.)
And in loving memory of a very special guest...

Wednesday, April 9

LIVE from ITALY Online Cooking Class: Arugula Pesto & Rustic Tart with Strawberries

In the last 'regularly schedule online class' of the season we are cooking a lovely light spring/summer lunch of Arugula & Walnut Pesto with Fresh Pasta and a Rustic Tart with Strawberries and Cream.

For a peppery twist, update your pesto recipe with a new classic: arugula and walnut! Serve tossed over fresh pasta or rubbed on toasty bread with a ribbon of Parmesan, a delicious topping for pizza or a beautiful frittata with a dollop of arugula pesto! Pesto with endless possibilities…And for dessert a rustic tart or crostata that is traditionally filled with jam will be made with fresh strawberries and whipped mascarpone cream.

Our classes focus not only the recipes at hand but the technique and theories behind each dish.  It’s more than just watching an episode of a cooking show on television because this is not only LIVE but interactive! Students/viewers will have the chance to ask questions along the way since all the cooking is done together LIVE! (Plus the classes are recorded & you will receive a copy of the class - how cool is that?!) Either join in the fun and cook along with us or sit back and watch with a glass of wine.

If you can't make the class, you can always order a copy of the class recording as well!

Arugula Pesto
Rustic Tart with Strawberries & Cream
LIVE from ITALY: Online Cooking Class on Sunday, April 13, 2014
Early Broadcast: 1pm EST / 10am PST
Late Broadcast: 4pm EST / 1pm PST- FULLY BOOKED
(The class will last about an hour in duration.)
Cost: $5 (Can’t make it live? Purchase the class for $5 to receive the password & link)

To REGISTER email:
Please send an email and include your preferred time slot (Early or Late). Once payment is received (via PayPal) we will send you the recipes, ingredients & equipment list plus the all important pre-class prep list! You will receive a recorded copy a day or two after the class.
For more details click here!

Hope you join us in the kitchen on Sunday!

Thursday, March 27

Knife in Hand: Whole Hog Master Butchery Course in Italy, May 23-26 2014

  Knife in Hand: Whole Hog Master Butchery Course in Italy = 600 Euro/person
 May 23-26 2014 

For an experience unlike any other, with a knife in hand, learn to butcher a whole hog with an Italian Master Butcher. This is NOT a demonstration. This is a roll your sleeves up, elbow deep in meat kinda class, not for the faint of heart. And for those that choose, be witness to the slaughter the morning before.

La Tavola Marche (farm, inn and cooking school) is proud to collaborate with Cal'Bianchino in hosting this event and promoting a dying breed of artisans and farmers in Italy.

Unlike any other 'cooking holiday' this unique butchery course offers a glimpse of life as an organic pig farmer. About 75 cinta senese (antique breed of pigs) and a menagerie of other creatures enjoy the good life on this tranquil loving farm. This is where they will live, die and feed the family that has raised them.  And this is where the  journey begins - witness the slaughter of the very pig we will together butcher the following day. 

For a glimpse of the farm watch our video: From Pig to Pancetta

The Itinerary:
Friday, 23 May
Arrive Friday night to La Tavola Marche (farm, inn & cooking school) and our 300 year old stone farmhouse for a five course hand made feast of local specialties (with produce from our farm)! Ashley & Jason will introduce the small group to Master Butcher Carlo & his lovely wife and passionate farmer Gigia.  The next day we will drive up to their farm outside of Urbino.

Saturday, 24 May
Greeted by the chatty geese, Carlo & Gigia welcome us with a light morning snack of homemade treats before we tour their organic pig farm. Through the fields of fava the young pigs graze, we pass the woods filled with chestnut trees that the older pigs love so much and up to the barn to visit the rest of the brood! For those that choose, be witness to the slaughter of the pig.  Carlo will explain the traditional way of slaughtering in comparison to how industrial farming is practiced today.

Before a light lunch, Gigia will host a 'farmer's life' class on baking bread & making cheese!  
That afternoon explore the area and nearby medieval village Urbino. 

Sunday, 25 May
The next morning we will return for a knife-in hand butchery course! With the guidance of Carlo and Jason, they will walk your through step-step of deconstructing a pig, each cut with it’s own recipe. The work doesn't end there, taking it the next step further, we make sausages and salami with the pork shoulder, the belly for pancetta & the prosciutto is ready to be placed under salt. The lesson in charcuterie ends with a tour of Carlo's drying/curing rooms and a gift bag of homemade dried meats for you to take home!  Exhausted by the day's work, Gigia will feed our hungry bellies with a big Sunday family-style farmer's lunch!

Returning back to La Tavola Marche in the late afternoon - relax, take a walk or nap and enjoy a laid-back Sunday evening of "Popcorn & Prosecco" - a light dinner (trust me you're still going to be full from lunch) and a little vino!

Knife in Hand: Whole Hog Master Butchery Course in Italy, May 23-26 2014
600 Euro/person
 Includes: 3 nights accommodations at La Tavola Marche with breakfast daily,  Welcome Five Course Feast with Local Wine, Farm Tour, Slaughtering, Hands on Butchery Course, Light Lunch & Sunday Lunch with Wine, Custom Hand Made Apron, "Popcorn & Prosecco" Evening. Price based on double occupancy. Max of 8 students/guests.

La Tavola Marche (farm, inn & cooking school)
La Tavola Marche

Wednesday, March 26

LIVE from ITALY Online Cooking Class: Artichoke Risotto & Fava Crostini

 During this week’s La Tavola Marche LIVE Online Cooking Class - celebrate Spring in Italy with Fava Crostini and Fava with a Wedge of Pecorino Cheese along with a proper Artichoke Risotto This is a beautiful lunch of fresh fava (broad beans) two ways: paired with a wedge of creamy fresh pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheese and secondly, fava topped on toasty bread with ribbons of parmesan. The star of this lunch - a properly made risotto. Risotto is a labor of love, you’ll find some recipes with short-cuts however to really get the creamy chewy consistency you must work the starch from the rice & that means good old fashion elbow-grease! And with overflowing crates of artichokes filling the market streets (a sure sign that Spring is on its way) there’s no better pairing this time of year than artichokes & risotto.
Our classes focus not only the recipes at hand but the technique and theories behind each dish.  It’s more than just watching an episode of a cooking show on television because this is not only LIVE but interactive! Students/viewers will have the chance to ask questions along the way since all the cooking is done together LIVE! Either join in the fun and cook along with us or sit back and watch with a glass of wine. 

Fava & Pecorino 
(No recipe here, just a perfect snack/appetizer while we are cooking of fresh double shelled fava and a wedge of sheep's milk cheese!)
Video on Cleaning Artichokes

LIVE from ITALY: Online Cooking Class on Sunday, 30 March 2014
Early Broadcast: 1pm EST / 10am PST (6pm CET)
Late Broadcast: 4pm EST / 1pm PST (9pm CET)
The class will last about an hour in duration. You will receive a copy of the recording as well.
Price: $5 

To register, email: (or reply to this email)
Please send an email and include your preferred time slot (Early or Late). Once payment is received (via PayPal) we will send you the recipes, ingredients & equipment list plus the all important pre-class prep list! The class will be recorded and sent to you 1-2 days after the broadcast.

$5/Class LIVE! Can't make it live! order a recording of a past class.
$100 Private Class (Just you and the Chef face to face online LIVE! Includes a pre-class skype chat to discuss the menu planning and class details. Cooking class about an hour and half in duration. Date and time to be determined.)

For more details, upcoming classes and menus Click Here!
To visit our farmhouse in Italy & cook with us in person (featured in USA Today) - Click Here!

Cooking is more fun with share this email with a friend!!

Tuesday, March 25

Only in Italy...Military Issued, Cheese Grater

For those times during battle when you just can’t go without grated Parmesan over your pasta, the Italian Army and Cantoni designed this rustic yet hardy cheese or bread grater - meant to stand the test of time! There may be a war, but that’s no time to compromise quality or wouldn't eat your pasta over cooked so why eat it without grated parm? Not on your life. After all, there are priorities, even in the field.

The sturdy box grater is serious, and has to be, in order to cope with a block of aged, knife busting Parmesan. This grater is really simple. Open it up and you will see a "piano roll" full of stainless steel spikes. A large crank on the side turns this roll. Place the cheeses on the platform, close the door applying pressure on the cheese and crank. Pull open the drawer to remove the fresh grated cheese. It's that simple and comes out perfect every time!! 

We found this kitchen tool when we first moved into our farmhouse seven years ago and had no idea what it was until about a year ago when a neighbor asked why we have such a nice cheese grater up on the shelf as decoration in a guest apartment....What?! Come?! We were flabbergasted for two reasons: 1. We assumed (without looking too closely) that it was a coffee grinder 2. I hate grating cheese by hand, almost as much as I hate grating chocolate for tiramisu (and the melted mess). Now before you think I'm pampered or a wuss - that's because with our cooking classes & dinners, I'm grating over a kilo of cheese at a time in a hot kitchen & my arms get tired...ok that does sound wussy.  We have been 'in the market' for a cheese grater for sometime now and to discover, unbeknownst to us there has been a fully functioning, military-grade grater sitting on a shelf in our house the whole time, is hysterical! 

I've been cranking away ever since and not only is the work easier & faster, it's almost always done for me by guests eager to try it out themselves once they hear the story! (Now, I've just got to figure out what to do about the chocolate...)

Sunday, March 23

{Podcast from Italy} 5 Foods That Taste Better IN Italy and 1 Cook's Opinion on "Culinary Charlatans"

Some things just taste better in Italy...mortadella is a perfect example!
This week's podcast is late - sorry!! We are back to work, readying the garden, turning the soil, burning the hills and preparing for guests to arrive. We brought home 12 new young hens + 1 rooster to add to our brood! Jason vents a bit and share his feelings on culinary 'charlatans' - untrained, inexperienced personalities/bloggers teaching you to cook. (This is not a rant against food-bloggers.) We'd love your feedback and thoughts on this topic.  And we share five foods/drink that hands down taste better IN Italy! 

Thanks for listening!! Podcast from Italy episode #72  available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio!

Our new hens and rooster making themselves at home in the coop

Wednesday, March 19

5 Favorite Places to Eat FISH in Fano on Any Budget

We live in the foothills of the Apennines, the kingdom of pork and rich meaty dishes from the mountains, so when we want to eat-out in Le Marche where do we go from something different...Fano for pesce fish of course!

Fano is the ancient Roman seaside settlement, complete with the Arco D' Augusto (year 9 A.D.) that welcomes you at the main entrance to this walled fisherman's village.  We love it here. The Saturday morning market is charming & bustling with locals shopping & socializing and the warm summer evenings make you want to linger long into the night ,pouring another glass of Verdicchio and breathing in that salty sea air.

Picking a good seafood restaurant can be tricky especially once tourists season along the Adriatic Coast opens up in June.  There's a million crappy pizza places & sub-par frozen fish joins that pepper the coastline from Rimini to Pescara.  So whether you are visiting for a week or just passing thru - "where should we eat?" is always the question... 

Here is a list of our favorite five places to eat fish/seafood in Fano at any budget! These are not just our recommendations but backed by locals as well (and we only included place we have eaten at & can vouch for). 

Regardless of where you eat, make sure to finish your meal with "la moretta" a locally famous fisherman's coffee, spiked with booze & a twist of lemon! ....And for good measure - save room for a scoop or two of gelato at Gelateria Maki for hands down the BEST in Fano!

 5 Favorite Place to Eat Fish in Fano:

 1. Pesce Azzuro - The fisherman's cooperative. Family friendly and a great place to bring large groups - this slide-your-tray cafeteria style restaurant is packed with both hungry tourists and locals alike.  You can't beat the price: 12 Euro/person for the four courses with bread, water and wine! The price may be cheap but the fish is fresh and the portions are generous.

Pesca Azzurro Fano - $
Viale Adriatico, 52 / 61032 Fano (pu)
t. 0721 803165
Closed on Monday
No reservations
Hours: 12:00-14:00, 19:30-22:00

2. Trattoria La Quinta - One of the oldest family run osteria's in Fano. Just a few doors down from Pesce Azzuro, they started the restaurant in just the front small room and as they years have passed they continue to expand. Packed with locals, the only menu is in Italian (which no one looks at) and with plastic table clothes there is a very laid-back vibe (yet a definite step up from Pesce Azzuro).  You go to La Quinta for the fritto misto & grigliato misto or  mixed fried fish & grilled fish - order both and share. The sea snails in tomato sauce with wild fennel is amazing, eaten with a toothpick they take work, but finger-licking good - literally. Eat like a pig for 40 Euro for two and that includes a liter of house white, I suggest the Bianchello frizzante!  *Tip: Visit during the week, weekends are busy! And check the board when you walk in for the daily specials.

Trattoria La Quinta - $$
Viale Adriatico, 42  
Fano (PU) - Marche 61032 Italia
tel. 0721.808043 
Closed on Sunday for Dinner and Festival Days
Hours: 11-16 / 19-22

Yankee Ristorante-Pizzeria, Fano
3. Yankee - $$-$$$ - As an American expat suggesting a restaurant called "Yankee" sounds totally cliched, I know. But trust me on this, head to the end of Sassonia beach - past the caravan parks and away from the crowds for a huge bowl of cozze or mussels in white wine in the open air and watch the setting sun at the waters edge. As an antipasto/appetizer order the flat bread/pizza bianco with rosemary and olive oil - it's addictive. Of course pick a nice vino bianco - perhaps a bottle of Passerino a gorgeous aromatic white wine from Southern Marche that will bring out the sweetness in the mollusks. 

Yankee Ristorante - Pizzeria
Via Ruggero Ruggeri
61032 Fano (Pesaro Urbino) Italia
Tel. 0721 807748 | Mob. 366 1020014

4. Bistro Cile's - For a beautiful lunch in a super cute spot look no further. The menu like the decor is more refined and at times slightly 'exotic' for the local fare. In a city where most locals would prohibit  grated parmesan & red wine on a table with fish - here they celebrate the pairing with dishes like pesce carbonara - pasta with fish, pancetta, cream and cheese. The simplest dish on the menu is one of our favorites -pasta tossed with white anchovies, butter & sage on a bed of toasted breadcrumbs - insanely delicious. The dish may seem out of the norm (or Sicilian inspired) but in fact it is the Chef's interpretation of a local crostini made with butter & anchovies. Ordering a few antipasti and two pasta dishes was perfect for lunch, along with a bottle of Verdicchio and caffè the cost was about 60 Euro. If nothing else come here for one of the best "Caffe Moretta" in all of Fano.

Cile's Ristorante & Bistrot - $$$
Via Dante Alichieri, 89 - 61032 Fano (Pesaro Urbino) Italia
tel.  0721 803390
(Closed Monday)
Hours: 12.30 - 14.00 | 19.30 - 22.00

5. Regina Isabella - This is hands-down my favorite place to eat fish in Fano. Sailing along the Adriatic in a wooden yacht, with the smell of grilled fish in the air and a glass of crisp white Verdicchio is one of the best ways to enjoy Le Marche and one of the most memorable meals you will have! The menu varies daily by lunch & dinner, it's about 35 Euro/person and worth every penny. Here's an example of a recent lunch: sole, coda di rospa (monk fish), scampi, sardoncini, sepia, sea snails, fried anchovies, pasta and the list goes on! The captain grills fish off the side of the boat while you swim in the Adriatic!!  If you go for dinner, enjoy the sunset at sea -

departs from the Port of Fano, Le Marche Italy
Reservations a must with Roberto: +39 333.6182325

Local Tips: 
1. Make a reservation. Even if you just pop in earlier in the day to add your name to that night's list - it's much better to know you've got a spot come 7:30pm when you start getting hungry.

2. Arrive early for seafood, especially on the weekends - lunch is normally served at 1pm or 2pm in the countryside - but on along the coast it's best to arrive early while the fish is still fresh & they still have it in stock  - they do run out, most of these places only buy what they need daily from the local fisherman.

3. Sunday dinner & all day Monday most fish restaurants are closed.

$ Price Scale for dinner/lunch for TWO with wine.
$ = about 25 Euro
$$ = about 40 Euro
$$$ = about 60 Euro

Sunday, March 16

"Made in Le Marche" Holiday in Italy (May 2014) DOC Wine, Craft Beer, Artisan Meat & Cheese + Cooking Classes!

"Made in Le Marche" -  D.O.C. Wine Tour, Artisan Meat & Cheese Market Trip, Craft Beer Tasting and 3 Cooking Classes 
May 6-11, 2014 and May 20-25, 2014 
(5 Nights) = 928 Euro/person

Celebrating the culinary traditions of Le Marche with a gourmet getaway of five nights with three diverse hands-on cooking classes teaching traditional seasonal recipes of the area, a wine tour and cheese tasting with Marco then feel like a local on Friday with our very special meat market tour & tasting (including a stop for porchetta), a visit to our favorite award winning craft brewery Collesi and then lunch at the Hunter's Hide-away!  Our Cooking Classes were just featured in USA Today's Best of Food & Wine: "Healthiest Destinations for a Culinary Getaway"

Includes 5 nights, welcome five course dinner with local wine,  3 half-day cooking classes with meals and wine, 1 day wine tour with lunch and transportation, Pizza Night Dinner and Apecchio market tour & tasting, beer tasting and lunch at the hunter's hideaway,  breakfast daily. Price based on double occupancy.

La Tavola Marche (farm, inn & cooking school)

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