Monday, September 27

Eating Your Way Through Le Marche ~ October 2010

Fall is here! Crisp days, cools nights, the colors are changing & the leaves are falling - I love autumn!

It is also harvest season & there are plenty of local festivals to keep your belly full! Make a weekend or even better a week of it! Our agriturismo is within an hours drive to all these festivals & is the perfect 'home base.'

Monday, September 20

Proud Member of The Ugly Club

The annual Polenta Festival in Piobbico was literally a wash this year. Just as the festivities were getting started the clouds rolled over Monte Nerone & blew in a drenching storm that had all the Italians running for cover.

Bandina di Brutti - the Ugly Band of Piobbico

However not all was a bust - we still ate enough polenta to feed a village, danced & sang along with the local band and the best part - the Club dei Brutti (The Ugly Club) reopened its doors after a 2 year hiatus.
So what is the Ugly Club - exactly what it sounds like! And Yes - Jason & I are proud members!

Saturday, September 18

Rich & Creamy Meet Tart & Tangy: Panna Cotta with Fresh Wild Berry Sauce

An easy dessert to make that is always a crowd-pleaser is panna cotta with fresh picked wild berries - the combination of the rich, creamy, vanilla panna cotta with with tart & tangy berry sauce drizzled atop is a perfect match.

Coming home the other day as we were making our way over the hills towards Piobbico, Jason shouted - BERRIES! And pulled over right there on the side of the road. We preceded to pick as many frutti di bosco (fruits of the woods) as possible & knew immediately what was for dessert!

Panna Cotta with Fresh Berry Sauce
Panna cotta con frutta di bosco

Thursday, September 16

The Thrill of the Ancient Tuscan Crossbow Festival ~ Palio della Balestra

The Palio della Balestra has been held every year in Sansepolcro on the second Sunday of September - uninterrupted since the 15th century. It is an ancient competition between Sansepolcro (Tuscany) and their neighboring rivals of Gubbio (Umbria).

This antique tournament takes place in the stunning Piazza Toree di Berta surrounded by Renaissance palaces. The villagers perfectly set the scene in vibrant costumes bringing to life this age old festival.

Friday, September 10

Tons of Tomatoes Ripe for the Pickin'

We have been busy picking, jarring & eating hundreds of pounds of pomodori from our garden! Just as we think we are caught up its time to pick again & we haul up another 10 crates from the garden overflowing with bright red juicy tomatoes. And this is considered a "bad" year - after a mid-summer storm destroyed about half our crop.

Tell-tale Signs of Tomato Jarring:
-crates of tomatoes stacked up around every corner I turn
-our clothes are covered in tomato guts
-filled jars ready to be labeled and stacked in cantina
-random tomatoes tossed about the yard
-my fingers are stained pinkish-red from jamming my fists into the jars
- somehow I didn't notice, head to town with tomato seeds on in my hair -those tiny little suckers stick to everything & everywhere!!
...finally an irrational irritability when anyone mentions the word 'pomodoro'

We have 7 varieties all bursting with flavor & just beggin' to be popped in your mouth still warm with that undeniable taste of the garden!

Time to buy more jars....

Read more on how we store & jar our tomatoes to preserve their flavor and enjoy them all winter long - Picking & Jarring Tomatoes in Italy

Friday, September 3

Sauteed Green Beans with Toasted Almonds

Green beans, runner beans, french beans or fagiolini - whatever you call them they are in-season on our farm! If you read our last post you know we are eating them damn'near daily! Here we pick them while they are still young & tender - not the huge knobby tough beans I was used to before. And don't even get me started on the difference between fresh picked beans and the soggy, salty ones I was force-fed to eat as a kid...from a can!! (No wonder so many kids grow up hating vegetables). Now I eat them right off the vine!

This is a delicious, fast, simple and healthy way to devour these fantastic green veggies. The crunchy, toasty almonds pair so nicely with the al'dente green beans, just begging you to go back for seconds - guilt free!
Sauteed Green Beans with Toasted Almonds

serves 4

4 handfuls of green beans, trimmed and cut in half
2 cloves of garlic
pinch of chili flakes
100 gram toasted almonds, chopped
olive oil
salt & pepper
Blanch your beans in boiling salted water for 3-8 minutes depending on the size and thickness of beans or until half cooked.

Drain and rinse under cold water.

In a frying pan slowly heat 3-4 glugs of olive oil along with the garlic and chili flakes.

When the garlic is nicely browned turn the heat up and add in the green beans and saute for a minute or two.
Add quarter cup of water. Allow the water to evaporate fully cooking the beans for about 3 minutes.

Season with salt & pepper.

Toss in toasted almonds.
(If you like you can add in a squeeze of lemon.)

(Leftovers: also delicious served cold.)
Green Bean Lover? Here's another great recipe:
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