Tuesday, February 17

Celebrate "Fat Tuesday" with Homemade Strutto (Rendered Fat) & Ciccioli (Cracklings)!

 What better way to celebrate "Fat Tuesday" than to make our own rendered fat!
Strutto is rendered pig fat or lard. It is the process of removing water and bits of meat from the lard so that all that is left is pure fat. There is no smell or no taste.

The finished product can be used in baking or cooking anywhere that fat is used. We think of Italy as the land of olive oil - but in some places here in Le Marche there are no olive trees but plenty of pigs, leaving strutto or lardo the main source of fat for cooking, etc.

Lard is simply uncooked pig fat. Jason uses lard to rub on roasts in particular - usually salt is added & tastes/smells like pig. Strutto to on the other hand is boiled and should have no smell/taste and can be used to make pies, in baking and to fry. In fact, according to our resident Cardiologist, Dr. Gaggi he prefers and suggests to frying in strutto over olive oil because of the way the fat molecules penetrate the skin of the potato! Pork Fat Cardiologist Recommended
 He's not alone...our free range hens love it too!
the chickens go crazy for the bits of fat left behind!
The best part of making strutto at home is the by-product of the fat (if you can call something this amazing a by-product), the ciccioli, all those bits of meat that were stuck to the lard are now crispy fried bits of deliciousness! Some call it cracklings even thought there is no skin, we call it ciccioli (pronounced: chee-cho-lee in our area) but whatever it's name, it's porky goodness! Everytime we make this - we are reminded "do not eat them while they are hot because they will give you an upset stomach." And every time we all reach in and devour handfuls while they are piping hot until our bellies ache…not sure if it’s the ciccioli or the sheer quantity we consume!

Types of Fat/Lard
The best type of pig fat for strutto is usually cut from the back.

The Grind
The fat must be ground, similar to grinding pork shoulder for sausages. Each person has their own preference for the size of the grind - this will affect the time it takes for the fat to melt.
The courser the grind the larger the pieces of “ciccioli" or fried bites you will have.

How to Make Strutto & Ciccioli
In a large pot, melt down a little bit of already made strutto on the bottom of the pot to get it started so the fat does not stick and nothing burns. Add in your ground lard a bit at a time, stirring to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. Once everything is in - allow the lard to completely melt and start to boil. Lower the heat and allow the fat to simmer until the little pieces of “ciccioli" can be mushed apart when pressed with a spoon upon the side of the pot. Once the ciccioli are golden & ready, strain them from the fat and toss with bay or laurel leaves and salt.

Extracting the Strutto
There are a number of different ways to press the fat out of the ciccioli - from homemade strainer to two pieces of wood as a press (as seen above). Be prepared this could get messy!!

Allow the liquid strutto to cool slightly, then funnel into whatever mode you like: long plastic sleeves, empty water bottles, etc - then you can freeze it or hang in your cellar and use as needed. In the rustic Italian countryside this is considered a beautiful gift - an old plastic water bottled filled with rendered pork fat, just cut the bottle away as you use it!

Jason & Dr. Gaggi at our farmhouse making homemade strutto

Tuesday, February 10

It's a Cold Cold Night in Le Marche...

On a cold winter's night we set up the camera & shot the Marche night sky & stars! Enjoy the first test of playing with 'nightlapse' time lapse on a GoPro Hero 4! Working on more...

Thursday, February 5

"Made in Le Marche" Culinary Holiday in Italy: Wine Tour, Artisan Meat & Cheese Market Trip, Craft Beer Tasting + Cooking Classes

"Made in Le Marche"- D.O.C. Wine Tour, Artisan Meat & Cheese Market Trip, Craft Beer Tasting and 3 Cooking Classes 
May 12-17, 2015 and May 26-31, 2015
(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 "Bucket List Cooking Classes from Around the World"!!
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)

Friday, January 23

Cooking in Italy: Wild Edibles & Bottling Wine April 22-26, 2015

   Cooking with Spring's Wild Edibles & Bottling Wine 
22 - 26 April 2015 (4 Nights) = 500 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 & rosè!  
Here's a look at what to expect!

Spring in Italy, Wild Edibles Cooking Class:
Jason helps guests identify the different edibles and with bags full of dandelion greens, poppy greens, grispigno & then head into the kitchen to create a rustic tart with the fresh picked wild greens, ricotta & prosciutto.
Bottling Wine & Filling our Cantina with Guests:

Every year we visit our favorite winemakers to collect hundreds of liters of wine for guests. In this short film we visit 3 vineyards & winemakers, buying 600 liters of loose wine or vino sfuso and then return to our farm to bottle, cork and label the bottles with guests!
Cooking with Spring's Wild Edibles & Bottling Wine   
22 - 26 April 2015 (4 Nights) = 500 Euro/person
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.

Don't forget...THIS IS OUR LAST SEASON!! 

La Tavola Marche (farm, inn and cooking school)

Thursday, January 22

{Video} Two Old Italians: A Short Lesson in Salami & Sausage Making

It's that time of year again when we ignite our passion for pork by making hundreds of kilos of salami & sausages to cure in the rafters of our farmhouse during the winter! We come together with our friends and come una volta - like a long time ago, we pass the day with our elbows deep in meat, chatting about life, breaking for lunch (and more than a few cafes) ensuring that we've got a years ration of cured meats set aside...at the same time ensuring that this old way of Italian life stays alive. As I type, Jason is at our dear friend Vittorio's with the good Doctor (Gaggi) making the first round of our homemade homecured sausages so it felt like a great time to repost one of my favorite videos we've made!

Here's to the two old Italians that have taught us so much - Grazie Gaggi & Vittorio!

If you are interested in taking one of our Sausages from Scratch Class, Whole Hog Butchery Courses or joining our 5th Annual Forage, Slaughter & Butchery Program contact: info@latavolamarche.com

Thursday, January 15

BIG NEWS: It's our LAST season and your LAST chance to visit....

It's our LAST season & your LAST chance to visit!!
A bucket list year...
If a visit to La Tavola Marche is on your bucket list, then buy your plane tickets to visit in 2015 now. This will be our LAST season! We're ready for our next adventure & will keep you posted on our upcoming plans...

That means BOOK NOW because we are filling up quickly!!

Over the past eight years we have grown roots in a foreign land, learned from our neighbors & shared our lives in Le Marche with you! Thank you for your energetic emails, thank you for your kind reviews and thank you for returning year after year with your families. We are truly grateful for all the memories made is this old farmhouse and excited for all to see all of you that will join us in 2015!
If you think you've got what it takes to have a B&B in Italy contact us...

Hope to see you in the kitchen!
Ashley & Jason Bartner

A few of our 2015 Culinary Packages:
April 22-26 Cooking with Wild Edibles & Bottling Wine  500 Euro/person
May 12-17 & May 26-31  Made in Le Marche  928 Euro/person
June 9 - 14 Country, Sea & Garden Cooking Classes  775 Euro/person  
June- October  Thursday to Sunday 3 Nights Special starting at 715 Euro/COUPLE 
Any 3 Nights Fall Foraging for Mushrooms from 345 Euro/person

27 October - 1 November 5th Annual Forage, Slaughter & Butcher Your Meal 925 Euro/person

Click Here for the complete list of cooking classes & culinary holidays!
Book NOW before it's too late!!

The 30 Best Autumn Escapes  - The Sunday Times
Top 10 Quirky Food Adventures -Lonely Planet
Top 10 Food & Drink Holidays in Italy - The Telegraph

Tuesday, January 6

{VIDEO} Festa della Befana: The Italian Folklore, Festival & Food!

A "Taste of Italy" episode celebrating Festa della Befana -

A short film capturing the magic of Befana with the smell of roasted chestnuts and spiced wine, the cold air fills with festive music as Befana's of all ages descend upon the cobblestone streets to celebrate in Urbania (Le Marche) Italy. 

La Befana is believed to hail from the medieval village of Urbania in Le Marche Italy. In Italian folklore, La Befana delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on the night of January 5th, the Eve of Epiphany.  In addition to delivering gifts, she will sweep the floor before she leaves! It is customary to set out a glass of wine and snacks to thank her for cleaning the house!

A short film by La Tavola Marche (sharing a slice of life in Le Marche)
Directed & Edited by Ashley Bartner & Jason Bartner
Music: Live from the Band of Urbania,
"Sugar, Rum, Cherry" by Duke Ellington
 "Sleigh Ride" Instrumentals only by Harry Connick Jr

Thursday, January 1

How to Make a Legit Plate of Pasta - This Sunday on YouTube LIVE!

It’s all about pasta! First we will make a semolina dough pasta, Cavatelli or little caves. This is a perfect intro to pasta making because no rolling pin is even needed! After you get down the knack of forming the cavatelli we’ll move on to how to make a simple plate of pasta, starting with the size of your pot of boiling water! Cacio e Pepe (cheese & pepper) is a perfect example of a simple sauce with three ingredients, when done right is outstanding! Just to drive the idea home on how to make a proper plate of pasta, we'll make a sauce of the moment using whatever local seasonal vegetable is looking good for you
Literally make Sauce of the Moment as your water boils! Many people think that Italian sauces are all tomato based and heavy, but in fact there are many types of ‘sauce of the moment’ that you can make depending on what’s in season. 

**CLICK HERE TO WATCH: Sunday, January 4th Link to Watch LIVE! on YouTube
Recipe Links, Ingredient/Shopping List Below

Depending on where you live in the world:
12-noon PST (Seattle)
3pm EST (New York)
8pm GMT (London)
9pm CET (Rome)

9am + 1 day (New Zealand)
How to Register:
Reply to this email with RSVP in the subject or just tune in to the YouTube LIVE! link above. The classes will be recorded and available to view at anytime on YouTube.

The Classes will be about 45 min - 1 hour in duration and will be recorded so you can watch it at your convenience on YouTube.
The Cost = FREE! We just ask that you spread the word, share this email, retweet, post photos, etc. If you feel inclined you can help support the show & keep us sponsor free!

What you need to cook along:
Recipe Links & Ingredient 
200 grams/ 1.5 cups of semolina or ground durum wheat/ grano duro
25 grams / 1/4 cup of regular flour or soft wheat flour
pinch of salt
125 grams or 3/4 cup warm water

Spaghetti (or pasta of your choice)
small handful of hard aged pecorino or parmesan
black peper or peperoncini (chili flakes)
olive oil

We'll use the cavatelli as the pasta to pair with this sauce 

veg of choice: brocolli or brocolli rabe, cauliflower, zucchini, depends on what's in season where you live
small handful of cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons of white wine
4 tablespoons of chicken stock or pasta water
handful of parmesan cheese
clove of garlic, kept whole
olive oil
salt & pepper

mixing bowls
cutting board/work surface for the pasta
pairing knife
large pot for the pasta water

Photos sent in from students/viewers around the world cooking along during the LIVE! classes!! 

and back at our house...

Wednesday, December 24

A Very Cappelletti Christmas - Buon Natale

Christmas is synonymous with 'cappelletti' in Le Marche. The postage stamp sized squares homemade pasta are filled with veal, pork & chicken, nutmeg, lemon zest & grated parmesan then folded into "tiny hats" or cappelletti and added to a rich broth, served on Christmas Day! 

Not only did we make kilos & kilos of cappelletti with friends but to get a little extra festive, we headed into the woods to cut down our own tree! Ok, technically it's a really big branch for juniper, and a total 'Charlie Brown' tree but a string of lights a few ornaments made during our childhood and we're ready to Jingle Bell Rock the night away!  
As local tradition dictates, we dutifully & very happily make our cappelletti like good Marchigianni (wannabees).  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! 

With our stockings hung, the 'tree' trimmed, the dough made and fire ablaze we invited friends to help in the merriment: we share the work and reward.
With our hens still producing eggs, our dough is rich in color!!


A few crates of cappelletti and our juniper berry Christmas tree!
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!)
I've posted it in years past - but here you go: Cappelletti in Brodo Recipe

Wednesday, December 17

LIVE! from ITALY Online Cooking Class on YouTube: Sunday, December 21st 2014

 LIVE from ITALY Online Cooking Class Sunday, December 21st 2014
A Christmas Special! This episode/class can help you prep for the Holidays with a beautiful Butternut Squash Soup and the classic, Tiramisu. Both dishes can be made ahead or the morning of your event and can be scaled up easily to feed a full house of hungry guests!

Fall in a bowl - pumpkin or squash soup would make a perfect dish to add to your Holiday dinner or even lunch on a random rainy afternoon. Since you can cook it off a day or 2 before, it makes for one less thing to do on Christmas Day! This soup has become a tradition in our house - it’s so creamy & delicious. If you want to make this simple soup a bit more decadent add a few steamed mussels just before you serve.

One of the most requested recipes to feature, Tiramisu. This is the real deal. Tiramisu can be a boozy, mushy mess and nothing I would never want to eat. However this recipe is lick-your-plate amazing! So what’s the difference in the dish served at restaurants State-side vs. that of Italy? First off the eggs - this recipe calls for fresh egg yolks not whipped cream or imitation eggs making it much richer and secondly it’s all in the lady-fingers! (Buy Pavisini.) They perfectly hold up after being dipped in coffee & layered with cream.

Our classes focus not only the recipes at hand but the technique and theory 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.


Watch LIVE! on YouTube:
LIVE from ITALY: Online Cooking Class on Sunday, December 21, 2014

Depending on where you live in the world:
12-noon PST (Seattle)
3pm EST (New York)
8pm GMT (London)
9pm CET (Rome)
To REGISTER for this class email: info@latavolamarche.com
You can watch the class for fun or to cook along. 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.

The Classes will be about 45 min - 1 hour in duration and will be recorded so you can watch it at your convenience on YouTube.
The Cost = FREE! We just ask that you spread the word, share this email, retweet, post photos, etc. If you feel inclined you can help support the show & keep us sponsor free!

For more details click here!
Hope you join us in the kitchen on Sunday!

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