Monday, August 31

A Potato Fest with a Spin!

...A spin on the giro-roasto that is!

What was promoted as the Festa della Patata Rossa (Red Potato Festival) should have in-fact been called the Spit-Fire Fest! I think they would have tripled their attendance if people had a clue what would be served up at this particular potato fest.

As we made our way into the little village of Borgo Pace the breeze blew past us heavy with the smell of fire & meat! When what did my wondering eyes see - the big beautiful giro roasto - rotissieri!Grilled meats slowly cooked over an open fire - does it get any better than that?! YES! When its quale they have crammed on those skewers! Quale is a delicacy here in the Italian countryside - a prized hunt & a most delicious dish to serve! (These ladies meant business - serving up lunch & dinner)
And since this was the potato fest - the grilled meats (quale, chicken & sausages) were served with gnocchi in a duck ragu & roasted potatoes.

We were a bit early & lunch didn't start for an hour so we strolled about the tiny town (we probably made 4 loops - not much else to do or see & we couldn't get too far from the rotisseier now could we!) So why not start grazing...There were a few stands serving potato based foods - my favorite being the potato flour doughnuts (as a fatty I went back for it actually considered thirds when I ate half of Jason's too ...what! they were soo good & warm!) They also had little fried gnocchi with sugar, frittars, fries, & more - you could even buy just a big bag of red taters. We happened upon the mini antique car show with a dozen or so cars - the lot mainly filled with the ever loved Fiat 500. But this sweet Triumph could take me home!

By the way - check out how super sexy the promo poster is for the potato festival...grasping the potatoes to her boosom!
In celebration of the spud (& giro roasto)~ until next year!

Saturday, August 29

Food & Wine ~ New Italian Cooking Schools

Check out the SEPTEMBER 2009 Issue of Food & Wine - we are listed! La Tavola Marche Agriturismo & Cooking School is on their list of New Italian Cooking Schools!
Half Day Cooking Classes start at 100 Euro a person.
Email us: for more information on local seasonal Italian cooking.

A big GRAZIE to the guest who submitted us!

Thursday, August 27

Eating Your Way Through Le Marche ~ September 2009

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 2009

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!)

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

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.
(Piobbico Castel Brancaleoni)
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.

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

Make sure to always check online &/call or email to confirm as dates are very flexible & subject to change at a moments notice!

Friday, August 21

Picking & Jarring ~ Pomodori Part 2

We've been steadily picking tomatoes for over a month now & have brought in literally HUNDREDS of POUNDS! - no joke!

Here's our most recent rag-tag group of tomato pickers!We rally our guests, family & friends (any one really), willing to lend a hand, to join in the picking!

(We collected these tomatoes in about half an hour with all the kids)

After we pick the tomatoes they are either eaten raw & just popped into the mouth while picking, used in a delicious dish by Jason, chopped & piled on top of bread with a drizzle of the best extra virgin olive oil you can find & a crack of salt for pane al pomodori or we jar them. You truly taste the difference in home jarred tomatoes versus store bought jars or cans - it's huge! I strongly suggest if you've got tomatoes - jar'em - preserve their flavor long into winter & you can use them in any number of ways! Jarring Tip: According to our neighbor Rossana there is no need to peel the tomatoes first (wish someone had told this to Jason before our first round of jarring & the burns that followed from the scalding hot tomaotes in our hands!) She says when you open the jars to use them - this is when you pass them through a food mill....SOO much easier! Grazie Rossana!

Here's how we jar/preserve our tomatoes in Italy:
Pick tomatoes when ripe.

Leave to in a cool dry place to deepen in flavor & mature.

When they are nice & soft, deep red - wash well.

Slice in half & scoop out most of the seeds (if they are large, cut in half again).

In a clean jar pack in your tomatoes nice & tight - using a wooden spoon to push out all the air between the tomatoes.

When jars are full to the top tightly close the lid.

NOTE: An Italian friend of ours swears by adding a pinch of salt to the top before closing the lid.

Wrap jars in newspaper (to prevent banging around in the pot).

Place jars in the biggest pot you have - it must be deep enough to fully submerge the jars.
ONLY if your pot is tall enough - you can add a rack on top of your jars & add a second layer. DO NOT stack jars without a rack.

Fill the pot with water 1 inch above the jars.

Bring to a boil.

Boil for 30 minutes & then shut off the heat. Keeping the jars in the water, all the water to cool completely before removing.

Store jars in a cool dark place for up to 1 1/2 years.

Enjoy your tomatoes all year round!

Monday, August 17

A Farm Feast for Ferragosto

Ferragosto (August 15th) is the celebration of the culmination of summer in Italy! Friends & family gather to eat drink & be merry...and a splash in the pool!

This festival originates from the Roman emperor Augustus, he enjoyed late summer so much so that he claimed it as his own month - thus we now call it by his name. He ordered month-long festivities, called feriae augustus, which included games, races, and rituals to honor the goddess Diana, who was worshiped as queen of the fields as well as of heaven and earth. (For more history on this day click here!)
(Prepping for the party - we picked tons of fresh veggies)

Well this year Jason out did himself yet again with a five course feast -with all the produce straight from our farm garden! PLUS - Franco the local Polentone (polenta maker) was on hand making fresh polenta over an open fire in the front yard!

We almost 100 guests for the day - with service for both lunch & dinner - there was a TON of food, not to mention the biggest pot of tomato sauce I have ever seen AND 2 meat courses - let's just say no one went hungry here!

La Tavola Marche Menu for Ferragosto

Porsciutto & melon
Homemade salami & dried sausages
Farro, chick pea & arugala salad with shaved parmesan
Cherry tomato, cucumber, onion & green pepper salad with homemade red wine vinegar
Grilled marinated eggplant
Tomatoes & buffalo mozzarella with basil

Polenta & ragu with parmesan & pecorino cheese

Secondo Piatti
Venison with capers & olives
Bone-in roasted loin of pork in wood burning oven

ContornoGarden casserole of potatoes, zucchini & tomatoes

Homemade cherry jam tart
Homemade peach jam tart
Nutella & walnut tort
Marble ring cake

~A delicious summer celebration!

Tuesday, August 11

A Parade of Pomodori

With over 350 tomato plants - needless to say every day more & more tomatoes (pomodori) are picked from the vine from our organic farm!

We have 7 varieties all bursting with flavor & just beggin' to be eaten!

Time to eat, sort, jar, eat - repeat!

Pennabilli: An Artists Hideaway in a Hilltop Town

Another gorgeous sunny Italian day, another gorgeous hilltop town to explore! Next up on the list of uncharted villages, Pennabilli in northern Le Marche ~

What a view!

This charming town found at the foot of Mount Carpegna is filled with art & antiques! Venture deeper into town & you discover countless sundials fit snug in-between shutters & "the sanctuary of thoughts" created by the imagaination of local poet Tonino Guerra.

The village was created out by the merger of two ancient castles; the castles of Billi, which stood on the “rocky spur”, and Penna that stood on the “big rock”. It was initially a feud of the Carpegna and then the Malatesta families. A rich history with Etruscan settlements & even the Pope's confessor lived in town!

Pop in to the (I think only) Enoteca Osteria in town - just off the main piazza for traditional local dishes - the ravioli is fantastic! Then head right across the street for homemade artisan gelato!!

For more on Pennabilli - click here!
If you are looking for a beautiful drive & a lazy stroll about a sweet untouristy town - than this makes a great day trip!

Sunday, August 9

My Monthly Column in Italia! Magazine

Check out Italia! Magazine for my new monthly column on our life in Le Marche! My first column will be in the September 2009 Issue! Crazy huh?! Italia! is the world's best magazine about Italian property, travel, food, wine, culture and people. Every issue helps you get more out of your passion for Italy - whether you're looking to buy a holiday home or cook an authentic Italian recipe.

Subscribe & don't miss a thing!
Click Here!

In case you missed it, Italia! Magazine recently published a 5-page feature story on our life, farm & even a recipe from Jason in March 2009, Issue 52!

Saturday, August 8

Oh bella Venezia how I love you so!

It seems that lately almost all our guests have either just been to Venice or they are heading there next. Venice is only a 4 hour drive from our farmhouse or a quick train trip (you can catch it in Fano). I've been to Venice a handful of times & find it enchanting & beautiful - so thought I'd share a few of my fav pics!Murano

Make sure to take a Vaporetto out to the sleepy island of Murano for a quiet escape. Not to mention this is where the glass is blown & you can buy earrings at half the price of Venice's shops!

If you are looking for a fun read & to make Venice in the 16th century come alive - check out In the Company of the Courtesan by Sara Dunant

Add it to the list!

Tuesday, August 4

White Beans with Cherry Tomatoes, Onions & Basil

White Bean & Tomato Salad

1 lb. white beans
a basket of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red onion, thinly sliced (important to be as thin as possible)
handful fresh oregano or basil
salt & pepper
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
vegetable scraps (back of an onion, sprigs of parsley, whatever you have lying around that doesn't look too great)

Soak your beans overnight.

Next day - fill a pot with cold water, drain beans & add them to the pot with your vegetable scraps, do NOT add salt.

Cook until beans are tender & drain.
Add tomatoes, onion, fresh herbs, salt & pepper - toss with cooked beans

2 parts olive oil
1 part red wine vinegar
(it all depends on your portions - follow the ratio & you'll never go wrong)

Make sure you season well & let sit for 15 - 20 minutes before you serve to let the flavors come together.

Note: OK to serve the next day as well however the onions will go a little limp

Sunday, August 2

If Two Hands are Better than One...How About Six!

What a month! July has flown by!! I've had lots of family in town & it has been a blast! They have been so awesome helping out & jumping right in -Jason & I are normally a crew of two - but not this month!
Linda was fantastic in the garden- watering everyday and returning with baskets full of tomatoes, onions & whatever else is prime for the picking (watching from afar she seemed at home down there) - plus, she stood at the sink doing dishes for about 3 hours straight one night when we had a dinner for 30! Grace, my 12 year old cousin, has been so cool - always asking if she can help - we cleaned apartments together singing "Stand by your Man" it was one of those times you know you will always remember with a smile on your face! She totally dug the pool, the cats, the garden & the tiramisu! And what can I say about good old Uncle Shawn-bob?! From the moment we told him we were moving to Italy he has been pumped & ready to help with total enthusiasm & I (actually, we) are forever thankful! Chopping wood, filling the sisterns every morning with the water needed for the garden, working the pizza oven, filling up water bottles from the spigots in town, mowing our massive lawn & ...zucchini bread!

Day trips to hill top towns, midnight makeovers & zucchini baking, bottling wine, jamming & jarring & swimming in the Adriatic - what can I say...It's been epic!
Thanks for the memories!!!!

For more pictures & stories check out : The Dahl Family Blog

Saturday, August 1

Photo of the Week ~ Monte Cerignone

and the thunder rolls.... a stormy night in Monte Cerignone (Le Marche)
photo courtesy of Linda Barry
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