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June In Italy

Fresh Recipes, Kitchen Ideas, Food News & Fun Things To Do In Sunny Italy

My first visit of the season to Capri always takes my breath away! And Friday night was no different. The occasion,- a very special invitation to Capri Palace Hotel & Spa for the inauguration of their wine dinner series at the 5 star deluxe property in Anacapri.

Executive Chef Andrea Migliaccio at the 2 Michelin Star Ristorante L’ Olivo welcomed Chef Paolo Barrale del Ristorante Marenna, for the L’Olivo DiVino-Grandi etichette e chef a confronto a La Dolce Vite, the summer series of wine dinners at the Capri Palace & Spa.

The evening started at 7:30pm in the property’s wine cellar, La Dolce Vita, with Antonio Capaldo president of Feudi di San Gregorio. He explained the story of the property, the wines being showcased, then corks popped and spumanti white and brut rose DUBL were passed. Mignon stuzzichini, small bites of shrimp on a skewer laid over fresh pea salad, raw scallops served in tables spoons topped with sea urchins and crunchy sea salt along with filo dough tubes stuffed with eggplant were served accompanying the first tasting of wine.

The menu intertwined the two Chef’s interpretations on classics with a twist. The first course, a fresh spring salad, was prepared by Chef Migliaccio. Palamita marinata e lingua di vitello salmistrata, fave, piselli cipollotti, pancetta e caviale,-local marinated fish laid on a salad of fresh fava beans, peas and onion bed layered with thinly sliced pieces of veal served on an elongated transparent plate was served with Feudi di San Gregorio’s Companaro 2010.

Chef Barrale’s risotto followed blending riso, manteca, colatura di alici e the affumicato, a white risotto with fish oil and smoked black tea powder, served with Sirica 2008.

The main course included, Braciola di bufala con involtino di scarola e calzoncini fritti, thinly sliced buffalo rolled with escarole and pine nuts served with an Italian dumpling, prepared by Chef Migliaccio paired with Taurasi Riserva Piano di Montevergine 2004.

A pre dessert included a semi-frozen rose fruit juice with a layer of ice that held up one strawberry that was topped with cream.

Chef Barrale prepared caffe e nocciola a semifreddo or half frozen ice cream stuffed in an meringue tube shell paired with a Privilegio 2012, a sweet rose colored dessert wine.

A delicate dessert tray ended the dinner filled with mignon cannoli, chocolate truffles, macarons, brioche. And lastly an elegant carozza, carriage of exotic plants, including mint, sage, basil was hand cut by the tea maker and each guest was able to select their own herbs. The guests dined on until after midnight in great company!

A special thanks to Chef Andrea Migliaccio and Marita Rivas of the Capri Palace Hotel & Spa! Grazie Mille for an extraordinary evening!

When you are in Anacapri, treat yourself to an unbelievable experience,

The Capri Palace & Spa, www.capripalace.com


Table Talk

There’s so much to love about Italy in spring – the days becoming longer, gray skies turning blue, the chatter of busy birds, roses and rosebuds everywhere and an explosion of perfumes and colors that signals the imminent arrival of a new season. As well as encouraging us to get out and about – there are countless delicious food festivals and sagras to be visited – the clement weather also marks the start of the year’s eating out. We’ve been bundled away at home since last year, enjoying cozy dinners with friends in our big family room, but now it’s time to start enjoying lunch al fresco on the terrace, the grill fired up and under pergolas of bougainvillea surrounded by our antique rose garden. Food tends to taste better when it’s eaten outdoors with view to hand, and it doesn’t take much effort to pull together a few sandwiches or a pasta salad to enjoy as picnic food.

Spring signals travel, and what better time to come to Italy. We have new cooking programs, market tours and food lover’s walks, check them out at https://www.cooking-vacations.com/italian-programs/ And of course the tried and true regions from Venice, Tuscany, Umbria, Rome onto the Amalfi Coast and Sicily and Sardinia stir up thoughts of learning to cook like a vero Italiano.

Artichokes at the Testaccio Market, spring green beans from Florentine gardens with the already abundant cherry tomatoes topping bruschetta, pasta and pizza in the southern part of the Boot! So life is looking good: as long as we’re lucky enough to be able to travel the length and breadth of this wonderful country in search of great views and delicious local dishes, we count ourselves blessed indeed.

Slow Food Notes

Just as Italians are attached to the seasons of the year, they are attached to the seasons of the table, and spring brings a veritable cornucopia of new vegetables, from zucchini and tomatoes to fresh peas, artichokes and new potatoes.

As folks here prefer to eat produce while it’s in season, each month means cooking what is fresh, and inventing new recipes to use the abundance of garden produce. The first cherry tomatoes appear in super-quick tomato sauces, salads, atop garlic-rubbed bruschette and even tossed quickly in sizzling olive oil with fat black olives and a few fennel seeds as an unusual side dish.

Baby zucchini are irresistible and cook up in a flash as a dressing for pasta with the addition of a few clams or tiny shrimp, as a filling for frittata with a handful of grated Parmesan cheese or to make a delicious risotto with a bunch of mint from the garden.

And don’t forget the fruit that comes and goes in a heartbeat. Cherries for example. It’s difficult not to gorge on cherries, juicy black-red ones, pale rose-colored ones and the creamy white cherries with just a hint of pink near the stem. Load your basket and eat up as the last ones will be slow stewed into jam.

Preserved cherries, cherry liqueur and even dry ones go tossed into cakes throughout the year.

Our herb garden, with oregano and marjoram are beginning to flower along with the sage and chives, the thyme is full and bushy and the lemon thyme releases a delicious perfume every time it’s trampled underfoot.

We’ve been having fun with the new herb, melissa, or lemon balm as it’s commonly known, its intriguing lemon fragrance a great addition to homemade sweets – especially creams and custards, and the self-seeded arugula has already been the basis of many a last minute salad and garnish. It seems like it’s been ages since we’ve been able to walk around the vegetable garden and decide what we wanted for dinner, and we couldn’t be happier that it’s that time of year again. This month we provide some great seasonal recipes to be enjoyed indoors or out with family and friends: simple, healthy and unmistakably Italian…

Cooking Vacations Property Of The Month

The Chianti Masterpiece™

Join Pino and Chef Anna in the kitchen for our deliciously tempting Tuscan cooking & wine program in Chianti, Tuscany. Gently sweeping hills adorned with pristine vineyards and grey-green olive groves, pretty country churches and imposing stone castles provide the backdrop for your cooking school vacation.

Enjoy some of the recipes from their kitchen this month and for your next trip to Italy, choose from a full week stay, 4-day or even just a day!

Tuscan Cooking Tour & Dario Cecchini Visit~8 Day
Tuscan Cooking Tour All Inclusive~4 Day
Tuscan Cooking Class~1 Day

Recipes From Our Kitchen

Antipasti ~ Appetizers

Spring Salad & Lemon Balm

Number of servings: 4


  • 50g fresh peas (already shelled)
  • 100g fava beans (already shelled)
  • 1 small, crisp lettuce, rinsed and dried
  • 50g baby spinach, rinsed and dried
  • 4 fat radishes, very finely sliced
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 leaves each of lemon balm and mint, torn
  • Small bunch chives, chopped
  • 2 rashers streaky bacon, grilled, cooled and crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon French mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Plunge the fava beans and peas in lightly salted boiling water and cook for 4 or 5 minutes.
  • Remove from pan, refresh with cold water and drain. (Remove outer shell from fava beans if they are older and tougher.)
  • Chop lettuce into pieces, add the radishes, spring onion and herbs, then the peas and beans.
  • To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the mustard, vinegar and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour over the salad and mix well before dividing between four plates.
  • Garnish with crumbled bacon.

Chargrilled Zucchini

Number of servings: 4


  • 4 medium zucchini
  • Handful of flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • Handful of mint, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Flaked chili pepper
  • White wine vinegar
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  • These zucchini are best prepared on a barbecue, but a ridged grill pan would also work well. And of course, if you add some eggplant or squash, you get a fabulously colored side dish that keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator.
  • Slice zucchini lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips and cook over a very hot grill for about 3 or 4 minutes each side.
  • Try not to move them until you want to turn them over or you won’t get the attractive chargrill stripes.
  • As they come off the grill, arrange zucchini slices in layers on a small serving dish, sprinkling over a little vinegar, oil, garlic, chili flakes, parsley, mint, salt and pepper over every layer.
  • You can either serve immediately or keep in the refrigerator until you need them.


Primi~ First Courses

Gli Gnudi (Ravioli Nudi) ~ ‘Naked’ Ravioli

Courtesy of The Chianti Masterpiece program

Number of servings: 6


  • 600 g Fresh Spinach
  • 600 g Ricotta, day old
  • 6 Eggs
  • 150 g of Parmesan, grated, plus extra when serving
  • 100 g Rice Flour
  • 10 Sage leaves
  • 80 g Butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Flour, enough to coat before baking


  • It is best to use day-old Ricotta that has been chilling in the fridge; it will have released some of the excess moisture.
  • Wash and cook the spinach in a pan with a little salted water.
  • Drain and allow to cool.
  • Meanwhile in a bowl mix the ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  • Squeeze the spinach, chop well and add to the mix.
  • Thoroughly mix the ingredients.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Form balls with the mixture into large ping-pong size and roll them in flour.
  • Drop them into the boiling water and cook until they float to the top.
  • In a large pan melt the butter with the sage.
  • Transfer the gnudi to the pan and coat with the butter, adding salt if necessary.
  • Serve hot with a heavy sprinkle of Parmesan.

Ragú Di Carne Chianina ~ Chianina Beef Ragout

Courtesy of The Chianti Masterpiece program

Number of servings: 6


  • 1 ½ kg Ground Beef (Chianina, if possible)
  • 200 g Celery
  • 200 g Carrots
  • 200 g Onions
  • 500ml Chianti Red Wine
  • 200ml Extra-virgin Olive Oil
  • 100 g Tomato Concentrate


  • Dice the celery, carrot and onion.
  • In a pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the celery, carrot, and onion for 2-3 minutes or until translucent.
  • Then add the ground beef, continuously stirring until well browned.
  • Add the wine, cover the pot and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Then remove the top and let the sauce reduce.
  • Add the tomato concentrate diluted with a glass of water.
  • Continue simmering the ragu for another 20 minutes on low heat.
  • Salt and pepper to taste, turn off heat, cover and let ragu rest for 30 minutes prior to serving.
  • This ragú goes well with all types of pastas!


Secondi ~ Second Courses

Alici In Tortiera ~ Baked Fresh Anchovies

Choose the largest fresh anchovies you can for this recipe as it makes cleaning them so much easier. This dish makes a good starter, or you could double up the quantities and serve as a main course.

Number of servings : 4


  • 500g fresh anchovies, cleaned and boned
  • Salt
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Handful parsley, finely chopped
  • Few sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped
  • The zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 the lemon (save the other half for another use)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Two generous handfuls of homemade breadcrumbs


  • In a bowl, mix together the garlic, parsley, mint, the lemon juice, the lemon zest, the breadcrumbs, a good pinch of salt and as much olive oil as you need to bind the ingredients. (Just enough that the breadcrumbs start to clump together.)
  • Meanwhile, choose an ovenproof dish that will allow you to create about three layers of anchovies laid flat.
  • Lightly oil the dish and arrange your first layer of anchovies, skin side down.
  • Season with a little salt, scatter over a third of the breadcrumb mixture, and repeat this process another two times.
  • Drizzle the last layer of breadcrumbs with a little more olive oil and cook in an oven at 375°F for 5 – 10 minutes, or until the topping turns dark golden brown.
  • Serve immediately.

Filetto Di Vitellone Alla Chiantigiana ~ Beef Fillets with Chianti Wine Sauce & Rosemary Potatoes

Courtesy of The Chianti Masterpiece program

Number of servings: 4


  • For the Beef Fillets:
  • 4 beef fillet medallions of 200 g each
  • 100 g of Corn Flour
  • 100 g of Butter
  • 4 Sage leaves
  • 1 fresh spring of rosemary
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1⁄2 L Red Chianti Classico Wine
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • For the Rosemary Potatoes:
  • 600 g of Potatoes
  • 1 spring of Rosemary
  • 1 spring of Sage
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Extra-virgin Olive Oil


  • For the beef fillets:
  • In a wide plate add the corn flour and season with salt and pepper.
  • Drench the fillets in the flour mixture.
  • In a pan melt the butter being sure to not let it burn.
  • Add the sage, rosemary spring, and the whole garlic clove.
  • Then add the fillets allowing them to cook gently until they brown on both sides.
  • Drain the fat from the pan and pour in the wine. Cook until the sauce become creamy.
  • Salt and pepper to taste and serve hot with the potatoes.
  • For the potatoes: Preheat oven to 180° C or 350° F.
  • Finely chop the sage, rosemary, and garlic.
  • Peel and slice the potatoes into wedges.
  • Wash the wedges and drain well.
  • Season with the chopped herbs, garlic, salt, pepper, and coat with olive oil.
  • Cook in the oven for 25 minutes.


Dolci ~ Desserts

Balsamic Strawberries

Number of servings: 4


  • 1 kg strawberries, hulled and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fine sugar
  • Handful shredded basil or lemon balm


  • Half an hour before you want to eat them, toss the strawberries in a bowl with the balsamic vinegar and the sugar. (Don’t leave them any longer as they’ll become mushy.)
  • Serve in a small bowl, or over a slice of lightly toasted brioche and garnish with the shredded basil or lemon balm.

Tiramisù Alle Fragole ~ Strawberry Tiramisù

Courtesy of The Chianti Masterpiece program

Number of servings: 6


  • For the Strawberries:
  • 400 g Strawberries
  • 50 g Sugar
  • 100 ml Sweet Wine (Vin Santo, Marsala, Asti, Recioto)
  • For the Cream:
  • 4 Eggs
  • 100 g Sugar
  • 250 g Mascarpone cheese
  • 150 g Ladyfingers (preferably Savoiardi brand)


  • For the Strawberries:
  • Wash and slice the strawberries, allow them to dry well.
  • Transfer the strawberries to a bowl and add the sugar and sweet wine and leave it to macerate for at least 3 hours.
  • For the Cream:
  • Separate the eggs.
  • First whip the yolks with half the sugar (50g) until thick and frothy.
  • Then scoop in the mascarpone and mix until combined.
  • Whip the egg whites with the rest of the sugar (50g) until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold the egg whites into the yolk-mascarpone mixture.
  • Let it rest in the refrigerator.
  • Drain the strawberries and reserve the liquid for soaking the ladyfingers.
  • Prepare the tiramisu in individual cups.
  • Begin with a dollop of the mascarpone cream then place a layer of the ladyfingers dipped in the strawberry syrup.
  • Next add a layer of the sliced strawberries following a layer of cream.
  • Repeat in this order until the glass is full, creating one, two, or even three layers.
  • Top with the remaining mascarpone cream. Decorate the top with any remaining sliced strawberries.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Melody’s Vine Picks

With this month’s delicious recipes, learn what wines to serve for perfect pairings.

Spring Salad & Lemon Balm
Pair With: Alois Caiati 2005 750ml
A lovely crisp white wine to pair with this refreshing spring salad, from Campania’s Pallagrello Bianco grape.

Chargrilled Zucchini
Pair With: Taburno Aglianico Rosato 2009 750ml
Rosé wines are on our table as we start dining outside this spring. Served chilled, this Rosé from the Aglianico grape is a perfect complement for grilled spring & summer vegetables.

Alici In Tortiera
Pair With: De Conciliis Falanghina 2008 750ml
Pair this classic Neapolitan recipe with Campania’s famous Falanghina. A dry, yet still fruity white with hints of salt that make it a wonderful complement to the local fresh alici, anchovies.

Balsamic Strawberries
Pair With: Amaretto Di Saronno
Veering from a traditional sweet wine, enjoy the sweet & tartness of the berries with this bitter-almond flavored after-dinner liqueur made from apricot pits. Neat or on the rocks, your choice!

Filetto Di Vitellone Alla Chiantigiana
Pair With: Villa Mangiacane Chianti Classico Riserva 2006 750ml
What better wine than a Chianti for this classic Tuscan recipe? A nice blend of ripe fruits, oak and spice to go along with your herby fillets.

Gli Gnudi ~ ‘Naked’ Ravioli
Pair With: Frecciarossa Riesling Gli Orti 2008 750ml
These delicate dumplings are wonderful with an aromatic peachy and flowery dry Riesling when served in the classic butter and sage. If you opt to serve them with the Ragout, reach for the red instead.

Ragout Di Carne Chianina~ Chianina Beef Ragu
Pair With: Villa Sant’Anna Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2003 750ml
This vineyard is operated solely by women and their care shows through. Making mostly Chianti Classico, this section of the vineyard produces the prized Vino Nobile.

Tiramisù alle Fragole
Pair With: Ca’ dei Mandorli Brachetto d’Acqui Donne Dei Boschi 2010 500ml
Try this sweet red bubbly from Piedmont that brings aromas of rose and wild strawberries. A great pairing for this fruity-twist on the classic Tiramisu.

Italy On A Plate

By Germaine Stafford

Germaine continues her roundup of what’s happening in the culinary world in Italy and gives you her chef of the month, book recommendation, and a list of seasonal foods for June.

What’s in Season?

Sea Bream
New potatoes

Restaurant Of The Month

Sa Mandra, Alghero, Sardinia

It’s that time of year again when all you can think about is getting away, taking a break. It’s not quite summer, but the thought of it being just round the corner makes you impatient for its arrival and a short island break definitely makes the wait more bearable. The wonderful island of Sardinia is this month’s destination and we’ve chosen a working agriturismo for some old fashioned Sardinian soul food. The Azienda Agrituristica Sa Mandra, located in the beautiful countryside between Alghero and Porto Ferro, is run by husband and wife team, Rita and Mario, and their children Maria Grazia, Michele e Giuseppe. The family started out on this adventure over twenty years ago, and are now well known for their dedication to local history and culture, including of course, gastronomic traditions.

In the dining room, the atmosphere is rustic but welcoming, with the huge central fireplace hinting at the delicious roast meat dishes to come. The agriturismo has a fixed menu, ably explained by courteous staff, which takes you on a delicious journey through the area’s best-loved specialties. Starting with generous baskets of bread – both pane carasau and pane guttiau– a series of antipasti appears: salsiccia and cheese, prosciutto from Monte Spada, peppers in sweet and sour sauce, ricotta served with local honey, creamy goats’ cheese with thyme and platters of cold cuts. Pasta dishes include the small hand rolled and toasted pasta called fregola served with a seasonal sauce – mushroom and wild boar, a slow cooked ragù – ravioli with seven herbs, or stuffed pasta with cheese and potatoes. Then comes the meat course where you can opt for roast lamb with potatoes and wild fennel, boiled mutton, or the excellent roast suckling pig, porchetto allo spiedo, that tastes of the myrtle or juniper branches it was roasted over. Almonds, sugar and honey are common ingredients in desserts, be they cakes, cookies or tarts, and you can’t possibly leave without a shot of mirto or filuferru, the two typical end of meal liqueurs. Wine is available by the carafe or the bottle and there are also alternative gluten-free and vegetarian menus.

Further Information:
Azienda Agrituristica Sa Mandra
11 str. Aeroporto Civile, n. 21
07041 Alghero (ss) Sardinia
Tel: +39 079 999150

Book Of The Month

The Tuscan Sun Cookbook

by Frances Mayes and Edward Mayes

For many years now, Frances Mayes has been a popular ambassador for Tuscan living, her tale of finding and restoring a home near the town of Cortona both a best selling book and popular film. And as you might imagine from someone as passionate about her adopted culture as she is, part of the author’s love affair with Italy is reserved for the country’s unique appreciation of food, and her latest volume treats us to a taste of Casa Mayes. Some cookbooks fall into the strict, didactic ‘this is how it should be done’ category, while others manage to impart a magical sense of place, enchanting you with stories of life evolving round a dinner table in the presence of friends, family or friends who have become family, with food as the bonding element that brings people together. The Tuscan Sun Cookbook clearly belongs to the second group and is a reminder of the elemental pleasures to be had in preparing and sharing food, where the stress is on creating simple but delicious dishes that don’t overly tax cooks, leaving them relaxed and free enough to enjoy the nourishing creative process and the company of friends.

This liberating, stress free approach is easy to see in the antipasti section where Mayes adopts the Tuscan custom of serving attractive platters of cold cuts, cheeses and vegetables, but with careful attention given to color and texture – thus delicious mixes of bite size balls of buffalo mozzarella, roasted peppers, halved figs, oversize capers, crostini with roasted cherry tomatoes, goat cheese and herbs or smashed roasted garlic, or simple breadsticks wrapped in prosciutto. Pasta dishes include spaghetti with lemon and crab, potato ravioli with zucchini, speck and pecorino, lasagna with ragù, and the delicious sounding baked pasta with sausage and four cheeses. Tuscany’s wonderful meat and game appear in a variety of guises as main dishes, from Tuscan style short ribs, tenderloin with balsamic vinegar, and quail braised with juniper berries and pancetta to ossobuco, roasted veal shank and honey-glazed pork tenderloin with fennel. As side dishes Mayes works her winning way with vegetables, creating roasted fennel, baked peppers with ricotta and basil, artichokes with potatoes and fava beans, and eggplant involtini. If you still have space for dessert, a little rustic bread pudding with apple, peaches with almond cream, hazelnut gelato or chocolate cake with pear and vanilla sauce should do the trick. All in all, a gorgeously photographed, heartwarming tribute to the Tuscan table.