Friday, January 20

Join us as we start the season!

Cooking with Spring's Wild Edibles & Bottling Wine  
24 - 29 April 2017 (5 Nights) = 600 Euro/person

Fields of wild radicchio ready to be sauteed, young nettle perfect for tongue tingling ravioli, rich & creamy artichoke risotto - the flavors of Spring in Le Marche, Italy. In our farm to fork cooking classes we will collect wild edibles for both a pasta class and a five course Italian dinner party! Learn to make pasta (both cut & stuffed) with two seasonal sauces as well a complete menu of antipasti, primo (first course), secondo (main course), contorno (side dish) and dolce (dessert).  Plus this is the time of year that we refill our cantina with local wines and we need your help bottling, corking & labeling the hundreds of liters of red, white & rosato!

Includes: 4 nights, guided wild edible walk, 2 half day cooking class with a custom hand-made apron, wine bottling, two meals with wine, five course dinner and breakfast daily, price based on double occupancy.

Friday, January 13

Podcast from Italy: Home for Winter Making 50 Kilos of Salami

Back from France for the holidays we share the differences of spending Christmas in the French countryside vs the Italian countryside. While we were away busy making gingerbread houses, flying & filming, Gaggi stayed busy with yard work at our house!

Arriving home to frozen pipes, a quickly dwindling wood pile and a forecast of snow quickly brings us out of vacation mode and back to reality.  First on the to-do list: 50 kilos of salami with Dr. Gaggi & Vittorio...
Thanks for listening to our latest podcast!!

Podcast from Italy: #95 - Home for Winter & Salami Making - Dowload/Stream on iTunesStitcher or Podbean

Friday, December 30

Panettone French Toast

What to do with all the extra boxes of panettone stacking up after the Christmas onslaught? Make French Toast! Now we are talking. Soft sweet buttery panettone (especially the ones with chocolate chips or raisins) makes perfect french toast to be drowned in Grade A maple syrup on a cold frosty December the diet for after Befana (January 6th)!

Panettone French Toast
maple syrup
(powdered/icing sugar optional)

Beat eggs, adding in vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg in shallow dish. Stir in milk.
Dip thick slices of the panettone into the egg mixture, turning to coat both sides evenly.
Cook panettone slices on lightly greased nonstick griddle or skillet on medium heat until browned on both sides.

To really go wild - you can add a layer of powdered sugar to one side, flip it back onto the heat and let it form a sweet crust!
Drizzle heavily in good maple syrup & serve!

Wednesday, December 28

Creative Tourism Award: Best Creative Residency 2016

What a wonderful surprise! Our farm, inn & cooking school La Tavola Marche has just been honoured & recognized by the Creative Tourism Awards for Best Creative Residency 2016 for our innovative & sustainable tourism efforts. We are blushing a bit & stammering for did they ever hear of our little farmhouse?! 

I'll share with you what they sent:
The Jury highlighted the quality, originality and sustainability of La Tavola Marche as well as its engagement for the experiential tourism.

The Jury of the Creative Tourism Awards particularly appreciated the authentic and elegant experiences designed by La Tavola Marche though which the travellers can enjoy the art of living and the uniqueness of Le Marche area.
With its wide array of activities aimed to very diverse targets, La Tavola Marche contributes to the development of a sustainable tourism offer.
The Jury underlined the balance between the quality based on a strong professional background, and the human generosity brought by the owners’ personal involvement in this project.

Created by the Creative Tourism Network, the Creative Tourism Awards  aim to reward companies, projects and destinations worldwide that foster the creative tourism, a new generation of tourism, characterized by the active participation of the tourists in artistic and creative activities.

Internationally recognized for its action in favor of a more innovative and sustainable tourism, the Creative Tourism Network® works with a panel of prestigious experts headed by the Professor Greg Richards, co-inventor of the creative tourism concept, in order to determine and guarantee respect of the Best Practices of the Creative Tourism.

Hence, the international jury of the Creative Tourism Awards selected five, among more than hundreds of initiatives and destinations from twenty-eight countries, that highlight for their commitment to this emerging sector. The Jury particularly appreciated the authenticity and creativity of the proposals, as well as their promoters’ interest in involving the locals and the tourists in the production of the experiences.

Based on the criteria of quality, originality, innovation and sustainability, the prizes were awarded to:

Best Strategy for Creative Tourism Development 2016: VisitEstonia   (Estonia)
Best Creative Destination 2016: Pafos Region - (Cyprus)
Best Creative Travel Agency 2016: Human Connections (Mexico)
Best Creative Residency 2016: La Tavola Marche (Italy)
Best Creative Experience 2016: The Place  (Cyprus)

WOW! Like I said, we are a bit speechless... A very sincere thank you to this fantastic international organisation (based in Barcelona) led by the amazing Caroline Couret in there endless efforts of fostering & promoting creative tourism around the world. We share similar ideas of sustainable tourism - in the simplicity of connecting travellers to the local life, food & culture in a honest authentic way. Well, we couldn't be prouder - Grazie Mille, Thank you Creative Tourism Network!

Tuesday, December 20

Cappelletti: An Italian Christmas Story

Last year I recorded a short timelapse video of making kilos of this handmade pasta but the best part is it's narrated by Dr. Gaggi!


Christmas celebrated in Le Marche, Italy is not complete without a heart-warming bowl of cappelletti in brodo or little stuffed hats in broth. I was once told is a dish served for only those you love because it takes so much time & patience to make!  In our area this dish is traditionally served on Christmas day for lunch and New Year's Eve for dinner.

Take the time and make it from scratch, buy the freshest eggs (it will make the color of the dough nice & golden) and enjoy this homemade pasta the way it was meant to be eaten - surrounded by family. (Plus they freeze well so you can have them on-hand, at the ready all winter long!)

Cappelletti in Brodo
 1 whole chicken in pieces
1 beef bone
1 tomato
2 stalks of celery, chunked up
2 carrots, chopped in chunks
2 large onions, chopped in chunks
sprig of parsley
healthy pinch of salt
In a large stock pot add all ingredients and cover with water. Bring to a boil, skim the fat and impurities that come to the top.
Then lower to a very low simmer.
Simmer for 3-4 hours.
Strain stock - discard vegetables.
Now you have a delicious stock to be used in an array of dishes & soups.

Pick the meat off the bone & use in the soup, chicken salad or any other dish. 
(Stock will last a week in the fridge or you can freeze in usable portions.)

Pasta Dough Recipe:
(serves 4)
400 grams of flour (type 0)
pinch of salt
4 eggs
To make the dough - follow our recipe - click here
6 oz. lean beef cubed
4 oz. pork loin, cubed
half a chicken breast, cubed
1 sausage, without casing, cubed
1 carrot, diced finely
salt & pepper
a healthy pinch Nutmeg
handful of grated parmesean cheese
1 egg
pad of butter
glug of olive oil
salt & pepper

In a pot, melt the butter & toss in all the meat & carrot.  
Cook over medium heat, until meat is cooked & 2/3 of the liquid is reduced.
Set aside & let cool.
When the meat is cool toss it into the food processor & pulse until it resembles ground beef - not a paste.
Add the egg, salt & pepper, nutmeg & cheese - mix with your hands.  (It will hold a ball when squeezed together, but not wet)
Roll out pasta dough into about 2mm thick sheets.

It may help at this point to watch this clip on youtube (fast forward to about 6 minutes in): How to close your cappelletti:
Cut into 1 inch squares.  Place a pea size amount of filling in each square.
 Fold the square into a triangle - making sure to seal the edges very well! (Super important)
This is when it gets difficult to explain...Then take legs of the triangle & pinch them together. 
Make sure not to over-stuff your cappelleti & to seal them properly - otherwise they will burst when you boil them.
Boil in brodo (broth) until they float - if they are fresh about 2-4 minutes. Jason suggests that when they start floating - try one.
To freeze for later: Let the pasta sit & dry overnight in a cool dry room in a single layer with parchment paper underneath.


Friday, December 16

New Episode of Podcast from Italy: Memories of our 1st Christmas in Italy 10 Years Ago...

After a month of work at the house and visiting family in the States, we are back reminiscing about our first Christmas in Italy, 10 years ago! Jason runs down his top list of Christmas gifts for the cook and we compare Christmas in the States vs Italy.

Podcast from Italy #94: Christmas Gift List & 10 Year Anniversary in Italy
Listen/Download/Subscribe via iTunesStitcher or Podbean!

Happy Holidays!!
From then to now...
10 years ago...our first night in the house -
last years festivities in Urbania

Thursday, December 15

Recipe Video: Poached Pears in Red Wine & Rosemary

Continuing my collection of #slowlivedmoments in Italy - one of my favourite autumn/winter dessert recipes Pears Poached in Red Wine, Rosemary & Juniper. The sweet pears, spicy aromatics and boldness of the wine round out this dessert perfectly. Use any red or rose you like or that bottle of wine that's been collecting dust in the back of your cupboard (you know the one) - it will work great in this classic dish! A wonderful addition to your Christmas or Holiday dinner!

The key to this dish: Cooking the wine and herbs slowly will create a beautiful rich flavorful syrup.

Poached Pears in Red Wine

Serves 4
4 pears, peeled and left whole
1/4 cup sugar
1 bottle of wine - red or rose' - whichever you prefer or have in your cupboard
herbs you like: we use sprig of rosemary, sprig of thyme and lemon zest or you can use cinnamon, clove and nutmeg

Place pears in a pot that fits snugly. Add sugar and herbs to the pot with pears. Cover the pears 3/4 with wine.

Place the pot on the stove with the lid on and bring up to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Let simmer for 10-18 minutes depending on the size of your pears. You'll know when they are done when a knife slips easily in (just like when boiling potatoes).

Once cooked through remove the pears from the liquid & place in the fridge. Return the pot to the stove and reduce the wine, on a simmer for about 10-15 minutes until it forms a syrup. Be careful not to burn it by reducing too much.

About a minute or two before before the wine syrup is ready give it a taste checking to make sure its not too tart. You may need a little more sugar depending on the sweetness of the wine.

To serve, strain a ladle full of the syrup through a fine mesh strainer directly onto each plate. Top with your pear - either serve whole or sliced in half. Finish with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or mascarpone cream.

Find a pot that fits the pears snuggly!

Monday, December 12

Christmas Cornflake Cookies

Snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Raisin, Classic Chocolate Chip and...Cornflakes?! Cornflake cookies are an easy to make, not too sweet dessert, perfect not only for the Holidays but any of time year! I had never seen/eaten these before we moved to Italy, though after a quick recipe search they are found all over from the States to Australia. 
A cookie so simple, even I can make it! 
Buon Natale! 

 Cornflake Cookies
Biscotti di cereali

makes 30 cookies

250 grams of flour
2 eggs
100 grams of sugar
100 grams of butter
4-6 tablespoons of raisins
tablespoon of vanilla extract
16 grams of ‘lieveto per dolci’ or baking powder
(handful of toasted pine nuts optional)
Corn Flakes

Preheat oven to 175 Celsius or  345 Fahrenheit.
Cream butter and sugar. Then add eggs and vanilla and blend. Sift flour and baking powder/lieveto.  Mix the wet and dry ingredients. Fold in the raisins and optional pine nuts.

Make small balls of dough and roll in Corn Flakes.
Bake for about 15-18 minutes.

Saturday, December 10

A Gift of Homemade Limoncello for the Holidays

If you are a Christmas gift procrastinator - you still have time to pull off this homemade crowd pleaser for the holidays!! (The recipe is below and only takes about 10-15 days from start to finish.)

Since this year our motto was 'If life gives you lemons, make the best damn limoncello' it was a no-brainer what we'd be sending out this holiday season.

I love giving homemade gifts for the holidays, not only because it can be a thoughtful but money saving way to give when your Christmas list is long, but I love doing these kind of fun-cheesy projects! For years, even when we lived in Brooklyn we would make homemade gifts (always edible) from tins of carmel popcorn to black & white cookies to chocolate covered pretzels and bottles of olive oil...the list goes on and on. I can't think of anything better during the holiday's than sitting around the fire and writing out the cards with fancy shimmery pens, Bing Crosby crooning in the background and the smell of buttery deliciousness baking away! 

The hardest part isn't the execution of the idea/baking for days (I've got Jason and we make a good team), but sourcing the packaging. (Take into consideration if you will be shipping them or hand-delivery.)  

Here's the "Recipe" for Bottling, Labeling & Making Homemade Limoncello:
The Bottle: Size, glass color, flip top or cork?
1. Collect a mix of bottles from ebay, yard sales and even thrift shops.
2. Order from Amazon or Ebay an entire 'lot' or look for 'wholesale'
3. Or find a site like for a huge selection to find just what you're looking for.

Labels, tags or stamps...(now this is the hard part): Homemade or a bit more professional?
1. Make your own with glittery pens and tags (I've done it for years).
2. Print your own using mailing labels (way cheaper than you'd expect).
3. Order fancy ones (I finally did it this year). My favorite online label maker (great selection of font, color & design choices) is Evermine/ or Etsy of course!

The Recipe: Classic Limoncello
Rinds of 6-7 lemons (no whites) - find organic, wax-free lemons
1/2 liter of pure alcohol (everclear or vodka will work too)
1 liter of water
500 gr. sugar

1. Let the lemon rinds soak in alcohol for 10-14 days. Then filter the lemon rinds with a strainer. 
2. Make a simple syrup with the sugar & water (warming the water on the stove & incorporating all the sugar). 
3. Once cool, combine the simple syrup with the alcohol & mix.
4. Bottle & freeze. Serve cold!
Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, December 8

Panettone Pandemonium!

Every year around this time, strange large octagonal boxes appear filling the isles of every market, alimentare & grocery store across Italy. They stack enormous pyramids to the ceiling of this classic Italian Christmas bread. It's panettone (large bread) and it is the indication that Christmas season is here! Even before the huge snowflake lights are hung above the city streets or the first tree is lit - panettone is stocked in every shop! Seriously, this is no exaggeration - Italian bakers produce 117 million loaves of panettone every Christmas - that is more than one loaf a person! (We're up to 4 already & gathering steam!!)

So what is panettone?! I remember seeing these boxes in random shops in the States before we had moved & thought; what's in the box..why is it shaped like that..the picture looks like a poofy dome cake-thing with weird dried fruit...why did they seem to last so long...??  These were questions I wasn't ready to answer.

 After being offered thick fluffy slices at every house you enter (& you can't say no!) I have come to not only enjoy the candied fruit (which normally I don't dig at all) and the warm soft bread that melts in your mouth but I crave it night & day! It's bread - not a cake. And if you place it by the fire during dinner (or on the radiator or any heat source - keeping it in the plastic bag) it starts to get warm & soft and the butter begins to melt- it's perfect!

Panettone - the original recipe/flavor if you will- contains candied orange, citron & lemon zest as well as raisins, which are added dry & not soaked. Many other variations are available such as plain, only raisins or with chocolate & almonds. Panettone goes great with vin santo, moscato or any other sweet wine or liquor you like! Or like Dr. Gaggi - dip it straight into your glass of wine at the end of the meal.

My favorite un-orthodox way to eat it - french toast!

Panettone was unarguably born in Milan, but it's origin dates back to the Roman Empire - when ancient Romans sweetened a similar type of leavened bread with honey.

Most Italians prefer store bought panettone than making their own - it's a difficult, time consuming process with several days of proofing (this coming from the same people who roll pasta paper thin by hand!) Here are classic choices:

MottaAlemagna or Bauli
** Bonfanti
*** Artisan made (in our area Cafe del Teatro in Urbania or Martinell's in Apecchio)

Add your comments below on which is your favorite!

Happy Holidays & Here's to Panettone Pandemonium!
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