Friday, September 25

Garden Casserole

Perfect for those crisp fall nights- hearty fall veggies in a casserole with crunchy bread - keeps you toasty by the fire! Our garden is filled with these veggies & it is one of the easiest ways to utilize what we've got! Plus - this recipe is ridiculously simple!!

Garden Casserole

2 nice sized potatoes (Yukon gold are best), peeled & thinly sliced
2 medium zucchini, sliced on the bias with seeds removed
2 shallots, chopped
couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of fresh herbs, chopped (oregano, parsley or marjoram)
salt & pepper
extra virgin olive oil
good bread

The Steps~

Pour a little oil in a casserole dish (oven safe).

Make a layer of potatoes covering the base of the dish
Layer of zucchini
Salt & pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
Couple of tomatoes ( does not have to fill in completly)
Sprinkle of shallots
Salt & pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
Chopped herbs

Repeat these steps until the dish is filled ending with potatoes on the top & a final drizzle of olive oil.

Bake in a 400 degree oven until it is bubbling & a knife slips in easy & soft. Cooking time depends on size & height of your casserole dish - normally about an hour - hour & half.

Tuesday, September 22

Photo of the Week ~Rosso or Bianco?

OK this week its 3 photos - but I can't help it - we pass by these vines on our way into town every day & I just love watching them getting plump & juicy & deeper in color!

Ohhh the wine that is to come!

Wednesday, September 16

Pint-size Italian Peasants

Festa della Madonna or La processione delle Rocche (The procession of the fortress) was celebrated last week in our small town of Piobbico. Details are a bit sketchy (even when I asked the Religion teacher) but all confirm it is one of the holiest days in Piobbico.
My favorite part is that all the local kids are dressed in the period peasant costumes -they all look soo cute!
Every year on the eighth day of September the town shuts down to honor La Madonna with a procession from the castle through town & then up to Monte Nerone for mass. It is beautiful to see all the townsfolk come together & participate. The procession has its roots in the distant past - something about shepherds, the Madonna & a cave - but where the yarn on a stick comes in I'm totally lost!

I must say that regardless of religious affiliation, Italian festivals are not to be missed - the sense of community is overwhelming, not to mention the great costumes!

And according to locals it is all thanks to us participating in this procession that I walked away unscathed by my car accident - I won't miss next year's - that's for sure!

Saturday, September 12

Bruschetta...Delicous no matter how you pronounce it!

Bruschetta (pronounced: brew-sket-ta) is one of the most well-know & butchered Italian words! And what exactly is it? Grilled bread most often piled high with chopped tomatoes.
Originating from a Roman dialect, the word "bruscare" means "to roast over coals."

Pane pomodori, bruschetta, crostini con pomodori... it's almost all the same to me - bread & tomatoes with lots of olive oil! So simple, so delicious and with loads of fresh tomatoes from our farm - I eat it literally almost everyday!

Bruschetta con Pomodori

good crunchy bread
1 large tomato of peak ripness, chopped
extra virigin olive oil - this is when to use the good stuff
1 garlic clove
salt & pepper

Grill your bread
Rub garlic on the bread once nice & toasty
Drizzle a bit of extra virigin olive oil
Top with chopped tomaotes that have been dressed with salt & pepper
Another hit of olive oil on ontop

Friday, September 11

A Black Cat, La Madonna and Sheer Luck!

It started like any other day & I was off to town, cruising down via Candigliano - a packed gravel road (strada bianca), that we drive down a million times a day, when all of a sudden - seriously - a black cat ran across the road. (The little kitten belongs to our neighbor Mariellena & I didn’t want to hit her cat). I swerved hard to the left, sliding from the gravel & realized I was aiming at a guard rail for the river so then I yanked it to the right - that when I lost all control with the rear end coming out from under me.

I saw a tree coming straight at me, then I was off the road & in the brush. Damn! This is when I knew for sure I was in the middle of my first car accident. Next thing I know I am sopra sotto -upside down - - literally standing on the ceiling of the car (I have no idea how I got out of my seat belt) & the first thing I did was turn off the car for fear of an explosion. My mind was racing & the tactical training of all those episodes of Oprah & Discovery Channel programs on escaping death was kicking in! Asses the situation & get the hell outta here!

Upsidedown & barricaded in the car by brush & trees, I couldn’t get the door open enough to escape (this is when the hammer of life would have come in handy). I started banging on the horn & shouting for help "aiuti me!!!", I was ready to break a window when Cielso appeared - my saint!
Saint Cielso

I was most nervous that the car was going to continue to roll down the rest of the hill. Cielso reassurmed it was safe. He kept me calm & chopped away large branches & sticker bushes so the door could open just enough for me to slip out. He was so concered because I lost my shoes in the car & was jumping down ontop of sharp thorns, I could care less - I just wanted out of that car! He ran & got me a pair of old work boot to wear home! I walked away TOTALLY & completely fine- just shaken up and forever grateful to someone who has never met me!

I couldn't believe the car when I saw it from above! Man, this car is totalled - I was sure of it!

In classic small-town Italy, our dear neighbors (Franco, Piero, Robert & Bruno) immediatly rallied around & pulled the car up & out in no time at all!

Now here's the kicker: There was nothing wrong with the car - no broken glass, no broken plastic pieces even the rear view mirrors still in tact! Jason drove it home later that day!

Back in the saddle again!!

Locals credit this fortunate event to the fact that the day before was the Festa della Madonna in Piobbico & we were there to celebrate this most holy festival with the community. This is no laughing matter, they feel that because I was there at the festival, the Madonna was with me for the accident! I was told by all to go light a candle, find out what saint's day it is (September 9th is Santo Sergio by the way - I just had to look it up).... and next time hit the cat!

Thursday, September 10

Piobbico's Famous Polenta Festival

Ahh you know fall has arrived in Piobbico when you smell polenta! Last weekend was the annual Festa della Polentone alla Carbonara - Festival of Polenta made over an open fire! It was a gorgeous fall day, the streets filled with hungry visitors, festive music, good wine (a euro a glass) & hundreds of pounds of polenta - a fun & delicious time had by all!

The polenta is prepared in a copper cauldron heated by a wood fire, and stirred by hand with a wooden stick (this is serious work!), it is then cut into slices & seasoned with a special sauce called sufrangoli. If you look at the above photos (on the bottom left) you can see 2 guys carring a silver container between them - it's the sauce - they are headed to refill & share the 'sugo' or sauce with the other stands making polenta!

All in all there were 5 groups of polenta makers scattered about town, endlessly stirring ground corn (or polenta) for the masses to devour...and eat they did! Most locals, knowing the inside scoop - came prepared - not asking for a single serving but bringing casserole dishes & pots from home to be filled & weighed out by the kilo to feed their family!

Next year if you are in the area stop on by & eat your fill of polenta on the first Sunday of September!

Tuesday, September 8

Lunch in A Can

We recently had the day off & decided to take a nice drive down the coast. With summer coming to an end, we wanted to get in another day at the beach, this time the picturesque town of Portonovo (about an hour & half south of our agriturismo).

In Portonovo you park the car & then there is a bit of a walk to the beach via a web of trails through a lovely shaded park. We were wandering about the trails when low & behold we saw a sign for 'sushi' & didn't think twice - beeline! Now I must mention 2 things:
1. we CRAVE sushi, mexican, thai - any ethnic food is rare in our neck of the woods
2. as we almost ran to the restaurant - I was carrying a rather large bag filled fresh baked breads that we had just bought for lunch! Is that considered fat?!

As soon as my toes hit the sand, there it was - a super cute beach shack cafe - man, this must be fresh! As we got closer no one seemed to be eating sushi...what? Disspointingly there was none but since the place was so damn cute we just had to stay for a drink. I've gotta make another note here - Jason NEVER does this - he loathes eating at cafe's in the main square or anywhere too touristy just for the ambiance - I'm totally about the ambiance - so this was a treat!

I ordered a white wine & grilled tuna. Jason ordered the sepia & peas - he was a bit nervous because it isn't pea season & was afraid their were frozen - I assured him that I'm sure the sepia is super fresh - we are on the sea!

Shock & awe set in as the waitress set down our plates.....CANS!
Not only were the peas canned - so was the fish! And why did they give us the can? It was all so weird!

Notice the pure disgust in Jason's face as he examines the can we just ordered for lunch!
2 Cans
2 Glasses of White Wine

never again...

Wednesday, September 2

Our Farmhouse Photo Shoot

Travel/lifestyle photographer Andrea Wyner (who has shot for Gourmet, Travel & Leisure, Wine Spectator & more) recently stayed at our farmhouse & took these stunning pictures ~

To view more of Andrea's work - Click Here!
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