Cappelletti: Pasta Shaped Like Little Hats

Pasta comes in a nearly countless number of variations, but one of our favorites is cappelletti, or “little hats.”  These tasty, meat-filled pasta are a Christmas Eve tradition and are typically cooked in a brodo or broth.  G’s filling included a combination of chicken, pork and beef, plus some cheese and a bit of seasoning. The pasta was handmade and then shaped by G into the little cappelletti.  Quickly cooked in seasoned chicken stock, these pasta are absolutely delicious on cold winter evening!


Bea’s Honey

on July 17th, Gina’s beloved Aunt Bea passed away. She’d been ill for a while, and although her passing wasn’t a surprise, it was a big loss.  Fortunately, G had the opportunity to be with her for a bit prior to her death.

Later the very same day of her passing, we learned that a colony of bees had built a hive
on the farm, between the kitchen shutter and window – a prominent spot that
couldn’t be missed.

Aunt Bea
always enjoyed a good joke.

We weren’t at the farm to take care of the bee invasion.  But not to worry: our good friend Pietro carefully removed the hive, and relocated it to the farm his family owns just a few miles away from Tutto Doppio. 

On our last visit, Pietro presented to us a couple of good sized jars of Bea’s honey.  We rebottled it, and shared it with those we love! 



Loreto – A Beautiful Curiosity

The view of Piazza Della Madonna from the steps of the Basilica della Santa Casa

The view of Piazza Della Madonna from the steps of the Basilica della Santa Casa

Loreto sits atop a hill almost to the Adriatic, just about 15 miles south of Ancona — a relatively quick drive from Tutto Doppio.  It’s a beautiful town, with the expected small streets, shops, and cafes.

But the main attraction is the Basilica Della Santa Casa.  Believers have been making the pilgrimage there since at least the 14th century.  The reason?  The Holy House (santa casa). 

Legend has it that this is the home in which the Mary was born and raised, in which she received the annunciation, and in which she lived during the childhood of her son, Jesus.  The story goes that in 1291, with the Turks threatening its existence, angels plucked up the house and transported it away from Nazareth.

But they didn’t bring it all the way to Loreto.  Instead, the Santa Casa was deposited in Croatia; an appearance of the Virgin Mary, along with miraculous cures attested to the true origins of the house.  Then in 1294, the house was transported across the Adriatic and set down in the woods about 7 kilometers to the west of Loreto.  The holy house was soon moved to the hilltop that was to become the town of Loreto.

Today’s basilica – and especially the small, ancient santa casa that sits within it – is as beautiful as its origin story is farfetched.  You can walk right into the little house, and inside you will feel the devotion of those who are there with you, and the many who have come before.

If you’re like me, all of that history and beauty will have worked up an appetite.  For a low key bite, we can highly recommend Piadineria Artigianale Magritte.  Piadini are the Italian version of quesadillas, and this place makes them in with all kinds of fillings.  They also have a very nice selection of beer.  Lunch was so delicious that we each ordered another round of piadini – really special!



The Beautifiul Adriatic

Tutto Doppio is on the western cusp of the last hillside just before the Adriatic.  That means la spiagga (beach) and la mare (sea) are less than 20 minutes away. 

The water is clean, and nearly always calm; it’s shallow, which means it’s nice and warm.  The sand is white.  The people are friendly.  And the entire lungomare from Grottammare to San Benedetto del Tronto is a beautiful walkway dotted with seafood restaurants.  


Princess Buttercup

This is what we refer to at the house as “division of labor. “

We’re excited to see how all the animals do after we move to the farm.  I am concerned about whether Buttercup will destroy the vines (she ate a fair number of our tomatoes this season); G is convinced that she will be too tired running up and down the hill to have much energy left to cause trouble.

We’ll see, but based on the photo above we may both be right; she can do a fair amount of damage by just lying down on stuff. 


The End of Summer

The last of the tomatoes are in, and that – more than anything – means that summer has wound down, and fall is right around the corner.  G used some of those tomatoes, plus an eggplant, some home “grown” honey, and a few other tasty ingredients to make a delicious bruschetta topping. Mmmmm.

You’d think that by the age of “fitty five” I’d have a good feel for the changes in the seasons.  But I grew up in Anaheim, CA… and there summer slipped into fall by way of a change in which grade I was attending at school.

For me (and almost every other kid growing up in Orange County), Main Street was a place in Disneyland.  And although I saw Walt’s upbeat, optimistic, hopeful view of the heart of America through his eyes, the weather there was routinely 72 F, with early morning low clouds giving way to sunshine in the afternoon.

I must be getting old… because I will always hold dear both my childhood take on the heartland, and my middle-aged experience of it.


Lourmarin (That’s in France, Europe)

G and I had the honor and pleasure of attending our friends’ wedding in the south of France.  It was a FANTASTIC wedding and rollicking good time.

Lourmarin is about an hour north of Marseille. The village is very picturesque, and almost all of us were within walking distance of the chateau where the festivities took place.  About 90 folks made the trip all the way from St. Louis… which pretty much means that we took over the entire town.

G and I got lucky, snagging a room at a lovely B&B in the center of the village.  Our host, Christine was very sweet, and our room was beautiful.  She and her husband, Pasquale, have run Côté Lourmarin (+33 6 09 16 91 80) for about three years.  If you’re ever in the area, we highly recommend staying there!




G and I made an all-too-short one-night stop in Parma on our way from the farm to a wedding in France.  The town is remarkably easy to enter, and there’s a street chock full of pretty fancy shops. 

There’s a nice green space in front of Palazzo della Pilotta; the night we visited there was free opera in the park.  Lots of people were enjoying the evening and each other… typical Italy!

The highlight of our visit – by far – was a most amazing meal at Ristorante La Greppia (39/A Strada Garibaldi; tel. 39 0521 233-686).  Melt in your mouth prosciutto di parma, an incredible parmigiana “mousse,” two courses of pasta (ravioli and tortellini), and zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta, bread crumbs and cod… it was all absolutely delicious.  And the service was great: very friendly, not fussy, excellent.  You can bet we will be back!



G Gets Her Mulch On

Fewer things make G happier than playing in the dirt.  In fact, the only one of which I can think is laying down a nice layer of bark mulch in a planter. 

G had her chance to be in hog heaven after our friends told us the Italian word for mulch (corteccia), and guided us to the local home improvement center (not) to pick up a bunch of it!