Sunday, February 26

A Candid Interview on What it's REALLY like to Own a B&B in ITALY

Our friends at Dream of Italy Newsletter recently interviewed us about our April 1-5, 2017 Consulting workshop on Moving to Italy (we've got 1 spot open!!) We tried to answer honestly and candid about that's happened in the last year - from the crazy sale/non-sale/they fled in the middle of the night (that seriously happened!) to the lessons/mistakes we've made and learned from in the past 10 years and what it's like owning and operating a business as a couple.  Plus we look inward and share what inspired us to start this workshop:

DOI: I listened to your podcast about trying to sell your B&B. What were the lessons from that attempted sale? Is that how this course on running a B&B in Italy was born?

AB: Looking back and trying to analyse the situation we can see that we we put on blinders to red-flags since were so excited at the opportunity to sell our business and watch it succeed in anew set of hands. We were also naive and didn’t protect ourselves financially. It was an expensive lesson, but a one we will learned from greatly.
We began to look at the situation from the other side of the table and that’s how the workshop was born! We realized most people are ‘dream drunk’ which can be a wonderful thing but also dangerous if you are ill prepared and don’t really understand what it takes to move and start a new business. Saying you are ready to do this is very different than being mentally, physically (and at times financially) prepared. We wanted to share with others this opportunity to learn from us and our panel, ask all their burning questions and get honest answers. It will be a good dose of reality.

Read the full interview here: So You Want to Own and Run A Bed & Breakfast in Italy?

Friday, February 24

Podcast from Italy: 48 Hours in Venice

The magic hour in Venice -

This week is a doozey! We share with you our honest opion of 48 hours in Venice with a few great recommendations including a truck stop for lunch! We are getting ready for the start of the season and busy working on the vlog & projects around the house.  While trying to support his strong back, Jason is strengthening his mind...with basic algebra and a little music from Tennesse Earnie Ford. And back by popular demand...another excerpt from "The Book" - Chapter 3!
 Thanks for listening!!
All dolled up for the opera! 

Podcast from Italy: #97 - 48 Hours in VENICE & Chapter 3 from "The Book" - Dowload/Stream on iTunesStitcher or Podbean

A few of my favorite photos from Venice ...

A Venitian fishmonger takes a mid morning break before the crowds arrive.
Traffic on the Grand Canal!

Monday, February 20

Vlog from Italy: 002 | Snow & Stuffed Artichokes

It all sounds so romantic; living deep in the Italian countryside that is until it snows & you realize it takes a big part of your day just to leave the house! But we don't mind being stuck at home with plenty to cook/eat. We start a recipe for stuffed artichokes...but we dont'get much further than how to filet an anchovy!

We hope you enjoy Episode 002 of Vlog from Italy:

Be sure to follow & subscribe on YouTunes so you don't miss an episode of what's happening next at our farmhouse by clicking here: Subscribe to Videos by La Tavola Marche

Saturday, February 18

Winter Stews

Outside, away from the warmth of the fire, beyond the steam covered widows, our valley was blanketed with a solid meter deep of snow for over a week (we've just thawed out!) We were prepared with plenty of wood and enough provisions to feed most of the village just in case… Yet Ashley was terrified that we would starve. This wa a perfect time to have something rich, hardy, and stewy on the stove fitting the weather outside ideally.

Most cultures have a staple version of stewed meat and vegetables. These are versatile comfort foods that take advantage of tougher cuts of meat, seasonal vegetables, and typical seasonings cooked slowly to tenderize and bring all the flavors together.

The same simple ingredients with slight variations produce totally different versions of the same dish. Add a bit of cinnamon, cardamon, and coriander and take the dish to North Africa. Rosemary, Juniper white wine and olives brings me back to Italy. Lets’ go to Greece by incorporating instead a squeeze of lemon, dill, and parsley- Its really that simple.
Stewed recipes here in Italy are referred to generally as ‘In Umido’ or that are cooked and served in a sauce usually of their own juices.

Some useful tips for stewed dishes:
1.  Bones! They have marrow and will provide the richness for your stew. If you like a more hands on experience, use meaty bones and serve them. If the bones are not your thing, use boneless stew meat along with stew bones during cooking and then remove the bones before service.

2. Stock. Use good quality or better yet make it yourself!

3. Beware of too many sweet vegetables. Carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, butternut squash etc. are sweet veggies and can overpower everything! Keep this in mind when composing your stew. Love the parsnips and rutabagas; perhaps leave out the carrots…..

4. Grandma was correct in that stews always taste better the next day! Make it over the weekend for dinner during the week.

Here is one of my favorites Sepzzatino di Vitello:

Stewed Veal

1 lb/500 gr of beef for stew (or a mix of both beef & pork)
1 carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
handful of olives
2-3 spoonfuls of capers, drained
1/2 glass of white wine
salt & pepper
flour for dusting
olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
aromatics/herbs - thyme, sage, rosemary
stock, enough to cover the meat
optional: mushrooms

Dredge meat in flour.
In a heavy bottomed pot on medium/high heat, brown meat on all sides.
Remove meat from the pan.
Reduce heat to low, add in vegetables, season with salt & pepper and sweat for 10 minutes.
Add meat back to the pot (as well as the optional mushrooms) with your aromatics.
Deglaze with white wine and lemon juice.
Cover meat with stock.
Toss in capers & olives.
Simmer very slowly for 1.5 - 2 hours until meat is very tender.
Check your seasoning.
Serve over polenta or boiled potatoes.

Sunday, February 12

Podcast from Italy #96: An Excerpt from The Book

After catching you all up on the latest happenings: from ladri in Piobbico to carnevale & citrus season we swtich it up and read an excerpt from the unpublished book Ashley started years ago...

Thanks for listening and send us your comments & quetions to read on an upcoming episode!

Podcast from Italy: #96 - An Excerpt from The Book - Dowload/Stream on iTunesStitcher or Podbean

Friday, February 10

Introducing...the VLOG from ITALY: Episode 001

After 10 years of living in Italy and sharing with you stories and struggles of life, recipes, festivals and everything in-between thru the blog & podcast we are ready to take it to the next level. Introducing the vlog, the video version of the blog! "Vlog from Italy" is the name & we will be posting new videos every Thursday (until we get too busy...)  Here's the first episode (available on Youtube) VLOG from ITALY: 001 Welcome to the Vlog

Wild & Loud (Instrumental) by WILD
Start this Fire by The Royal Foundry
Hipster Licensed from IB Audio

We will keep posting here on the blog as well but be sure to subscribe to our YouTube page to keep up to date with the vlog!

Friday, January 20

Join us as we start the season!

Cooking with Spring's Wild Edibles & Bottling Wine  
24 - 29 April 2017 (5 Nights) = 600 Euro/person

Fields of wild radicchio ready to be sauteed, young nettle perfect for tongue tingling ravioli, rich & creamy artichoke risotto - the flavors of Spring in Le Marche, Italy. In our farm to fork cooking classes we will collect wild edibles for both a pasta class and a five course Italian dinner party! Learn to make pasta (both cut & stuffed) with two seasonal sauces as well a complete menu of antipasti, primo (first course), secondo (main course), contorno (side dish) and dolce (dessert).  Plus this is the time of year that we refill our cantina with local wines and we need your help bottling, corking & labeling the hundreds of liters of red, white & rosato!

Includes: 4 nights, guided wild edible walk, 2 half day cooking class with a custom hand-made apron, wine bottling, two meals with wine, five course dinner and breakfast daily, price based on double occupancy.

Friday, January 13

Podcast from Italy: Home for Winter Making 50 Kilos of Salami

Back from France for the holidays we share the differences of spending Christmas in the French countryside vs the Italian countryside. While we were away busy making gingerbread houses, flying & filming, Gaggi stayed busy with yard work at our house!

Arriving home to frozen pipes, a quickly dwindling wood pile and a forecast of snow quickly brings us out of vacation mode and back to reality.  First on the to-do list: 50 kilos of salami with Dr. Gaggi & Vittorio...
Thanks for listening to our latest podcast!!

Podcast from Italy: #95 - Home for Winter & Salami Making - Dowload/Stream on iTunesStitcher or Podbean

Friday, December 30

Panettone French Toast

What to do with all the extra boxes of panettone stacking up after the Christmas onslaught? Make French Toast! Now we are talking. Soft sweet buttery panettone (especially the ones with chocolate chips or raisins) makes perfect french toast to be drowned in Grade A maple syrup on a cold frosty December the diet for after Befana (January 6th)!

Panettone French Toast
maple syrup
(powdered/icing sugar optional)

Beat eggs, adding in vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg in shallow dish. Stir in milk.
Dip thick slices of the panettone into the egg mixture, turning to coat both sides evenly.
Cook panettone slices on lightly greased nonstick griddle or skillet on medium heat until browned on both sides.

To really go wild - you can add a layer of powdered sugar to one side, flip it back onto the heat and let it form a sweet crust!
Drizzle heavily in good maple syrup & serve!

Wednesday, December 28

Creative Tourism Award: Best Creative Residency 2016

What a wonderful surprise! Our farm, inn & cooking school La Tavola Marche has just been honoured & recognized by the Creative Tourism Awards for Best Creative Residency 2016 for our innovative & sustainable tourism efforts. We are blushing a bit & stammering for did they ever hear of our little farmhouse?! 

I'll share with you what they sent:
The Jury highlighted the quality, originality and sustainability of La Tavola Marche as well as its engagement for the experiential tourism.

The Jury of the Creative Tourism Awards particularly appreciated the authentic and elegant experiences designed by La Tavola Marche though which the travellers can enjoy the art of living and the uniqueness of Le Marche area.
With its wide array of activities aimed to very diverse targets, La Tavola Marche contributes to the development of a sustainable tourism offer.
The Jury underlined the balance between the quality based on a strong professional background, and the human generosity brought by the owners’ personal involvement in this project.

Created by the Creative Tourism Network, the Creative Tourism Awards  aim to reward companies, projects and destinations worldwide that foster the creative tourism, a new generation of tourism, characterized by the active participation of the tourists in artistic and creative activities.

Internationally recognized for its action in favor of a more innovative and sustainable tourism, the Creative Tourism Network® works with a panel of prestigious experts headed by the Professor Greg Richards, co-inventor of the creative tourism concept, in order to determine and guarantee respect of the Best Practices of the Creative Tourism.

Hence, the international jury of the Creative Tourism Awards selected five, among more than hundreds of initiatives and destinations from twenty-eight countries, that highlight for their commitment to this emerging sector. The Jury particularly appreciated the authenticity and creativity of the proposals, as well as their promoters’ interest in involving the locals and the tourists in the production of the experiences.

Based on the criteria of quality, originality, innovation and sustainability, the prizes were awarded to:

Best Strategy for Creative Tourism Development 2016: VisitEstonia   (Estonia)
Best Creative Destination 2016: Pafos Region - (Cyprus)
Best Creative Travel Agency 2016: Human Connections (Mexico)
Best Creative Residency 2016: La Tavola Marche (Italy)
Best Creative Experience 2016: The Place  (Cyprus)

WOW! Like I said, we are a bit speechless... A very sincere thank you to this fantastic international organisation (based in Barcelona) led by the amazing Caroline Couret in there endless efforts of fostering & promoting creative tourism around the world. We share similar ideas of sustainable tourism - in the simplicity of connecting travellers to the local life, food & culture in a honest authentic way. Well, we couldn't be prouder - Grazie Mille, Thank you Creative Tourism Network!
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