Here I am in Los Angeles, having returned from Italy only a few weeks ago and already thinking about returning to Italy in the fall. I am missing one of my favorite times in Rome. Summer. August in Rome is a really special time. Any knowledgeable tourist knows if possible to avoid August in Rome. It is really hot and humid. There are still many places that close for some portion of the month (although less than in years past). Anyone who lives in Italy knows that most people who can, leave the city for cooler, less humid climes. But there are many of us who have lived there who love the month for the benefits of August in a city that seems so empty you can always find a parking place, a city that reminds you of less populated ages. It is quite special. There is a slowing of everything that allows you to savor the city even more than usual.
Then there is Ferragosto, the middle of August holiday, August 15th. It is the celebration of the Assumption of Mary as well as the earlier Roman holiday of Emperor Augustus. Since Roman times it was the official start of summer holidays and it still means most families take the holiday off for a trip to the country for a cooler day with a picnic to enjoy together.
If you are in Rome, the Gran Ballo di Ferragosto with live music and dancing in the piazze is not to be missed. Many of the cultural locations, museums, tourist attractions, etc. do stay open even though they normally would close on this type of holiday.
There are still tourists around, although less than you might think since most are either just passing through Rome on a quick tour stop on cruises or a one or two day stay, so there are really much less than many other months. It is an easy walking month for sure. Just remember to keep an empty water bottle to fill at the many fountains as you walk through town, a good head covering and lots of sun screen.
Be sure to stop by Campo dei Fiori Market and say hi to Mauro Berardi for me and see how his bancarella has expanded. He has Marco, his son, now with a booth handling sandwiches and meats like porchetta and other meats, as well as condiments. But, as always, his spice mixes are his crowning achievements. I always have them available here in the United States if you run low. Just drop me an email and I will happily send you information on replacing them for you. Expressly Italian is your source for unique Italian specialties that are not found in the U.S. that I bring directly from the producers to you here. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information,
It’s time to make a springtime visit to Rome again. I love visiting Mauro and wandering through the market early in the day looking at all the spring vegetables. I love those lovely little roman artichokes, watching them being cleaned and dropped into the acidified water. The women cleaning the puntarelle spend all day cleaning and dropping the puntarelle into buckets of water
But of course, the main treat for me is meeting with Mauro, Marco and Maurizio at Spezie Famose nel Mondo the most famous and largest seller of spices in the market. I am contacted by people from all over the world looking to replace the spice mixes they purchase from Mauro. Fortunately I almost always have a good supply of the most popular mixes available. Contact me to find out if I have the ones you are looking for.
I am off to Rome for the month of May so if you are looking for anything in particular don’t wait, send me a request by email to be sure I bring back what you are looking for.
In addition to shopping for spices with Mauro, I will be locating Olive oil. I know there is oil available in Vetralla and hopefully I can acquire some additional oil from Farfa, where I brought back the fabulous olio nuovo in November last year. I won’t know until I get there what there might be available. I have read the articles about the weather problems, but since I deal directly with growers sometimes it can be misleading and my sources availability is quite different. I also will have to wait until I arrive to find out if there is any honey from Sardinia left. I know those harvests were also short this year. I continue to bring back what is available – sometimes it is mostly Girasole (sunflower) and millefiore (wildflower) but if you have a particular type you want, please let me know, since sometimes Stefano can locate it for me in his hidden places.
Do not hesitate to email me with any special requests. I will be checking emails often. I will shop Milan, Tuscany (Orbetello, Florence and a few small villages) scarves from a few sources that are reliable with their italian fabrics and italian employees that are still priced affordably. And, if there are any new items that are interesting. It looks like the exchange rate will hover around $1.09 to $1.00 while I am there. If you are not on my mailing list please drop me an email and I will be happy to add you to my newsletter so you know what it available. Enjoy shopping Italy from home.
It has been a long time since I’ve posted but there have been some traumatic times in the world, especially in Italy so I have been distracted. Their world has been shaken much more than the rest of ours. The results of all those earthquakes through the middle of the country has been so costly in not just lives and resources but so much more. The 23 billion euro that the earthquakes are estimated to have cost in loss of lives, buildings and homes and businesses does not include the losses of personal history and the restoration of some of the history of these areas. It makes me so sad to even think of all the years ahead of recovery. After the first series of quakes last summer some of the surrounding areas told me that every village in the area had cancellations for the entire year for reservations. The loss of upcoming business will close many agroturismi that had no earthquake damages.
I have been plugging along with Expressly Italian trying to bring as much awareness as possible to all the wonderful products that Italians enjoy that we have such limited exposure to. Especially olive oil, which we find are so often deceitfully labeled and poorly handled here. It is why I started to bring oils that I know (because I get them directly from the frantoio, where I can watch them being processed and know them to be fresh). It is only fair to warn you that olive oils are going to be soon be taking a large jump upward in price. Erratic weather in Spain, Italy and Greece, where the bulk of the world’s olive oil is produced, has had decimated crops. Experts say global production is set to fall about 8 percent due to horrible weather throughout Europe with global weather changes.
These shortages come as demand for the product has skyrocketed around the world. China has recently become enamored with olive oil, consuming nearly $200 million worth of olive each year. The country’s nouveau riche see the product as a healthier alternative to other fatty oils. I have read a few articles saying they have begun planting olive trees in climates that are appropriate for their growth, (like the vineyards they are also planting) but it will be years before they will be able to harvest for oil. They import nearly 99 percent of what they use right now.
The Guardian article I read last week stated that since October, the cost of extra-virgin olive oil has jumped 30 percent in Italy, to $6.15 a kg. In Spain, the cost is up about 10 percent, near a seven-year high, according to the International Olive Council in Madrid. In Greece, it’s 17 percent. And forecasters say the worst is yet to come. So far, the only area where the costs have not risen much is California and after the effects of the rains of the last couple of weeks that price stability remains to be seen.
I return to Italy in May and I will know more then about prices. I will be bringing back spices from Campo dei Fiori from Mauro Berardi; honey from Sardinia as well as handmade scarves from La Monticiana in Rome and Florence, Olive oil from Sabina and Tuscany and as always, acting as personal shopper for any items special ordered by clients. If there is anything you want, please get in touch with me. My email: email@example.com
I know the timing is bad since there were more earthquakes this week in the middle of Italy, but this is not about earthquakes, although it is about the earth moving. In Rome, north of the centre city is Ponte Milvio. This happens to be Rome’s oldest bridge, built in 200 BC. It is also the beginning of Rome becoming Christian since the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 300 AD between Constantine and Emperor Maxetius. Constantine after winning the battle spread Christianity throughout his new empire.
The bridge area today has a lot of young nightlife and a great market on the first and second Sunday of every month. Of course, none of this really as anything to do with my story.
This area, abutting the Tiber River has a very high water table. Because of this the city decided they needed a water main to run from the street Via della Farnesina to the river. Being Italy, they ran short of money and stopped completion of the pipe about one quarter mile from the river. I am not sure how long ago this happened, probably years though.
Where the construction was stopped, the water flowed from the open ended pipe onto the soil and naturally, the buildings above were compromised. Picture a pipe funneling water under your house. Yep. That’s the picture.
One day the residents of the apartment building above this pipe woke to find their building was making strange noises. Fortunately they immediately contacted the fire brigade who evacuated everyone. Shortly after the entire building collapsed. The building next to it is no longer standing straight. It tilted about 18 degrees. Somewhat like that leaning tower further north.
They blocked off the street access to the area and posted a couple vigilie trucks and a few guards to keep people out. This was the end of September of this year. The photos below are from last week, the end of October. This building will have to be demolished (as you can see). The government has had an offer by a contractor. He offered to demolish the building and rebuild it if he could add two floors that he would own to either sell or live in. He even offered to house the 100 or so people now homeless while the rebuilding was going on.
This is the part that is soooo Italian government. Because of this really good offer, they are suspicious of this contractor. It has been under “advisement” for some time and I suspect that unless another earthquake collapses the building it will remain as is for many many more months.
In the meantime, there are all the people who cannot even go back into their home to get anything. There are the vigilie guarding the area, along with the blocked road which restricts traffic. Interesting logic.
This could be why the Roman shrug was developed.
We can check back next year to see the status.
I have been more than a little lax in keeping up with posts this summer. I only wish it were because I was in Italy, but no such good fortune. But, as August progresses, I am already thinking of my next trip, which is for the month of October. I am putting shopping lists together already. Do not forget to email me if you want me to shop for you.
In the interim, I wanted to share with you the recent posting of one of my favorite food writers, Rachel Roddy. Rachel lives in Italy (a British export) and has written a lovely cookbook, “My Kitchen In Rome”. Her style is simple, home cooking.
Often in American cooking we forget the importance of even the most simple of ingredients. An Italian cook would never waste leftover bread and breadcrumbs are an important part of many Italian recipes. Of course, their bread does not have any chemicals in it and always breaks my heart to see anyone waste even a really stale piece of it.
Here’s a recent column of Rachel’s. I hope you’ll try her suggestions.
Rachel Roddy’s fish with an almond and breadcrumb crust recipe
It is always a pleasure to have Italian casareccio (homemade food). It is even more exciting to enjoy it here in the U.S. and made by a well known Italian cook. Stefania Aphel Barzini has been in the United States giving cooking classes and having events for about a month. She finally reached Los Angeles last week. If you are not familiar with Stefania, take a side trip to her website: www.follecasseroula.com. She does cooking classes in Rome as well as special events and week long events in a few regions outside Rome. And, if you’re planning on a trip to Rome, put her on your list of things not to be missed. Her experience as a food writer, cookbook author and cooking show presenter shine through no matter what she does.
The first event in Los Angeles was sponsored by ArtBites.net. Maite Gomez-Rejón’s company pairs art, history and cooking in tours and classes around the southland. The cooking portion was to be a Tuscan lunch so Maite started at the Los Angeles County Museum talking of Florentine art and artists from the dark ages to the Renaissance. She is very knowledgeable about art history and food. We then moved on to Surfas (a cafe/kitchen store in Culver City). It’s a wonderful kitchen for classes and Stefania along with her assistant Paola made a magical afternoon that ended with a fantastic lunch. They are all so experienced about foods, especially regional products throughout Italy I am always happy to join a class since there is always some new tidbit of information I have never before heard.
The lunch was a Tuscan luncheon and included a fabulous artichoke and potato soup, a panzanella salad and a couple kinds of bruschetta. The meatballs in tomato sauce were unbelievably tasty and the peach upside down cake was a finishing treat.
When you travel finding a cooking class is a great experience and wonderful way to connect to local cuisine and you will remember the experience a long time.
One of the best dishes Stefania prepared was Zolfini bean bruschetta. Unfortunately, you cannot get these terrific beans here in the U.S. They are grown only in a limited area of Tuscany, and not exported. But you can substitute northern navy beans. Try this healthy, high protein antipasto.
Zolfini Bean Bruschetta
Toasted Bread (Italian)
2-1/4 cups zolfini or navy beans
a small rosemary branch
2 cloves of garlic
1 shallot. chopped
really good quality extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt and Pepper
Sautè 1 garlic clove with the shallot and rosemary in a pan. Turn into a crock pot, add the beans, cover them with water and let cook covered over low heat until beans are softened. Depending on the age and size of the beans – from 2 to 4 hours. Purèe the mixture in a blender or use a stick blender. Rub the bread with a garlic clove, then spread some beans over the top, add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately. So simple, so good and so good-for-you.
Having access to the wonderful foods of Italy that are not readily available in the U.S. is my mission. Expressly Italian is your personal shopper from Italy to you. I want everyone, whether you travel or not, to experience real Italian tastes. Much of the year I have some of the finest extra virgin olive oils (including olio nuovo till it’s gone) and honey from Sardinia (one of the only places on earth with no polution. I want everyone to share the excitement of the wonderful spice mixes from Mauro Berardi’s Campo dei Fiori market stall. I am contacted by people from all over the world asking how to acquire Mauro’s mixes outside of Italy. I have his most popular mixes available all the time. If you are interested in knowing all the items I bring back from Italy twice a year or want me to bring something (duty free) back for you, please drop me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will happily add you to my mailing list.
My love of Italy, the people, the food fuels my life. I hope you share my joy in the Italian way of eating.
It has been awhile since I’ve posted and partially it has been because it seems like I am on a constant rant about the quality and integrity of the extra virgin olive oil that is available in the U.S. Unfortunately, our food sources have many more items that need considerably more monitoring. With the articles last week about the fillers used in bagged pre-shredded Parmiggiano I felt I could not ignore yet another attack on our food quality and our intelligence.
As a cook, I rarely buy pre-shredded cheese of any type, but it happens. I know that buying pre-shredded cheese means the cheese starts out a little stale and I know it is easy for suppliers to use lesser quality grades of cheese to shred. However, last weeks report of how big a percentage of wood pulp is in those pre-packed bags is more than a little disconcerting. I understand they are trying to keep the cheese from clumping, as well as lower their costs. However, the best method is adding wood pulp? That is difficult to believe. It really seems an economic rather than an rational decision.
It is worth noting that the lower priced brands (especially Walmart and Osco) have higher amounts of wood pulp — in one case, up to 8%. But, Kraft, which labels their grated Parmesan as 100% cheese has almost 4 percent wood pulp. How can this be acceptable? It is apparently not enough to read labels, now we must devine what 100% natural means.
I do not believe there is inherent danger in consuming wood pulp, in fact, it would seem wood pulp would be much better for you than many of the chemicals they add to increase looks, anti clumping, and so many other supposedly necessary visual aids. I do think we need to insist that the information be available on the package, not have to rout around the internet to find out accurate information about what we are putting in our families bodies. There can only be concern on the manufacturers side about adding the information deterring us from buying their product.
Convenience is great, but if we are taking that convenience to the extreme of long term harm to ourselves and our families we need to reconsider. And, we are paying a top price for that convenience and should that not include our safety?
In general it is of utmost importance to concentrate on supplying our tables with foods as close to fresh as possible. Eating locally is always less expensive as is fresh. Knowing your sources is paramount.
Expressly Italian was started on the premise that we are offered products less than ideal at the grocery store level as well as the imported products. By personally selecting and bringing the products directly from Italy I know the suppliers. None are large manufacturers. None export product to the United States. I have only olive oils that I know come directly from the source. I still have some of this season’s extra virgin olive oil available. And, truthfully, the olive oils, the honey and even the spices I offer are actually the same or less costly than what is available here.
I often bring Parmigiano Reggiano back with me as well. There is a huge taste difference between what is available here. Not sure why that is, but the flavor is just not as rich. The spices from Campo dei Fiori enable a quick meal at any time with no fillers and lots of flavor. And of the myriad of spice mixes now available I find the spice mixes from Mauro Berardi stay potent much, much longer than anything else. And, they are hand mixed. I do not believe there is dirt, substituted ingredients or any old sticks to be found in any of his spices. Something few other spice providers can claim. If you haven’t tried them, you should. If you are interested in more information, please contact me at email@example.com.
If you are willing to take a few extra minutes to consider the quality of foods you are using, it is quite easy to have the healthiest of meals all the time and for a reasonable cost. Plus knowing you are getting the full benefits of the vitamins, minerals and amino acids and fats you are consuming is satisfying in so many ways.
My advice: Take the time to read labels, search out good sources and stay with them. Be skeptical. Pay a little more for the best available. I think you’ll find that the flavors are more intense, richer and fresher tasting.
Next time: Famous cook, Stefania Apfel Barzini is doing some touring in the United States and doing some private dinners, some cooking exhibitions and cooking classes. I hope to have a schedule soon.
It has been a little over two years since I decided to fund my trips to Italy by introducing more people to the true flavors of Italy, along with true Italian cooking. What a learning experience it has been. I have slowed it to two trips a year, each four to six weeks. Every trip brings new experiences and amazing finds to share with people who have not been to Italy, or those who have not visited recently. Much of what I bring no tourist would ever find. There are times when I find it difficult to track some of the things I look for!
The last trip was to locate some of the most precious of olive oils, olio nuovo. It is the “new oil”, the first extra virgin olive oil off the press each season. There are many ‘rules’ for true olio nuovo. The DOP (Denominazione d’ Origine Protetta) is a government assigned designation that assures that products are produced locally according to pretty regid requirements. The DOP olio nuovo (at least in Sabina – one of the first ever given) means that the olives have to be processed within 48 hours of picking. (no sitting in trucks). They are permitted only to wash them in water before processing and there are pretty stringent rules about the processing. All this means that if you are getting real olio nuovo, you are getting the freshest, least tampered with flavors of the olives. There is an amazing difference both in taste, and the levels of antioxidants in these oils. Few Americans ever have the opportunity to taste these oils since they are not really for export. Obviously the nature of being only the first pressing, means a limited quantity and I have found Italians are not really anxious to share these rare oils. They are rarely in stores in Italy, let alone elsewhere.
Last year, there was little olio nuovo available. The places I spoke with said there was none available for other than the growers and ‘favored’ clients. This year I was determined to bring enough back to share the experience. I started heading to Farfa, where my personal favorite oil is found. Farfa is only an hour or so from Rome in the Sabine Hills. It is a lovely area of winding roads and groves dating back as far as 2,000 years. Unfortunately, it is also an area of little reception for GPS or phones. My hour drive took almost two since the GPS kept rerouting me in circles. I finally found the frantoio (olive mill) I was looking for and arrived just as a truck load of olives arrived. It was exciting to see the process as well as taste the oil. I bought what was on hand (not much) and headed out to explore the local museum of olive oil. Then started the whole process again in Tuscany, Vetralla and Puglia. Some fantastic oil this year everywhere.
Driving throughout the areas where there are frantoi gives you a really personal attachment to the oils. Many of them are quite concerned that you know what you are buying. Lots of attention is paid to tastings. And, there are many surprising differences between these oils in different regions. Many have a strong fruity flavor with a finish of citrus, or pepper or a little green flavor. It has been a real learning experience and I wish there were an opportunity for everyone to experience these tastes. So much of my searching is word of mouth, so I depend on all my Italian friends and my expat friends living in Italy.
The last stop on every trip is the market at Campo dei Fiori and a meeting with Mauro Berardi with his Spezie Famose nel Mondo – which truly are world famous spices. It is astonishing to me how many inquiries I regularly get from all over the world about replacing spices bought at his stall. Mauro, Marco and Fabrizio are very kind to me. I get the freshest of the mixes, a few added scoops of the priciest parts of the mixes and each time more information about how to keep them fresh. A few years ago Mauro insisted they would keep two years if kept in a plastic bag in the dark. No glass, nothing else. And, they did stay fresh that long, if they were around. Through the last couple of years he has changed his mind about the best ways to keep them fresh. Currently, they will last best if kept in plastic or glass, but in the refrigerator. Certainly, the Puttanesca mix (which contains both sundried tomatoes and olives) needs to be refrigerated.
Each trip I find that the requests for his mixes grows and I have included pesto mix, bruschetta mix and bolognese to the most popular Campo dei Fiori mix, Puttanesca and Arrabbiata mixes and some others as special requests. Since Mauro cannot ship outside Italy it makes me very happy to be able to keep people in spices here.
In between the oil and spices, there is always honey from Sardegna and condiments from Calabria. And, the special requests of many clients for things I had not tried myself. Each trip is different, and exciting learning experience.
I hope that I can continue personal shopping for many years to come. I am grateful to all those who have found me and are experiencing the fun and flavors I can bring them. It is a fulfilling and fun way to get myself to Italy often.
This is one of the few times I am happy to be near the Pacific Ocean rather than the seas around Italy. The current heat wave in Italy has been devastating in so many ways. It is unbelievable to hear of tornadoes in Venice, or people dying at the beach from the heat, or just this week, 140 people in Piemonte dying from the heat, but that’s been the news for the last few weeks in Italy. Well, of course, that and continuing chaos that the fire in May at Fiumicino has created. No, the airport is still operating at only 60 percent of normal and no finish date for the repairs from fire damage in sight.
So, what’s the good news about summer? If you are traveling to Italy in the next month or two, put L’Aquila on your itinerary. It’s in Abruzzo, and the altitude means less heat and less humidity. While it is still recovering from the tragic earthquake years ago, it is a beautiful, peaceful town. To the north west there is also Aosta in Piemonte,in the east, Bolzano and Cortina D’Ampezzo. In other words, if you are in Italy, enjoy the mountains. No snow, but much cooler weather than the southern parts of the country.
All kinds of records are being set this year besides the heat.
Highlighting the significance of the project a Lego spokesperson told La Repubblica, “Each small brick was important in reaching the record, in the same way that all our daily actions are important in building a better future.” I think that’s a pretty uplifting analogy for plastic blocks.
And, I understand, that even with Milan’s heat, that the Expo Milano 2015 is having staggering crowds. Some of the pavilions are experiencing wait lines of up to two hours. I am certainly glad I went in May. I still believe the opportunity to see this event is worth the many hassles.
And, whether you are here, there or anyplace in the world, it is a time to be thinking of light, fresh and easy to prepare food. Especially those dishes that do not require heating up your home. So salads are great, grilling is second nature to California and the combination of the two is heavenly.
The best summer salad? Panzanella is the perfect salad for summer. There are so many recipes you can put almost anything in as long as you use stale bread and the best ripe tomatoes you can find. The recipe below is one I have used a number of times, it is simple and really great.
Panzanella Toscana Serves 6
about 2 pounds of ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks or small wedges; about 3/4 pound bread (at least 1 day old), that you cut into cubes; about 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and a dozen basil leaves, roughly torn and about 1 cup or so of arugula. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, bread, arugula, basil, and onions.
In a small bowl, vigorously whisk together 1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 2 cloves of finely minced garlic drizzle dressing over salad. Season generously with salt and pepper, toss to combine, and let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving. (This allows the flavors to blend and the juices of the tomatoes to soften the bread).
It always amazes me how truly fantastic tasting this simple combination is and how everyone seems to love it.Give yourself a summer cooking break and try it yourself.
Enjoy the rest of your summer.
Stefania Barzini is a widely known and respected food journalist, blogger, cook book author (she’s written seven!) and teacher. She has wonderful classes she teaches (in English) outside Rome where she lives. Her warmth and generous spirit are energizing for any cook, and her knowledge of Italian food from all regions of the country is truly impressive.fo at her fingertips. And varied information it is. Stefania lived in Los Angeles for a few years and gave cooking classes there. She was integral to the beginnings of Gambero Rosso, the cooking channel in Italy as well as writing for their magazine. In addition, Stefania has authored at least seven books:
I was fortunately able not only to meet Stefania on my last trip, but to take a class with Stefania. She is not a restaurant chef; she does not care about perfect presentation; she cares about the ingredients, the taste and preparing it with love. Her objectives are to use the highest quality ingredients, sharing her love of food and cooking, and sharing her knowledge with others. She particularly enjoys teaching english speaking students which is even better for me.
Please check out her wonderful website http://www.follecasseruola.com. This fantastic site is not just great looking, it also has so much information you will have a difficult time deciding on which course to take. I was interested in meeting her and did not care what class was available. She not only teaches cooking for many regions of Italy, but also teaches some American cooking – she’s got a class on barbeque and one on Louisiana (with Jambalaya and Cajun shrimp)and even a class on American breakfast!
Stefania has so much knowledge at her fingertips. And varied information it is. Stefania lived in Los Angeles for a few years and gave cooking classes there. She was integral to the beginnings of Gambero Rosa (the cooking channel in Italy) as well as writing for their magazine, among many others. In addition, Stefania has authored at least seven books: A Housewife in Hollywood, the Splendors and miseries of American eating; Dining with the Godsaditions. And, last year, she had published, “ One Hundred Fifty Years of our Country’s History told by Great and Small , Memories and recipes from the Aeolian Islands; So we ate, Fifty years of Italian history between the table and custom and Traditions. And, last year, she had published, “ One Hundred Fifty Years of our Country’s History told by Great and Small Cooks”.
Stefania has stories of famous chefs of Italy and all about the regional cooking of Italy. It is truly an honor to have the chance just to chat with her. She’s charming, kind, a great cook and a wonderful writer.
We are very fortunate that next year she plans on a teaching tour of the United States. I don’t know exact dates yet, or even the full itinerary, but New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles are definite. I’ve invited her to teach here and she is very happy to do that. I already have a number of people interested in signing up for the class. If you are interested, drop me an email and I’ll add your name to the list.
Normally her classes do not have more than eight people. I think we can get enough people for her to teach at least three or four classes, in the spring of next year.
The only class I could attend was a class on pasta. You can never have enough practice with pasta making, so I was quite happy to be able to attend this class “Le Mani in Pasta” (hands on Pasta). We cooked a Lasagna with Zucchini and cheese, Tagliatelle with Pine Nuts, anchovies and raisins and Gnocchi ala Romana (which is nothing like the traditional gnocchi.
It was especially exciting for me since the others in the class were an English woman and her parents. Rachel eats is a blog I’ve followed a long time. I never really thought about how she would sound in person. In my head she had no accent, but in person . . . I had to pay close attention to her speaking to understand her. She’s also an amazing writer. She’s lived in Rome for more than ten years and traveled writing about places and food, cooking and recipes. Her just published book is titled “Five Quarters; Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome”. I adore her writing and her blog got her enough attention to have a publisher approach her about writing a cookbook. Check out her blog at https://racheleats.wordpress.com/
Stefania’s class was so interesting, I learned new techniques; more reasons to keep cooking Italian and how to enjoy the process from beginning to end. Eating all that wonderful food is exciting as well as filling.
I cannot wait for Stefania to visit Los Angeles to join classes here.
Taking a class while traveling can be a disaster or an amazing experience. Please do try to check out the person giving the class, the class sizes and costs. Some are ridiculously expensive. Stefania teaches and generously sprinkles the instructions with stories of her travels, the origin of the recipes and regional specialties. And, hers are some of the most reasonably priced classes I’ve taken anywhere. Please check out Stefania’s website: http://www.follecasseruola.com. It is both in Italian and English. If you plan on being in Italy, check out her schedule and take a class. It is a memorable experience.