Thursday, October 23

Italy's Sturges

Last weekend was the 30th Annual Motoraduno - best translated as Motorcycle rally/ Sturges in the States if you will. Over 1500 hogs, crotch rockets, bikes, scooters... you name it, rolled into Sant'Angelo in Vado. Bikes of all sizes, styles & brands lined the streets as drunken motorcyclists wandered about admiring bikes, certain theirs is the most beautiful!

Once the bikers arrive, they register & for 6Euro are given a little mug that ties around their neck (brilliantly, so you don't loose your cup). And now with that little mug, vino at the cantina is free! I must say, Jason noted there was not one cop, bouncer, security guard, rent-a-cop, polizie, carbinerei - nothing - in sight! It was just one of those little things that you notice & think - that's nice.
Since this is Italy, everyone has the perfect outfit for the bike they ride- usually in a matching or complimentary colors.
Lots of BMW's, Ducati's & other curve loving & hugging bikes - these bikers are in it for the ride, not so much the tinkering you would do on a classic Harley. However Harley was represented well, I enjoyed checking out the Italian Moto Guzzi's - especially the one pictured at the top with the side-car!
(Our guests & their bikes)

I must say, I have 2 uncles that love motorcycles with two totally different tastes - so I think they would both love this festival! For me, I love the sound of an old harley firin' up....crack crack crack!

Saturday, October 18

Little Boys Want Big Toys...

And so do Big Boys! Jason has his eye on a Lamborghini TRACTOR!

A local farmer that was working the land surrounding Ca'Camone was flagged down by Jason recently. We were in desperate need of renting a tractor of some sort to turn the land in the front campo (yard) to start our nice big orto (fruit & vegetable garden). The farmer, Nozzi & his friends said no problem, we're out today working, we'll do it! We were soooo thrilled & thankful we whipped up a few plates of antipasta & red wine to say thank you! Nozzi asked if he could park the super sweet tractor in our driveway - we have the room, no problem.

As soon as they left, Jason ran over to the massive machine & tried to open the doors - 'hey maybe he left the keys in the ignition or something...and I could maybe take it around the block...' No such luck, the farmer was smarter than that. So all Jason could do was admire from afar.But all night after that, Jason would ask, '....don't you think we need a tractor...' and later make proclamations like, 'Yeah, we really need a tractor like that one, Lamborghini has a pretty good reputation if I'm not mistaken...maybe that would be a good brand to look at...'

Be both know the answer to his questions - no way in hell! Lamborghini tractors start used at around $35,000 and can reach $300,000 or more! That's insane!

Thursday, October 16

The Truffle Festivals Continue ... The Sniff Test

Every fall the sleepy town of Sant'Angelo in Vado is filled to the brim with tourists - truffle tasting tourists. Last weekend kicked off the 45th Annual Mostra Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco in Sant'Angelo in Vado (our comune - we're residents)! We headed into town with our friends Rossana & Dott. Gaggi and strolled through the streets sampling the goods & comparing it to Apecchio's latest truffle festival. We thouroughly enjoyed the children's petting zoo - admiring the perfectly plump pigs...ahhh! we will have one or two of our own soon enough...
I was kindly asked to dance with a trio of street muscians & loved it! They were hysterical singing songs, telling stories & jokes within their songs (to be honest we didn't get the jokes, but of course still laughed along with everyone - its crazy how even when you don't know what they are saying somehow its still funny!)

(That's what I call improv- I had no idea what I was doing, but I think I pulled it off & looked like a pro!)

Jason enjoyed the Italian version of barrel-racing, complete with American country music! (sorry no pics, the batteries died.) At first we were hootin' & hollerin' (old pro's of a good ol' rodeo) but no one was really cheering - don't get me wrong people were watching, having a good time but Jason & I were the only ones sounding like barn animals (which I thought was only necessary at a rodeo!) Only the random muffled shouts of 'VAI' ('GO') could you hear in the crowd.

The festival will continue through October to the 2nd of November.
Judges, for a lack of a better term, 'do the sniff test' - with truffles (both black & white) the flavor is more in the smell than the taste. Here, the sniff test is taken seriously!

The truffle in the Marche has ancient historical roots, thus integral part of our culture and tradition. You must take this into account to understand why today it is considered so important in terms of social, ecological, agricultural, forestry and economics. In reality there is a whole world that revolves around this extraordinary product of the earth: the Tartufi first, the dogs & hunters of these truffles, merchants, entrepreneurs for the processing, restaurants & of course the consumer. That is why every year Sant'Angelo in Vado truly celebrates the truffle & all that it means to our community!

This weekend the area is chock full of festivals - too many to choose from!
In Piobbico is the mushoom festival, a saint's day festival in Urbania and a motorcycle rally stopping in Sant' Angelo in Vado!

We've got a lot of bloggin to do baby!

Tuesday, October 14

The Non-Pasta Primo - Risotto

If you've got 20 minutes to stand over the stove stirring - try this immediately! Jason's seafood risotto recipe is soooo good! I beg him to make risotto - any kind cheesy, mushroomy (ok i know that's not really a word) & fishy - delicious & hearty! Risotto is perfect for cold fall or winter nights a real stick to your bones dish.

Here it is served as a primo (first course, after antipasti) since it is in the pasta / rice family but I think it is a meal in itself. So when you just don't feel like tagliatelle (the pasta of our region) try this! The key is the rice - it's gotta be ARBORIO!!

Yes, it really does take about 20 minutes of stirring, but it's totally worth it & your guests will know that you love them because you have spent the time to make this.

Just remember this MUST be served at the moment it is ready - risotto is very temperamental: known problems: it can dry out easily or be too crunchy & get stuck in your teeth or it can go the other way & just become mush!

Now for you to try your hand! Here is a basic Seafood Risotto recipe, but you can change it up & use mushrooms or cheese too!
(A recent class on risotto, they asked to learn how to make a 'proper risotto' & they did just that!)


Serves 6

4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
1 lb 5 oz. cleaned mixed seafood - calamari & shrimp (Italians chop the seafood to about the same size as the rice so it's not in big chunks, it all blends together)

5 cups fish stock

3/4 cup dry white wine

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

scant 2 cups risotto rice - Arborio or Carnaroli are best

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion & garlic and cook over low hear for 10 minutes until lightly browned.

Remove and discard the garlic, add the seafood to the pan and cook for a few minutes more.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil in another pan.

Sprinkle the wine over the seafood & cook until it has evaporated, then season to taste.

Pour in 3 tablespoons water, add the tomato paste and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until it has absorbed all the liquid.

Add a ladleful of the hot stock and cook, stirring, until it has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, and stirring until each addition has been absorbed.

This will take 18-20 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil & serve.


Monte Nerone

(Monte Nerone, PU Italia - winter)

We live in the shadow of Monte Nerone.  Seen for miles & miles or better yet, kilometer after kilometer throughout northern Le Marche. It is our beacon - our north star if you will - if we see Monte Nerone, we know our home is not far from it!
(View of Piobbico, our closest little tiny town)

We have finally taken a drive up to the top!  It was a gorgeous drive, especially in the fall with the burnt orange to brazen red leaves speckling the hillside. 

The top of this mountain has huge antenna's sending radio, tv & cellular signals all over the area - however, we are situated just a bit too close with a foothill in front of our house, thus blocking everything! It is sooo frustrating, we should have awesome cell service but instead we have to run around the front yard - can you hear me now! 

Take a drive, about an hour total roundtrip - in the summer bring some wine & cheese for a picnic, in the fall the foliage is picture perfect & in the winter the ski lift opens! Year-round, Monte Nerone is the place to be!

At 4,403 feet the views are unbeatable you sit above the clouds - to the west you can see into Tuscany & to the east the deep blue color reminds you that the Adriatic Sea is closer than you think!
It is worth a drive to the top for sure - with settlements dating back as early as the sixth century BC, Etruscans left their mark with buried treasures & later the Romans implemented their famed aqueduct infrastructures bring fresh water to the nobility in the villages below  - the history here is just incredible!
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