Sunday, January 27

Cooking over the fire

Jason is learning how to cook over wood in the fireplace. He's started with piadine (an Italian flat bread-everyone & town has a different take on this), grilled calamari & sausages. Meagan & I don't mind at all taste testing as he tweaks his recipes & heat on the grill.

Classic Piadine Recipe:
15g Strutto (pork fat) 
350g Ferina (flour) 
Aqua (water)
pinch Sale (salt)

Combine flour & salt. Cut the fat into the flour. Pour onto cutting board & make a well in the center. Enough tepid water to make a smooth dough.  Let it rest for 15 minutes.  Take golf ball size chunks of dough, roll into circle. Cook over hot coals on the fire.
This recipe varies greatly - some add eggs, baking soda, &/or milk.  Ask five Marchigiani & you'll get six different recipes!

Sunday, January 20

BYOB - Latte Crudo

Fresh whole milk is the best! Latte crudo is raw milk-unpasturzied, unhomoginized and perfectly delicious! We fill up liter bottles, four at a time, sometimes more than twice a week.  If you are driving through Le march & notice a sign reading: Latte Crudo 100m - STOP!! They are these funny little stands onthe side of the road that get filled 3 times a week with fresh whole milk.  The milk is brough directly from the farms & sold locally by the farmers.  Some of the stands have the farm located behind them.  

One of our favorite stands play barnyard animal noises as you fill up to the theme song of "Green Acres." It sets the sense nicely. 
We are always on the lookout for those signs or random fake cow statues (the tell tale signs of latte crudo).  This is why we carry 2 glass liter bottles in the car at all times- you never know!  Meagan spotted a new stand outside of Urbino & shouted out "latte crudoooooo!" We said, "chill fatty" we had four freshly filled bottles in the back.  And Meg innocently replied "I thought we were always on the lookout..." After an afternoon in he bottle, the cream rises to the top & you can either scoop that little bit of heaven out & enjoy or shake it up & drink straight from the bottle! Serve cold with homemade fudge (thanks uncle Shawn), homemade pera torta (pear torte) thanks to Meagan or in our morning cappuccini (call me fat, but on cereal its pretty damn good too!)  

Saturday, January 19

Boys will be boys...


 ...And sometimes girls will be boys too!

Jason feels like a real country man now that he has purchased his first real power tool! The woodbandits have been scoring tons of great wood but we needed to chop or better yet- chainsaw'em into smaller pieces.  We use the kitchen fireplace almost everynight- either for heat & ambiance or to cook/grill over- tonight we made homemade piandina (italian flat bread) and cooked them over the fire on a grill & for our antipasta Jason grilled fresh calamari-delish!

OK back to the power tools! We've all taken to the chain saw - Jason was truly giddy! We thought you couldn't get any tougher or more country (at least for that afternoon)...until our landlord Fusciani stopped by & pulled his gun out of the back of his car & started shooting right in our yard! 

Meagan & I heard the first shots from the kitchen and ran out thinking it was crazy hunters on our property again - nope Jason slinging a huge hunters rifle, missing every target Fuscian
i threw up into the air.  
At first Meagan & I both declined like nice girls should...then we felt 
the urge - it was incredible! Scary - yes! 

Meagan had so much fun, she busted into a celebratory grapevine after!

Thursday, January 10

La Befana Feste

This is our favorite Italian holiday - La Befana! La Befana is an old woman with a big nose that gives candy to good boys and girls & coal to the bad ones - sounds familiar! Urbania, our neighboring town, is the home of La Befana & there is a huge week-long celebration in her honor. Her name derives from the festival of Epiphany and she visits the children of Italy on the eve of 6 January to fill their socks! Many leave a glass of wine and a plate of food for la befana.

We love this feste because everyone comes out to celebrate - the streets are filled with tastey vendors peddling their artisanal goods - from spiced wine, seasoned pecorino & honey to the meats of the region; porchetta, cinghiale in all forms & prosciutto. We took home a wheel of cheese, a hunk of mortadello & wild boar sausages.
Late in the evening, after the band plays through town everyone gathers in the piazza to watch la befana descend from the bell tower into the crowd.

Both men & women dress as this old character and parade the streets night & day, sometimes even on stilts - its hysterical! Jason says that next year he will dress up for sure & I don't doubt it!

The Fog ~

The fog in italy is like no other! 

Every night coming home from a day out & about we hit heavy fog - you can't see 5 feet in front of you - its got to be crazy for the driver, because as the passenger your freaking out! We live in the foothills of the mountains & the switch back roads make for an adventure to say the least.  Jason fancy's himself as a formula one race car driver now! In the morning it starts the day with a haze perfect for pictures of that bella italia that burns off by the time we are done shopping at the market for dinner.  At dusk the colors blur and make everything look romantic.  And at night your scared your going to hit a deer or drive off the road!!
There is another fog here as well- the language & the documents needed for starting a business.  Luckily we have a super business man on our side (another blog entry will be written solely on him!) We've learned who is a "super bastard" and who is "troppo sempatico" too nice! Most people are honestly very patient and talk with their hands enough that we can make sense of it all. We go from the bank to the commune for our residency to the camera di commercio (for businesses) all to find out that we need the one document we don't have on us- or that we need to wait to open a bank account until we have the document from the commercio, that is waiting for a document confirming our residency from the commune - confusing I know! Sometimes it feels like we drive in circles all day to get nothing done and then we'll have a great day where everything gets its necessary stamps (seriously like 4 stamps on each paper) andwe are on our way!  

At first this fog was thick....but it is getting lighter every day!

Thursday, January 3

Tubi Gelati is not a new ice cream flavor!

Boun Anno! Happy New Year!
We are finally in our house - it has been an adventure since day one!
The weather is freezing cold, we arrived to inches of snow on the ground and tubi gelati - frozen pipes! The three of us now know this phrase well.  

We have gotten our brand new car, the Bartner Partner,  stuck in the ice, snow & then mud! Our GPS told us to follow the provincial road and down a hill, so we did- only to get totally stuck on a mud road fit for tractors and cows in the middle of nowhere! It was a full moon that night, we were dressed up to go to dinner in Pesaro at the Morretti brothers house (Mario & Luigi, that is not a joke!) and yes, the oven family! Jason had to use the snow chains to get us out of the mud and ruined his favorite shoes.  We really thought we may be sleeping in the car that night.

Then once the tubi gelati were unfrozen and we were in the house we thought, OK now things are looking up, but we spoke too soon - we ran out of gas (the tank was going to be full we were assured)! No heat, no hot water, no stove/oven- all gas! All we had were our fireplaces but no dry wood! We have become wood bandits, stealing wood from the side of the road whenever the coast is clear, seriously we do it almost everyday! And it was the day after Christmas which of course is a holiday here in Italy, so everything was closed.  Che brutta fortuna!
Every morning we find hunters on our property - either hunting cinghiale (wild boar), deer, and even little birds! Jason wants to impose a hunters tax - where we get a cut of whatever meat you catch - but he is afraid they would just chop off a leg & leave it.

But all is well now, we are busy cleaning the rooms, cooking in the outdoor oven and Jason is cooking three course meals every night! We drink lots of vino (thanks to a case we found in the cantina left by the owner), eat fresh pasta daily and laugh a lot - it may just be the wine, but you have to have a sense of humor about it all!  One day this will make for the first chapter of our best selling novel, but for now we are happy to have hot showers, even if only at night because in the morning - you guessed it- tubi gelati!

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