Saturday, December 9

10 Christmas Gift Ideas for the Kitchen

Watch our Facebook LIVE! video sharing a few of our favorite things - 10 Christmas Gift Ideas for the Kitchen - all tools used in our cooking school and kitchen daily! From luxe to stocking stuffers & in no particular order here are the links below!

Be sure to watch the video to find out why we chose these great gifts!

1. Falk Copper Cookware - This is true craftsman ship! Beautiful handmade copper cookware - start your collection with either a sauté, sauce or fry pan! These pots & pans are Jason's favorite kitchen tools! They are worth the investment, don't be fooled by fake knock-offs.

2. Cutting Board with a Lip/Edge   - Stop the slippage with a lip! 

3. Chinois -   A classic fine mesh strainer.

4. Parchment Paper - I know, weird to be on a Christmas list but it makes a great stocking stuffer or Secret Santa gift for anyone who cooks because it's so versatile! (I think Jason should invest in parchment stock!) From lining a baking sheet to using it as  - a lid or piping's indispensable in the kitchen! Buy it by the roll, not individual sheets!

5. Food Mill - from tomatoes to potatoes, keep one in your pantry.

6. Bialetti Moka & Milk Frother - It's a classic and makes most Italy lovers gift lists. We use ours every day, many many times a day! Bialetti is our moka of choice and this simple hand pumper/frother works like a charm. And here's (one of my first videos) on how to use it and make a proper Italian caffe!

7. Lexan - Take tupperware to the professional level. 

8. Big Pasta/Stock Pot - You can never boil pasta in too much water! This is when you hit up a restaurant supply store and buy the biggest pot your stove can handle. Nothing fancy needed it's just to boil water - and a lot of it!

9. Cookbooks - On every kitchen/cooking/food lovers christmas list are cookbooks! Our recommendation is simple: The Silver Spoon - get both in English & Italian, Il Cucchiaio d'Argento they are different. And a personal favorite is The Food of Spain, when the kitchen is closed for the winter we happily eat our way through this cookbook!

10. Cheese Grater - Ok this is the wild card item. This is an Italian military issued cheese grater, made for the battle field! We found this antique item in our farmhouse when we moved in (for years we didn't know what it was!)

Happiest of Holidays! 
Let us know your favorite's to add to the list for next year!

...hopefully our kitchen renovation will be done in time for Christmas!!!

Thursday, November 30

How to Make the BEST Mashed Potatoes | LIVE! Online Cooking Class from Italy

The potato: Take 5 extra minutes this Holiday Season to make good mashed potatoes!! They'll be on almost every table this holiday season at one festive dinner or another so why not do it right. Jason shares his technique on how to make perfectly creamy mashed potatoes every time. 

From our Facebook Live! Holiday Cooking Class from our kitchen & farmhouse in Italy! How to make perfect mashed potatoes...and a few turkey brining tips! Watch it here:

Tuesday, November 28

Podcast from Italy: Black Friday in Italy, A Pumpkin Pie Disaster, Paid Magazine Articles & Old Rope...

In a post turkey/stuffing/pumpkin pie haze we covered a lot of ground this podcast plus another chapter of the Book! After we took the dog (dog sitting for our Dutch neighbors) on a frozen walk we fired up the mics!

A little late to the party - Italy joined America by enthusiastically celebrating Black Friday with crazy sales & on thoughts on this. But first RAI (Italian TV station) arrived to interview us during our Thanksgiving Prep for a (what I hope to be lovely & endearing) segment on life in Le Marche, then returned the next day for a pumpkin pie recipe was a disaster!! We go into detail on Jason's pumpkin pie excuses....

Then we tie up a few loose ends of stories we never finished: wood delivery, Fusciani and staying at Ca' Camone. Stories of Gaggi (he's here every morning -before AND after hunting) as usual which prompts Jason to ask which is a better way to live: reusing old rope or buying a new one!

Then I rant about receiving emails from online magazines offering to feature us in their magazine if we want to PAY! That's not an article - that's an advertisement!! We ramble on about life and winter projects as usual... I finish up the podcast with Chapter 12: An Easter Feast

 Thanks for listening!! Podcast from Italy #111 Black Friday in Italy, A Pumpkin Pie Disaster, Paid Magazine Articles & Old Rope... Dowload/Stream on iTunesStitcher or Podbean

Saturday, November 18

Truffle Hunting in Le Marche | In the Woods + Cultivated

This November we hosted a truffle hunting holiday to give our guests a unique and hands on truffle experience! In full discloser 2017 has not been a good year for truffles (due to our lack of rain this summer) pricing are reaching 6,000 Euro/kilo - KILO! We weren't expecting to find much in the woods but a good story to tell!

We kicked off the weekend with a five course feast (including roasted crispy pork belly & apples with mashed chestnuts), a hearty meal to ready us for the hunt!


The next afternoon we slipped on our mud boots and followed two handsome Italians and one keen dog deep into the woods to hunt for white truffles.

I don't think that sets the scene properly - without knowing where we were headed, our group of five wonderfully rowdy & wild American women split up immediately into two separate SUV's and were taken off road (and almost off the side of the mountain), about 6km DEEP into the woods to their secret location. So secret, in fact we had to take the group photo in a different location to not give away any telltale signs of where we were hunting!

Our guides, two certified Truffle Hunters, Michele & Lorenzo. The cousins are locals from Piobbico (one a neighbour, the other a friend) and were EXACTLY what the ladies had envisioned! They were charismatic & couldn't speak more than a word or two in English but it made it all that more charming! Every so often the dog would catch the scent of truffles and dig wildly, only to find nothing but a newly dug hole. It wasn't her fault, it's a bad year for everyone. We foraged further into the woods, laughing along the way, crossing the river and climbed hills - not a truffle was found but friendships were made...along with a few crushes on our version of George Clooney, the Truffle Hunter!

Back to their farmhouse we popped a bottle of Bianchello and lingered in the garden until Jason called, the kitchen was ready for their cooking class, bring the ladies home!

Slipping off the wellies and tying on their aprons the group prepared a four course dinner with produce from our farm! Jason shared local recipes neatly wrapped in technique, how to balance flavors and knife skills. Three of the four guests have been here before with a combined total of over 20+ visits & cooking classes between them!!

It was a long day that lasted long into the night (under the wifi-cherry tree!) kept warm with hearty red wine.

 After a good night's sleep we got an early start for the next adventure...


We climb the steep hill to Roberto's agritruismo Ca' Licozzo just as the fog is lifting out of our valley.   (Again, in full discloser; I was driving & stalled the car at least 3 times, it was a guests rental...) Rewarded at the top with sweeping views we were greeted by our kind friend & farmer Roberto. He beamed with pride as he gave the ladies a tour of his farm, cantina, butchers shop, guest rooms, the works! He then asked us to wait for just a moment, he quickly returned with a huge smile and curly haired friend. This time we were just feet from his farmhouse - no off-roading, no secret spots, just an orchard in his front yard. He actually had numerous orchards - each recreating a different environment with different species of trees & bushes in hopes of finding truffles buried under their roots.

Roberto explained to us in great detail (then I would translate & condense to cliff notes) what to look for - nature's indicators of truffles growing at the roots, explained the different seasons and why 10 years he started this truffle rich orchard.  He does it for passion, not profit. Then as if on cue - his herd of sheep roaming free passed by to say Ciao! It was straight out of a movie!! Roberto was unfazed, the ladies all whipped out their cameras & phones.  Now cue the dog -  Lola suddenly took off, dragging her owner behind - she's on to something. Sure enough - in the cultivated orchards of Roberto's  hillside paradise we found two white truffles!

Satisfied with our success we returned to the main house, sat on the picnic tables and gazed out at the mid morning view as Roberto prepared a platter of his homegrown/raised and homecured prosciutto, thinly sliced pancetta, lonzino and capacollo.

Before we headed back down the steep hill to our house, Roberto asked if we'd like to see the sheep again? Of course! He took us to the stable and called them in for lunch. The tiniest of the herd emerged for her special lunch - a bottle! Fed to her by our guests!! Truffles, sheep, meats & cheese - oh my! Another great day this was shaping up to be!

After a long nap we got dolled up (ok, not really it's still the countryside) and headed into town for the big international White Truffle Festival in Acqualagna. The tiny town hosts one of the biggest/well known festivals in Italy and it's just the next town over from us! We meandered the streets, perused the stalls selling truffled goods and found the perfect spot to sit, eat, drink & people watch while we enjoyed our white truffle dinner on plastic plates!

All the way down our long dirt road and deep in those woods memories were made this weekend that will last a lifetime! I'm grateful for it!

 (Photo missing of the five of us ladies taken by Jason on their last morning should go right here...I will hunt down a copy)

Tuesday, November 14

FAIL: Stoccafisso - Stock Fish

Sometimes you hit a home run with trying a new recipe and other times you strike out big time... this was one of those times!

After a chance encounter with an old man delivering stoccafisso to Fusciani, Jason eagerly purchased one on the spot. Not sure what exactly to do with it - he was excited and eager for the challenge. The old man was familiar with where we lived and suggested placing the fish in the river next to our house to rehydrate. Well instead of going old school & rigging a cage to place the fish in the river  (to make sure none of the wild animals - including our cats tried to eat it) Jason opted for the more modern approach in our outdoor kitchen sink; placing the fish in a big plastic bin with constant running water.  Continue this for 14+ days!

All of our guests  throughout the month of October know what I'm talking about - that big ol'fish in the sink...

We were so excited to finally COOK it after all these weeks of prep that we filmed a Facebook Live! video of Jason preparing the dish he researched: Stoccafisso all vicentina, a classic Venetian recipe.

It sounded simple enough: dredge the fish in flour, place in a pot, then fill the pot with herbs, garlic, anchovy - then pour almost a liter of olive oil along with milk and cook very slowly...(Of course there's a bit more to it but that's the gist.)

Little did we know what an awful smell we would be unleashing into our kitchen... It was horrible - the smell, the texture and the taste. I'm not sure what we did wrong - but it wasn't good. At all.
In fact, no one wanted to eat it - not us, the guests, Gaggi or his buddy! Gaggi didn't even want us to feed it to his dog!

We'll stick to baccala from now on!

Sunday, November 12

Podcast from Italy: Truffle Hunting, Immigration Costs & Christmas Trees Shopping in Italy

Now that the last guests have checked out for our 2017 season we full swing into winter projects and it may be early, but christmas trees are on our mind! However before we closed the doors and began to batton down the hatches we hosted a truffle hunting weekend! Jason stews over being nickle & dimed in the immigration process and begins to add up the costs already associated with our Italian citizenship! Then a little "Yummy" talk and our thoughts on adults overusing this word! Plus the continuation of The Book!! Chapter 11: Spring in like a Lion, out like a ... fox.

Thanks for listening!!! Podcast from Italy #110 -Truffle Hunting, Immigration Costs & Christmas Trees Shopping in Italy Dowload/Stream on iTunesStitcher or Podbean

More truffle hunt photos to come...but in the meantime here's Jason & Gaggi getting to work & the sparks are flying! (By the way: notice the cord in the photo...!!)

Thursday, November 9

Time to Plan for Italy in 2018 | Cooking Classes, Events & Workshops

Sharing the sweet life in Italy!
From cooking classes to Move to Italy workshops there's always something cooking at our farmhouse... Here's the look at 2018 at La Tavola Marche. We hope to see you next year in our kitchen! (Which we are renovating this winter!!) Watch for the return of our LIVE! Online Cooking Classes coming soon... 
Best, Ashley & Jason
"Feel like a local" Tour & Tasting: Cured Meats, Aged Cheese, Craft Beer...
 the perfect Italian farm holiday for the parents & kids!
Get the details & dates for our new series of workshops:

Monday, October 30

Podcast from Italy: Kitchen Renovations in a 500 Year old Stone Farmhouse

An autumn update - from the garden and our first frost to kitchen renovations planned for the winter!  After changing our cookware to gorgeous copper we now must renovate the kitchen to look as good as those Falk pots!! There's not a straight wall in the house - this particular wall we measured in three spots and got three VERY different measurements. We share a cooking FAIL in trying our hand at stoccafisso (spoiler alert it was horrible!) Plus, we announce our 2018 calendar of cooking classes and workshops along with Ashley's thought's on the health care system in Italy vs. the US. And find out why we are going to be interviewed for Italian news!!

Thanks for listening! Podcast from Italy #109 - Big NEWS! Kitchen Renovations Dowload/Stream on iTunesStitcher or Podbean

Wednesday, October 11

Podcast from Italy: House Hunting Questions Answered

For the faithful podcast listeners your questions will be answered in this podcast on where we are moving next! It feels good to have made a decision and now it's time to get to work with the house projects we want to tackle before the 2018 season begins! In local news: Thankfully September has brought mild wet weather - perfect for mushroom hunting - so this is the talk of town, along with the road work being down on our white road - Via Candigliano. And to top of the podcast/week - we went skydiving with the porchetta guy! Thanks for listening!!

Thanks for listening! Podcast from Italy #108 - Big NEWS! House Hunting & Spontaneous Skydiving! Dowload/Stream on iTunesStitcher or Podbean

More photos and the video of our jump to come...!!

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