A Fennel Orange Salad

from my Cookbook

'Naturally Vegetarian'

From Marche to Romagna, a Roasted Pumpkin Soup, ‘Romagnola’ style #virtualpumpkinparty

I have always lived on borders.
Gradara sits on the border between Emilia-Romagna and Marche, two distinctively different regions. On one side, I can see the sloping, lushly forested hills of Le Marche, where porcini and truffles grow rampant and hilltops are dotted with castles.
On the opposite side, Romagna, with the welcoming warmth of its people, the beaches, the Sangiovese, the bursting life and attitude that makes the people both humble yet extremely stylish – an environment where concepts like La Dolce Vita and Savoir Vivre, find their very meaning. All enriched by my frequent trips to Bologna, which is in Emilia, a city for which I feel a love which depth gets close to that I feel for New York.
Living in between though means a life that is neither here nor there. These 20 kilometers that separate these realities dig a kind of chasm, a sort of land-of-no-one limbo where they constantly ask you “do you feel Marchigiana or Romagnola?’

We have phone numbers from Romagna, yet the province we are under sits in Marche. Our fishermen and food hails from the south of the Adriatic, yet our dialect is from Romagna (I have a strong Romagna accent myself, and I am constantly reminded that). Our food is a mix of the earthy, robust flavors of Marche and the fresh vegetables, fruits and seafood found in Romagna. We can  have the best of both yet feel like we belong to none.

Yet, much as I love Marche, I have no doubt what my answer to the above question would be:
Romagnola‘.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup, 'Romagnola' style with Ginger & Squacquerone Cheese | Hortus Natural CookingRoasted Pumpkin Soup, 'Romagnola' style with Ginger & Squacquerone Cheese | Hortus Natural CookingCristina Casadei's home in Forlí | Hortus Natural CookingRoasted Pumpkin Soup, 'Romagnola' style with Ginger & Squacquerone Cheese | Hortus Natural Cooking

But there was, and still is, much that I do not know about Romagna.

This is rapidly changing thanks to two beautiful soul I had the impossible luck to meet, Nicole and Cristina, who authored a beautiful book called ‘A Year In Romagna’ (along with a super talented photographer, Gianluca Camporesi – but this was a meeting between girls!) which describes the beauties and perks of what we all believe to be one of the most fun and beautiful places in all of the country. They introduced me to many things I had no idea existed in my own land. Did you know that Bertinoro, a village perked up on a hill, is completely surrounded by some of the most important vineyards in the country, and produces amazing Albana, Sangiovese and the grapes needed for Chianti? Or that many restaurants on the Cesenatico beach host famous mixologists and sommeliers? Or that Santarcangelo di Romagna is one of the most fairy-tale like medieval villages you will ever see, studded with beautifully decorated restaurants that all serve unbelievably delicious food?  Or that almost-impossible-to-find varieties of fruits like pera cocomerina or mela rosa are still cultivated and sold here? Or that is an award-winning, world-renowned cheesemaker called Renato Brancaleoni who only makes small batches of fossa cheese flavored with coffee and chocolate, or berries and walnuts, hidden in a tiny place called Roncofreddo, where life barely seems to exist anymore and its few inhabitants sit at the town café looking at the scenery, which extends for kilometers and kilometers along the Adriatic coast?

I didn’t.

Cristina, like all talented people talk about what they do like it is nothing special. Assembled a feast she dared label as ‘not much’: she brought to the table two delightful salads  – an orange, fennel and olive oil one with toasted nuts, and another one with lettuce, chives, pear and Roquefort; polenta cubes baked with a sprinkling of fossa cheese, and this beautiful roasted squash soup, which she topped with Squacquerone cheese, toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of fruity local extra virgin olive oil.
I’d take this ‘not much’ anytime.

This post was thought for the #virtualpumpkinparty, organized by Aimée from Twigg Studios and Sara from Cake over Steak. I immediately thought of this simple, yet wonderful soup we had as we talked about future plans and projects, our passions and dreams. It is as tasty as the many other recipes from the Un Anno in Romagna book, and as colorful as all the yellows and oranges that make Fall in Romagna so gorgeous: the wilting vineyard leaves, the persimmons, the countryside sunchoke flowers and the wild berries, the light of sunset and the herbal teas…

and, of course, the pumpkin.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup, 'Romagnola' style with Ginger & Squacquerone Cheese | Hortus Natural CookingRoasted Pumpkin Soup, 'Romagnola' style with Ginger & Squacquerone Cheese | Hortus Natural CookingCristina Casadei's home in Forlí | Hortus Natural CookingRoasted Pumpkin Soup, 'Romagnola' style with Ginger & Squacquerone Cheese | Hortus Natural CookingCesena | Hortus Natural Cooking

And these words written in the book by Nicole, who travelled around the world and shares a background that is so similar to mine,  represent so well my feeling towards this land, bright and vivid as these fall colors:

“Today, I feel like I am the stranger: here, in my own land, I try to imagine myself as if I came from beyond the border, and surrender to this party of prodigal energy, welcoming arms that open up for hugs, and smiles that ask you to stay a little longer. Welcoming strangers is celebrated as if it were a festival for a Saint, and glasses are raised and fires for barbecues are lit. This charming atmosphere tells you that there is room for everyone – all accents, origins and generations, as everyone gets busy chasing after a basketful of piadina or yet another glass of Sangiovese… ”

I cannot wait to discover and tell you more, and make you my guests.

A NOTE ON SQUACQUERONE CHEESE: This fresh cheese that is 100% indigenous to Romagna is a real delight:  if burrata and yogurt met and had a baby, that baby would pretty much be Squacquerone. It has a very creamy core, enclosed in a slightly tougher shell, with a tang that reminds Turkish yogurt, and it is eaten by the spoonful, mostly inside piadina with arugula, or as dessert with caramelized figs and fruit compotes, or even in cheesecakes. Chances are you will not find it, so good alternatives in this soup recipes are: chévre or goat’s milk ricotta, or something stronger like Blue cheese – roquefort, creamy gorgonzola or crumbled Bleu d’Auvergne.

Fall Colors | Hortus Natural CookingRoasted Pumpkin Soup, 'Romagnola' style with Ginger & Squacquerone Cheese | Hortus Natural CookingRoasted Pumpkin Soup, 'Romagnola' style with Ginger & Squacquerone Cheese | Hortus Natural CookingRoasted Pumpkin Soup, 'Romagnola' style with Ginger & Squacquerone Cheese | Hortus Natural CookingRoasted PCristina Casadei's home in Forlí | Hortus Natural Cookingumpkin Soup, 'Romagnola' style with Ginger & Squacquerone Cheese | Hortus Natural CookingRoasted Pumpkin Soup, 'Romagnola' style with Ginger & Squacquerone Cheese | Hortus Natural Cooking

 


 

CREAMY ROASTED SHALLOT & SQUASH SOUP
With Ginger and Squacquerone Cheese

(Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main)

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 medium shallots, peeled and quartered
900 g (2 lbs) squash, skin removed and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup strong ginger tea
Vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Squacquerone cheese, to finish
(See note above for good alternatives)
4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Extra virgin olive oil, to finish

Toss the shallots and squash in the olive oil, salt and a pinch of pepper. Bake in a 220 C˚ / 430 F˚ oven until soft and slightly caramelized around the edges, about 15 minutes. My oven works well with these settings, but other ovens might work better at 200 C˚ / 390 F˚ for 20 to 25 minutes. Check the squash cubes with a fork to test doneness.
Once done, add to a blender with half the ginger tea and a little bit of stock, and blend. The soup should be fairly thick. At this point, feel free to add more ginger tea for a strong ginger flavor, or more stick to tone it down, until you reach the desired consistency. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Serve in 4 warm bowls. Finish with a dollop (or crumble) of cheese, a tablespoon of toasted pine nuts per bowl, and a drizzle of really good extra virgin olive oil.

 


 

 

CARAMELIZED FIGS
With Cheese and Almonds

(Makes 4 -5 small jars)

For the Figs:
1 kg (2 lbs 30 oz) figs
400 g (2 cups) brown sugar
Grated lemon zest
Optional: a handful peeled almonds

To serve:
Cheeses like pecorino, ricotta, or blue cheese
Toasted almond slices

“This is how you make caramelized figs: Clean each fig delicately and carefully with a damp cloth.
Melt the sugar in a saucepan and, once melted, add the figs one by one. They will start to lose moisture and the liquid will turn into syrup. Keeping the flame as low as you can, cook until the figs will have released all their moisture and the liquid will start to thicken.
Once done, prepare a baking tray and preheat the oven to 150 C˚ / 300 F˚. Arrange the figs and heir liquid in the tray so that they do not overlap and bake for 3 hours, until caramelized and nicely browned.
Sterilize the jars and lids and fill each jar with the figs (do not fill all the way to the brim). Do not forget to wear gloves!
Tightly crew on the lids and leave them upside down for the whole night. The following day, transfer to your pantry, where they will be waiting for a nice merenda or a midnight snack.
If you like, you can add the grated lemon zest to the pan while cooking the figs. An interesting variation ha you insert an almond into each fig before baking: the result is a mix of soft and crunchy, sweet and slightly bitter, all in one mouthful.”
Serve with you favorite cheeses and a sprinkling of toasted almond slivers.

 

BONUS: PUMPKIN SKINS CHIPS

The leftover skin from the squash
Olive oil
Plenty of minced rosemary, sage and garlic
Plenty of sea salt
Pinch pepper
Pinch cinnamon

Toss all the ingredients together – make sure the skins are evenly coated in olive oil for maximum crispiness – and roast in a 220 C˚/ 430 F˚ oven until crispy, about 15 minutes. Bake slightly longer for extra crispiness, but check them often after the 15 minute mark as they might burn.
This is a great recipe to avoid wasting the delicious and fiber-packed squash skin. Wash and dry the squash well before roasting, and choose organic if you can. I love to have these as a snack! They are also great with hummus, guacamole, or any other dip you might fancy.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup, 'Romagnola' style with Ginger & Squacquerone Cheese | Hortus Natural Cooking

VIRTUAL PUMPKIN PARTY RECIPES
Check ALL of this awesomeness out!

Buckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the Countryside

The first time I had nettles, I cannot say wether I was more smitten by the fact that I was eating one of the weeds that I least imagined to be edible, or by how good they actually tasted.

We had been wandering around Gradara, walking along the castle walls, in search of a spot to have dinner, one night we decided to venture out without a reservation. We stopped at a dimly candlelit place with wooden ceilings and ancient terracotta tiles, not much different than all other restaurants in the premises. Its mighty white stone arched door welcomed us with a sign bearing a name too fascinating to ignore, ‘Il Bacio’ (the kiss). In its rustic menu, In between the piccione arrosto, gnocchi di zucca with sage and pecorino fondue and formaggi di fossa, that peculiar nettle and cannellini soup stood out, glimmering like a jewel in our minds. 

I was very young a the time, and that flavor stuck with me like not many others ever did. I just remember that I loved it.

Fast forward to several years later, we were wandering through the heart of a sunken green valley nestled in the heart of the Sibillini mountains where a bosom-like hill rises, on which top sits the town of Castelluccio di Norcia.

Again, we wandered its narrow streets until we eyed a quaint spot, its outer stone wall lined with wooden shelving displaying all sorts of local legumes, and a menu that was to die for: in what was a chilly evening after a long day of walking through hills and fields we could not resist the calling of baked lentils with truffles, greens braised in garlicky olive oil, bruschetta and, again, that flavor I tasted years before and never encountered again: farrotto all’ortica (nettle farrotto). 

‘Let’s go in,’ I commanded.

And oh, was it a great decision. 

Buckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideBuckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideBuckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideBuckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideBuckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the Countryside

As we stood in awe before our meal, the owner of the restaurant came to our table to greet us. 

“The nettles, and the wild herbs, we all forage them by hand here, in the slope of the hill. There is no traffic here, no cars, and no smog. There is nothing but us and the hills, and nature offering us some of the most delicious wild herbs you will ever find. You will not have greens like these anywhere else in the country: they are the best you will ever have.”

He was right. Up to date, I could not find any other that could prove him wrong.

That meal triggered all the fond memories I had of that soup in Gradara, which I never saw on a menu again. 

Nettles grow along countryside paths, in ditches and shady areas, in any place that is at least partly sheltered from the sun and where it can collect the fresh dew of spring and early fall mornings. Its edible companions are mallow, borage, poppy leaves, and mustard greens, which we all forage in spring and early fall.
These wild herbs are disguised Cinderellas of the fields that turn into royalty in the kitchen, with nettles being the queen. 

‘Urtica dioica’, the name of nettles – which I believe to be just as elegant as its flavor and looks, comes from the latin ‘urere’: to burn. And burning referred not only to its feeling on the skin but also on the soul, as ‘dioica’ meant ‘dual’, which not only explained the fact that nettle flowerings can be either female or male, but alluded to coupling in general, as those very seeds were known as a potent aphrodisiac. 

In any dish, nettles are a beautiful lady in simple clothing, a lady that charms you with elegant gestures and composure rather than womanly frills. And though there are many ingredients nettles can make love to, there are not many she will accept, as its delicate taste can silently yet assertively turn down other flavors, like a woman who knows what men she wants to turn down. Garlic is too powerful – better a milder flavor like garlic scapes or, if using garlic, ver little of it is enough. A touch of Parmigiano, if in moderate measure, could be allowed to court her, but no other potent cheese should be allowed to dumb down its slightly minty, mildly chlorophyll-y flavor, which is reminiscent of spinach, but with a sweet edge.

I strongly believe that nettles need wine as part of their dress-up and added nobility. What is best than wine, the simplest of treats yet most sophisticated of flavors, to charm a lady?

Buckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideBuckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideBuckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideBuckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideNettles have strong detoxing, diuretic and gut-cleansing properties. Maybe this is one of the reasons why this herb has always been regarded as almost magical: its burning became an ancient symbol of thorough cleansing, as if it were spiritual fire.
I find comfort in this ancient wisdom, where symbols explain life. Elderly women today still say that the burn from nettles is not to be feared, for its burning is the perfect metaphor of life: if swiftly and readily embraced in favor of a greater good rather than avoided at all costs, can cleanse rather than scar, and extinguish all that ails and all that sickens. 

So, just as the nature of this herb, nettle dishes tend to be simple, fuss free, healthy, yet extremely elegant. 

Buckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideBuckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideBuckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideBuckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideBuckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideBuckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideBuckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the Countryside

This pasta is incredibly quick to make, it can be easily made vegan if you forgo the cheese (though a sprinkling of really good pecorino really hits the spot here) and can be made gluten-free if you choose gluten-free pasta and use brown rice flour instead of whole wheat flour for the sauce. 

If you cannot find nettles, substitute raw baby spinach or preferably a mix of raw dark leafy greens

I decided to make my own pasta with the lovely flours from Molino Ariani, but feel free to use your favorite pasta. I made ‘chitarrine’, which is like tagliolini, but thicker. The name ‘chitarrine’ means ‘little guitars’, as this pasta is supposed to be reminiscent of guitar strings, and it is a pasta cut typical of le Marche region.

If you want to make your own pasta, follow the instructions on this post.
If you want to go full Italian, but want vegan pasta and/or do not feel like making your own,here are some of my favorites off of Amazon:
Buckwheat pasta options off Amazon
La Pasta di Aldo – Filini
Mancini – Spaghetti alla Chitarra
Garofalo – Whole wheat spaghetti

Or (I am going to say something that would sound like profanity to the average Italian, but works): just use organic soba noodles

I prefer to briefly sauté the nettles to make them softer and give the shallot a caramelized flavor, which is exalted by deglazing with the wine. I think the extra effort is absolutely worth it for added depth of flavor, but if you’re feeling lazy and/or want to forgo the wine, just add all the ingredients except the wine to a food processor and you will be fine. 

Once made, the pesto goes really well with any pasta, but I love how the slightly smoky buckwheat flavor complements the sweetness of the olive oil and hint of minty chlorophyll flavor of the nettles and keeps well in the fridge for well over a week. 

If you are not making your own pasta, this recipe comes together in the time it takes to boil the pasta water and is healthy, provided you use good ingredients.

NB: Always handle nettles with GLOVES! Once thoroughly rinsed or cooked, nettles become harmless.

Buckwheat Pasta with Nettle Pesto
 
Serves 2 to 3 (recipe works perfectly if doubled)
Author:
Ingredients
FOR THE TAGLIOLINI
  • 130 g (4.5 oz) semolina flour
  • 70 g (2.5 oz) buckwheat flour
  • 2 eggs
FOR THE SAUCE
  • 2 small shallots, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 50 g young, picked and rinsed nettle leaves
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ¼ packed cup basil leaves
  • 4-5 sprigs parsley
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • ½ garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • olio evo
FOR FINISHING
  • A handful pine nuts
  • Grated Grana or Parmigiano
Instructions
FOR THE TAGLIOLINI
  1. Follow the instructions on the post linked above if making your own tagliolini. If you feel like living dangerously, use a ratio of 100g (3.5 oz) semolina + 100g buckwheat flour for a stronger buckwheat flavor.
FOR THE SAUCE & FINISH
  1. Add the olive oil (or butter) and shallots to a pan and sauté on a low flame for 5 minutes, until the shallots turn gold. Add the chopped nettles, sauté for a minute, then deglaze with the wine. Bring the flame to medium, boil off the wine.
  2. Transfer to a food processor, and add the basil, parsley, pine nuts, garlic, and salt. Process until you obtain a paste. Slowly pour the extra virgin olive oil in a streamline while processing, until the pesto turns smooth. Transfer to a jar. This pesto is great with any pasta, in panini, or as a pizza topper.
  3. bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a scant tablespoon coarse salt and boil the pasta for the time indicated in the package. When draining, reserve some pasta water.
  4. Toss the pasta in the pot with the pesto, adding a couple tablespoons pasta water if you want it looser or do not want to use all the pesto. Just eyeball the quantity and add as much pesto as you like.
  5. Serve with the pine nuts, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and grated cheese to taste (or leave it out for a vegan version, if using vegan pasta).

NOTE: Castelluccio and the Sibillini mountains are two of the areas affected by the huge earthquake that hit central Italy on August 24th. With hundreds of deaths, hundreds of wounded and thousands still homeless, this earthquake was a true calamity. All the houses need to be rebuilt and there is still help needed.
To donate, visit the official ‘Un Aiuto Subito’ website to make a donation (scroll to the bottom to donate) or visit the Italian Red Cross website.

NOTE #2: apparently I won the Saveur awards! Thanks for all your precious support, Hortus would be nothing and I would not have grown as a person and as a professional the way I did if it weren’t for every single one of you. I will forever be grateful to all of this great blogging world and all the people who walk in it.
Congrats to all the other finalists, winners and participants!


Thanks to Molino Ariani for the flours;
Weck + MCM Emballages for the jars;
And Baule Volante for the sponsorships and support!

And thanks to Paolo for taking my picture (and several others!) and for lending me his 135mm and his company!

Buckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the CountrysideBuckwheat Pasta with Nettle Sauce: the Green Jewels of the Countryside

….

 

A September Gathering in Gradara, Italy #gradaraingold

See our previous workshop recaps:
Betty’s recap
Zaira’s recap + Zaira’s September Workshop recap
Saghar’s recap

Thanks to our incredible sponsors!
Molino Ariani
Baule Volante
Cappella Sant’Andrea – Organic Wines
To Tania & Maria of EaTravel for making it happen!
And to Ingrid for being present!

One of the thing that strikes me the most about human beings is our need to feel connected to each other, yet our lack of ability to engage with strangers because of shyness or fear of others.
It is funny how, once you take a seat around a table – especially an Italian table, that fear can vanish and leave space to conviviality, chatter and discovery of each other.
These past Gradara workshops, in July and September, have been the proof of how perfect strangers can come together around a table and end up laughing and chatting with each other like they’ve know each other forever. Finding ‘soulmates’ from all over the world is the most incredible of gifts, for us who are often not understood by our friends and relatives and have close to no one to talk about it or be inspired from who are not people we talk to online.

It is incredible enough that my soul sister, Zaira, is in Venice, which is not far but not exactly close, and we met thanks to our shared love for this blogging world we walk on. And who would have thought that we would gather with people from all over the world? From Betty coming from Boston, and Saghar, who lives in Rome but hails from Iran and delighted us with stories from her home country, to Ingrid, who came as a co-host from Amsterdam and is one of the most delightful strong women I have ever met.

In this workshop, just like in our past July workshop, we spent hours talking about photography, editing, social media, and exchanging our blogging tips, opinions and experiences. We’ve also took a peek into my personal room where all my chiaroscuro photography magic happens, learning the tips and tricks to achieve that dark moody look, while Zaira assisted with her beautiful styling and Ingrid shared insightful tips about writing, from her experience as a journalist.
Every face, every word and every moment that was shared made me grow fond of each attendee and filled my heart with gratefulness, as I realize that, after each workshop, I probably learn more from them than what they learn from me.

Bringing the world together – in whatever way this could be possible, has always been a dream of mine. I dreamed of people in the subway going beyond exchanging looks, people glancing at each other amongst crowds and actually striking up conversations instead of only dreaming of it, and people accepting to taste foods and talk about topics they are not familiar with. I dreamed of people exchanging life with each other.
I feel that this is what sort of happens at workshops and gatherings. This feeling of gratefulness is the best thing I take home from these events.

A September Gathering in Gradara, ItalyA September Gathering in Gradara, ItalyA September Gathering in Gradara, ItalyA September Gathering in Gradara, ItalyA September Gathering in Gradara, Italy

I think that Italians are especially good at this. And about this – about my Italian-ness, or lack thereof, I have been thinking a lot about lately.
Those of you who follow me probably know that I was in the process of applying for a US visa. Not only have I been denied the visa, I have also been denied the ESTA authorization for regular visitors, meaning that I cannot even enter the country for vacation as of now. No worries, I am not a terrorist or anything, I think it was just a combination of bad luck + the agents thinking I might be doing work in the States. Unfortunately, I will be missing the Saveur awards ceremony. I will be missing you dearly, everyone!

Still, this shed a new light of what Italy means to me and why I have such a love-hate relationship with my own country. Food and experience-wise, this country offers so much. Therefore, I am determined to move my feelings gauge towards the ‘love’ end of the spectrum, in order to prepare for future workshops and become the Italian hostess I know I can be.
This includes:

Improve my relationship with Italian food
From now on, I want to have pasta once a week. There are many local brands producing tasty, organic, whole grain pasta in my area, and I want to explore more local ingredients and producers. Italy has some of the richest food scene in the world and I feel like I am missing  too much of it.

Blogging more stories about Italy, its customs, and its people
I want to tell you more stories about our food, our culture, and our ‘Sweet Life’. I am going to travel more throughout the country and collect the most beautiful stories and photographs, which I will be sharing with you. I look up to people like Emiko Davies, Valeria Necchio, and Girl in Florence, who are so good at talking about glances of life here in the Boot.

Expanding my cookbook collection
I have never been an avid cookbook reader. This is rapidly changing and I cannot wait to explore more. If you have any favorites, especially about mediterranean and Italian cuisine, send them my way (My shelves are already stuffed with French cookbooks for some reason).
Keep on learning
Part of my book expenses will also go towards more texts that focus on photography, lightroom, etc. I want to get better and better at what I do, just because I love it.

I can’t wait to share the next recipe with you, which is already shot and ready to go – with some gorgeous landscape photos to boot!

A September Gathering in Gradara, Italytania2table4A September Gathering in Gradara, ItalyA September Gathering in Gradara, ItalyA September Gathering in Gradara, Italy

For 2017, the schedule looks much more interesting: after our Chiaroscuro Australia workshop in April, there will be a plethora of events here in Italy that will focus not only on photography, but also on food, wine, and living that Dolce Vita we are so famous for. From retreats in Tuscany to food tours and secret dinners in the castles between our beautiful regions of Marche and Romagna, to a collaboration with the brilliant wine producers of Poderi dal Nespoli, masters of the Italian way of eating and enjoying local, fresh recipes and ingredients. I am so looking forward to the next season!

Italy, and Romagna especially (the region where I am from) and its people are teaching me how to be Italian again. The care and the nonchalance Italians have with food; the care we have when pairing every ingredient and drink while managing to keep it simple, and taking every bite and every sip seriously but not in an austere way – always with a big smile on the lips, is just beautifully astounding.
Italian tables are noisy, full of chatter, full of laughter, and full of good spirit. I am glad of my experiences abroad, as they made me see what Italy at the table is and how astonishingly beautiful our relationship with food is from an outsider’s perspective.
I would love the world to experience this astonishing beauty as well. So, if you like to join our table, and stunning events such as this one, make sure to keep following these pages!

Thanks to our beautiful attendees:
Elise – The Pinapple Chef
Pino – Say Chocolate Boutique
Claudia – La Capocuoca
Eva – Eva in the Kitchen
Denitsa – Mind your Meal
Romina – Spazio Memoria
Kristen & Joe Camp – Campfire Studios

(And a shoutout to Monika & Joann Pai who were supposed to be here but couldn’t make it!)

Thanks to the great attendees of our previous workshop as well:
Eleni – The Foodie Corner
Isolde –  Suessealchemie
Aleksandra – Vanilla & Staubzucker
Daniela – Food Boogie
Bedour Alawadhi
Carla – DeLuca’s WPG
Elif – Degusta
Diane Aftimos
Roberta Rossi Brunori

You were the sweetest bunch of people and I miss you dearly already!!

 

Till next time!

A September Gathering in Gradara, Italy

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