Saturday, September 24

Somebody's been eating our squash...

Farm grown pumpkins
Early one morning we took a stroll through the garden checking in on all the healthy plants. The tomatoes look great, the peppers are nicely turning to a deep yellow orange, the cranberry beans are ready to be picked - everything looks good! As we made our way to the back corner to check out the pumpkins we discovered all our ugly pumpkins or turban squash had been savagely eaten. Oh how the meals flashed before my eyes - pumpkin soup, pumpkin ravioli, slow roasted - ohh that fat animal ate them before I could get a single taste! There was not one salvageable squash in the whole lot.

Tuesday, September 20

Truffles on a Budget: Festivals Full of Free Truffles in Italy

At $8,000 a Kilo for white truffles, it's cheaper to fly to Italy than have a truffle dinner in America.

Currently the price of white truffles in Le Marche, Italy starts at 6,000 Euro or about $8, 225 a kilo and expected to do nothing but climb, whereas the price of 1 roundtrip airfare ticket from NYC to Rome is under $800 on skyscanner.

Due to a dry August & early September, the ever sought wild mushrooms & truffles are scarce in what is known as the “Truffle Valley” of Central Italy. The area is chock full of festivals throughout October & November celebrating these rare funghi that have been found in these woods for centuries from the Apecchio to Acqualagna, Sant'Angelo in Vado to Sassoferrato.  A typical truffle dinner would include 40 grams - 60 grams of shaved truffle per person - so you can see how quickly it can add up when they are about $825 (600 Euro) for 100 grams, a dinner for 4 could be over $1,645! So instead of spending a few hundred dollars or more on a fancy dinner - book a flight to Italy and taste truffles for free at a festival! Each festival has eager vendors offering delectable samples of truffle products: spreads, oils, cheeses, rice, pastes, cured meats - you name it, they’ve got it  While you are taste testing, splurge on the 80 cents for an overflowing plastic cup of red wine and don’t forget to mossie on over & visit the non truffle products for plenty of samples of prosciutto, cheeses and sweets!

Bring 20 Euro and eat like a king!

 Upcoming 2011 Fall Truffle Festivals in Le Marche:

Wednesday, September 14

Mouthwatering Slow Roasted Tomato Soup: Pappa al Pomodoro

Slow roasted cherry tomatoes
 Make your house smell outright divine with this Tuscan-based slow roasted tomato bread soup, Pappa al Pomodoro. Locally grown tomatoes, in-season, peasant cooking (using stale bread)- a perfect example of Slow Food. Our tomato plants are thriving in this long warm, Indian summer in Italy, the colors deepening & the flavors intensifying as the days go by. Originating in Tuscany (about an hour away) we can't resist sharing this mouthwatering recipe at our farmhouse using our plump & juicy homegrown piccadilly & cherry tomatoes!

Tuesday, September 13

Traffic: Off the Beaten Path

Taking the long way home, we ran into a little traffic - free range cows!

Tuesday, September 6

Carnivore's Delight: Forage, Slaughter & Butcher Your Meal in Italy

If you call yourself a "foodie," pig lover, wine-o, tartufaio, gourmet or gourmand this culinary holiday is for you! Vegetarians seek refuge elsewhere because for five nights in October it's a carnivore's delight in the foothills of the Apennine Mountains of Central Italy. This fall savor the slow food & experience Italian farm life first hand with this unique holiday at La Tavola Marche (Organic Farm, Inn & Cooking School)for mushroom hunting, pig butchering, sausage making, chicken slaughtering & butchering with hands-on cooking classes incorporating the fresh butchered meats and a fabulous wine tour & tasting. The first night you are welcomed to the 300 year old stone farmhouse with the rich smells of a slow roasting fire escaping through the kitchen door, a feast to be remembered with each of the five courses paired with local Marche wines and topped with truffles.
At La Tavola Marche you know where your food comes from; vegetables fresh picked from the garden, eggs from the hens, truffles foraged from the hills and fresh meat from our free-range chickens or the next door neighbor. Spend the morning with our local butcher in Urbania for a demonstration on butchering, follow the process, identifying and trimming different cuts of pork, learning the best cooking technique for each cut well as a range of basic butchery skills. Learn the basics of the aging process, how to make salami, cured meats and sausages.  Back at the farmhouse we will stuff our own sausages to grill over the open fire for dinner! After a day of meat, relax the following day by sampling the best family-run vineyards of Le Marche with a full day wine tour & tasting. Later in the week hike into the woods to forage for mushrooms then get down & dirty; slaughter & butcher our free range chickens incorporating it into cooking class for classic stock, stews & roasts.

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