Open Arms in Connecticut (Mar 12, 2011)

April 5, 2011

"'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it' Ralph Waldo Emerson," reads the plaque near the entry to the home of Kathy and Bruce in East Haddam, Connecticut. No better words to describe their home as those two quite simply embody hospitality. read more...

Revered Rural Rite: La Veglia

April 4, 2011

For Roosevelt, a "fireside chat" denoted intimate dialogue with the people. The fireside chat - called "veglia" ("vigil") - was always an intimate moment of life in central Italy's rural culture. I miss those years of the "andare alla veglia" ("going to keep the vigil") at our neighbors' farmhouses on winter evenings, where so much rural lore and rural wisdom was passionately shared by our farm friends around the fireplace. read more...

Scheggino to MIT: a Long Reach (Mar 11, 2011)

March 21, 2011

Che strano! What an odd sensation to connect with Ginny at MIT: we had first met in a bucolic setting in Italy, in Scheggino, a tiny mountainside village on the Nera River in Umbria's breathtaking Val Nerina. Ginny, host of my mid-March talk at MIT, had participated in the Berkshire Choral Festival group musical week in Umbria last September... read more...

Coming in from the Cold in Chicago (Mar 5 – 6, 2011)

March 12, 2011

Snow flurries arrived in Chicago about when I did. Icy roads, slippery sidewalks and cutting chill outside. But I only felt warmth during my four days there... and right from the moment of arrival: Rich had read my articles on Italian Notebook and had written me about a possible 2012 Chicago cooking event as a benefit. We decided to meet to discuss all... read more...

Houston Cooking Class Escapes the Evil Eye (Mar 1, 2011)

March 12, 2011

Never put a loaf of bread on the table upside down: porta male ("brings bad luck"). Everyone will jump up to turn it over, making the corna sign ("horns") against the mal'occhio ("evil eye"). Bread is sacred. Never throw out leftover bread. Porta male. Countless Italian dishes with breadcrumbs as well as bruschetta and panzanella (old-bread-cold-salad) solve the challenge of what to do with stale bread. read more...

Delicious Food, Wonderful Conversation and New Friends (Feb 25, 2011)

March 7, 2011

"No words to convey what an incredible evening full of delicious food, wonderful conversation and new friends... I thank you for your energy, spirit and passion. Much gratitude...", wrote Scottsdale host, Jana, after our February 25th event in her home. Jana, I thank YOU and Cheryl for a most wonderful evening of sharing in the "joy of cooking". read more...

Three Times a Charm at Phoenix Cooking School (Feb 23-24, 2011)

March 3, 2011

"The school is held at the beautiful home of Chef Barbara Fenzl and every month she gets an extraordinary chef in and teaches you several recipes which you then get to try...", says a review of Les Gourmettes Cooking School in Phoenix. I was the "chef" for three events at the school on February 23 and 24th. Owner Barbara Pool Fenzl, trained in France and renowned cookbook author who has appeared on cooking shows on PBS, booked the classes months ago, filling them immediately. read more...

Lightning Strikes in Phoenix (Feb 22, 2011)

March 3, 2011

About two days before my scheduled arrival in Phoenix, Angela, an old friend from my Santa Clara University days, emailed to ask if I would enjoy a "real Mexican dinner" with her upon arrival in Phoenix. I emailed back "great!". Three hours or so later, Angela emailed to ask if I would like to do a cooking class instead for twelve of her friends at the home of another friend! read more...

Detouring from the Menu in Lagunitas (Feb 20, 2011)

February 28, 2011

Spontaneity makes any cooking class even better! Howie and Dave specialize in hosting fun cooking classes with a good mix of guests - and their own additions to the menus I send on ahead. This year the day before the class - my second time at their cozy home off a road through the woods in Lagunitas - Howie called to tell me that the eggplant I needed for one recipe and the green beans required for another did not meet her standards. read more...

Umbrian Bounty in Belmont (Feb 18, 2011)

February 28, 2011

Again this year in Belmont, CA., Nada generously opened her home and heart to an enthusiastic cooking group drawn together by Anne - who I first met in 1971 when she brought her (then!) second-grader Katie to meet me, "the new teacher" on the first day of school! Anne, who ever thought we would be cooking together years later?! Three other mothers of my beloved 1971 second-graders joined in on the class this year, too (our second time re-connecting "around the burners")....and a couple of fathers joined in the feasting at the end of our class. Che bello! read more...