You may have heard of Italian stallions (and I knew quite a few during my years of cheffing at Italian restaurants!) but how about Italian cowboys? The marshy areas of the Tuscan Maremma are home to Italy’s few remaining traditional cowboys, responsible for herding the enormous native Maremman cattle with their lyre-shaped horns, which may reach 2,500 pounds, over double the size of American Angus cattle! Read about the cattle and the revival of this heritage breed and the cowboys who work with them here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/05/world/europe/05italy.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=maremma&st=cse.
I’ll be taking a small group to visit this fascinating and non-touristy region on my Pasta Lover’s Culinary Tour, October 19 to 29. Just 4 spaces left (www.epicopia.com). You’ll learn to make your own hand-stretched pasta–the ultimate in flavor and texture. You haven’t tasted fresh pasta until you’ve experienced hand-stretched pasta, a specialty of the region along with game and wild mushrooms.
Pierre Wolfe, host of the nationally syndicated show, America’s Dining and Travel Guide for more than twenty years, interviewed me about my international baking book, Starting with Ingredients: Baking and my exciting upcoming small group Culinary Tour of Chios, Greece, Aegean Turkey and Istanbul. (Note new dates, May 25th to June 9th 2011). Wolfe shares with listeners his choices for the best lodging, finest dining, and most exciting tourist sites in the country–and around the world. Authors, chefs, travel planners, hotel concierges, and cruise directors are among the guests on the show.
I was honored to be a guest on this popular show and happy to talk about some of the stories behind the making of the book and my extensive travels to gather the recipes. This big fat book is organized by ingredient. Each chapter covers background, history, and culture along with more than 350 international recipes from Apples to Alcohol and Walnuts to Wheat.
If you’re looking to expand your repertoire beyond chocolate chip cookies and brownies, this book is crammed with exciting recipes for savory and sweet baked goods. Mr. Wolfe, a native of Alsace, France was especially taken by some of the Alsatian specialties like Black Kugelhopf and Alsatian Plum Muerbeteig. Some of my personal favorites are Torta Sbrisolona alla Lombarda (Lombardian Crumbly Cake), Spanish Orange and Olive Oil Cake, Lor Kurabiyesi (Turkish Ricotta Cheese Cookies Scented with Mastic), Brazil Nut Cake with Espresso, Spanish Tuna Empanadas with Sofrito, and Sardinian Potato Torta with Sheep’s Milk Cheese and Mint.
Left to mature, an artichoke reveals its purple center
Together with top culinary tour specialist, Epicopia, Aliza will be leading an incomparable Turkish Culinary Experience, Fragrant Fields and Turkish Delights: Exploring Aegean & Ottoman Flavors featuring Chios, Greece, Aegean Turkey and the fabulous city of Istanbul.
We begin our memorable two week experience on the fascinating Greek Island of Chios, the only place on the planet where delicious mastic resin is cultivated, harvested for use throughout the Mediterranean and Arab world world as a secret ingredient in pastries, breads, confections like halva, and marinades.
From Chios we follow the precious resin into Turkey, only seven miles away, spending several days in the Çesme (named one of the New York Times 31 Places to Go in 2010 ) and nearby Alaçati. We’ll visit the extraordinary ancient sites of Ephesus and Troy. We’ll visit markets full of lush fruit, fresh-harvested pistachios, piles of grape leaves, and encinara (Turkish for artichoke) ready for the pot. We’ll share meals in traditional local restaurants, stroll the back streets of villages, visit organic farms, meet artisanal craftsmen, enjoy exclusive cooking classes with local chefs , and enjoy several meals in the private homes of friends and culinary authors.
We’ll discover exactly why Turkey is THE “exotic culinary destination.” From the fruit wines of Şirince and the Aydin Valley and the exceptional wines of Bozcaada and Doluca, to the sweet, dark coffee, we’ll imbibe the best of Turkey. We’ll gather herbs from the mountainside of Mt. Ida for a cooking class of regional specialties. In Istanbul we’ll learn about the marvelous culinary specialties of Eastern Turkey from a master, Chef Musa Dagdeviran, the passionate mind behind his justly famed Ciya Restaurant–where Aliza would be happy eating every day!
As Tour Director, Aliza is eager to share her passion and love of this complex and stimulating region with participants on this small group tour. Her extensive knowledge of regional foods will enhance hands-on events and behind the scenes visits while excursions to cultural and archaeological sites will enhance our adventure as we explore Aegean and Ottoman influences on Turkish Cuisine.
View a sampling of the itinerary by following the link below for pricing and contact information. Space is quite limited so don’t delay!