Wednesday, April 30

Lonely Planet Traveller Magazine "Cook Peasant Food in Italy" at La Tavola Marche

In a recent issue of Lonely Planet Traveler Magazine "52 Weekends Away" our very own La Tavola Marche was included at #49, "Cook Peasant Food in Italy"!

Here's an excerpt:
"The cucina povera (‘peasant food’) of rural Italy is an especially appealing cuisine to learn when your cookery school is a centuries-old farmhouse set in 250 acres of Le Marche countryside. 
 At La Tavola Marche agriturismo, chef and owner Jason helps students rustle up seasonal specialities...Classes start with a ramble through the farm gardens to collect fruit, veg and eggs, before moving on to make pizza, pasta, sausages or three course feasts from scratch. The good food continues throughout a weekend, with five-course dinners and walks through surrounding valleys in search of wild edibles (from £255 per person for three nights, incl accommodation;"
Arrive Ryanair flies from London Stansted to Ancona and Rimini 
– both about 1½ hours’ drive away – in summer (from £60;;
BA, easyJet and Ryanair fly to Bologna
– 2½ hours away – year round (from £90;

There's still time to book a weekend getaway to our farm, inn & cooking school:
3 Nights Summer Special - Thursday thru Sunday
 starting at 715 Euro/COUPLE

Arrive to our legendary Thursday Pizza Party, the next day join the Chef & feel like a local on a tour of the hidden meat & cheese market of Apecchio (with a little porchetta along the way), a craft beer tasting & tour followed by lunch at the ‘hunter’s hideaway’ and on Saturday enjoy a half day cooking class including wine, meal & our custom hand-made apron!

Sunday, April 27

If It Grows Together, It Goes Together: Radish & Strawberry Salad

This radish & strawberry salad certainly strays from the traditional dishes of Le Marche however is a perfect example of the philosophy "if it grows together, it goes together." The crunchy peppery radishes compliment the sweet juicy strawberries, add a bit of young spring onion (and if we were in the States, cilantro!) for a surprising and delicious spring salad. The recipe is inspired by our friends from Perennial Plate!

Radish & Strawberry Salad
equal parts of radish & strawberries, sliced as thin as possible (you can do this with a mandoline or knife)
a pinch of spring onions, sliced thinly
salt & crack of pepper to taste
olive oil
the best balsamic you’ve got: aceto balsamic tradizionale di modena

In a bowl combine radishes, strawberry & onion. Season with salt & pepper and a light drizzle of olive oil. Very gently (with your hands) toss the salad to incorporate all the ingredients.
To serve: plate and drizzle a few drops of balsamic over the top, serve immediately.

Note: Anything from spring will work in this dish, fresh fava beans or peas, chive, etc - if it grows together it goes together.

Friday, April 25

4th Annual Forage, Slaughter & Butchery Course in Italy (October & November 2014)

The Annual Forage, Slaughter & Butchery Course at La Tavola Marche yet again asks brave culinary travelers to forage, slaughter and butcher their meal... while on holiday in Italy. Inspired by Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma the farm teaches students from around the world how to forage for mushrooms, slaughter (& butcher) a hen and then butcher a whole pig with knife-in-hand classes! This fall experience Italian farm life first hand with this unique holiday.
 If you call yourself a "foodie," pig lover, wine-o, gourmet or gourmand this culinary holiday is for you! Vegetarians seek refuge elsewhere because for five nights in October & November it's a all about meat in the foothills of the Apennine Mountains of Central Italy. A carnivore’s delight - whole hog butchering course, sausage making, chicken slaughtering with hands-on cooking classes, mushroom hunting, wine tour & cheese tasting with lunch and truffle festivals.
At La Tavola Marche you know where your food comes from; vegetables fresh picked from the garden, eggs from the free-range hens, truffles foraged from the woods and fresh meat from the neighbor.  In a small group of ten you will truly experience the Italian country life & way of eating.

Forage, Slaughter and Butchery Course 
 28 October - 2 November 2014
4 - 9 November 2014 
5 Nights 
= 925 Euro/person
(max 10 people) 

 The first night you are welcomed to the 300 year old stone farmhouse with the rich smells of a slow burning 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.
Enjoy a half-day private guided wine tasting & tour with lunch by an Italian wine expert of the best family-run, most characteristic vineyards of Le Marche. You will have the chance to visit a cheese factory, honey producer, an oil mill, wineries and of course taste all those products.

From collecting eggs from the hens to slaughtering & butchering the chickens for winter it is all part of life on the farm that you will experience. Take a walk into the woods foraging for wild mushrooms.

Using the fresh butchered meats Chef Jason will teach you how to make the fundamentals from soups and stocks to slow roasting and braising.
Spend the morning outside Urbino (UNESCO World Hertitage Site) at a locally famous pig reserve for a tour of their farm, demonstration on butchering and a delicious lunch of Carlo's cured specialties. While at Ca'Bianchino students will follow the process, identifying and trimming different cuts of pork, learning the best cooking and curing technique for each cut well as a range of basic butchery skills as well as the basics of the aging process, how to make salami, cured meats and sausages.

Visit one of the many local truffle festivals in the area from Sant'Angelo in Vado to Acqualagna and sample this rare mushroom. Forage in our back woods with a local expert for fall funghi!

Curious what the experience is really like? Written by a previous guest, read about last years course in her 7 part blog series! Part 1:Welcome Home
Forage, Slaughter and Butcher Your Meal
28 October - 2 November AND 4-9 November 2014 (5 Nights) 
= 925 Euro/person
Includes: 5 nights accommodations, welcome five course feast, two full day cooking classes, wine tour & transportation, mushroom hunt, 2 butchery classes, pig-farm tour & lunch, breakfast daily, three lunches, four dinners, evening snack, wine with meals, heating, all taxes. (Based on double occupancy. Special discounted rate for group of 4 or more.) 
La Tavola Marche (farm, inn & cooking school) 

The Rough Itinerary
Prosecco Welcome & Five Course Feast

Morning - Mushroom Hunt
Chicken Slaughter & Butcher Course
Light Lunch
Afternoon/Evening Cooking Class (half the group) & Dinner Party

Morning -Pickup Wine Tour & Tasting
Lunch with wine – during tour
Evening - Light snack upon late arrival at farmhouse
Morning - Pig Reserve outside Urbino for Butchery & Charcuterie Course
Farmers Lunch with the Butcher
Afternoon/Evening - Light Dinner & Quiz Night at Farmhouse

Morning/Lunch - Cooking Class (half the group) and Farewell Lunch
Evening - Festival


Classes include: Custom made, hand pressed Pascucci apron to take hoome, meals and wine.

Thursday, April 24

Look What I Found in the Windowsill...New Guests!!

Every spring our farmhouse is a pit-stop for small migrating birds travelling North from South Africa. We live in some sort of episode of National Geographics - from the small song birds & swallows to massive cranes and falcons/hawks to our live-in coo-coo bird & screeching owls - I'm no bird watcher (and can't name any specific breeds) but have become an admirer of our winged visitors & neighbors. It's incredible to think the thousands of miles they have travelled, returning year after year (for decades) to the same eaves of our farmhouse to make their nests for the next generation.

 The other morning we found this sweet little nest - tucked away between the window & shutter. The small migrating birds have been making nests everywhere but we rarely get a chance to peak inside their handy-work. We were especially lucky to find these beauties - six tiny blue eggs (I think from a swallow)! The nest is in a safe spot and we'll be checking in daily to see when they hatch - I'll be sure to post photos. With eggs this small, I can't imagine how big the little chicks will be!!

Sunday, April 20

Buona Pasqua - A Podcast from Italy!

Happy Easter - Buona Pasqua to all our friends and family out there!
To celebrate this year we are eating with friends, this will be the first year in many that Jason is not stuck in kitchen! Finally, we have posted another podcast - it's up on iTunes & Stitcher available to download or stream! This episode Jason and I talk about the lunch to celebrate a local Chef's book on self-sustainability and reminisce of Easters' past... be sure to listen all the way to the end when the Italian fighter jets fly by!!

Podcast from Italy: #73 on iTunes

....and even though Jason's right and it looks like 'stock-photography' another Easter pic:

Friday, April 18

A Pre Easter Party Celebrating Self-Sustainability...& the Blues!

Last weekend we were invited to our friends pig farm to celebrate the publication of Italian Chef, Ivan Fantini's new book on self-sustainability. More than just a "0 km" diet (which this chef despises the term) it's about eating what you grow/what nature gives you and not just eating but living a self-sustainable life. 

Our friends, Carlo & Gigia hosted the event with a big burger bbq - everything was from their farm & homemade keeping in mind with the book (and the lifestyle they live) -from the meat, buns and even the ketchup! And with Easter around the corner there was a basket of hard eggs and Gigia's homemade crescia di pasqua!!

We took the opportunity to shoot footage of the bbq and interview the Chef and few other characters we met along throughout the day...we'll post something soon! (We're still trying to nail down the name of our 'production company'...any suggestions?)

I had my eye on this home-made, self-serve wine contraption (made with a hose and old brass spigot) - Jason and our neighbor Louk are already designing one for pizza nights at our place!

After the burgers were eaten, the music begin to play...

Italian blues singer Joe Galullo a self-proclaimed reincarnated Native American had a twinkle to his eye that made me instantly like him. This old spirit is certainly young at heart and let me tell you, this ol'boy could play the blues! He sat down with me before his show began for a short interview on his life, his music and how it intersects with nature and food.

Sunday, April 13

Rustic Italian Tart with Fresh Strawberries, Topped with Mascarpone

Traditionally made with marmalade, this rustic tart is found kept under a kitchen towel in most homes in our area.  With strawberries in abundance this time of year, we use fresh fruit instead of jam.
This recipe is enough to make two 9-in/22cm tarts with lattice. Use what you have for the tart pans, we use round pizza pans.

Italian Rustic Tart with Strawberries
Crostata di Fragole

1 1/3 cup, 250g butter
4 cups, 500 g of flour
1 1/4 cups+ for dusting, 250g  sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon, 5g baking powder
2 full eggs + 3 yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
drop of booze - grappa, rum, brandy, anything you like
about a pint of fresh strawberries per tart, sliced
Optional: Serve with whipped cream or mascarpone cheese thinned out with milk.

Cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla a few drops of your favorite liquor and beat in.
Sift together all the dry ingredients.
Incorporate the dry ingredients into the butter & egg mixture with a few strokes of a wooden spoon forming a dough.  Take 1/3 of the dough & and roll it out slightly larger than your  parchment lined tart pan. Roll down the edges of the dough to create the crust.
Arrange the strawberries slightly overlapping to cover the tart. You can sprinkle a little sugar over the strawberries, if they are in season this is not necessary.

To make the latticework top:
Pull off a pinch of dough & roll into a long snake. This is an easy dough to work with if it breaks just pinch it back together. This is a rustic tart. Moist hands will help if the dough is sticky.
Continue until you have enough to make your lattice top.

Bake in a preheated 350F/175C degree oven for about an hour or until the top is nice & brown, the bottom is cooked & the dough should shrink away from the pan a bit.

(Thank you Kelly from The Meaning of Pie for the photos taken during our cooking class.)
And in loving memory of a very special guest...

Wednesday, April 9

LIVE from ITALY Online Cooking Class: Arugula Pesto & Rustic Tart with Strawberries

In the last 'regularly schedule online class' of the season we are cooking a lovely light spring/summer lunch of Arugula & Walnut Pesto with Fresh Pasta and a Rustic Tart with Strawberries and Cream.

For a peppery twist, update your pesto recipe with a new classic: arugula and walnut! Serve tossed over fresh pasta or rubbed on toasty bread with a ribbon of Parmesan, a delicious topping for pizza or a beautiful frittata with a dollop of arugula pesto! Pesto with endless possibilities…And for dessert a rustic tart or crostata that is traditionally filled with jam will be made with fresh strawberries and whipped mascarpone cream.

Our classes focus not only the recipes at hand but the technique and theories behind each dish.  It’s more than just watching an episode of a cooking show on television because this is not only LIVE but interactive! Students/viewers will have the chance to ask questions along the way since all the cooking is done together LIVE! (Plus the classes are recorded & you will receive a copy of the class - how cool is that?!) Either join in the fun and cook along with us or sit back and watch with a glass of wine.

If you can't make the class, you can always order a copy of the class recording as well!

Arugula Pesto
Rustic Tart with Strawberries & Cream
LIVE from ITALY: Online Cooking Class on Sunday, April 13, 2014
Early Broadcast: 1pm EST / 10am PST
Late Broadcast: 4pm EST / 1pm PST- FULLY BOOKED
(The class will last about an hour in duration.)
Cost: $5 (Can’t make it live? Purchase the class for $5 to receive the password & link)

To REGISTER email:
Please send an email and include your preferred time slot (Early or Late). Once payment is received (via PayPal) we will send you the recipes, ingredients & equipment list plus the all important pre-class prep list! You will receive a recorded copy a day or two after the class.
For more details click here!

Hope you join us in the kitchen on Sunday!
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