5.12.11

The best italian ham? Il prosciutto di Carpegna from Le Marche.

100 things to taste in Le Marche


The Prosciutto di Carpegna DOP is round, with a weight of between eight and ten kilograms, the meat color is pink, white and pink fat in the muscles may be internal veins. The processing techniques, carried out using all modern technology, have maintained a close relationship with tradition. Salting, hand made and rubbed on the skin around the bones, is crucial to flavor the meat and is repeated after one week. Maturing lasts fourteen months and after a check with the needle of horse bone those prosciutti which meet the organoleptic characteristics are branded with the logo "Carpegna ham. Today it is produced by pigs raised and slaughtered in the regions of Marche and Emilia Romagna, Lombardy and has the PDO (Protected Origin Denomination) since 1996.
The habit of salting meat in the County of Carpegna is very old, testified in an act of 1407, when the Count of Urbino Guidantonio ordered that the market should take place in Monte Cerignone and prohibited from selling elsewhere oxen, sheep, castrated sheep, hogs and salted meat. A witness is in a baroque part of St. Anthony Abbot, preserved in the parish of St. Leo Carpegna, where the saint is represented with a nice ham in order to protect the production processes.


Attention vous allez découvrir un jambon rarissime.
Issu d'un savoir faire éprouvé et d'une recette secrète, le Carpegna développe des saveurs douces et boisées, aux senteurs d'épices rares. Il se prête parfaitement à la dégustation sans artifice simplement en grandes tranches fines.
Le Carpegna est un jambon à haute valeur nutritionnelle qui en plus est sain et digeste , du fait de sa teneur réduite en cholestérol, il est comparables aux aliments admis dans les régimes hypocaloriques.
Pour mieux l'apprécier il faut le déguster à température ambiante, coupé au fur et à mesure, sans condiment, éventuellement accompagné de légumes frais, à croquer nature, céleri , carotte, concombre, tomate, etc....

Carpegna est un village des Apenins des Marches à 750 m d'altitude, il donne son nom à toute la zone au cœur du Montefeltro situé entre Romagne, la Toscane et les Marches. Carpegna est le jambon secret de Gusto élaboré en petites quantités il est réservé aux seuls amateurs qui seront en apprécier toute les subtilités et le caractère unique, "à ne mettre que dans les bouches des gastronomes initiés" .
Principalement connu dans sa région de Montefeltro., il est préparé et élaboré comme autrefois, de manière artisanale dans le parc naturel du Sasso Simone Simoncello.+++++ Les porcs proviennent d'élevages traditionnels d'Emilie et Toscane, ils sont nourris naturellement pendant 12 mois aux céréales (sans OGM, sans antibiotique et sans hormone de croissance).
Les cuisses de porc sont rigoureusement sélectionnées, elles gardent leur forme originelle pendant tout le cycle de fabrication. Après salage manuel au sel de mer, notre jambon subit un double affinage lent à l'ancienne dans une cave traditionnelle aménagée en bois de chêne.

Recette unique, chaque mois, les carpegna sont contrôlés individuellement retournés pour en optimiser l'affinage, puis notre maitre affineur pique dans le carpegna un os de cheval pour "sentir" l'évolution de sa maturation.


Tra le colline del Montefeltro, da suini nati e cresciuti esclusivamente in Italia, si ottiene questo prosciutto dal sapore dolce. Viene prodotto in due varianti: quello di San Leo, particolarmente delicato, e quello detto La Ghianda, più intenso e aromatico. Ottenuto dalla lavorazione di maiali pesanti, al termine della lavorazione la coscia intera del prosciutto arriva a pesare tra gli 8,5 e i 10,5 chilogrammi. Le cosce dei maiali, dopo essere state adeguatamente salate, lavate e rifilate, vengono cosparse con un particolare stucco grasso che ne protegge la superficie, per essere poi avviate alla stagionatura. Seguendo una pratica tradizionale, il grado di stagionatura viene valutato introducendo un osso di cavallo appuntito e sottile all’interno della coscia. Al termine del periodo di affinamento il prosciutto presenta fette di un bel colore rosato, normalmente bordate di una moderata quantità di grasso bianco. Proprio le intercapedini lipidiche donano al prosciutto una maggiore dolcezza e una consistenza più morbida e pastosa. Una volta tagliato il prosciutto, è opportuno proteggerne la parte esposta all’aria affinché non si indurisca: in questo modo si rovinerebbe anche il sapore.

For more info
www.maestrogusto.com
www.carpegna.com

30.11.11

Great Chefs in Le Marche-Andrea Tantucci-Il Maiale Volante

100 things to taste in Le Marche

This is the story of an absolutely great agriturismo, 10 minutes from Casa Olivi, hidden in a lovely small village called Cingoli, the balcony of the Marches.
The name is already quite a long story, il maiale volante, the flying pig...
And once you sit at the table in this beautiful restaured farm with strong modern touches starts an amazing journey through the marchigian products, colors and savouries.



Andrea Tantucci, who just comes back from London where he cooked with Jamie Oliver in his restaurant Fifteen,and his partner Roberto Sancricca love Le Marche, there is no doubt, and will make you love it too...





And for more recipes, you can always buy andrea's new cook Book "Rockitchen, 30 menu per 30 dische" an amazing culinary opus based on his favorite songs...
By the way, Andrea, I am still waiting for your panna cotta recipe, just incredible!



For more info
www.ilmaialevolante.it

22.11.11

Welcome to our new partner Welcome Beyond!


Welcome Beyond, The Interview...

Please tell us a bit about the restoration of the villa.
Sophie: “We discovered the old farmhouse in 2005, it was the last ruin we visited during our week of house hunting in Le Marche and it was the good one! It took us then 1 year to find the right architects and almost 4 years to complete the renovation which in Italy is always an exciting experience...”

What was your inspiration to rent the villa to guests?
Sophie: “Our project was from the very beginning to share the result of our work. We have rented so many houses in the past for our own holidays and we never found something we completely loved. With this villa, it was our contribution to bring something new or special to the market.”

I love the contrast of the traditional farmhouse and the modern interior. Please tell us a bit about the style of the interior and the architecture.
Sophie: “Well, I like to remember our first brief to our architects. We came with books and catalogues from Christian Liaigre, B&B Italia or Cote Sud... They listened to us very nicely, sometimes saying ‘yes, we understand...’. Then we got the first drawings of the concept which were amazing but rather different. The capacity to reflect our ideas and to surprise us always positively with their creativity is the proof of their great talent!”

Please tell us a bit about the facilities you have at the house.
Sophie: “We tried to put in everything you need to enjoy a dream vacation without getting out of the casa. For the summer, we have an air conditioning system coming from the floor to feel fresh air without freezing. We also have a home theater system, satellite TV, music on the terrace connected to an iPod, a fitness room with Technogym equipment, an outside kitchen with grill and teppanyaki...and very soon a very minimalist pool table made sur mesure for our villa...”

What would you describe to be the essence of the villa?
Sophie: “Our leitmotiv has always been to combine the best of Italy from tradition to modernity. The villa is a mix of all the talents we can find in this gorgeous country.”

To you personally, what is so special about the villa?
Sophie: “Our italian friends in Treia are used to say that the house has the best position in Le Marche, on the top of the hills with a panoramic view from the landscape all the way to the adriatic coast. We spend hours admiring this marchigian landscape from the pool or the terrace!”

The location is just amazing. Please tell me a bit about the Marches. Why is it called the New Tuscany?
Sophie: “Le Marche is maybe one of the most hidden jewels of Italy. Thousands of hills with olive groves, fruit plantations or sunflower fields. Every single village has its tradition coming from a long history, beautiful old churches, museums or theaters. This is the land of Giacomo Leopardi and his beautiful ‘Infinity’. The adriatic sea is very close too, which brings a good balance between earth and water.”

What made you decide to buy a property in Italy and what do you particularly like about this part of Italy?
Sophie: “We had always dreamed about having our own house in Italy one day. We have lived in Modena for 3 years and we also love the Emilia Romagna. Tuscany was also an option but we found it more interesting to discover ‘territory’, the feeling to be in a place which is the Tuscany 30 years ago is just a luxury...”

How would you like your guests to remember their stay at the villa?
Sophie: “We hope people will remember the house for the atmosphere and the surrounding beauty they found there. Le Marche is a hidden secret, and so is our villa.”

Is there something that in your opinion you just have to do or see when visiting Le Marche?
Sophie: “It is difficult to suggest something as everyone has his own aspiration, passion or envy. We would just highly recommend to take the opportunity of a wine tasting ‘a casa’ with Amy and Mirco from ‘Il Casolare dei Segreti’, it’s just a must...”

What are some of the activities on offer in the region around the property?
Sophie: “We have great restaurants around the house like the wonderful ‘Il Casolare dei Segreti’, 2 minutes from the villa, or the great agriturismo ‘Il Maiale Volante’ and its delicious panacotta with vanilla and apricot syrup... From mid-July to mid-August you can enjoy the second most important open-air opera festival in Macerata. You can spend a day on a heavenly beach in Monte Conero with transparent water and eating Italian sushi from Moreno Cedroni, or hiking in the legendary Sibillini mountains. There are plenty of activities, the most difficult is to leave the infinity pool...”

To you personally, what has been the biggest reward about running a villa rental?
Sophie: “We are just very proud to welcome people from all over the planet, German, French, Swiss, English, but also from the United States or Brazil. We are proud and we feel responsible to bring them the best from Le Marche.”

Thank you, Sophie!

For more info
www.welcomebeyond.com

11.11.11

il parco del conero

The most beautiful movie I have ever seen about Le Marche...


Infinity
“I always had a love for this lone hill,
and this hedge, too, which blocks so large a part
of the utmost horizon from my view.
But as I sit and ponder, limitless
spaces there are beyond it and unearthly
silences more than man's and deepest stillness
Which I shape in my thought, until the heart
is all but daunted. And just as I hear
the wind ruffling through these leaves, I set that
infinite silence up against this voice
comparing them; and I recall the Eternal,
and the dead seasons and this season here
alive, and the sound of it. So my thought
Drowns in the midst of this immensity:
And sweet it is to shipwreck on these seas.”
Giacomo Leopardi
1798-1837

For more info
www.parcodelconero.com

9.11.11

Welcome to our new partner Charming Places-Siglinde Fischer in Germany


MARKEN Ferienhaus bei Treia
Villa, Ferienhaus für 11 Personen

Das luxuriöse Ferienhaus "Casa Olivi" liegt ca. 10 km von
Treia entfernt in der grünen Hügellandschaft der Marken.
Diese Region ist vom Massentourismus noch weitgehend
verschont und bietet schöne Natur im Hinterland der Adria.
Von dem imposanten Steinhaus hat man einen fantastischen
Blick auf die Umgebung, die Lage im Grünen sorgt für Ruhe
und Entspannung. Die Villa "Casa Olivi" ist hochwertig und
stilvoll ausgestattet, sichtbare Steinwände und Holzbalken-
Decken im Obergeschoss tragen zum Charme des Hauses
bei. Die gesamte Einrichtung wird von modernem Design
geprägt und ist bewusst schlicht gehalten. Im Haupthaus
gibt es vier Schlafzimmer für insgesamt neun Personen, ein
weiteres Schlafzimmer mit Badezimmer befindet sich in der
Dependance.
Im Außenbereich beim Ferienhaus lädt der Garten und die
großzügige, zum Teil überdachte Terrasse zum Entspannen
ein. Erfrischen kann man sich im herrlichen Swimming-Pool
mit Panoramablick, der von weißen Designer-Liegestühlen
umgeben ist. Auch ein Barbecue steht den Gästen der "Casa
Olivi" zur Verfügung. In wenigen Autominuten erreicht man
das Städtchen Treia mit Restaurants und Geschäften. Die
Region bietet viele Ausflugsziele, zum nächsten Strand sind
es knapp 50 km.

For more info
www.siglinde-fischer.de
www.facebook.com/charmingplaces

4.11.11

up to you...

Giacomelli in Casa Olivi, the dream may come true. Which one of those incredible pictures would you choose for this big wall? The picture will come printed ​​on paper mounted on Dibond cm125 x cm 200.



Feel free to answer on the blog and we will let you know the final choice as soon as possible.

1


2


3

Another beautiful journey in Le Marche

2.11.11

La Pasta più buona del mondo, la Pasta di Aldo from Le Marche...

100 things to taste in Le Marche

In his TV series In Search of Perfection, Heston Blumenthal tasted dozens of the best artisan pastas. La Pasta di Aldo was his favourite, and he visited the man who makes it by hand.
La Pasta di Aldo is made only with the finest ingredients that are local to the area in which it is made. It is produced with an obsession for quality and perfection and is widely regarded as the best pasta in the world.

The home-style pastificio of La Pasta di Aldo can be found in the medieval village of Monte San Giusto which lies beneath the Sibillini Mountains. This artisanal pasta is produced at the hand of Maria Alzapiedi and her husband Luigi Donnari and the company grew from a desire to bring the food of their land to the rest of the world. Only the very best local ingredients are sourced, such as the carefully selected free range eggs and a very strict system of production is followed. They wake at dawn to start kneading and stretching the day's pasta dough which is a maximum output of 120kg, which needs to hang dry for a long time; night after night they attentively watch the pasta to judge the exact moment for the pasta to reach the perfect consistency.

Maria adds 'our choice of ingredients along with our production methods do not follow the traditions of home-made pasta factories, because we wanted to rediscover and rationalise the classical methods of home-made pasta production'

Each different pasta shape uses a different recipe of semolina, the dough for each type is worked only by hand and then the pasta is carefully hung on bespoke wooden frames and finally it is transferred to the special drying rooms which maintain a slow and natural temperature.

The most popular pasta shapes are 'Chitarrine', 'Tagliatelle', 'Pappardelle', 'Farrine', 'Fillini' and 'Saracene' but Maria is always working on new and innovative shapes...


For next spring-summer 2012, specially for Casa Olivi, La Pasta di Aldo will offer free pasta for each family renting the house for a week or more...isn't it just gorgeous!
for more info
www.lapastadialdo.it
Via Castelletta, 41
62015 Monte San Giusto Macerata, Italie
0733 837 120

11.10.11

Acqualagna, nelle Le Marche, la capitale del tartufo


Ogni anno ne passano da qui 700 quintali, il 70% per l'export. Ne produce i due terzi (66%) del totale nazionale. Ma Alba è piu famosa...
La Fiera Nazionale del Tartufo di Acqualagna è il più importante appuntamento del centro Italia dedicato al Tuber Magnatum Pico. E’ un evento di spicco che rappresenta la città anche all’estero, richiamo per tutti coloro che vogliono gustare e in un secondo momento acquistare questo prodotto di qualità.

Durante l’anno vi sono tre eventi dedicati al tema. Il più importante è quello di Ottobre e Novembre, che vede appunto la città marchigiana diventare la protagonista del tartufo bianco pregiato. Si sviluppa nell’arco di 3 weekend, all’interno dei quali stand gastronomici, convegni ed eventi di settore prendono piede per raccontare le novità del momento, la qualità e il valore del tartufo in tutto il territorio.

Oltre a questo appuntamento, Acqualagna propone altre due fiere: la prima a Febbraio dedicata al tartufo nero pregiato e la seconda ad Agosto dove si tiene la Fiera Regionale Del Tartufo Nero Estivo.

Nel corso delle giornate del tartufo, raccoglitori e commercianti che lavorano in tutti i mercati mondiali diventano i punti di riferimento per i visitatori che vogliono vedere, gustare ed acquistare.

In questi ultimi anni, si è potuto constatare come molti paesi esteri, quali Germania, Belgio, Olanda, Francia, USA e Canada, siano grandi estimatori di questo prodotto marchigiano, tipico della provincia di Pesaro e Urbino. Per tale motivo, ad ogni evento Acqualagna si riempe di gente proveniente da tutto il mondo, gente interessata, vogliosa di qualità e di buoni prodotti, come appunto è stato definito il tartufo negli ultimi decenni.

The small city of Acqualagna (pop. 4,000), located just a few kilometres from the magnificent Furlo River Gorge, is known for its centuries-old tradition of truffle gathering, production and marketing. Truffle collectors and merchants who operate on all of the world markets have their offices here or conduct the larger part of their business from Acqualagna. The Acqualagna truffle market has become the preferred venue for the wholesale of truffles: 2/3 of the entire national production (5/600 quintals of all types of truffles) are traded here. The countries which especially prize the product include Germany (the largest European consumer), Belgium, Holland, France (which produces large quantities of black truffles in the South), USA and Canada.

8.10.11

The best restaurants of Italy 2012-Uliassi 19, Madonnina del pescatore 18, Le case 16,5...viva Le Marche! (L'Espresso)


Uliassi
Via Banchina di Levante 6, Senigallia (AN)
tel. 071.65463
www.uliassi.it
Aperto: sempre chiuso: lunedì; martedì; mai in estate
ferie: da dicembre a metà marzo.
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 70 a 125

Madonnina del Pescatore
Via Lungomare Italia 11 - Loc. Marzocca, Senigallia (AN)
tel. 071.698267
www.morenocedroni.it
Aperto: sempre; chiuso: lunedì
ferie: variabili in inverno
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 50 a 150

Enoteca Le Case
Località Mozzavinci 16-17, Macerata
tel. 0733.231897
www.ristorantelecase.it
Aperto: solo la sera; chiuso: lunedì; domenica
ferie: in gennaio; due settimane e in agosto
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 38 a 72

Symposium Quattro Stagioni
Via Cartoceto 38, Serrungarina (PU)
tel. 0721.898320
www.symposium4stagioni.it
Aperto: solo la sera; anche a pranzo sabato e domenica; chiuso: lunedì e martedì
ferie: in gennaio e novembre
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 70 a 150

Hotel Ristorante Giardino
Via Enrico Mattei 4, San Lorenzo in Campo (PU)
tel. 0721.776803
www.hotelgiardino.it
Aperto: sempre; chiuso: lunedì; domenica sera
ferie: variabili in inverno
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 30 a 55

Antico Furlo
Via Flaminia 66 - Loc. Furlo, Acqualagna (PU)
tel. 0721.700096
www.anticofurlo.it
Aperto: sempre; chiuso: lunedì sera e martedì
ferie: in gennaio
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 35 a 60

Galileo
Lungomare Nord - Concessione 25 (sulla spiaggia), Civitanova Marche (MC)
tel. 0733.817656
ristorantegalileo@tiscali.it
Aperto: sempre; chiuso: martedì
ferie: da 20 dicembre al 20 di gennaio
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 30 a 60

Andreina
Via Buffolareccia 14, Loreto (AN)
tel. 071.970124
www.ristoranteandreina.it
Aperto: sempre; chiuso: martedì
ferie: una settimana in luglio
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 40 a 65

La Costarella
Via IV Novembre 35, Numana (AN)
tel. 071.7360297
Aperto: sempre; chiuso: martedì; mai la sera da metà giugno a fine agosto
ferie: da fine ottobre alla settimana prima di Pasqua
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 45 a 65

Clandestino Susci Bar
Baia di Portonovo, Portonovo (AN)
tel. 071.801422
www.morenocedroni.it
Aperto: solo la sera; anche a pranzo sabato e domenica e da maggio a settembre; chiuso: martedi; mai da maggio a settembre
ferie: da ottobre ad aprile
Carte di credito: tutte
www.uliassi.it
">www.uliassi.it
Aperto: sempre chiuso: lunedì; martedì; mai in estate
ferie: da dicembre a metà marzo.
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 70 a 125

Madonnina del Pescatore
Via Lungomare Italia 11 - Loc. Marzocca, Senigallia (AN)
tel. 071.698267
www.morenocedroni.it
Aperto: sempre; chiuso: lunedì
ferie: variabili in inverno
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 50 a 150

Enoteca Le Case
Località Mozzavinci 16-17, Macerata
tel. 0733.231897
www.ristorantelecase.it
Aperto: solo la sera; chiuso: lunedì; domenica
ferie: in gennaio; due settimane e in agosto
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 38 a 72

Symposium Quattro Stagioni
Via Cartoceto 38, Serrungarina (PU)
tel. 0721.898320
www.symposium4stagioni.it
Aperto: solo la sera; anche a pranzo sabato e domenica; chiuso: lunedì e martedì
ferie: in gennaio e novembre
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 70 a 150

Hotel Ristorante Giardino
Via Enrico Mattei 4, San Lorenzo in Campo (PU)
tel. 0721.776803
www.hotelgiardino.it
Aperto: sempre; chiuso: lunedì; domenica sera
ferie: variabili in inverno
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 30 a 55

Antico Furlo
Via Flaminia 66 - Loc. Furlo, Acqualagna (PU)
tel. 0721.700096
www.anticofurlo.it
Aperto: sempre; chiuso: lunedì sera e martedì
ferie: in gennaio
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 35 a 60

Galileo
Lungomare Nord - Concessione 25 (sulla spiaggia), Civitanova Marche (MC)
tel. 0733.817656
ristorantegalileo@tiscali.it
Aperto: sempre; chiuso: martedì
ferie: da 20 dicembre al 20 di gennaio
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 30 a 60

Andreina
Via Buffolareccia 14, Loreto (AN)
tel. 071.970124
www.ristoranteandreina.it
Aperto: sempre; chiuso: martedì
ferie: una settimana in luglio
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 40 a 65

La Costarella
Via IV Novembre 35, Numana (AN)
tel. 071.7360297
Aperto: sempre; chiuso: martedì; mai la sera da metà giugno a fine agosto
ferie: da fine ottobre alla settimana prima di Pasqua
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 45 a 65

Clandestino Susci Bar
Baia di Portonovo, Portonovo (AN)
tel. 071.801422
www.morenocedroni.it
Aperto: solo la sera; anche a pranzo sabato e domenica e da maggio a settembre; chiuso: martedi; mai da maggio a settembre
ferie: da ottobre ad aprile
Carte di credito: tutte
Prezzo: da 18 a 40

21.9.11

Marching to Marche: Hunt for the big white...truffle, and the best region of Italy you’ve never heard of

by Janice Nieder, a specialty food consultant in New York for 12 years. Now a freelance writer, her articles have appeared in International Travel News, Runner's World, San Francisco Journal for Physicians, Slow Food USA, San Francisco Professional Food Society News, Business Women's Journal, Marina Times, Norway Post, airline magazines and numerous websites.

"Even if you ask an Italian who has traveled extensively through the country about the region of Marche (pronounced Mar-Kay) you will likely be greeted by a blank stare. Yet, I managed to stumble upon this secret spot on a food safari to Italy, last year, when a small group of culinary enthusiasts got together to hunt the Great White Truffle, known to botanists as the Tuber magnatum Pico.
These pricey little nuggets, cloaked in an earthen sheath, have inspired gastronomic pilgrimages for centuries. We had heard that the tiny town of Alba is overrun with truffle addicts during the season which for white truffles is between October and December. So to meet the demand inferior truffles were brought in from China, the Balkans and other areas decidedly un-Italian.
We decided to start our tour last October in the quieter Tuscan truffledom of San Miniato, a fortified hilltop city located mid-way between Pisa and Florence. It seemed a good choice because the largest white truffle in the world, weighing 2,520 grams was found here in 1954, and presented to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. We set off in search, if not for fortune, then at least for lunch.

After five days of feasting and fun under the Tuscan sun, with our palates becoming jaded and our stomachs full, we wondered how the undiscovered world of the Marche could possibly measure up.

Wedged between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea, which puts it right behind the knee of the Italian boot, the anonymous Marche evokes images of a bucolic yet somewhat cubist painting, featuring snow-topped peaks, white sandy beaches, undulating hills quilted with olive groves, vineyards, medieval fortified cities, turreted castles, Renaissance palaces, and rose-toned brick houses. Although it is quite accessible, only about a 2.5 hour drive from Rome and connected by short daily flights from Milan, Marche seems shielded from the rest of Italy. Its serene setting is perhaps largely responsible for an unmistakable tranquility in the people. This is a land where time is told by the tolling of the church bells, so even our group of harried Americans quickly adapted to the slower pace, by leaving our cell phones at the hotel, strolling aimlessly around town, and enjoying the leisure three hour dinners.

The Adriatic yields some of Italy’s finest seafood, while the green pastures and fragrant wild herbs on the livestock-filled hills are responsible for its intensely flavorful meats. Marche’s cuisine is extremely regional. Each small area boasts its own specialties based on traditional foods that are gathered from the fields, forests, and the sea.

Our visit began in Pesaro, probably the most frequented city in the region, because of its popular seaside resort area. This area is surprisingly unsophisticated -- with a rather old –fashioned, middle-class family feel to it. Yet only a 20 minute walk brings you to another world: upscale, elegant boutiques; cutting-edge designer furniture stores, and enough art and culture to keep you busy for days.

Often referred to as the the City of Music, Pesaro was the birthplace of the great composer, Gioacchino Rossini. He bequeathed his entire fortune to the city which used the money to open the Conservatory of Music, and the Rossini Foundation, which annually organizes the prestigious Rossini Festival. Pesaro was also a center for artisans producing Majolica, colorfully painted earthenware, that often depicts historical scenes. The Civic Museum has a superb collection and fine examples are found in many Pesaro boutiques.

As for the food -- Marche could go toe-to-toe with Tuscany. Not surprisingly, seafood dishes reign supreme here. A favorite preparation is Brodetto which, if made properly, combines no fewer than thirteen different species of fish, topped with garlic rubbed bread. Verdicchio, the most reputed local white DOC wine with its distinctly bitter finish, is an excellent accompaniment to the Adriatic’s varied culinary offerings.

Urbino, commonly referred to as the jewel in Marche’s crown, was our next stop as we headed inland. This ancient cultural town is Raphael’s birthplace and home to the oldest private university in Italy. The large student population lends an air of exuberance to this culturally and historically important town -part of which is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although the whole town is captivating the “jewel” has to be the magnificent Ducal Palace, commissioned by Federico da Montefeltro. The duke was the quintessential Rennaisance man and always opened his court to the world’s finest artists, musicians, architects, and scientists. He combined many of their creative ideas in building the palace. One example can be seen in his study, which is entirely covered in painstakingly detailed trompe l’oeil woodwork, much of it designed by Botticelli. After viewing the amazing architecture and excellent art collection, visitors are shown the working quarters in the basement, the kitchen, with its unique chilling system, and the stables.

Because we have left the coast, the cuisine here is quite a contrast from Pesaro’s. Lamb, wild boar, extra-lean beef, and pork in all forms play central roles, often supported by handmade pasta or polenta. Vincisgrassi, the signature dish of the region, is made by layering ribbons of pasta with an intense veal ragu, chicken livers, pancetta, slathered with béchamel, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and crowning it all, shaved truffles. Other local specialties include Ciauscolo, an intensely rich spreadable pork salami and porchetta, the always popular boned suckling pig stuffed with wild fennel, herbs, and garlic and spit roasted over a wood fire.

After such hearty entrées it is still typical to finish a meal with a cheese course. Marche is home to a number of unique cheeses, that combine ancient techniques with the superior indigenous ingredients. Formaggio di Fossa is one such example--this sheep’s milk cheese is aged inside the caves of soft tufa rock in the nearby hills. The process begins by first burning straw inside the cave to reduce the humidity. Then the cheese is put inside and the caves are tightly sealed for 100 days. This results in an organically shaped product that is widely sought after for its earthy, almost truffle-like flavor. So popular is this cheese that every year on November 15th, the caves are opened and a festival honoring the Formaggio di Fossa is held.

Truffles, the overriding theme of our travels, of course would turn up again. We were surprised to learn that Aqualagna, a small town of just 4000 people just south of Urbino, is the dominant truffle-producing center of Italy. Two-thirds of the country’s truffles are found here, and the National Truffle Fair showcases the bounty on select days in late October and early November. Truffles not only appear alone in all their splendor, but also in many unique local products that incorporate this white diamond at zircon prices. Some favorites were the truffle honey which is spectacular poured over pecorino cheese, truffle butter, truffle oil, mushroom-truffle spreads for crostini, dried truffle pasta, truffled cheeses, and even some chocolate truffle candies infused with white truffle.

I had come in search of truffles, but even more rewarding was sniffing out an under-discovered paradise. The people of Marche have been living the “slow-food” life for centuries, long before the slow-food movment came into fashion. Between the warmth of the people, the beauty of the scenery, and the discovery of food, Italy doesn’t get much better than this, but remember, it’s our little secret."

20.9.11

Tod's factory outlet in le Marche

100 things to do in Le Marche

 

 

 

Via Filippo della Valle, Brancadoro,
Sant'Elpidio a Mare