Monday, May 31

Named by Budget Travel: 8 Cooking Schools in the World "Worth Their Salt"

In the JUNE 2010 issue of Budget Travel Magazine check out the article: The Wide World of Cooking Schools they name us - La Tavola Marche - 1 of 8 Cooking Schools "Worth Their Salt" The article goes on to say :

Whatever your passion, we have just the right program for you.


Why go to Italy to learn from two Americans? Because Ashley and Jason Bartner, the latter a former New York chef and devotee of the Slow Food movement, host their school, La Tavola Marche, on a 250-acre farm near Urbino in central Italy.,

Read the article in its entirety online here:
The Wide World of Cooking Schools
For more information on our Organic farm, Inn & Italian Cooking School email us:

-We're in the big leagues now!!

Monday, May 24

Le Marche Wine Tours & Tastings: Rivals the "Super Tuscans"

Le Marche produces some of the best wines of Italy that you never knew existed! From Le Marche produces some of the best wines of Italy that you never knew existed! From Bianchello del Metauro to Verdicchio di Jesi & Lacrima di Morra d'Alba the flavors range from light & crisp to full bodied enough to rival any Super Tuscan!

The only difficulty to doing a self-guided tour of the wines in Le Marche is that you have to be in the know. Most wines are from small family run wineries, completely unassuming most without a sign let alone 'tasting hours'. The best way to "sample the goods" is to contact Marco (Marco's Way), he will unlock the door to Le Marche's most delicious & prestigious wine production. The best part - you don't even have to drive! He'll pick you up & drive the beautiful back-roads of Jesi, Osta & Morra d'Alba.

Marco recently took Jason & I out for 2 days of wine tastings at big producers & tiny family run operations in their home! It was a fantastic experience I would highly recommend! We met the owners, shared stories & drank glass after glass of delicious Marche wines. After all was drunk - we purchased hundreds of bottles of wines to serve at our farmhouse.

Marco personally leads the tour in English and will introduce you to some of the most characteristic, family owned wineries in the Region.

Sample world famous wines such as Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi (1999, Gold Medal, White Wine Category, International Wine Challange, London), Rosso Conero and indigenous grape varieties such as the Lacrima di Morro d’Alba.

Walk through vineyards, discover all the secrets techniques behind wine making, and match wine to our land's gastronomic specialities. You will have tutored tasting sessions, making the process of wine tasting easy and enjoyable.

Choose between the following tours according to what suits your needs:

The Ultimate (9 am to 6 ish pm, lunch included)

Visit 3 wineries and the International Labels Museum.

The Switch

The Switch (9 am to 4 pm, lunch included)

Visit 2 wineries and the village of Ostra.

Red or White Passion (9 am to 1.00 pm, lunch not included)

Visit 2 wineries and the Cupramontana hamlet.

Conero DOCG (9 am lunch included or from 4 pm dinner included)

Visit 2 wineries and either the Camerano hamlet or his famous Caves.

Organic (9 am lunch included or from 4 pm dinner included)

Visit 2 wineries and an ancient hermitage site.

For more information - click here: Wine Tours & Tasting in Le Marche

Friday, May 21

Mouthwatering Slow Roasted Whole Suckling Pig

Whole suckling pig (about 25 lbs) rubbed down with salt, pepper, garlic & wild fennel.
Slow roasted in the wood burning oven for about 5 hours.

What a beauty! Jason's 1st whole pig for an Italian feast on May 1st came out delicious- complete with all the cracklings - no one could stay away!

Wednesday, May 19

Podcast from Italy: An Impromptu Dinner Concert, Raising Chickens & More

Listen to our May Podcast with updates from our farmhouse in Central Italy's Le Marche!
Click here: Podcast from Italy!

Ok so the picture isn't super sharp - but that's because we were all singing & dancing up a storm-plus drinking a few shots of my homemade limoncello!!

For more on the "Tambourine Man & The Fire of Apecchio" watch for my July coloumn in Italia! Magazine.

Saturday, May 15

Poached Pears ~ Party Perfect

A beautiful simple dessert absolutely perfect for a dinner party. Use that bottle of wine that's been collecting dust in the back of your cupboard (you know the one) - it will work great in this classic dish!
Poached Pears
4 pears (peeled, halved & cored)
1 bottle of wine (which ever kind you like)
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
aromatics - vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, thyme, orange, juniper, etc. - use what you like & be creative!
fresh whip cream or ice cream

Place wine, aromatics, 1/2 cup of sugar & pears into a pot. Bring up to a simmer for 10-20 minutes depending on size of the pears.

When a fork slips into pears easily remove from heat & allow to cool in liquid.
Once tepid - place the pears in to the fridge, leaving the juices in the pan.

Continue cooking the liquid until reduced by half and forms a syrup. Taste the syrup - if its tart add a bit more sugar.

Allow the syrup to cool once desired consistency is achieved. Strain out aromatics.

Server syrup drizzled over pears with a scoop of gelato or whip cream!

Wednesday, May 12

Eating Your Way Through Le Marche ~ June 2010

This marks the third year of our extended series on "Eating your way through Le Marche"
Created to help you plan your trip & to promote the delicious gastronomic traditions & festivals of Le Marche check back often for our monthly installment. (If you are planning your holiday months in advance just email me for more information!) PLEASE please note - none of these dates are "set in stone." It is smart to call, email & check the web sites for more information. And please add any others you know of in the comments below!

June 20010

Market along the streets of the town

Monte Grimano Terme
Sagra dello spignolo (1st weekend, Saturday afternoon, Sunday all day)
Mushroom festival (spignolo) with typical products, tastings, games, music, dancing & fun.

Fiera del castello (1st Sunday)
The castle market fair all day.

Sagra dei vincigrassi (1st Sunday 6pm)
Vincigrassi - local lasagna festival

Borgo Pace
Festa della schiacciata (1st Sunday - all day)
Schiacciata festival - a special bread made with rosemary. Food & wine, games & religious procession.

Caprile Agrishow (1st weekend)
Market fair of food products, live entertainment, visit the gardens with ancient waterworks, gastronomic stands all day.

Gustosa (2nd Sunday & Saturday)
A Tribute to agriculture with a harvest festival and other events. All day fruit & vegetable market in the town center.

Sagra della lumaca (3rd Sunday)
Snail festival

Monte Porzio
Salciccia n't canton (3rd Sunday & Saturday before starting at 3pm)
Sausage festival with live entertainment & shows with historic re-enactments & tournaments.

Sagra della rana (last Sunday 6pm)
Frog festival - Folk & gastronomic festival based on the frog with dancing.
Festa del pane (last weekend)
Bread festival - local traditions linked to the history of bread & food in the old center & the ovens of the area. Take a bread baking class at La Tavola Marche & learn how to use a wood-burning outdoor oven!

Monte Grimano Terme
Sagra della lumaca (Weekend at the end of the month - check web site for updates)
Snail festival

Bellino dell'Enohobby- Wine & Oil International Festival (check the site for updates on the date)
National & International extra virgin olive oil competition L'Ociolo d'Oro; national wine competition Bollino dell'Enhobby; show-cases of tastes, islands of taste, tasting stands, theme dinners in Palazzo Gradari.
Fiera di San Cipriano (Check web site for dates)
Feast of San Cipriano traditional fair displaying & selling a variety of goods, food & wine, live entertainment all day.

Continuing All Summer:
Sant'Angelo in Vado
Summer in Sant'Angelo in Vado - only 10 minutes from Agriturismo Ca'Camone.
Exhibitions, music, theater, street performers, sport, games, live entertainment, tastings of typical products, local festivals & monuments open to the public.

Gabicce Mare
Mercatino di prodotti naturali (June - September on Thursdays & Sundays at 8:30pm)
Natural products market

Musical events, theatre, sport, gastronomy, exhibitions, evening markets & much more along the seaside area of Marotta & in the old center of Mondolfo
The pleasures of the table in the Middle Ages, medieval dinners in the restaurants of the old center.

Giovedi al castello (Thursdays at 9pm June - August)
Thursdays at the castle, re-enactment of the closure of the gate to the village at vespers, procession in period costume, fire-eaters & more!

Of course there are tons more festivals than listed here - many religious & handcrafted items
visit the Official Tourism Site for Pesaro e Urbino for more information.

Sunday, May 9

Cock-a-doodle-doo!! Bringing Home Happy Chickens in Italy

the ring leader

Just over 2 weeks ago Jason brought our 12 chick-a-dees home - from where else but the hardware store! His first attempt to pick up the chicken was on a cold rainy day - he arrived with an eager smile. "Ciao Massi, I'm here from my chickens."

-"Ahh yes, well it is such an ugly day & the chickens are very happy in my coop here."
-"Their house is ready & I've got them food."
-"Well you see they don't like the rain & it is best to take them to their new home on a nice sunny day. You want happy chickens"

Jason reluctantly left without the chickens, waiting for the rain to let up.
(It poured for another 3 days)
Finally on a gorgeous sunny spring day the chickens arrived safe & sound, happy as can be!
Now we've got a full coop of 12 birds! In a slip-up in translation, Jason thought he ordered 7 hens almost ready to lay eggs & 5 baby chicks still yellow.
But he really ordered roosters instead of the 5 young chicks! Thankfully they haven't learned how to cock-a-doodle at 5am yet - that's when they become soup!

Early each morning, I throw on my boots & run down to the coop checking for eggs, but they are still too young - not to mention a bit more stupid than we expected. But they are hysterical & we're having a blast with them!just as proud as can be, his chickens are home

Wednesday, May 5

Sauce of the Month: Zucchini with Squash Blossoms

This is literally a 10 minute pasta sauce with a fancy name! You can use any vegetables you like cauliflower, broccoli - you name it - the harder veggies should be blanched first.
Pasta with Zucchini & Squash Blossoms

serves 4

3 medium zucchini, seeded & sliced
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
2-3 slices of prosciutto, diced
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
chili flakes as desired
8 squash blossoms
fresh pasta of your choice

Cleaning the squash blossoms:
1. Wash in a bowl of cold water
2. Remove inner pistol & stamen
3. Pat dry with a paper towel
4. Rip into pieces

In a large skillet - brown the garlic in olive oil & discard.
Bring heat up to med-high & toss in veggies & chili flakes.
Sauté until veggies are half cooked (for zucchini about 4 minutes).
Then add prosciutto & tomatoes.
Continue sautéing for another couple of minutes until your vegetables are cooked through but not mushy.
Season with salt.

Toss your sauce, fresh cooked pasta & half of the squash blossoms. Note: It may be necessary to add a spoonful or two of pasta water if it looks a little dry.

Drizzle with olive oil & sprinkle the remaining squash blossoms on top.

Sunday, May 2

Podcast from Italy

Back by popular demand - we've posted another podcast!
What's a podcast, you ask? It's like an online radio-show. Its super easy to listen - just click here to download via .mp3 our latest episode. Listen streaming from your computer or download to your i pod & take us with you in the car!
We will try to post 1 every 2 weeks if we can! Let us know if you have any topics you'd like us to discuss - meat curing, the garden, making homemade liquors, the VISA process, etc.

This week's podcast is about building the chicken coop, visiting small artisan winemakers from Le Marche & just catching up!- It's been too long!

Ashley & Jason's Podcast from Italywine tasting in Le Marche
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