Friday, January 25

Every Friday Feel Like a Local: Market Trip, Beer Tasting & Lunch at the Hunters Hideaway

 Every Friday feel like a local; visit our friend's artisan meat & cheese warehouse, walk through the traveling market to see what's fresh and chat with the neighbors, enjoy a beer tasting in the hills above Apecchio followed by lunch at a local favorite. 

Artisan Meat & Cheese Market, Beer Tasting & Tour and Lunch at the Hunter’s Hideaway, Join us Every Friday at La Tavola Marche

Off to the market for meats and cheese we stop at our friend’s warehouse for a tasting and impromptu lesson on cured meats and aged cheeses. Taste the difference between Grana Padano and Parmesano Reggiano, aged vs. fresh pecorino (sheep's milk cheese) and different local charcuterie.

After our mid-morning snack we’ll stroll through the traveling market in Apecchio and then make our way to Collesi the award-winning artisan beer and grappa distillery overlooking the valley.  With the thick smell of hops in the air, we'll take a tour of the family-run operation and taste a selection of the most outstanding microbrews made in Italy.

Next stop is even deeper in the hills - the hidden "Hunter’s Hideaway" or Aquapartita lunch spot for fresh pasta with rich sauces and grilled meat with potatoes and plenty of local red wine.
With a full belly we’ll return to the farmhouse ready for a mid-day nap!

The Details:
Artisan Meat & Cheese Market, Beer Tasting & Tour and Lunch at the Hunter’s Hideaway, Every Friday at La Tavola Marche  (10am-end of lunch) ~ 75 Euro/person 
(Includes guide, tour, all food, beer & wine. Group and Family Discounts)

Tuesday, January 22

Brighten Up Winter with a Beet Citrus Salad

Brighten your bleak winter days with this colorful healthy salad of beets, citrus and whatever you've got!  Beets can be found from summer thru winter so this salad is versatile!
There are hundreds of variations; if your have beautiful carrots add them in, no green beans - don't worry about, you can even add in some nuts or shaved fennel. Play with the citrus, try grapefruit for more of a tangy flavor or blood oranges for the color & sweetness.

Beet Citrus Salad

3 beets, any color
2 oranges, supremed/sections and juiced
1 red onion, sliced paper thin
handful of green beans, blanched & cut into thirds
olive oil
salt & pepper

Scrub the beets and bring to a boil in plenty of salted water.  You'll know they are done when you can easily slip a knife in & out like potatoes. Cooking time will depend on the size of the beets, make sure to boil them whole. Drain them and let cool. When the beets are able to be handled, rub the beets with a kitchen towel to slough off the skins. Cut them into bit-sized chunks.

In a bowl, combine about 4 tablespoons of the orange juice, salt and pepper. While constantly whisking, drizzle in about 8 tablespoons of olive oil (you are looking for a 2 to 1 ratio).  (Don't throw out the rest of the OJ - drink it!) 

Toss the onions, beets and green beans with the dressing.  Check your seasoning and allow to sit for about 15 minutes, until the onions start to wilt a bit. Give the salad one more toss & taste, garnish with the orange supremes.
our homegrown beets

Sunday, January 20

{Podcast from Italy] New Episode: Day trip to Ostra & the Restaurant Convention in Rimini

During the winter we try to take lots of day trips - we've recently visited a restaurant convention of sorts in Rimini (filled with tasty samples & expensive equipment) and took a step back in time in Ostra (with a visit to a woodworking shop/museum & whimsical theater). This week is Saint Antonio & the blessing of the animals! We tally up how much meat is curing from our rafters and the word of the week is back -
Thanks for listening!

Photos from the food/restaurant convention:


Friday, January 18

{Short Video} A Lesson in Italian Salami & Sausage Making

Two Italians from Le Marche (Vittorio & Dott. Gaggi) make 40 kilos of salami and sausages for curing in this short fun video!  We hope you enjoy it and thanks for bearing with us as we work out the kinks in filming & editing. Let us know what you think! 

Saturday, January 12

Fresh Baked: It's All About Consistency.

(Photo chosen by our facebook fans!!)
An update on Jason's trials & tribulations of bread baking in a cold stone farmhouse now that he is up to bake number 15:

It's all about consistency. One time it will look great, the next OK and then not so good, so what's going on? (Thanks to meticulous notes we can see why.) 
Consistency with the starter is super important. "I forgot to feed it one morning and for the next four days it didn’t have the predictable rise and fall of a healthy starter. By the end of the fourth day it was back to normal. I’ve learned it’s an everyday thing. I've found better results with feeding the starter twice a day, in the morning and afternoon.  If its not fed, the starter runs out of food and it won’t lift the bread."

Also keeping a consistent temperature for the starter was much more important than I first realized. "It has to be kept in a warm place. If the temps are too cool the natural yeast don’t reproduce quickly as it should. The result is that your bread won't rise properly."
Now we are starting to have some fun with it too - Jason has been topping rustic sourdough loaves with sesame seeds or adding rosemary & olives to the dough. (photos and recipes to come)
Regardless if the loaf is a little heavy or not,  when you cut that bad boy open while it's still warm and spread butter or cheese on it - I’m not gonna complain, I'll eat it every single time... We are getting fat.

(And thanks to all those that commented on Facebook and helped us pick the cover shot for this post!)

Wednesday, January 9

Charcuterie Season Has Begun! {New Podcast Episode}

The first thirty kilos of sausages and salami hang from the rafters in our farmhouse, meat-curing season has officially begun!  This episode of Podcast from Italy, Jason tells a great story about getting bamboozled while making 80 kilos of sausages & salami for Dr. Gaggi and I freak out about mold!  As usual the conversation turns back to food and what's cooking for dinner! 
Thanks for listening!! 

Dr. Gaggi 'controlling' the meat.

Sunday, January 6

Peposo: Peppered Lamb Stew, Slow Cooked in a Wood Oven

A proper Sunday night stew, rich peppery Peposo. An Italian dish, peposo translates to "peppered" and can be made with any type of tough-cut meat with a bone. In this recipe we use leg of lamb cut into thick steaks but you could also use pork shoulder, beef or venison.  It's really all about low and slow. Jason says "I like to cook this dish the night after pizza night (or when the wood burning oven has been used). I wait until the oven cools down putting the pot in and piling all the ash up and around it. It will softly cook all night long and the next morning it's ready to go!" 

You don't need a wood burning oven to make this dish. Simply put it in a slow oven at about 225 F or 105 C for about 8 hours or so - until the meat falls off the bone.

  Perfect served piled high on a buschetta or over soft polenta or mashed potates on a cold winters night - really stick to your ribs!!

Peppered Lamb Stew

2 kilo/4.5 lb leg of lamb, cut into thick steaks with bone-in
20 garlic cloves, peeled
4 heaping tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 bottle of red wine
2 bay leaves
3-4 juniper berries, crushed
drizzle of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 225 F or 105 C  degrees.

In a heavy pot (just big enough to hold all the ingredients), drizzle olive oil and place a layer of the sliced meat at the bottom of the pan. Cover with a few cloves of garlic, sprinkle with pepper & salt and rosemary. Repeat starting with the meat & keep layering until they are all used up & the pot is almost full.

Pour wine over the top and add bay leaves & juniper. Top off with a touch of water if necessary to cover everything.

Slowly bring to just to boil, cover tightly with lid & place in the preheated oven for about 8 hours or until tender & falling apart. [If you want to cook the stew faster, raise the temp to about 300 degrees and cook for 4-6 hours. However it will be richer the slower you cook it. ]

Once the stew is done, skim off fat from the surface & remove the bones, the bay leaves & rosemary twigs.  The meat should be super soft & juicy with a rich & powerful flavor. Taste & season if it needs it. Breakup the pieces of meat. Serve a ladleful of stew on toasted bruschetta & a drizzle of olive oil or serve with polenta or mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, January 2

Our "Podcast from Italy" in the Top 5 on iTunes! {New Episode: Living in Small Town Italy}

Happy New Year -  Buon Anno Nuovo!!

Thanks for all your helping making our podcast is in the top 5 "podcasts about Italy" on iTunes! (Depending on what time of day you look)
Kicking off 2013 with a new episode of a glimpse into our life as expats in Italy. This week we chat about living in a small town during the holidays - playing Bingo (Tombola), grocery shopping and holiday festivities. Jason explains how to cook eel and an update on his bread baking. 
Thanks for listening - 
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