Friday, November 27

Fabulous Ferrara

On the banks of the Po River stands Ferrara with a rich history in music & art. In the 13th century the Este family transformed the city into one of the most culturally important & vibrant cities of the Renaissance.
Ferrara is often skipped on the tourists must-see list - not enough time with Venice, Cinque Terra...La Tavola Marche! But this stately & regal town is with worth a stop! With a fairy tale castle - it's got a moat!, the cathedral, palaces around every corner of this Renaissance village it's picture perfect! The cherry on top - the villagers cycle about town making it even more quaint. You wander about & question why there aren't more tourists -yet happy to be the only one!

14th Century Castle Estense

The town is surrounded by more than 9 kilometers of ancient walls, built in the 15th and 16th centuries.- they are thought to be the best preserved Renaissance walls in Italy.



The Palio of St. George is a typical medieval festival held every last Sunday of May. The Buskers Festival is a parade of the best street musicians in the world. Additionally, Ferrara is becoming the Italian capital of hot air balloons, thanks to the ten-day-long Ferrara Balloons Festival, the biggest celebration of balloons in Italy and one of the largest in Europe.

I would recommend a stop for gelato at Gelateria Venchi (Corso Martiri Della Liberta', 12 Ferrara) they had cinnamon gelato! I had that flavor once before in Rome & have been eating my way through every gelateria looking for it again! Seriously it's delicious.

Ferrara is a 2 hour drive from our farmhouse, inn & cooking school in Le Marche. It is worth the drive for a long day trip for sure! We went up for lunch a few weeks ago on a lazy Sunday & are planning our return for sure!

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Friday, November 20

Peperonata ~ Stewed Peppers and Grilled Sausages ~ Perfect for the Game

This year we had over 80 pepper plants in the ground yielding hundreds of pounds of peppers!! Needless to say we ate A LOT of peppers this summer & fall! They have such a great flavor & we used them in tons of dishes. But everyone's favorite is peperonata or stewed peppers. They are delicious piled on crostini to soak up the juices or even better with grilled sausages - awesome! (Not to mention - this is THE perfect lunch or dinner to feed a hungry crowd for a football game!)


Stewed Peppers
Peperonata

4-5 bell peppers, cut into large pieces, cleaned
a big handful of whole cherry tomatoes
1 yellow onion sliced
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil

  • In a large skillet or pot , heat 1/3 cup of olive oil.
  • Saute garlic until golden brown & then discard.
  • Reduce heat to low & slowly saute the onion 12 - 15 minutes until well cooked. but do not brown it.
  • Raise heat & add peppers.
  • Season with plenty of salt & pepper.
  • Allow peppers to cook, stirring frequently 10 minutes until the ends start to shrivel.
  • At this point, throw in your cherry tomatoes & allow to cook another 10 -15 minutes until the peppers are soft & not mushy and the cherry tomatoes have let their juices out.
  • Taste to check the seasonings.
  • Serve hot, warm or cold.

a perfect pepper from our garden

Wednesday, November 18

Eating Your Way Through Le Marche ~ December 2009

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go!" (I sing that verse all the time, this time of year!) Well, this months festivities are more directed to the
lovers of Christmas, Santa, Babbo Natale, La Befana & holiday markets than just food ...'cause it's the holiday season!

December 2008

Pesaro
Candele dal mondo - 6th, 7th & 8th
Candles from the world - Christmas market of candles & crafts, exhibitions, musical entertainment, living nativity scene and local food & wine - all day. Free shuttle form 10am - 9:30pm. During the festivities they shut down all the lights of the town - only to be lite by candle-light!

Fano
Eventi natalizi - all month
Christmas events all month with entertainment in the old center, Christmas markets, concerts & more.

Mombaroccio
Mercatino di Natale - 1st Sunday
Christmas market all day at the cloister di San Marco

Montemaggiore al Metauro
Mercatino di Natale - 1st Sunday, 8th of December & 2nd Sunday
Christmas market from 2:00pm in the old center

Montelabbate
Christmas market with gift ideas, artists & chestnuts for everyone!

Fossombrone
Christmas events on Sunday afternoons with typical products of the season, tastings, music, entertainment for children & more in the old center.

Frontone
Nel castello di Babbo Natale - 1st, 2nd, 3rd Sunday & 8th of December
Christmas market in the castle.

Sant'Agata Feltria
Il paese del Natale - 1st, 2nd, 3rd Sunday & 8th of December
Christmas goodies, live entertainment with a visit from Santa Clause and pipers, special menus for Advent in the restaurants of town.

Borgo Pace
Mercatino natalizio - first 2 weeks
Christmas market all day in the old center

Pietrarubbia
Il vecchio mercato a Mercato Vecchio
Opening of wine cantinas (Saturday evening). Christmas market and refreshments on Sunday all day. +39.0722.75110

Piandimeleto
Fiera di Santa Lucia - Sunday after December 13th
Christmas market, antiques, local products, refreshments & more -in the old center.

Auditore
Mercatino di Natale - Sunday before Christmas
Christmas market all day

Urbania
Traditional festival of Christmas events, with "father Christmas" descending from the bell tower. Holiday markets & much more.
Apecchio
Santa Clause arrives in town with little presents for the girls & boys

Casteldelci
After midnight Mass, children are presented with candies & gifts

Fermignano
Festival under the tree - chestnuts, wine & music under the Christmas tree

San Leo
Spettacolo pirotecnico dalla fortezza - December 31st
Firework display from the fortress


Monday, November 16

The Colors of Fall in Le Marche

Here are a few of my favorite photos we snapped along our road, via Candigliano & the road to Urbania. The pictures don't do it justice!



Not a bad drive into town ~

Thursday, November 12

So You Think You Know Your Funghi? Mushroom Hunting in Italy


Gather your baskets, pull on your rubber boots & grab a walking stick - now you're set to head off into our back woods for a proper mushroom hunt!

This fall we made many excursions with our guests, some more bountiful than others. Regardless if you bring home any that are edible or not it is such a great experience foraging for your food. But who are we kidding, it's always more fun when you find baskets full of the 'good ones'! Guests love mushroom hunting in Italy, what a story to take home!

For example check out those HUGE suckers in the photo above - they were toxic - not to the touch, only if you ingest it. And they were just so big & hysterical - we came across a whole family of them!

Jason & I are not experts on funghi species, we rely on the experience & knowledge of our dear friend Dott. Gaggi. He also controls the mushrooms & inspects each & every one to determine if they are safe to eat. Dottore Settimio Gaggi

One beautiful fall afternoon, Jason & I decided to head-out for a walk & see what we'd come across. I was shocked! The leaf covered floor of the woods was filled with beautiful betolus (the latin word for the porcini family) - I was able to identify them by sight as the same family as the delicious porcini. I thought - Damn! we are good as we headed home with a basket full of these juicy jewels! Oh the doctor will be so proud!

Upon first glance he threw them out - "toxico" was all he said.
"But...aren't they in the betolus family," I stammered - proud to pull out my latin. "Yes, but these are betolus satanas!" We found kilos of Satan's Porcini - the Devils version of the wildly popular edible mushroom! Well with a name like that's its pretty cut & dry that this one should not be eaten! This is exactly why we have Dott. Gaggi inspect them!


Since then we've been out dozens more times & have brought home loads! From the famigliole to the coral reef looking manine or fingers, each outing out we are more familiar with the woods, where they like to grow & what's edible.After the inspection we add them to sauces, dry them or even stick them in the freezer to be used later as they conserve great!
Just a quick note: For more on identifying mushrooms check out: Rogers Mushrooms

Next we wait for the morrels....
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