An amazing rolled pasta with cheese, Besciamelle and prosciutto dish my mother-in-law in Italy used to make on Sundays every once in a while. When we knew Rotolo Rose was for lunch, nobody was ever late… period!
Translation Rolled Pasta with Prosciutto, Besciamelle & Cheese
Use a large pot. Fill it ¾ of the way with water. Add salt and oil. Bring to boil. Cook the lasagna sough with care, making sure not to break the slice. After about 4 minutes, remove from the water and let it dry on a clean linen towel. Shred one slice of ham with your fingers and place it loosely on the dough. .Repeat this process with 3 slices of cheese. Sprinkle some besciamelle sauce (recipe below) on it. Add Parmesan cheese. Now roll the dough and cover it tight with saran wrap (clear plastic film). Place in the fridge. When ready to bake, spread some butter on a baking tray. Cut the rolls in slices about 1.5 cm (½ inch) thick and place them in the baking dish. Pour the heavy cream on it and sprinkle some more Parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven at 250 C for about 15m or until golden. Remove from the oven and let it rest for about 4 minutes. Serve warm.
•100 grams (3 ounces) of butter
•100 grams. (4 tbsp) of flour
•1liter of milk (1 quart)
Place the butter in a non stick sauce pan and let it melt at low heat. Add the flour using a whisk. Don’t let lumps form. Warm the milk and add it slowly the flour and butter using a wooden spoon or a whisk. Return to low heat and bring to boil. Add a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Stir often for about 15m.. Remove from heat and let cool.
7 months, 17 tours, 56 cooking classes, 144 guests and over 35,000 miles of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio are behind us. That was the 2008 season for us at Culture Discovery. As with last year, after coming back to the US, I have gone into video mode. Here is the first video I have made since coming back, which essentially sums up the season:
What a wild ride it was. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of work…. but always very rewarding. Most of all, we made a ton of new friends and had the opportunity to share something we love with so many new people.
Some new stuff in 2008…
We started the year unexpectedly using our ‘old’ kitchen down at the villa. We had started construction in September 2007 on a new 700 square foot kitchen, where the barn had once stood. Our old kitchen was too small for us to comfortably do classes for more than 6 people at a time, so the new kitchen was a matter of urgency. The new kitchen was supposed to be finished in April, but of course, we are in Italy. So in April we had a structure and nothing more. It wasn’t finished until late July, so we had quite a few groups crowd into the old kitchen for a while.
The new kitchen, which Paola and I designed ourselves, came out even more beautiful than we imagined. All of the counters are travertine marble, the sink is a solid carved block of travertine, all of the tiles are hand-painted, and the masonry for the separating wall and fireplace came out breathtakingly beautiful. The large lighting fixtures and our 90-bottle wine rack (which we found ourselves restocking every 2 weeks) were all hand-crafted in iron; and everything was finished by local artisans. What a pleasure it was to begin using it!
Besides the kitchen, this year we got sick of renting vans, and decided to buy a new one. We headed to Germany and got a perfect 9-passenger Opel Vivaro that soon became lovingly known as ‘Shultz’. When we have 8 or fewer people in a week, Shultz is always there to take care of us.
We started the season with five homes for our guests: La Campana, Vecchio Forno, Ponticello, Chiosco, and Trinita. By the end of the year, we added two new places, called ‘Caminetto’ and ‘Santa Maria’. Santa Maria is perfect for our guests that don’t do well with hills, as it is just a few steps from Soriano’s Piazza. It just went through a complete remodel, and makes for a beautiful place for up to four people. Caminetto became available in August, so a good number of our 2008 guests had the opportunity to stay here. It is the largest of the homes we offer, and boasts the largest terrace we have, with an amazing view out toward the Tiber Valley.
2008 also fostered some new relationships in Italy for our future guests. During the season we began to take guests to a winery and olive mill near Orvieto called Madonna delle Macchie, which has proven to be so popular that we have built it into every week we offer in the future. Moving into 2009, we will be offering our future guests the ability to actually rent part of the vineyard or olive orchard for their own personal wine and olive oil!
In April we met the incredibly gracious Prince Riccardo Nobile-Vitteleschi in the town of Labro, Umbria. He lives in the 1,000 year old castle of his ancestors, and has personally taken our guests on tours of his ‘home’. This has been so popular, that it is a staple for our 2009 itineraries now.
During the year, our travels through Tuscany and Umbria have brought us to new wineries, new monasteries, new restaurants, new towns… all of the more popular ones are in for next year, while the less popular are out. So as I look at the 2009 calendar, I can honestly say I am VERY excited!
So to those of you reading this that were with us this season: Thank you so much, it was a blast! To those of you reading this that are still looking forward to your time with us, know this: I’m looking forward to it as much as you are! We’re going to have a fantastic time.
For those of you that will be coming to Soriano for the Chestnut Festival, I thought I would post a video that shows a few of the highlights. This video is a promotional piece by Soriano nel Cimino’s Medieval Swordsmen. While they perform at many festivals all over the world, being from Soriano, they perform at each and every festival in the town.
Things got quite busy since my last post. We had a wave of guests come to Soriano, and the annual chestnut festival ( Sagra delle Castagne ) began, which really kept me running, camera in hand.
The folks in Soriano’s tourism office were kind enough to issue me an all-access press pass for all of the events, so I have tons of content (both video and photo) from the last few weeks that will take form in blog articles over the next few weeks.
So now that I am back in the US and getting over my jet lag, I’ll begin…
Soriano is, for the most part, divided into four districts (Contrade). When the chestnut festival begins, these districts compete in many events (Archers, Cavaliers, Parades, Medieval dinners, etc.). Additionally, each district brings a distinct group with a specific talent. For example, Soriano’s swordsmen are from the ‘Rocca’ district. The ‘Trinita’ district brings a group of heavily trained Flag Throwers.
To be completely honest, they never impressed me in the past. I always thought it was a total non-event. I mean, big deal, right? But I hadn’t seen the Flag Throwers from Soriano in years, and I was covering the festival, so I really should check it out. In fact, I actually considered if I wanted to waste my camera’s battery life on the event for fear that I might end up missing something interesting later into the evening.
The event was about to begin, and I took my place in the Piazza… thinking there must be something better to do. Then I heard the drums coming from Via Santa Maria (Trinita’s home street). Suddenly I saw a massive group of drummers, trumpeters, and flag throwers march into Piazza behind the Trinita Flag Carrier. Their costumes were breathtaking! Their choreography was mesmerizing! Even the drums were absolutely stunning! When the row of trumpets began to play, my jaw dropped in utter awe.
This was not the Flag Throwing group I remembered. In the past it was a small group of guys that put on a nice, but largely unspectacular performance. Wow, have they changed. Someone with great skill and vision has clearly taken over in this group. I would argue that it was the most spectacular event I saw during the festival. Maybe because my expectations were so low going in, or maybe they are just that great now.
Unfortunately, the video that accompanies this article doesn’t do them justice. It doesn’t even come close to capturing the grandeur of the group, nor does it reproduce even a fraction of the awesome sound they produce. Not knowing what to expect, my camera missed many of the best moments of the performance.
Next time I have an opportunity to film them, I will try to better convey how truly awesome this group was.
Every year, during the first two weeks of October, Soriano nel Cimino hosts a festival that surrounds the chestnut harvest. This festival is done on a large scale, and attracts thousands of people from surrounding areas, including Rome. The two main events of the Sagra are the Palio and the Corteo Storico. Unfortunately, we don’t know which days these will be held until shortly before the festival. That said, the schedule for 2007 has been released, so here it is: