Chapter 17

A food and wine experience

Every one of us has his or her own taste, so I can’t really tell you whether we can suit you or meet your expectations.

What I can promise you, if you ever come to our B&B, is that we are authentic, genuine and always willing to provide you with a warm welcome, full of good thoughts and feelings.

Our Bed and breakfast is, as you well know by now, an ancient Villa, probably part of a Monastery Complex.

We have worked hard to restore it, but there are all sorts of comfort such as: air conditioning, fans on the ceiling, central heating, we offer free parking in our garden and anything you may need, you just have to ask for.

We started many years ago, in 1997 but we haven’t changed much.

For us, what counts the most is the level of hospitality, the approach we give to everything. We are far from being perfect, but we are consistent and treat all guests in the same way.

We have never seen a guest as a client. A client was one for whom I delivered a service: my translations and my interpreting.

Here, it is different.

We offer services, of course, but there is a common denominator which totally makes us different: we welcome everyone as a guest, we love entertaining them and we take personal care of them.

Both Jacques and I take great pride in being always available to help, to listen to our guests and make them live an unforgettable experience.

In the past year, I have seen there are master degrees at University regarding Hospitality and a new branch is called “ Tourism with an experience”.

We have not studied anything like this; it is totally natural for us.

We have understood in the years 2010 that tourism was changing and our guests were really interested in living an EXPERIENCE.

This is what we offer: guests come here, eat with us, cook with us, drink local wines with us. They get to know what it is like living in Italy in a real Italian household.

Jacques was born in France and he is definitely French, but I can say he has also become Italian in his manners and heart. He became officially Italian in 2004 so both him and our son Alessandro are Italian and French.

I am just Italian, but in my heart I am a citizen of this World!

This type of tourism is very interesting because even Jacques and myself, when we travel and go to new Countries, we love getting to know the locals, eat with them and possibly learn to cook some of their recipes.

I am not a chef.

I am just an Italian mamma who cooks, but my recipes are often traditional recipes from my family or others that I have elaborated. This is something which has a huge importance for me: I love sharing almost everything here in my home with my guests.

Also when I offer a wine tasting with Jacques, I am not a sommelier, I am just passionate with wines and I try to pair them with my food.

It is a sweet, fun and special experience to share our passion and our love for local wines but also for some well-known Italian wines from other regions and pair them to the food I usually cook.

I often like to offer a bottle of wine with a tart or another one with a puff pastry rose I make…for free, just to see the sparkle of gratitude in my guests’ eyes.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where everything needs to be sold or purchased; what we offer goes beyond a package, we offer our friendship, our time, some little free entrées or desserts because the relationship we wish to create needs to be more than a commercial one.

I am, we are not in the position to offer a Dom Pérignon, but we will always be able to offer you a good and honest local wine for free.

I don’t cook with expensive truffles but I can guarantee you my homemade bruschetta sauce with my homemade bread is not bad either.

I hope that some of you will enjoy some recipes I want to share with you.

Some are my traditional recipes, some are new.

Please feel free to try them and let me know what the results are.

Remember that cooking requires lots of creativity, time and passion.

Without one of these ingredients, it won’t be exciting!

Take some time to create your own recipe and a fabulous dish to impress your family.

Nothing beats that sparkle of gratitude, as I mentioned earlier, happy cooking!

Homemade bread:

500 gr of flour ( 250 gr durum wheat flour + 250 gr of plain flour)

250 ml of lukewarm water

1 sachet of dry yeast if you can’t have fresh yeast ( yeast preparation)

1 tablespoon of salt

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

In order to do the yeast preparation, crumble 20 gr. of fresh yeast with 1 teaspoon of flour, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of water, make a nice and smooth paste, cover with flour and a lid on top of it.

After 30 min. the yeast preparation will show bubbles and will have started working, at that point it is time to incorporate the other ingredients.

Knead well for 10 minutes, leave to rest 10 more minutes, then make two loafs and cover with a tea towel for three to four hours.

You can sprinkle with egg wash before proving and you can also add all aromatic herbs.

In a preheated oven at 200 ° C for 20 minutes, the first time, check the oven.

Fresh tagliatelle

To make the dough use 100 gr of durum per egg and a pinch of salt. For 4 people 300 grams and 3 eggs.

At first, work with a fork in a bowl and then knead for 10 minutes.

Leave it to rest, then knead for five more minutes and then use the rolling pin for at least 15 min to achieve a thin layer of dough.

You know it's done when you can almost see your fingers underneath.

Roll it and cut stripes of 1 cm each.

Hang on the Tagliatelle rack to dry.

Enjoy with any sauce of your preference

Homemade focaccia

Same yeast preparation as for bread.

500 gr of plain flour

100 ml of lukewarm water and 170 ml of lukewarm milk

1 tablespoon of salt

extra coarse salt to sprinkle over when the focaccia is done

Knead well with an interval of one hour, then spread on an oily tin adding some coarse salt, rosemary and if you wish also cherry tomatoes.

Leave it to prove for three hours.

In a preheated oven at 200 ° C for 20 minutes.

My great grandmother Slowly cooked beef

1 kilo of beef shoulder

salt and pepper

1 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 cup of white vinegar

4 cloves

3 bay leaves

1 finely chopped onion

Take a terracotta pot and pour a cup of extra virgin olive oil and a cup of white vinegar. Add some salt, 2 cloves, 2 bay leaves, a finely chopped onion, some pepper.

Put one kilo of beef pulp or shoulder, in Italian this cut is called "cappello di prete" and it becomes pulled beef. You are supposed to cut it using the spoon.

You cover and open just a few times and slowly cook for 4 hours and serve with polenta.

Camembert or gorgonzola risotto over smoked ham slices

For 4 people

200 gr of Camembert or gorgonzola

100 gr of butter – sea salt

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon of my mixed spices for risotto: sautéed carrots and onions

400 gr of rice for risotto Carnaroli o Vialone Nano from Italy

¼ of glass of Port wine or white wine

Half cup of parmesan cheese

1 litre of vegetable broth made with a potato, a carrot and a on onion

In a pan, over low heat, add the extra virgin olive oil, the butter and the risotto spices, let them blend well.

In a bowl, mix the cheese of your preference with a couple of tablespoons of milk to mix it nicely.

When all is melted, add the rice and toast it.

Toasting the rice is essential, it lasts a couple of minutes and you keep stirring.

Then add the Port wine or the white wine and let it evaporate, this is another essential thing to do.

At this point, add slowly the broth, this operation takes approx. 13 minutes.

When the risotto is ready, take a slice of butter and the parmesan and mix it nicely, out of the cooker.

Take a plate, put a couple of slices of smoked ham , pour the risotto, cover with other slices of smoked ham and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.