Who falls in love ……. with Le Marche

Who falls in love ……. with Le Marche

This is a question I have been asked many times over the past few years.  While I don’t like to generalise, the common theme is people who want to experience real Italy, immerse themselves in the culture and history, value the importance of family and of course the great cuisine!

For our family, for our business, Le Marche is the perfect place.  Trying to find some authenticity in this crazy, busy world is getting more and more difficult.  Sometimes we just need to escape the chaos and experience something real and true.

Le Marche prides itself on being quintessentially Italian and that’s what people fall in love with, and it still remains one of Italy’s best kept secrets.

A Leader or Follower?

There are some people who are leaders, they are adventurous and like to make their own discoveries, each day is exciting and they have a thirst for knowledge.  Some people are followers, they go where others have been and see what others have seen.  They like to travel the well trodden path.

Most visitors to Italy travel to the main tourist cities like Rome and Florence and bask on the beaches along the Amalfi Coast.  These places are amazing and definitely worth a visit, but does this give you a true insight into the real Italy?

For those of us who really like to get under the skin of a country and integrate with the locals rather than be surrounded by thousands of tourists, Le Marche is the place. I prefer to hear the beautiful tones of the Italian language being spoken while drinking my early morning coffee, rather than my mother tongue.

Picture a place where mountains roll gently down to a stunning coastline of blue flag beaches, dotted with restaurants serving the catch of the day.

A patchwork vista really does exist here, a blend of olive groves and vineyards and fields of sunflowers shimmering in the sun ….. sometimes I feel like I’m driving through a film set. Generation after generation have farmed the land for hundreds of years, growing produce for their family or selling it onto the local shops and restaurants.

This is a region brimming with ancient churches, abbeys and monasteries.  Tiny village theatres, with fresco ceilings and gold leaf mouldings are found tucked away along the cobbled streets of virtually every medieval village.  I have had the great privilege of watching many productions over the past years and I often have to pinch myself that I’m not in Covent Garden.  I’m sitting in a tiny, exquisite, eighty seat theatre, built hundreds of years ago in a hill top town in Le Marche, but the standard, the professionalism and the dedication is the same

How Do You Spend Your Time?

I like to stay busy, which is good as I have four children, two grandchildren, four rescue horses, two rescue dogs, and six cats, and I work…..

Whatever your interests and passions there are so many possibilities here.

It’s All About the Experience

Here is a brief snap shot of our down time in Le Marche.

Monday evening was magical, sitting under the stars in the piazza of the museum, Polo Museale di San Francesco, in the town of Montefiore dell ‘Aso, watching an old Italian movie L’Albero Degli Zoccoli. This museum dates back to 1264 and the painting Polyptch by the famous artist Carlo Crivelli is the centre piece.

Sergio, the owner of Osteria della Cornacchie, one of our local restaurants, kindly invited our family over for dinner on Tuesday as a thank you for being one of his best customers. He is famous for his sense of humour, and polenta served on a wooden board. Italians travel for miles to taste this speciality and enjoy the great atmosphere.

Early to bed on Wednesday evening, as we had a 4.30am alarm call on Thursday morning.  A sunrise concert performed by the violinist Valentino Alessandrini, down on the beach in the seaside town of Pedaso. The music, the setting, everything was totally breath taking. The waves crashing against the rocks added to the emotion of this very special occasion. It was certainly worth the early start and I will definitely be returning again next year.

Friday is the day I love to cycle along the promenade, which runs for miles alongside the beach. I pull over for a cappuccino, chat to the locals and browse the local market in San Benedetto.  I can never resist stopping off for lunch in Grottamare at one of the best seafood restaurants in the world,  Il Grecale.

Saturday evening…… this was something I have always wanted to experience, La Cena in Vigna, dinner in the vines.  One of our local cantina’s, Dea Flora, organised a wonderful evening of food, wine and live music.  A magical setting, with shooting stars lighting up the night sky.

Our philosophy is to celebrate and share the very best Italy has to offer, without compromise.

Carpe Diem

To find out more about the magic of Le Marche and our luxurious holiday homes, please contact me.

Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs – co founder of Appassionata

www.appassionata.com

dc@appassionata.com

tel 0044 (0)7951674916

 

Agostini Olive Oil – 100% made in Le Marche, Italy

The history of Agostini olive oil is a story of passion, tradition and excellence. A story that began in 1945, a business handed down from father to son, today, in its third generation. The Agostini company has created a unique olive oil, ensuring the highest quality and an unforgettable taste.
The Agostini Olive Mill has been nominated as one of the 200 best olive oil mills in the world, by the prestigious food sector magazine Der Feinschmecker. They are multiple gold medal winner in Italian and international competitions.
The company is located in Petritoli, in the Marche Region of Italy. Nestled between the Sibillini Mountains and the Adriatic Sea, where the air is pure and fresh, and the climate is ideal for olive trees.
In Le Marche the culinary heritage of oil dates back from the ancient Romans. In 1945 Alfredo Agostini started to produce olive oil in a small olive mill. Now, his son Gaetano Agostini is managing the company with his sons Marco and Elia, and his brother Maurizio.
Gaetano Agostini has been able to reproduce the same traditional process to make an extra virgin olive oil.
He personally selects only the finest quality olives. He carefully oversees each single step of the production, to obtain and guarantee a product with authentic quality and taste.
At the Agostini Mill the harvest is done by hand and the pressing takes place within 6-12 hours. First the cold press to allow the final oil a larger amount of natural antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and carotene, important for healthy living.
The passion and the commitment from the Agostini family has resulted in them winning several prestigious awards.
Over the years, their growing dedication to olive oil has made them continue in the direction of key guiding principles: Quality, Sustainability and Innovation with an absolute respect for the Land.
Agostini has embarked upon an Enterprise Project, focusing on sustainability and biodiversity. They believe that the land and its welfare will become the primary interest of our society in the future. An Enterprise based on dignity, of the people and of the land.
They began to implement this idea by starting the production of Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Its application for certification was made 17 years ago, and was promptly acknowledged in 2002 after three years of assessment.
Their main concern was to pursue the ultimate aim and minimize the environmental impact.
In 2010 they decided to abandon the old energy supply systems and focus on Renewable Energy, investing in a solar energy panel system placed on the roof of the olive mill. They chose to use renewable energy without needlessly occupying green space
This also allowed them to become completely energy-independent, while reducing close to zero c

arbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from the use of the traditional energy supply systems.
They also looked at the issue around disposal of the waste products. In 2012 they decided to make a
step further in theminimization of the environmental impact. They installed a machine to extract the “Olive pit granules” from the processing waste. A 100% natural and ecological biomass fuel. In this way they are now able to recover an important and optimal natural source of energy which is usually thrown away.
Here’s our favourite variety from the Agostini Oil Mill, a gold medal winner in both Italy and New York!
Extra Virgin Olive OilSublìmis
Oil extracted in Italy from olives cultivated in Italy.
Variety/Cultivar:: Frantoio e Carboncella.
Harvest Time: October/November.
Max Acidity: 0,3.
Pac: Glass Bottle 0,250 Lt; 0,500 Lt; 0,750 Lt.
Type of Harvesting: Hand-picked.
Extraction System: Continuous Cycle, cold pressing ( within the first 12 hours after the harvesting).
Colour: Green.
Flavor:Intense aroma with strongly grassy hints. It has an intense artichoke taste and light scent of almond and tomato.
Food Pairing: Excellent on grilled meats, legumes soups, bruschetta and on all dishes enhancing the rich taste of mediterranean cooking.
The award winning Agostini Family:
One of our American owners,Debbie Yackal, was so impressed after tasting the oil she now ships and sells it in the US. Please check out her website:
Thank you for your interest in Appassionata and we look forward to sharing our quintessential Italian lifestyle with you.
‘Rolling out Recipes’ from Le Marche – Spaghetti alle vongole

‘Rolling out Recipes’ from Le Marche – Spaghetti alle vongole

Here’s one of our favourite recipes, probably because it’s quick, easy and delicious!

Spaghetti alle vongole

Spaghetti with clams and cherry tomatoes

This is a light, fresh and yet full flavoured pasta dishes so frequently served along the coast.  Small clams are usually used for this recipe.

The spaghetti remains in bianco (without a tomato sauce).  The cherry tomato halves are tossed into the pan at the last minute to heat them through.

 Here we go –

 Serves 6

  •  1 kg (2lb 4oz) small, fresh clams
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil plus a little extra
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small dried red chilli, crumbled
  • 1 medium bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup of white wine, plus a glass for drinking while cooking!!)
  • 500 g (1 lb 2oz) spaghetti
  • 200 g (7oz) ripe cherry tomatoes, halved

Soak the clams in lightly salted water for a few hours.  Change the water frequently and drain in a colander to get rid of any sand.  Rinse and drain well.

Heat the olive oil in a large wide stockpot.  Add the garlic, chilli and half the parsley.  When you begin to smell the garlic, add the clams and the white wine.  Turn up the heat to high, put a lid on, and cook for 5 minutes or until the clam shells have opened.

Remove from the heat and discard any clams that have remained tightly closed.  Remove about half of the clams from the shells, discard the shells and return the clam meat back to the pan.  Leave the rest of the clams in their shells.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water.  While the spaghetti is cooking, add the cherry tomatoes to the clam pan and season with salt and pepper. Return to the heat for a few minutes to heat through.  Drain the spaghetti when it is ready and add to the clam pan, toss with a pair of tongs.

Coat the clams with the liquid from the clams.  Put into individual pasta bowls, sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve immediately, with a drizzle of olive oil.

Fabulous with a slice or two of fresh bread to dunk and a glass of Passerina to drink!

 

 

‘Rolling out Recipes’ from Le Marche.

Over the coming months we want to share a selection of seasonal recipes with you, from the heart of Italy.

Year after year, as the months and ingredients change, so does the family table. We prepare and serve what is in season, strawberries are ready in April, we don’t eat them in December! The earth gives us what we need, oranges and their vitamin C in winter and refreshing watermelons arrive in August.

Ingredients vary, not just seasonally, but monthly. Sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. Each month passes and we see a change in the fields. The locals are passionately involved with their surroundings and respect the land. They lovingly sow their crops and naturally reap most of their produce in the summer months.

Some products are ever present, carrots, celery, sage and rosemary, and they form the basis of most casserole dishes.

Here in Le Marche the quality of the ingredients is very important. Dishes are simple and delicious. A piece of meat, grilled and transformed with lashings of local olive oil, a peach eaten off the tree after lunch. The gorgeous artichoke dipped in lemon juice and luminous green olive oil. Tomatoes bursting with the scent of summer.

It’s April and the weather has changed. We are surrounded by flowering fruit blossom. Their beautiful colours reveal the imminent peach and plum harvest.  There is tarragon and rocket and the wonderful arrival of succulent strawberries, which help to rid the body of toxins, accumulated over the winter, with their slightly astringent qualities.

April is the month of spring cleaning and Easter.  Artichokes are now in the fields.  Their tall, solid, lilac crowned stalks stand proudly in smart lines.

This week’s recipe – starting with something simple.

Carciofi RipieniStuffed artichokes, perfect served with roast lamb.

Serves 6

  • 12 medium globe artichokes
  • 1 medium bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 4 garlic gloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 30g (1oz) butter
  • 500ml (2 cups) vegetable stock

Rinse the artichokes and trim the tough outer leaves.

Cut away about a third of the top spear of each artichoke. Cut away the stem completely, in line with the artichoke bottom.

Put each artichoke bottom side up, onto a wooden chopping board.  Push gently against the artichoke with your hand to widen the central cavity of the artichoke.  Using scissors, snip away any top spikes of the internal small leaves.

Mix the chopped parsley and garlic together and divide the mixture between the artichoke cavities and the leaves.

Put the artichokes upright in a high rimmed saucepan, where they can fit in a single layer.  Drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and add the stock. Put a knob of butter into each artichoke and bring the stock to the boil. Spoon over a little of the stock, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the artichokes are tender.  Remove the lid and continue cooking to reduce the liquid until only a little remains.

Serve warm, enjoy!

 

 

 

Artisan Pasta from the Sibillini Mountains

Artisan Pasta from the Sibillini Mountains

Italy is famous for many things, especially food! Their passion for pasta is on a whole different level. Browse the local supermarkets around Le Marche and you will find aisle after aisle displaying every shape and make of pasta. Most Italian’s eat pasta at least once a day!

Here we give you a small insight into a special pasta made locally.

Regina dei Sibillini is a farm in Montefortino, Le Marche. They cultivate durum wheat on the Sibillini Mountains and use it to make pasta.  The late growing wheat is sown at the end of October and grows slowly under the falling snow between November and March. During this time, it rests, keeps warm and is slowly hydrated. The wheat grows and sprouts and from this originates the popular Italian saying …. ‘Sotto la neve, pane – under the snow, bread!’

The durum wheat has a strong ear of corn that overhangs on a very tall stem, usually measuring between 150-160cms. Its rustic nature contributes to the production of an excellent durum wheat flour. The fragrance released during the pasta making process is an intense scent of bread and biscuits!

Regina dei Sibillini produces pasta according to the artisan process. It is drawn through bronze wire and then put to dry at low temperatures.  Only wheat that comes from the topsoil at an altitude between 600 to 900 meters above sea level is used. Their philosophy is to cultivate a quality product.

The geographic position of the farm in the Sibillini Mountains guarantees a truly uncontaminated ambient: water and air.  Essential elements in the production of quality pasta.

This raw material cultivated, wholesome and with unique properties gives the product a characteristic taste rich in flavor. The aroma is distinguished the moment the pasta is cooked.

Compared to other durum wheat its low gluten content makes it much more tolerable.

“It is the bond with the land where we live, love and respect that brought us to undertake this journey. The nature that surrounds us is what inspired us. The best way to honour this is to capture the taste, smell and colours.”

Respecting the Italian tradition Regina dei Sibillini produces all the classic shaped pastas.

Their logo and packaging was inspired by the mountains. The icy colour of the snow, and the winter sky. The transparent opening on the front of the box allows you see exactly what you are buying. The irregular form of their logo reminds us of the white slopes and the mountains profile. The snow that covers and protects the wheat.

REGINA DEI SIBILLINI
via R. Papiri, 30 – 63858 Montefortino (Fermo)
Marche – Italia