Monday, August 30

Italian Kitchen Garden~ Bursting with Color & Flavor

Fennel from the garden

As the first leaves begin to fall, summer slowly merges with autumn and our garden is bursting with organic & heirloom veggies! After a late start to the season we are now stocked full of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces, onions, eggplant, green beans, green beans & more green beans! We've been picking & eating kilos of them daily! This summer my favorite dish with those never ending beans is sauteed with garlic & olive oil and tossed with toasted almonds! I can't get enough!! Another great way to use green beans is to pickle them with a spicy vinegar brine - perfect for a Bloody Mary!

We've started jarring our tomatoes for the winter as well - 50 jars down - only about another 200+ to go...The fennel is looking fantastic, broccoli is about a week away and the corn is earmarked for the grill! I am particularly excited about our first crop of brussel sprouts as well. Ahhh the bounty of a full garden - we are well fed for sure!

View of the farmhouse from the garden

Sunday, August 29

An Italian Feast Day - Ferragosto

This year we hosted a ferragosto party for 38 - a mix of friends from Urbino & Pesaro as well as family and guests from around the world! It was fantastic and the menu perfect for a summer lunch. All the veggies came from our garden & eggs from our chickens.
Ferragosto is the feast day for the Emperor Augustus (& the Feast of Assumption), the culmination of summer marked by eating & drinking with friends. This holiday is observed by all Italians!

We set out 300 year old wine barrels as 'stations' for the buffet as we served everything at once - family style (as opposed to last years sit-down, plated feast). Since the house was full of friends we wanted to chance to be able to enjoy the day as well & not run around totally crazed.

Homemade salami and lonzo
Prosciuto & melon
Aged pecorino (sheep's milk cheese)
Vedure gratinata - Veggies with bread crumbs


Potato garden casserole

Assorted cakes and homemade pastries and fruit

It was a warm sunny day - a splash in the pool, a delicious lunch a bit of limoncello - ahh summer in Italy!

A tired chef at the end of the day

Thursday, August 26

Podcast from Italy: A Summer Feast with Porchetta, Pizza Night with a Folk Band and The VISA process

Dancing the night away with Leonardo as he serenades us all.

Ciao tutti! We have been busy & haven’t podcasted in a few weeks - so we are back in full force! Celebrating ferragosto’s summer feast & festival, an epic Pizza night for 50 with the local folk band performing to farm updates-whats coming up from the garden & a simple green bean recipe! Plus we answer your question: How did we get our VISA - oh the Italian bureaucracy and their love of stamps!

Thanks for listening!

Listen on iTUNES

Friday, August 20

Italian Cookbook Photo Contest

Jason & I are super excited to be working on a cookbook of local seasonal recipes from Central Italy's Marche Region.
Here's where we need your help: we would love to feature YOUR Food Related Photos!
If you have taken a cooking class and snapped a pic of your pasta, enjoyed dinner and photographed your plate or even got a great shot in the garden or market - we want to publish it!
Flip through your travel pics - you know you've got a few mouthwatering photos!

What we are looking for:
Mushroom Hunting
Cooking Classes
and the Marche Countryside
(Visit our Recipe Box for inspiration)
Submit your favorite food photos from your holiday here in Italy for consideration of our La Tavola Marche Cookbook (not yet titled). We will give you a photo credit in the book as well as send you a thank you gift for your contribution!

To enter:
email your photo in HIGH RESOLUTION to
include your name and name of the dish, town, etc. info in the photo

Tuesday, August 17

How A Dutchman Helped Our Italian Garden Grow...

Meet Hans Vissers - Botanist Extraordinaire

We live deep-deep in the Italian countryside hundreds of kilometers away from Holland - so how did a kooky Botanist from Amsterdam help our garden grow?? Last winter while living in Amsterdam, one snowy day, we visited the Botanical Gardens for fun -little did we know that Hans would single handily donate over 100 diverse species of flowers, fruits and vegetables to our organic farm/ garden 1500 km away! From heirloom allium to exotic basil and beans - Hans Visser of the VU Botanical Gardens in Amsterdam has graciously colored our property pretty!

Queens Orange - Lathryus beans and climbing vine

Spice Boys - Thai Basil

Hans is passionate, enthusiastic and educational - it is an absolute pleasure to have him personally guide you about the gardens - hours later your filled with sweet smells and an urge to help this garden stay alive and share its beauty with others. Upon hearing our story and what were are growing in our garden & farm, he lite up - even more animated than before and started loading us up with seeds, starters, growing tips and more to bring back to Italy.

Painted Lady climbing vines
After years of collecting rare seeds through the university, he is now donating them to us (and others around the world) - thus ensuring that they continue to grow, reseed and spread bringing new life to our garden and others for years to come.

Sadly, the Hortus Botanicus of VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands, is threatened with closure by the University’s Executive Board due to new construction planned at the school. (Read more here)

The VU Hortus houses a very rich plant collection with more than 6.000 species. This small but charming botanical garden contains a greenhouse complex with various climates, under which a tropical greenhouse, a sub-tropical greenhouse, an orangerie and many more greenhouses. The exceptional cactus and succulent greenhouse is the largest collection in The Netherlands.

Through the 40 years of its existence the VU Hortus has built up a large collection of plants, trees and shrubs with natural-historical value. It is open to the public throughout the year, without entrance fee. In summer, from May till October, even on Saturdays.

Help Save Amsterdam's Botanical Garden and join us by SIGNING the online petition.

Photos of our patio, pool and garden with flowers from the VU

Saturday, August 7

Sauce of the Month: Vongole (Little Clams)

The Adriatic Sea is closed for fishing - so in honor of my favorite dish this month's pasta sauce is: Tagliatelle con Vongole. I love these sweet little clams, you just can't get enough.
Enjoy your rest fish - we will eat you in September....Even the fish in Italy get a vacation in August!!

Tagliatelle con Vongole
Pasta with Clams

4 people

1.5 lb fresh vongole or small clams
1/4 of a yellow onion, diced
chop garlic as you desire - I use 3-4 cloves
glass of white wine
3-4 glugs of olive oil
handful of chopped parsley
chili flakes as desired

In a large skillet over medium - low heat olive oil, sauté garlic & onions - slowly until translucent. About 7-10 minutes with no color.

Add your chili flakes.

Turn up heat to med-high.

Throw in your washed clams into the pan & saute for 1 - 2 minutes.

Add in white wine,cover & bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer & cook 2-3 minutes until all the clams have opened.

Turn the heat off & toss in your parsley . Check your seasons - it shouldn't need any salt as when the calms open they release sea water.

Serve over al dente pasta and give a drizzle of good olive oil over the dish once its done.

Thursday, August 5

Italian Countryside, Food & Farmhouse Photo Series: La Campagna

Continuing our photo series this week we step away from the farmhouse & take a look at some gorgeous shots taken of la campagna - the countryside where we live -

Via Candigliano, Photo by: Kyle Johnson

Fiat 500 in the shadow of Monte Nerone, Photo by Kyle Johnson

Streets of Urbino, Photo: Patrick Wright

Photo by Kyle Johnson
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