I have to admit, I have a bit of an aversion to ground beef. I can't remember the last time I cooked with it, not to mention when it was the last time I ate a beef burger. I don't care for beef period, but ground, even less.
Now I know I am in the minority, and I'm ok with that. Food is all about a matter of preferences, right, and it should be that way. Recipes were created to be adapted by taste, so if you are reading this, you are at liberty to play around with this and all the recipes you see on this blog. With the exception of the baking ones, those are a bit more difficult to "play around" with, but Italian cooking? By all means, change the meat in this dish to beef, if you wish, I'll take no offense. Although you should give turkey a chance just once, at least.
Speaking of playing with recipes, this is MY version of this recipe. Some Bolognese sauces call for milk or cream, some for wine, some for meat stock. Some also call for 3 - 4 hours of cooking! I can't say that I'm fond of any of those, especially the "simmer for 4 hours" part! Who has time for that? Life is what's happening when your sauce is cooking? Humm, no.
This is my lighter and faster version. You'll thank me later.
This makes a wonderful first course for Thanksgiving, if you are serving a first course on that day, that is. Or for a Sunday lunch during the upcoming festive season. You'll find that once you have mastered this, you'll make it time and time again. This is definitely guest-worthy!
See the ingredients, pretty basic, right? I hate when recipes call for one-off ingredients that I use once in one dish and never use again. It's a waste of money and an extra trip to the store. Both of which I want to avoid! Here we have diced carrots, celery, onion, garlic, parsley, oil, some diced pancetta, the ground turkey, EVOO, crushed tomatoes.... Nothing out of the ordinary here!
Below are the step by step instructions as detailed in the recipe. How easy is this??
Lazy & Light Turkey Bolognese Sauce with Fresh Fettuccine
3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil of your choice
1 – 2 small carrots, finely diced
1 – 2 celery ribs, finely diced
1 small or ½ medium onion, diced
Salt to taste – about 1 teaspoon
4 oz pre-diced pancetta
2 – 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
3 – 5 leaves fresh basil (if in season and available)
1 16 to 20 oz package ground turkey
1 28 oz can of crushed peeled tomatoes
1 ¼ cups of water (milk or cream can be substituted for a creamer sauce)
1 lb. fresh fettuccine (found in the refrigerated isle of any grocery store)
This recipe of mine originally appeared in the Winter Edition of Foodies of New England. If you live in New England or New York, be sure to pick up this wonderful magazine for incredible recipes to try this winter!
The beautiful images are courtesy of Erb / Dufault Photography, taken for the magazine article.
Oh Italy, in all of your hazelnut glory... Hazelnut biscotti, hazelnut spread, fresh hazelnut from the tree, pralines, truffles, and how can I forget Italy's most popular hazelnut treat, the gelato. And what would the famous Bacio Perugina chocolate be without its signature hazelnut on top? Yes, indeed, Italy, the world's second largest producer of hazelnuts, does indeed have a love affair with this little nut.
Also known as a filbert, a hazelnut is well, the nut from the hazel tree. Harvested during mid-fall, the tree drops its delicious nut on the ground and is then harvested by farmers all over Italy. Sold during the fall at outdoor markets as well as large chain stores, shoppers stock up during the fall in preparation of the upcoming holiday baking season. Much of the hazelnuts are sold in the shells, although unshelled can be found at the larger chain supermarkets.
When I am not enjoying them in Italy, I tend to buy my hazelnuts in bulk at Whole Foods. They are shelled, so less work, fresh and delicious.
I have been making my walnut and pecan butterballs for many, many years. They are a favorite among my family members and guests. There's always a batch around in the month of December. Last year, I decided to play around with my recipe, as I always tend to do (!), and created hazelnut butterballs. And OMG!! I'm pretty humble when it comes to my baking. Even if something comes out delicious, I will find reason to critique it. But for these, I must say, I patted myself on the back! They were that good! Now, you got to know, if a cookie has the name "butterballs" in them, they are, well, buttery! These almost tasted like a truffle. They melt in your mouth! They are coated with sugar, crumbly, buttery, super crazy easy to prepare and perhaps my favorite cookie, ever! And look at the ingredient list... So short!
Do yourself a favor this upcoming holiday season, if you bake nothing else, bake some hazelnut butterballs! Since you will be thanking me about these for days, let me say "you're welcome" now.
Yields 36 – 40 cookies
1 1/2 cups whole hazelnuts
2 sticks butter (left at room temperature for several hours)
¼ teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 cups powdered sugar for rolling & dusting
Preheat oven at 350 degrees
1) Using a food processor, pulse hazelnuts until they are very finely ground, almost resembling breadcrumbs, but do not over pulse into a paste. Set aside.
2) Using a stand or hand-held mixer, blend softened butter, salt, powdered sugar and vanilla until very well combined.
3) With the mixer on low, add the chopped hazelnuts and mix just until combined.
4) Slowly add the 2 cups of flour to the mixture until well blended.
5) Using a 1 inch cookie scoop or a tablespoon, scoop cookies and roll between your hands
6) Place rolled cookies on cookie sheets that have been lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 - 22 minutes. Rotating the sheets halfway through baking.
7) Gently remove cookies from the cookie sheets and let cool just slightly. While still warm, gently roll cookies in the additional cups of powdered sugar. If they break or crumble, allow cookies to cool for one more minute. (This step is done while the cookies are still warm so that the sugar adheres better.) Plate and serve.
Oh October.... The month in which my stand mixer comes out of hiding and back to its permanent location on my counter. I admit, it gets a few months' rest during the summer, mainly because I'm generally in Italy and frankly, I don't bake nearly as much in the summer. Summer is all about no-bake cheesecakes, nutella & mascarpone pie, semifreddi (a delicious concoction of frozen deliciousness) and puddings. But come October, and it's about the biscotti, the crostate and other cookies and cakes. Not to mention, it's time to start testing new holiday recipes!
And then there's pumpkin.... By late August, it's pumpkin lattes, pumpkin this, pumpkin that... Unless it's October, I'm not ready for pumpkin anything!
And just when I thought I couldn't tolerate one more pumpkin recipe, I get inspired to create pumpkin biscotti! I blame this in part to the pumpkin can, there's always some left over that goes to waste! I figured, how bad can these be, right? They go great with a latte, are super easy to make and last at least week in an airtight container, if you don't eat them all before, that is!
I started making these last year, when, you guessed it, I had left over pumpkin in the can. I started playing with a traditional biscotti recipe, and this is the result. I recently served these at a cooking class and the students loved them. Try making them yourself and a super easy treat that goes so great with coffee and tea!
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup canned pumpkin purée
2 cups all-purpose flour
coarse sugar for topping
As you might know already, the cuisine of Calabria, my native region, is very much influenced by its geographic location. As such, cucina marinara, or cuisine of the ocean is very prevalent. Rich in gifts from the surrounding oceans, seafood is a popular staple on Calabrian tables, not only regularly served in countless ways, but also enjoyed cured in locally produced olive oil. Swordfish and tuna are commonly prepared “sott’ olio;” a traditional curing process that is very popular in Southern Italy, not only with seafood but also with countless vegetables, olives and mushrooms. Anchovies, known as alici in Italy, salted cod; better known as baccala, sardines, mussels and clams are just a few of the favored seafood options found in Calabria. And while the anchovies are delicious simply floured and fried, pasta dishes with swordfish, mussels or clams are plentiful.
Pesce Spada al forno
While all seafood is prevalent in Italy, swordfish is very dominant and eaten frequently. Most often eaten simply grilled and lightly seasoned, it is also prepared with pasta, or other typical vegetables, such as eggplants and zucchini. While “alla brace” or grilled on charcoal is ideal, it is not always possible, thus baked in the oven is a wonderful alternative. It is imperative that you buy the freshest swordfish possible. This recipe serves 4 very nicely. Swordfish is fulfilling so about 5 ounces per portion should suffice.
4 swordfish steaks, 5 – 6 oz each, cut to about ½ inch in thickness
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
small bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley
1 garlic glove
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon mixed dry Italian herbs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Prepare the swordfish washing it under cold running water. Dry the fish with clean paper towels and set on a clean cutting board.
Prepare the dressing by adding the olive oil to a small bowl. To the bowl, add several tablespoons of finely chopped parsley, one minced garlic glove, oregano and the juice of one lemon. Add salt to taste, about one teaspoon is average. Using a fork or small whisk, mix the ingredients well until you have a homogenous dressing.
Pour the dressing over the fish evenly. Bake fish in the oven for 13 – 15 minutes. Turn over and bake for an additional 15 minutes. (For additional flavor, you may wish to let dressed fish rest at room temperature for up to 30 minutes before baking.) Adjust baking time if your swordfish steak is thicker than ½ inch. Serve immediately.
For a crunchier version of this exact dish, bake it on a baking sheet instead of a baking dish, it will dry up faster and the corners will get crunchy and super tasty!
Pumpkin Lattes. Pumpkin Cookies. Pumpkin Pie. Pumpkin everywhere this time of year! I must admit, I am not a fan of pumpkin lattes at all! Call me old fashioned, but I prefer coffee to taste of, well, coffee! I never understood the flavored coffee craze. It's just not me and I find it all kind of gross, really! I only go for espresso, cappuccinos and good old American coffee.
But this time of year, I just on the pumpkin bandwagon along with everyone else. But I can only deal with it so much. I don't like the pies but can tolerate the cookies. And risotto? Well, I've yet to meet a risotto I didn't like! Last year, I started making it with pumpkin. I had a half can of pure pumpkin puree left over in the fridge from making cookies. Inevitably, it always ends up in the trash. Always! Good thing it's only a few dollars, but still, I hate waste. So I took my usual risotto ritual and added some puree pumpkin pure to it. At first, I used far too much and it was far too sweet. After making it a few times, I got the proportions to the amount that I like. Play with the dosages below according to your liking. I find that with this, I use a bit more of the grated cheese than say my mushroom risotto. I think it cuts into the sweetness more. You can add some grated nutmeg, if you will, it will really add a nice fall flavor to it.
Enjoy some pumping risotto this fall, you will not regret it!
Approximately 5 – 6 cups of vegetable stock made from 1 large vegetarian bouillon cube
1 small or ½ medium onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1 cup of Arborio rice
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
½ cup of dry white wine (any white wine that is not sweet)
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
½ cup pumpkin puree (add another ¼ cup if you desire a stronger pumpkin flavor)
Salt to taste
Warning, images in this post will make you hungry!
It happened on a Sunday during the month of August. I am uncertain of the year but it was some time ago, perhaps 10 years ago now? We’re in Italy, as we generally are in August, and I find myself in a bit of a predicament. I’m almost down to zero in the gas tank on the rental. It’s not a big deal, one might
think. I am at home and not stuck on the side of the road somewhere, but I have afternoon plans and I am certain what’s in the tank isn’t going to get me there. “You always do this, always. Why? Why do you always do THIS skifo?” Asks my sister in a tone I have heard before. This is coming from someone who generally has ¾ of a tank and thinks she needs to refill. She’s right, this time is different. I am not in Boston, my AAA card isn’t going to help here, and there isn’t a gas station close enough to our
home. And it’s Sunday. Why is that so bad, you ask? Because many, perhaps most, gas stations are
closed on Sundays in Southern Italy!
I ask the locals in my town and they tell me that, yes, most gas stations within 5-10 miles are closed. And there goes the afternoon plans, I think. Not that I even have 5 miles worth of gas. “But” says the local, “But there is an self-service station in Gasperina, you can try there, but there’s no guarantee
that the pump is working, it usually isn’t.” Gasperina is about 3 - 4 miles from our home. Now I must
decide, do I drive to Gasperina and risk getting stuck there or just stay home for the day, cancel afternoon plans, and hope that tomorrow I can drive myself to the nearest gas station and actually have enough gas to get there. “O la va o la spacca” I tell my sister. Basically meaning it will either work out or it won’t, but I am going to try and get gas. “I’m coming with you,” she says, “at least you will have company when we have to hitch hike back.”
And off we go, headed towards Gasperina. Small hill towns in Southern Italy can make for a tricky
drive. You’re going up a hill, down a hill; you run into people, you drive several miles without signs of
life. I wonder when the car is going to start stalling. As we drive, we come across a cute fountain,
“Oh can we stop and fill our water bottles?” I ask my sister. She gives me a look that says, “You got to be kidding me.” “No?” I ask. “DRIVE!” she screams. This sums our relationship pretty well. She, the
responsible one, I, the somewhat reckless one. I, the one who drives with the gaslight on but assume I will always get there. For the record, I have never had to call AAA for gas yet!
By miracle of miracles, we get to the gas station. But we’re not out of the woods yet. Does the pump work? Will we be spending the day by the side of the road? Under the August sun in Southern Italy’s heat? After several attempts to slide cash, credit card, coins, what ever the machine will take, I hear
the click. It works! And we both lay out a sigh of relief so loud, I am sure we’re heard from miles.
I need to make a U-turn to head back, so I go up the street a few hundred feet. “I smell something.” I
tell my sister. “Yeah, you reek of gas.” But that’s not it. I can smell deliciousness a mile away and what I smell is heaven. And then I see the sign. “Pasticceria Papucci” – of course! I am smelling a
pasticceria, or pastry shop, and my life is never going to be the same from that day on! And when we walk in, the smell is intensified that much more, that I think I am going to faint. This smell should
come in a perfume bottle.
Pasticceria Papucci may be small in size, but the selection and quality of the pastry is second to
none, and I have tried many, but always return to Papucci. The pastecceria is now owned by Nicola
Papucci, a 40 year old American-born, (Philadelphia) who grew up in southern Italy pretty much his
entire life. He moved back to Italy when he was two years old but occasionally returns to the States.
His uncle initially started the bakery in 1962, then his dad took over. He has been baking up a storm for over 23 years now. When I asked him where he went to school, he laughs! “School, I went to the best school and learned from the best, my father.” This reinforces my personal theory that one does
not need professional culinary school to be able to prepare delicious food. “I went to school to study accounting” – or “raggioniere” in Italian, but clearly, his talent is better served in the kitchen.
What’s your favorite thing to work with, I ask. Judging by how out-of-this world his pastry cream is, I expect he will say making creams. “Lavorare con pasta di mandorla” he says. Pasta di mandorla is
almond paste, with this he can make delicious cookies, especially the amaretti. Amaretti are made
with almond paste, flour, egg whites and sugar. And once again, the ones he makes are the best I have ever had. Some of my other favorites include the “maddalene” which are cylinder-shaped cookies, the cream filled lobster tails, the fruit tarts, cannolis, hazelnut-cream-filled bignes, tiramisu,
ricotta cannoli, you get the picture, they are all my favorite!
I’ve been gifting Nicola’s pastries to friends and family for years now. It’s custom when visiting friends or loved ones in Italy to bring the hosts a gift and I have been happily gifting these since the first day I had them. And every host tells me the same thing, “these are the best I have ever had, where is this shop?” My cousins live in a nearby city called Soverato. Soverato, unlike my own town, or Gasperina, is a larger city and it is filled with pastry shops and gelaterie. Yet, I always go out of my
way to head to Gasperina to buy pastries when visiting them. It’s worth the drive over and by now,
it’s what my family expects. I don’t dare bring pastry from a different shop.
Nicola’s cakes are Instagram worthy to say the least. My mother, who gets to celebrate her birthday
in Italy pretty often, always requests a cake from Pasticceria Papucci. “You ordered it, right?” She
asks in anticipation. And of course I did. “But did you make it a big one?” “We’re not that many.” I
remind her. That’s not the point, that’s never the point. If it’s a small gathering of 10, we order a
cake for 24; amazingly, it tastes better the next day. She doesn’t want gifts, doesn’t want a
celebration, but a giant cake from Pasticceria Papucci? It better be there or we will never hear the
end of it!
If you are headed anywhere in Calabria, I want you to know that no matter where you are, this is
worth the drive! I guarantee it will be the highlight of your trip. Shamefully, it always is for me, even more so than seeing some family members! It’s my first stop upon arriving, and the last stop before
leaving. With many more visits in between. When I am back in the States, I miss the pastries of
Pasticceria Papucci probably more than anything else I miss about Italy! I cannot recommend this
place enough! Start by joining their Facebook group for inspiration, until you make it there for
Find it here: Via Gramsci, 7, Gasperina.
If you have read my previous post, follow me on social media or have just been snooping around my site, you know I have just returned from a glorious 5-week sojourn to Italy, with much of my time spent in my native region of Calabria, in Southern Italy. Perhaps the biggest perk to traveling back home for me is the cuisine. No doubt we have wonderful USA-made products readily available to us in the States, and by no means am I going hungry when back in Boston, but there’s something so spectacular to food in Italy that words just can’t do it justice, it must be experienced. This is the main reason why I run culinary tours to Italy. While I could have focused on many aspects of Italian travel: art, culture, architecture, food is really the only common denominator we all have in common, I mean, we all have to eat, right?? Why not do so in Italy!
I make no apologies for frequently posting recipes I call “lazy,” hence the name of my business and blog. In the U.S, we live a fast-paced experience. Work, commuting, gym, kids, kids’ homework, housework, errands! Even this native doesn’t have the time to simmer any sauce for hours! And if we’re going to be efficient in the kitchen and save time and energy, we’re going to need top-notch ingredients. After all, a final dish is only as good as what goes into it! That’s why I don’t use “cooking wine,” – what is that anyway? If it’s not good enough to drink, it certainly isn’t going into my dish! And that’s also why earlier this year I was super excited to be introduced to Migliarese products. Produced in Calabria, (I know, what are the chances!), Migliarese offers incredible products, many organic, that make the cooking experience that much tastier, and more efficient.
Some of my go-to products include their extra virgin olive oil (oil from my native region? That’s a no-brainer!), pitted olives (for my chicken and rabbit recipes as well as pizza topping), their savory jams – such as red onion and pepperoncino and their tomato puree. The tomato puree alone is a lifesaver. There isn’t a time where there isn’t tomato sauce either simmering on my stove or already prepared in the fridge.
Imagine my excitement when I was asked if I wanted to tour their facilities this summer! Their factory is only about 30 minutes from my home in Italy, so you bet I jumped at the opportunity! As an avid user of their products in the U.S., products I also promote to my students in my cooking classes, I had high expectations and was hoping they didn’t disappoint. And you bet they didn’t!
After meeting with the owner and learning more about their company, I was taken “behind the scenes” to where the products are made and packaged. I was immediately highly impressed with their standards of production and obvious cleanliness. As someone with self-diagnosed OCD, I was worried I would be disappointed and see conditions that weren’t up to my standards. Thankfully, that didn’t happen at all.
This first place I am shown is one of their storage rooms! For this foodie, it was like seeing gold! I couldn’t yet tell what they were but I knew I wanted one of everything! There they were, all wrapped up and ready for my kitchen, I mean, someone’s kitchen…The jars are all lined up perfectly, protected and sealed. They would be making someone’s cooking experience that much more delicious. When I use their products at home, I wash out the glass jars and reuse them for leftovers. They are just the right size for when I have a bit of leftover sauce.
Next, we move to their herb garden greenhouse. It was here that I learned that they grow all of their own produce. All of it. So every tomato that goes in their sauce, every peach that goes in their jam, olives for their oil and everything else gets grown on premises or nearby premises that they own. In the herb garden, I see seedlings sprouting. The Italian classics like parsley and basil and everywhere, as are the rosemary and other typically used herbs. To top it off, I see a staff member planting herb seedling by hand. Let me repeat, by hand! Would it not be easier, faster, and more efficient if you are using a machine, I ask. I realize that to the owner, doing so probably hasn’t even occurred to him. This gives staff members jobs, and likely a gentler process for the herbs. Forget I even asked!
Next we move to the tomato line. As an avid user of their tomato sauce, I was curious as to see how it’s made. Here again I see staff members preforming lots of tasks by (gloved) hands. Tasks such as peeling the tomatoes and hand-packing them in their glass jars. The staff is laughing and joking around and they look genuinely content for being there. I immediately think of how much time their work has saved me with their products, particularly the tomatoes they’re holding! I touch a jar of the “passata” or tomato sauce. It’s still unlabeled but I recognize it well. The jar is still warm to the touch! “Take one,” says the owner. And like a kid in a candy store, I happily oblige. I know it’s going to be used for dinner that night. I am introduced to the ladies working the line as “an American” but I remind them that I was born just 30 minutes from where we are standing. “Allora sei una di noi!” they say, “So, you’re one of us!”
After another walk in the facility, my tour is coming to an end. I’ve enjoyed this experience very much and it makes me want to use their products even more. Not only because of their quality but I can really tell that the staff enjoys being there, which is really nice to see. They are a family company, started by the grandparents of the current owners and I love supporting businesses such as these. They make the life of a home cook that much easier by providing high-end products that are also affordable for the everyday cook.
I am given a goodie bag of products to take home. Some products I have used in the past, others are new to me. I’m thankful my vacation is just starting out so I will have time to use the products while in Italy. And you bet what wasn’t used made it in my suitcase. I’m thankful for their generosity and hospitality during this tour. It’s not often we get to see how the products we use get made. This “behind-the-scenes” look opened up my eyes and made me thankful that I have products like these to run to in order to make my own cooking experience easier.
Interested in learning a few new recipes using these delectable products? Click here for our Three Cheese Baked Farfalle, here for our Strozzapreti with Artichokes and Tomatoes, or here for everyone’s favorite: Salted Cod & Potatoes. Most importantly, be sure to check out Pasta & Vino’s website, which is where I get my Migliaresi products. I admit buying them here and having them delivered to my door is far easier and cheaper than adding them to my suitcase. Alitalia didn’t take to the weight of my suitcases too kindly, neither did my credit card! Next time, I’m just going to visit Pasta & Vino’s online shop!
Oh Fall! Call it and it's practically here, right? I for one, am really welcoming fall this year. After spending the summer in Italy, with an unrelenting heatwave called "Lucifer," (I'm can't make this stuff up!), I am really eager for some fall weather. How hot was it? Oh, random fires in the middle of the road hot! See image below. Ironically, the one year I am craving an early fall, it feels like mid-summer in Boston today!
There's something so bittersweet about September for me and perhaps you can relate. It feels like New Years in a sense. The chance to start anew, if you will, and make new goals, new plans and take new steps in the direction of your dreams. I think it's the school year schedule that makes it feel so fresh. That's the sweetness part. The "bitter" comes in the realization that Boston winters are brutal, and they're practically around the corner and that my Calabrian vacation is over, so of course, that's sadness in itself. And to add to that, our 2018 Culinary Adventures feel so far away! Alas, yes, fall can be bittersweet to say the least!
That said, I wouldn't change my summers in Calabria for anything. I have been going back (almost) yearly since our move here some 30 years ago and it's as much home as Boston is. So despite the heat, it's a place I will always return to with fondness and eagerness.
The above view is of the sunrise from our home in Italy. I woke up early just about every morning to see it. I'm not sure why, it didn't change from day to day, but every morning it brought me much comfort. It also brought with it triple digit temperatures, so I'm not sure why I was so sentimental in seeing it! One of the things one might look forward to during vacation is the opportunity to sleep in, and I thought I was looking forward to that as well. And while I love sleeping in as much as anyone, like clockwork, (no pun intended), I would wake up in the morning and be greeted by this giant orange ball. A sign that it would be a great beach day indeed!
Keep scrolling below to see a few images of my Calabria 2017 trip.
So besides Calabria, what else have I been up to this summer?? And what does this magazine cover have to do with it??
I've been reading Success Magazine since the 90s now. It's one of the few magazines I actually subscribe to and actually read! Unlike the many others, that end up in my recycling bin barely opened, but I'm too lazy to cancel, Success gets read cover to cover, and each issue is saved for future reading. It's my go-to source for inspiration, business motivation, self-improvement articles and overall guide for great living. It's multi-purpose to say the least. A great resource not just for entrepreneurs such as myself but also ideal for just about anyone who is into self-improvement and betterment, and who shouldn't be?
Imagine my downright shock, amazement, out-of-this-world moment I had when my phone rang and have the other person on the line say they were calling from Success Magazine. "Succ... what?" was my reply! But it's no joke! If you picked up the August 2017 issue, there you see my image!
It's not a huge article, by any stretch of the imagination, just a simple quote on business matters. But what an honor it was for me to flip open my absolute favorite magazine and see my own image! Just one more validation that I am on the right path! And what am I holding? Some anise pizzelle, of course! Get your recipe here!
As exciting as being featured in Success Magazine was, would you believe it wasn't the only place where I saw my name in print this summer? Say what? Last year I submitted an article for publication to another great magazine, Tastes of Italia. It was December 2016, the publisher didn't seem overly interested, said they would keep it on file but that I was free to submit it elsewhere. Time passed, as it always does, and it just sat in my virtual folder on my desktop. I did not submit it elsewhere and figured some day, I would post it here on the blog. It was on Calabria, so a pleasure to write it, but I honestly forgot all about it.
Then while I am in Italy, I get an email: "I'm writing to let you know how much I enjoyed your article on Tastes on Italia, it's made me want to visit this region!" At this point, I'm in Italy. My magazines are stacking up at the post office, my internet connection is spotty and think he must be referring to a blog post or something. I respond with a short but polite email. "Thanks so much, glad you read it!"
Then the second email: "After reading your article on Tastes of Italia, I am considering renting a beach house for next summer in Calabria, can you help me?" What is going on here? (And yes, I can help him and you find a suitable place to vacation in Calabria! Contact me if interested.)
On August 30th, I leave Italy to return to Boston and I get a third email. "I just tried your swordfish recipe from Tastes of Italia, so easy, I love it, thanks for sharing!"
I rush to the post office the next day. I landed at 8pm or would have gone the same day. And there you have it:
On the cover is a story entitled "Craving the flavors of Calabria." Humm, my article was entitled: "Craving Calabria" - can it be?
And sure enough, there it is! Not only it's my article, it's a beautiful 6 page spread, with a mention on the cover and the highlighted story from the editor on the first few pages! I can hardly believe it! It's been beautifully laid out, barely edited and with my email address at the bottom, hence the emails. Having a story in national publication is a proud moment, but having a story on Calabria, a frequently overlooked region in food & travel magazines, makes it that much more special. Be sure to pick up a copy ASAP!
I got an email a few days later from the publisher letting me know that they had published the article and that they did not email me before as things change at the last minute in publishing and they did not want to disappoint me. No disappointment at all on my end! And it really was a nice surprise! How did all this press make me feel? See below! ;)
Success Magazine, Tastes of Italia, I was on a roll! They say good things come threes, right? What was around the corner?
I didn't have to wait long to find out! Here's a hint:
Chicken Soup? Not any chicken soup, Chicken Soup for the Soul, that is!
I remember many years ago, I bought my mom her first Chicken Soup for the Soul. As a fan of Jack Canfield (seriously, pick up his books now!), I knew my mom would enjoy the short, inspirational stories found in these books. And I often read them myself, especially during travel, at the airport or on a flight. They make good travel books, for some reason. The stories are "bite size" and as someone who must finish a chapter when I start it, sometimes I just need a quick pick-me-up of the inspirational kind.
A few months back, I went to their website and saw a call for stories on stepping out of your comfort zone. My first thought was, "When have I stepped out of my comfort zone?" I mean, the type of books I read say that growth happens outside the comfort zone and I realized that this business, my culinary tours, this blog, my cooking classes, all I have been doing this past year was way past my comfort zone! So I submitted a short story on starting Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures. This was March 2017. I didn't hear anything either way and much like the story at Tastes of Italia, I moved on. I find that you have to "move on" a lot and fast when starting a business. You can't focus too long on the Nos, you can't sit back and wait, you can't be lazy, despite my business name, and wait for things to come to you. You propose, you submit, you knock on enough doors that if the answer is no, or you don't get any answer, you just move on.
And then I get the phone call. "I've been trying to reach you for weeks, we want to publish your story but don't have your signed permission, did you get our disclosure form, our messages?" Ha? Who are you and where are you calling from?? Clearly, I had received no such calls or emails.
Long story short, signed permission and all, my little nugget of inspiration will be published in an upcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone. To be published October 31, 2017. And once again, a publication I look up to, read and enjoy, will now feature yours truly. Oh the things that do happen precisely when you step outside your comfort zone!
So since summer is ending on such a high note, what's next?
I see the above as signs that I am on the right track and I have come back from Italy full-speed ahead!
I am excited for 2018 and where it will take me, most of all, to Italy! There are several private group trips in the works, our Puglia trip for September 2018 is scheduled, and there's one more group trip in the works, more info to come on that. I've received numerous referrals for private trip consultations, have more professional writing up my sleeve and have received inquires about appearing on a number of Podcasts. Not to mention endless cooking classes, both public and private ones!
Lots to do, see, plan and work towards, that's for sure! Turns out, there's nothing lazy about us after all!
Interested in joining us on our adventure, click the contact us button to reach us. I respond to all inquires!
I was recently at an entrepreneurial conference and as is typical of these types of conferences, we all started talking about our businesses. I get really excited about mine, if I do say so myself, and the conversation quickly turned to Italy. Just about everyone at the table I was sitting had been to Italy, which no longer surprises me. Travel is not longer what it used to be. Not something reserved for the elite or privileged, or even for a special occasion, travel now is a way of life, and Italy still remains a top destination.
Florence, Rome and Venice, or the holy travel trinity of Italy, were the top destinations of my companions at the table. A few had even been to each of these locations several times. “What about the South?” I ask inquisitive. Asking questions like this helps plan my business and culinary tours. I was happy to see that a few had been to the Amalfi Coast, but the “south” it seems, stops there. As a native of Calabria, I am more than happy to tell people about the South, and this time, I focused on telling my companions about Puglia. A neighbor of Calabria, Puglia still remains somewhat undiscovered but its beauty, scenery, cuisine and history begs to be discovered. Located in the heel of the boot shaped country, I have a feeling Puglia is headed towards being the next Tuscany.
After our conversation, many were ready to pack a bag! Here is a breakdown of some of Puglia’s top destinations.
Located in the south portion of the region, this is one of Puglia’s largest and most important cities. Lecce is very walkable and has a beautiful historic center, which is ideal because if it’s one thing Lecce is known for, is its Baroque architecture. The outside beauty of the buildings can be seen all throughout the city and it’s typical for them to be decorated with angels, cherubs and gargoyles. Known as the “Florence of the South,” Lecce is growing in visitors, particularly from the UK as it's an easy flight yet still manages to remain relatively unknown and unspoiled. You would be hard pressed in finding a local speaking English or a menu aimed at tourists while visiting Lecce. Filled with churches, 22 of them to be exact, it would also be hard, if not impossible, to take a walk in Lecce and not find a church. And whether you are religious or not, it’s almost beside the point as you are surely to admire the Baroque art. Be sure to visit the Piazza Duomo as that is where you will find the most ornately decorated Baroque buildings. Be sure your camera is charged!
Located on the west coast on the Ionian Sea, the fishing village of Gallipoli means “beautiful city” and it certainly lives up to its name. Divided into two sections, the old and the new, a bridge brings them together, so you will be able to see both sides without any concerns. Fish is king in Gallipoli, so chances are, you will find it on any menu in any restaurant while visiting here. Always order what the locals order and you can’t go wrong. It’s no surprise that beach going is one of Gallipoli’s favorite pastimes, where the water is clear and the sand fine. While you are likely to find a few tourist shops here and there, this is one place where the authenticity is truly felt.
“This is where you’ll find the cutest trulli!” I tell my fellow entrepreneurs at my table at the conference. I soon realize that “trulli” is not an everyday word for most people so I whip out my phone to show them. Located a bit further north than Lecce, Alberobello is becoming a must-visit town for anyone visiting Southern Italy. While the small town is adapting to the new influx of visitors, what is attracting these travelers are the trulli themselves. Small, conical-shaped, and built with local limestone, the small, casual homes are different enough that they draw in a crowd. While there are other “regular” houses in Alberobello, many are made of the same thick stonewalls and painted white. You will now find numerous tourist shops along the main road, Rioni Monti, in which you can buy anything under the sun shaped in a cone!
Located just a few miles from the coast, Ostuni is one of the most spectacular towns in Italy. Sometimes called “The White City,” Ostuni is filled with white stonewashed homes that make an ideal backsplash to the countless olive oil trees that line the streets of this picturesque town. Recommended by the city to maintain their white homes pristine, the government offsets the expense by paying for half of the cost. Built without any sort of map, Ostuni can be confusing to walk in and getting lost is not unusual, it’s actually part of the charm. At worst, you’ll find a dead-end street that makes little sense and you realize that you suddenly have to make a U-turn, both whether you are walking or driving! This is the best way to see this city: getting lost. That said, you’re likely to run into stunning sunset views, local shops selling their wines, olive oils and homemade trinkets, many made from the wood of the olive trees.
Polignano a Mare
“Volare, oh,oh… Cantare, oh,oh,oh,oh… Nel blu dipinto di blu….” If you have ever heard this song, even just once, it’s likely that it’s going to take some time to get it out of your head. I remember growing up hearing this song over and over and over again! And if you’re headed to Polignano a Mare, this song is likely going to be playing at some restaurant or bar. Why? The singer, Domenico Modugno was the proud son of Polognano a Mare. And the residents don’t want you to forget that!
But if there were ever a perfect day trip while touring Italy, Polignano a Mare would be it. The white-washed streets (again) and stunning churches (again) make it the ideal setting for a leisurely walk, enjoying a gelato in hand. But if it’s something more adventures you’re after, fear not, this seaside town on the Adriatic coast is known for cliff diving, bringing in daredevils from all over the world to experience jumping off high cliffs and into the crystal waters below. Just about 18 miles from the capital of Bari, Polignano a Mare makes for the ideal location for a day trip from just about anywhere in the surrounding areas.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a trip to Puglia! I want to re-explore this region again before the mass crowds learn about it! I mean, I want to tell the world about the South, but I also don't!
Care to join me, a Southern native? Allow me to lead the way! Be sure to check out our 2018 culinary and culture tour of this incredible region!! We will be going to all of the above stops and many more!
Only on our trips will an apron and bathing suit be required attire! Click here for more info!
In Italy, I have come to believe that you don't need much reason in order to celebrate life! It seems like at least a few times a month, there's a reason to get together, order cake, celebrate! There are also a lot of "Saint" holidays in Italy! St. Francis, St. Antonio, St. Giuseppe and of course, St. Giovanni, or St. John. Celebrated just two weeks after St. Francis, (see previous post), St. Giovanni Battista celebrates St. John the Baptist and while growing up in Italy, my family was no different in celebrating, particularly because my dad's name was Giovanni.
In Christianity, it is believed that Jesus was a follower of John and that John baptized Jesus in the River Jordan. As stated, Italy has many such religious holidays celebrating saints and depending on the location and region, it can be a full celebration with parades, fireworks and processions or it may be more subdued, or as subdued as Italians can do anything!
By far, the biggest cities that celebrate the feast day of St. John include Florence, Genoa and Turin, as St. John is their patron saint. If you’re not familiar with what a patron saint is, they are basically considered to be cities protectors and intercede on the cities’ wellbeing on behalf of God. Just about every small town in Italy has a patron saint, which is celebrated at various times during the year. It’s a comfort for many residents to feel that their own city or town is under divine protection. Many businesses are closed on this day, as well as most public offices. A Mass, fireworks, parades, processions and other traditional festivities take place in these cities and families gather to celebrate their saint. Fireworks are displayed over the Arno River in Florence, so if you find yourself there during this time of year, you will be in for a treat.
In Italy, the relationship between Godfather and Godchild is very strong. What does this have to do with St. Giovanni, you ask? Well, when someone baptizes a baby, they always refer to that relationship as having “Il San Gianni” with them, meaning that like the relationship between St. John and Jesus, they now have an unbreakable bond. Many Godfathers and Godchildren celebrate this day with small tokens of gifts or simply treating each other to an espresso or gelato.
All of the “Giovanni,” “Giovanna” and names deriving from these, celebrate their onomastico on this day. An onomastico is a celebration of one’s “name day.” Quite popular in Italy, it is similar in celebration to one’s birthday, particularly for names such as Giovanni, Antonio, Giuseppe and Francesco/a. I recall growing up celebrating my dad’s onomastico on June 24th and it would always include a cake with a small family gathering.
So if you know a Giovanni/a, wish them “auguri di felice onomastico” – or happy name day! They might wonder what that means, so you will be able to tell them that you’re celebrating their name day, as is tradition in Italy!
Hi there, thanks for visiting my blog! Here you will find recipes, short stories, tales, rants and whatever else is on my mind with regards to food, Italy, travel and along those lines. Drop me a line, I'd love to hear from you!