Friday, September 26

Eating Your Way Through Le Marche! October 2008

Fall is here! Crisp days, cools nights, the colors are changing & the leaves are falling - I love autumn!

It is also harvest season & there are plenty of local festivals to keep your belly full! Make a weekend or even better a week of it! Our agriturismo is within an hours drive to all these festivals & is the perfect 'home base.'

All the fall pictures were taken at our place La Tavola Marche Agriturismo just this last week!!

October 2008

Sant'Agata Feltria
National fair of the precious white truffle & products from the woods, pastures & farms. Use of the products, tasting of regional gastronomic specialties, cultural events & more starting at 9am in the old center.

Apecchio
Exhibition & market of the truffle and products from the woods.

Monte Porzio
Fiera d'ottobre - 1st Sunday & Saturday before
October festival, from the grape to wine, celebrate the grape in the age-old wine cellars of historic XVIII century buildings in the old center.

Novafeltria
Sagra della polenta e dei frutta del sottobosco - 1st Sunday
Polenta & soft fruit of the woods festival starting at 10 - Perticara
Piandimeleto
Festa del fungo - 1st Weekend
Regionl mycologic show - mushroom fair! Congress, gastronomy, natural walks, visits to the mushroom museum in San Sisto.

Auditore
I gironi del baccanale - 1st & 2nd Sunday
The days of Bacchanalia sausage festival (1st Sunday); market fair of wine & local products (2nd Sunday). Starting at 9am
(Casinina 1st & 2nd Sunday)

Pergola
Mostra mercato del tartufo - 1st, 2nd, 3rd Sunday
Exhibition & market of the truffle, gastronomic stands & sale of local products with live entertainment in the old center.

Mostra nazionale del tartufo bianco - Starting the 2nd Weekend & continuing for 4 weekends
National fair of the precious white truffle and national fair dog show. Fair specializing in the promotion of the white truffle & other typical products, truffle stands & tasting of dishes, arts & crafts, live entertainment, exhibitions & more!

Belforte All'Isauro
Festa del miele e dei prodotti autunnali - 2nd Sunday
Exhibition & market of honey & autumn products. Sweets made with honey prepared according to typical local recipes & traditions. All day in the town center.

Saltara
Mostra micologica - 2nd Sunday
Mushroom festival all day, Calcinelli

Talamello
Fiera delle castagne - 2nd or 3rd Sunday
Chestnut fair, product tasting & sales. Local chestnut based menus. Festivities start at 9am in the old center.

Incontro di cori e Mostra mercato del funo - 3rd Weekend
Choir singing (Saturday) & exhibition and market of the mushroom. An event to promote & commercialize the mushroom & the products of the autumn woods. Stay nestled in these bountiful woods at Agriturismo Ca'Camone only 10 minutes outside of town! Festivites in Brancaleoni castle & in the medieval center.


Lunano
Festa della castagna - 3rd Weekend
Chestnut festival, this annual autumn exhibition promotes food & wines of the province of Pesaro e Urbino.

Aqualanga
Fiera nazionale del tartufo - Last Sunday in October & first weekend in November
National truffle fair, fair specializing in the promotion of the truffle and other typical local products; truffle stands and tastings of typical dishes; arts & crafts, conventions & live entertainment. Starting at 10am in Piazza Mattei

All month offering guided truffle hunts into the woods behind our farmhouse! Join a local hunter for an Italian adventure into the woods to find black & white truffles, mushrooms & more! email: info@latavolamarche.com

Cantiano
Market of the white truffle & stirrup cup festival in the old center.

San Leo
Mercantino della fortezza - 5th Suday (January - December)
Market of the fortress, antiques fair all day in the old center.

San Giorgio di Pesaro
Happy Halloween with chestnuts, witches, gastronomy, music & shows - starting at 4pm in the old center

Urbino
Urbino land of bio-diversity - looking to autumn, market fair of typical food products in the old center.



Tuesday, September 23

Eat Your Greens!


Green Beans with Tomatoes & Balsamic

1 lb of green beans
3 good fresh tomatoes
good quality olive oil
extra virgin olive oil
garlic
salt & pepper
fresh herbs

Serves: 6

Clean the green beans.
Blanch beans in salted water.  Drain & rinse in cold water.
Score the bottom of 3 nice good quality tomatoes and remove the stem root. Plunge into boiling water for 20 - 30 seconds.  Drain & shock the tomatoes in ice water.
Slough the skins & de-seed tomatoes. Give them a good rough chop into chunks.

In a frying pan, over low heat add a couple of glugs of good quality olive oil.  Throw in 2 whole garlic cloves (skins removed).  Gently fry for a couple of minutes.

Raise heat, add the green beans & sauté for a minute.

Throw in tomatoes.  Toss a couple of times in the pan & cook for 3-4 minutes until the green beans are tender but not mushy.

Remove garlic cloves.  Season with salt & pepper.   Add a small handful of one type of your favorite fresh herbs, chopped. (for example basil, oregano or marjoram) and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

At our agriturismo we finish the dish with 30 year aged traditional balsamic. (To find the good stuff in the States can be hard & expensive). It's totally OK to use regular balsamic, it is just more acetic or use a squeeze of lemon.


Thursday, September 11

Smokin' Deal on Eurofly - $399 Roundtrip NYC to Bologna!! Ends on the 12th!

BOOK NOW!! Seriously, there are only 2 days left on this incredible sale on eurofly.com

Eurofly, the Italian carrier is offering roundtrip coach airfare to Italy for $399 ROUNDTRIP!!
How can you beat it? You can't - so get your tickets now, especially considering how pricey it normally is to travel from the States to Europe.  You must purchase by Friday, September 12th.  Eurofly is selling flights from New York/JFK to Rome, Naples, Palermo or Bologna for just $399 roundtrip.  That INCLUDES the fuel surcharge.  There is about $90 in additional taxes, but still under $500 is an incredible bargain.  

La Tavola Marche is only 2.5 hours drive from Bologna or 3-3.5 hours drive from Rome!

What a great excuse to visit in the fall, the airfare is unbeatable, the rates for La Tavola Marche are in the low season - starting at 60 Euro a night for an apartment & harvest festivals are starting (from mushrooms & chestnuts to vino & truffles!)  - you can't pass this opportunity up!

Full information on the sale, valid travel dates, and other details can be found on the Eurofly web site: http://euroflyusa.com/US/freefuel.asp

Take advantage & book now! 
Airfare - $399

Romantic Package - $460 total for 2 (including 3 nights accommodation, dinner for 2 with wine, horseback riding & cooking class!)

Le Marche in the Fall - Priceless!

Monday, September 8

Eating Your Way Through Le Marche! September 2008

Summer is ending & the harvest festivals are just beginning! In September there is a bit of a lull in the festivities but come October we will be chock full of'em!

September 2008

Piobbico
Sagra del Polentone alla Carbonara - First Sunday in September
Polenta festival, election of the President of the Ugly Club, folklore & gastronomy all day.
(Piobbico is our closest little town - only about 4km from the main road!)

Gradara
The pleasure of the table in the Middle Ages, medieval dinners. Reservations strongly suggested. +39.0541.964673

Montecopiolo
Centenarie fiere di Pugliano - Every Monday in September
The centenary fair of Pulgiano is one of the most ancient livestock fairs in the province, it is held on apx 8 acres of land - starting at 5am.
comune.montecopiolo@provincia.ps.it
(Piobbico Castel Brancaleoni)
Piobbico
Festa delle cantine - 2nd Saturday
Wine & food festival, tasting & folklore starting at 9am in the castle & old centre.

Serra Sant'Abbondio
Palio della Rocca - Weekend before the 16th
Horse & goose race, historic re-enactment in medieval costumes with a goose blessing on Saturday and racing on Sunday. Food, wine & dancing!

Serra Sant'Abbondio
Feast of Saint Abbondio with a market along the streets of the town in the morning. Awarding of the banner/flag to the winning castle for the Palio della Rocca in the evening.

Tavoleto
Sagra della polenta e palio della gallina - 3rd Weekend
Polenta festival & hen race with gastronomic traditions & stands, cultural activities & live entertainment.
Urbino
Urbino land of bio-diversity - looking at autumn, market fair of typical food & products of the season & area.




Sunday, September 7

Polentone alla carobonara

The local polenta man, Franco (who has been making polenta for over 50 years) came to our house, set up on the front yard & made polenta in the old traditional style over a fire & hot coals in a big copper cauldron!  

It was a special night for us - having our first polenta festival & watching up close how it has been made in this area for centuries...but also for Franco - he was born in our house 67 years ago. He had not been back to visit for over 20 years - I took him up to the room where he was born  where he silently cried, it was really very sweet & touching. He told me how the layoutof the house used to be & where his grandmother slept, where the padrone (the owner) and his family slept, etc.  The ghosts stirred a bit as we heard first hand old stories of our house!

Back to polenta...
He explained to us that the men would head out into these
 exact woods for hundreds of years, they would hunt for dinner & the women would make a deliciously meaty sauce out of what was brought home. Then the men would build a great fire & slowly cook the polenta mixing it by hand for about an hour. (Note the photo above & that he is holding it with his hand - that pot is screaming hot! That is the sign of a pro)
.

To watch him recreate this meal was surreal - to think how far have we really come? - here we are in the country eating the exact same meal that hunters of this area have eaten forever -using the same techniques today, as the men before us.

After the polenta was ready, he poured it onto a table topped with a wet sheet (so it wouldn't stick) & let it dry out a bit.  

Then cut it into pieces using twine (my aunts in Oklahoma do this to cut pastry dough for their famous cinnamon rolls too - it reminded me of sweet memories of my late great Aunt Lucile). 

He then laid the chunks/slices of polenta into the biggest baking dish I've ever seen - layering polenta, the most delicious meat sauce (using 3+ different types of meat) and cheese.

He made enough for 50!!

Franco, this little old man can eat - seriously, you'd never know looking at him - but he finished not one or two but 3 plates of polenta & then headed for the antipasti/contorni table filled with salads & vegetables - again 3 times!  Where does he put it?!
(He really is friendly, but this picture just cracks me up!)

He did let me in on a little polenta eating secret - don't drink (water, wine - nothin') while you are eating the polenta - only after can you quinch your thirst.  I wish I had listened to him because after one full plate of polenta, I was T.K.O'd - done! Thank god for leftovers!!  We must thank our dearest friends & neighbors Gaggi e Rossana for helping us put this evening together!

Saturday, September 6

Ferragosto!

We celebrated the culmination of summer on the 15th of Agosto with a full house & a feast for 35! We were filled to the brim with lovely Italian families.


We were flooded with last minute calls for reservations - we don't even know how all these locals got our phone number...but they all knew who we were & that we'd be serving a delicious lunch!

It was a crazy day, starting with me picking berries - frutta
 di bosco at 5am - deep in the bushes looking for those delectable berries. I came back with a full basket for 2 tarts. Jason had already put the deer in the oven, low & slow. The tables were set outside & we were looking good on time. 35 guests is the biggest group we've done yet - and it's just the 2 of us - but we were feeling ready...until the winds started to blow & the weather turned! This is significant because it has only rained one other day the whole summer (for Fabio's pool & pizza party!). So I wrangled up a few of the guests & they helped me move all the tables & chairs inside. It was gonna be tight - but it's a party, so who cares!

Jason had an assistant in the kitchen to help, dear sweet Giulio! He was the official taste tester! And sooo damn cute!
Lunch was a success, the rain held out until everyone arrived & started eating (inside) - and eat they did!

The Menu:
Antipasti
Local meats & cheese - pecorino (fresh & aged), salumi, etc.
Roasted zucchini
Grilled eggplant
Melon & prosciutto
Crostini with pancetta
Crostini with formaggio di fossa
Sauteed greens

Primi
Panzanella (bread & tomato salad)
Spaghetti alla chittara with zucchini & squash blossoms
(squash blossoms)

Secondo

Venison with roasted potatoes

Dolce
2 Blackberry tarts 
2 Rice tarts 
Apple Cake
Fresh berries & cream

The real winner was the venison - it was the talk of the town - fresh deer, soaked in a bath of red wine for 2 days, wrapped in pancetta with wild herbs & juniper berries. It was incredible & a real treat for everyone! You really can't go wrong when your meat is soaked in wine and then wrapped in bacon!!

The cherry on top - a rainbow after the storm!
(us in the front yard)

Friday, September 5

Frutta di Bosco Tart Recipe

Frutta di Bosco or Fruit of the woods - berries - especially blackberries (more in Italian)! Not the big juicy ones from the great Northwest that I grew up on, but a mix of sizes, tartness & juiciness (that's not a word is it?)These berries line our road via Candigliano - just begging for a good pickin'. There is nothing better than heading out early in the morning with my little red ridding hood basket, staining my fingers on berries & then heading home to make pies or torts! (Except why do I always knock the basket over at least once?! And I swear I heard a wild boar in the bushes once snorting at me.)We have yet to pick enough for jams or marmalades, but we have made this tart a few times & everyone loves it!

Here is a fantastic tart recipe, simple enough for me!
Pastry Dough
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups flour
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 vanilla bean (cut length wise, scrap off seeds)
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons cold milk or water

Grease an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. To make your pastry, cream together the butter, powdered sugar, & salt and rub in the flour, vanilla, lemon zest & egg yolks - you can do all this by hand or in a food processor. When the mixture looks like coarse bread-crumbs, add the cold milk or water. Pat and gently work the mixture together until you have a ball of dough, they flour lightly. Don’t ‘’work the pastry too much, otherwise it will become elastic & chewy, not flaky and short as you want it to be. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

Remove it from the fridge, roll it out line your tart pan.
Preheat oven to 350 F and bake the pastry for around 12 minutes or until lightly golden.

Filling

250 grams marscarpone cheese
2 tablespoons of white sugar
vanilla
a handful of chopped, fresh mint
grappa
half a cup of cream

In a bowl add marscarpone, sugar, a little vanilla & mint.
whisk until everything is incorporated. Add a drizzle of grappa & the cream. Whisk until nice & fluffy.

Add to your cooked tart.

Top with the freshest, just picked berries of your choice!

(If you've got a little of that filling left over, it's not bad dolloped on top of your espresso!)
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