Thursday, June 19, 2014

Annika's 12-year old trip.

In April of 2014, my granddaughter Annika and daughter-in-law Lisa went on a cooking trip to celebrate Annika's twelfth year.  My husband Larry was supposed to go, but he became very sick and ended up in the hospital for a long time.  So Lisa went, which made it a girls' trip.  An ersatz Larry did go:

And he was with us the whole trip, as you'll see.

We first stayed in Bevagna, a small medieval town in Umbria.  Our apartment was very sufficient, with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths and a kitchen with couch.  Because we were on vacation, we didn't cook many meals there, but did have great breakfasts.  The owner had baked us a fruit pie, which is usual fare for breakfasts.  
No picture.  

We ambled through the town, by ourselves, one by one, two by two and with my friends Wendy and Antonio.

And I almost missed this photo of Annika:

We had a cooking class with Wendy Aulsebrook at the kitchen of San Marco Antonelli in Montefalco:

In about 2 and one-half hours we made foccacia with rosemary and salt (YUM!), pasta by hand, tomato sauce, a zucchini frittata, roasted chicken, roasted potatoes tri-color, cookies, another dessert, and I'm sure I've forgotten a few things.  It was indeed a feast.  And I didn't get photos of the finished products!

The final night in Bevagna we went with Wendy and Antonio to L'alchimista in Montefalco for a long, relaxed dinner, filled with excellent food and word games.

On our way to our second stop, Bologna, we went to Ravenna, so Annika and Lisa could see the wonderful mosaics there.  The road there was tortuous, with views of lots of past tectonic plate action.
The architecture and mosaics didn't disappoint.

a bit blurry...

Then on to Bologna to the Hotel Porta San Mamolo, a very friendly hotel, with great breakfasts.  We three had a huge room in a building that was recently taken over by the hotel.  The big attraction in Bologna, of course, is that it is Italy's center of food.  The Slow Food movement started here.  We took a big chance and signed up for a lunch at a cesarina's house.  It could have been horrible, but it was fantastic.  Not only was our lunch delicious, but our host Paola Biano and her husband Alberto were very gracious and very interesting people.  Alberto's CD collection filled a room.  His breadth of knowledge about music is amazing.  Paola's collection of plants in and outside enlived the spaces, inside and outside, as well as enlivening the food which she so excellently prepared.  I highly recommend taking advantage of the Cesarina's offerings.

Stay tuned:  Paola and I will be offering some culinary and architectural trips in 2015!


Another reason we went to Bologna was for the exhibit of Vermeer's Girl with the Pearl Earring.
The show wasn't spectacular until we reached the final room where the Girl was displayed.  She was luminescent.  Especially in comparison to the other darker Dutch paintings.  On exhibit was also The Goldfinch, the painting about which Donna Tart based her recent book.  I wasn't really that impressed.  Some people have vivid imaginations.

And then there were the markets:


There were also churches.  One near our hotel had the strangest lamps:

And there are many arcades in Bologna.  You can go there and not care if it rains:

After lunch one day at a trattoria, we passed the kitchen where their famous tortellini are made.  The ladies were very happy to have their work and themselves photographed!

And then we passed a bakery which uses marzipan.


My absolute favorite moments were at a concert in the Bologna ancient instrument museum.  And my
socks were blown off by this:


Our last days were spent at Fontana del Papa in Lazio, where we were to have more cooking lessons, but circumstances beyond our control left us with only one.  Here is the place of Etruscans, Roman baths, and very untouristed, more untamed place than most places we had visited.  It was a restful end to our journey.

That's Annika's trip.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


A Culinary and Photo Adventure:  October 6 - 13, 2014

  Campo Verde, our accommodations in the small town of Eggi, near Spoleto.

And off to market we go....


And on our truffle hunt, we might find


And then we'll come home and cook up some delicious plates

Here's a beautiful plate of prosciutto shot by John on his I-phone.
He'll teach you to produce photos of your delectable food to post on-line.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry.  Then sleep.


The cost of this week-long culinary exploration is $3250, which includes accommodation, all meals, ground transportation, excursions, teacher's and admin fees, and lots of fun.  Airfare is not included.  Won't you join us?

For more information, see

 John Carafoli  is not only a professional food stylist whose clients have ranged from Pepsi and Coke to Dunkin Donuts and Au Bon Pain, but a great cook, food designer and critic, and author. He wrote the seminal book on his profession, Food Photography and Styling, first published in 1992, along with a number of articles in various magazines and newspapers. Anyone who's spent time on Cape Cod will appreciate his latest cookbook, Cape Cod Chef's Table: Extrordinary Recipes from Buzzards Bay To Provincetown.
He lives on Cape Cod with his spouse John, cat Whiskers and some hens and fig trees.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

It's been a while ...

Since I last wrote, almost 10 months ago (shame on me), I've been across the pond a few times.

In April of 2013 I made a scouting trip throughout Italy - or at least a bit of Italy - and met some new collaborators.  Nicoletta and the women at Verdidea  Group in San Quirico and then Ylenia in Lecce.  In between Tuscany and Puglia I stopped in Bevagna for a few days to meet up with friends.

Here are some photos of the April trip:

I got a flat tire turning around in an abandoned looking parking place.  The owner of the B&B got a friend to help me and I ended up with getting a patched tire here.  I'd never seen so many tires or computer parts.  But you know, the Italians have it right:  right in the middle of a really messy looking workplace, they have their coffee pots ready.

And this was the view from the tire place!

I went on to Bevagna and met my friends Wendy, Carol and Fred.  Wendy teaches and cooks at San Marco Antonelli Vineyards in Montefalco.  I thought that Carol and Fred, friends from the Cape who just happened to be in the area, should meet Wendy and learn the Umbrian cucina.


Wendy makes the cookies

Pasta roll-out time taught by expert Leonella.

And here's the menu for the day:

That was a fun morning of cooking.  The lunch was even better:  fritatta,  pecorino cheese slices, focaccia, pasta, roasted chicken,  roasted potatoes with zucchini and tomatoes, baked eggplant, ciambelline and panna cotta served with strawberry coulis.