The snow is gone. My pulled muscle or whatever it was is healed. The sun is shining and all is well in the world.
Just when you think you can't take winter anymore, spring sticks out it's little head and gives you a kick in the pants. It is amazing what sunshine and longer days can do for one's outlook on life.
As usual, Tuscany comes out of hibernation and everyone seems to be ready to get out and about again.
Most of us working in a business that focuses around tourism are stuck at our computers in winter, planning and setting up programs. Most of that needs to be done at least 6 months to a year ahead of time.
Finally all one's planning which is like planting seeds, seeing them sprout and grow is the best part.
Like our pea plants which survived the snow and are now growing, my tours are filling up and ready to grow too!
My Sicily tours in May and September are filled and I am doing another private tour in late fall for another group of friends.
My Puglia tour in June still has space. I am so excited to finally be taking people down to Puglia. We will be based in one of my favorite villages, Alberobello, and staying in restored Trulli, the typical dwellings with the cone-shaped roof. Antonello and Laura of Southern Visions have put together a fun program where we visit producers and then cook with the products. Local, regional and traditional.
Hope you can come and join me.
I was invited to a fun private dinner at the Officina della Bistecca at Dario's in Panzano with Alessandro Bellini of Viola imports and some of his suppliers that are friend's of mine too! Andrea of Aceto Balsamico San Giacomo, Cristiano and his dad Luciano of Savini Truffles and Alberto who produces Giachi Extra Virgin Olive oil. Another friend came too, Gioni from Pruneti. It was a blast and I am so happy to know so many people that have a passion for what they do. My greatest pleasure is when I can introduce my students to these great products in class and on my longer programs actually take them to meet my friends.
It makes such a difference when you understand what goes into making a quality product and how it really changes the outcome of a recipe.
I drive a used car, I live in a tiny home, we only have one car. But we try to buy quality food.
I have adapted to the simple life here in Italy, following my husbands way of living, often less is more.
I basically came here at thirty years old with nothing. We have nice life and tons of time together as my husband is my sherpa, personal assistant, house husband and driver. Without him, I could not do what I do.
This year I am attending a couple of culinary events which will kick off spring, first heading to paris to the Cookbook fair and while there will hook-up with my good friend Kate Hill and meet Cathy, one of the women that started the fun Charcutapalooza event last year. We will be celebrating with the winner and my friend Jack from TrufflePig will be there as well as some other fun people I have never met!
Then off to New York for IACP, the annual culinary event I try to get to. So a fun week of catching up will old friends, meeting new friends and learning some new tricks!
I am taking of tomorrow to cater a party for friends in their lovely hotel in Val D'Aosta and will be helping them with their new project, a bistro in their hotel.
Meanwhile, the markets are getting greener and greener. Spring is my favorite time as the veggies start to overlap, winter greens and spring greens together at the same time.
Probably one of my favorite winter greens, happens to be a specialty in Puglia. Broccoli rape. Bitter greens with tiny bits of broccoli stems.
Broccoli Rape Pasta Sauce
Clean the plant, removing thick stems and then parboil in salted water.
I like to then chop the greens up into smaller pieces and use for a pasta sauce.
Slice some garlic (italians really hardly use much, i would do just one) and warm in the oil.
Add one or two anchovy filets ( I like the ones packed in oil, they should be soft, not like cardboard!)
They will melt in the hot oil.
Then add the greens and they will absorb all this fabulous intense flavor.
Traditionally served with the flour and water pasta, Orecchiette.
Boil the pasta in salted water, drain and add to the pan with the sauce and let cook together to flavor.
Maybe a nice glass of NegroAmaro from Puglia?
The same trick of parboiling the vegetables then tossing in the pan with garlic, olive oil and chili pepper will make anyone love vegetables! So you can use as a side dish or as a pasta sauce.
Practice and let me know!