In Via Fratta, between the Marche and Emilia Romagna regions of northeastern Italy, there is a small farm surrounded by fruit trees, vegetable gardens and happily grazing hens. Here, we are blessed with seasonal, fresh, organic food. 
WHO ARE YOU?

Hi. My name is Valentina. I am a 24 year old and, a graphic and web designer by day, and a passionate farm-to-table food blogger the rest of the time! I was born near the ancient village of Gradara, a castle up on a hill facing the northern Adriatic coast. Here, we have hens and a vegetable garden, and we live in an old farmhouse in the beautiful italian countryside. In the past, I have spent a fair amount of time in wonderful New York City, before settling back in Italy.

I started to develop a great interest in food and nutrition after I changed my diet about a year ago, and after several health issues made me consider becoming a vegetarian. It is easy to eat healthy while in Italy, but getting close to the vast NYC food culture made me think about what Italians really eat, and how our mediterranean culture is changing and adapting to the new trends, while still keeping an open eye out for health.  

traveling made me realize that food is a sense of place, a sense of belonging. These are the recipes that belong to italian culture and to the twist this culture is taking in the modern era. And here is me, trying to make sense of Italians and our food.

 I hope that this space can serve to those who read it as a baby step guide to growth and improvement in self consciousness about the food market and love for the kitchen.

A FIGHT FOR HEALTH

I was diagnosed at 16 with androgenetic alopecia which, even if I did not know at the time, was caused by micropolicystic ovaries – a condition in which cysts develop in the ovaries and cause hormonal imbalance. Such hormone imbalance can cause hair loss, absence of menstrual periods, acne, and many other ailments. If that wasn’t enough, I struggled with intestine and digestion problems. After years of medication that my body handled very badly, and after I came into contact with the vegetarian world in New York City, I explored vegetarianism, started exercising and finally found a doctor that helped me get off the meds and keep the cysts at bay with healthy eating and natural supplements. After a full year of fight, this lifestyle helped me not only heal my intestine fully, but it also drastically reduced the cysts in my ovaries, to the point that I no longer have any symptoms of hormonal imbalance. 

WHAT IS ‘NATURAL COOKING’?

‘Natural cooking’ is not necessarily vegetarian, vegan or gluten free, but it focuses on a kitchen which pantry is filled with locally sourced, unprocessed ingredients, nutrient rich foods, and a variety of ingredients that can grant any individual a nutritionally balanced diet as well as the chance to be creative with their meals.

Since we focus on italian and unprocessed foods cooking, I decided to avoid things like tofu, soy, tempeh, meat substitutes, and the like. There are many many recipes to be concocted with local ingredients alone. 

Here at our farm the produce is grown without poison or chemicals (which makes growing produce a very challenging task, indeed) When shopping for food, I try to avoid any ingredient with preservatives. To me, the key rules are: buy in season, possibly from small producers, and as local as possible. It’s simple, really. Simple is always the best!

GET IN TOUCH!

Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions,

critiques or just to say hi!
EMAIL : hortuscuisine@gmail.com
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Q & A

About food styling, food photography, and all your inquiries
WHAT KIND OF PHOTO EQUIPMENT DO YOU USE?

Right now, I am using a Canon 5D Mark iii. 

As for lenses, I own a a Canon 1.4 50mm UMS lens and a Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro, both with hoods. 

I also use a solid tripod with a detachable and adjustable head. 

 
 
WHAT KINF OF LIGHTING DO YOU USE?

I always shoot in natural light. To me, the ideal setting is a room with one generous light source (a large window or a door) and no other light sources in the room (eg. no other windows or doors). I use a reflector to tone down the shadows, which is actually just cardboard with aluminum foil. As backgrounds, I use wooden boards I vould around the house – most are leftovers from my great-granddad’s wine-making equipment. (in case you’re wondering, yes: the room still smells like wine!)

WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR STARTING OUT?

When I started out a couple of years ago, I got myself a Canon Rebel T2i (550D) along with a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens and a cheap tripod, which is a wonderful starters kit.

 
 
BUSINESS INQUIRIES

If you are interested in working together with photography or recipes, please do not hesitate to shoot me an email at hortuscuisine@gmail.com!