Archive | September, 2014

Tuscher Caffé

26 Sep

On our last day in Cortona this summer, a group of ladies stopped me and asked where they might enjoy a great breakfast. “Follow me,” I said, then walked them to our favorite eating destination in all of Cortona – Tuscher Caffé.

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As I’ve written many times, one of the things we enjoy most about Cortona is its Italian authenticity. Most of the restaurants, shops, and stores are owned and operated by local Italians, and these places are where we prefer to spend our time.

This two-story Caffé opened in 2003 in the beautiful Palazzo Ferretti on Via Nazionale. Massimo and Daniela, the owners and operators of the caffé, named it after the building’s architect, Carl Marcus Tuscher, who worked in Italy from 1728-41.

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They, along with their sons Niccolo and Edoardo, tend to every detail, and it clearly shows.

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Looking for breakfast? Whether a simple coffee and pastry, or an omelet, look no further.

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Thinking about lunch? Your biggest decision is not whether to sit inside or out, rather, how to choose which delicious dish to order. Always the freshest ingredients coupled with creativity, and always made to order…

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And let’s not forget about dessert:

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In Italy, people often gather in the evening for appertivo. This wonderful tradition consists of meeting friends or family members for a pre-dinner drink such as prosecco or vermouth. Historically, these drinks were accompanied by nuts and olives so as not to ruin an appetite, and instead, open up the stomach for the meal to come.

Today, appertivo has taken on a different meaning where along with a wide variety of specialty cocktails, delicious and creative appetizers are served – all free of charge.

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Winter or summer, appertivo is an evening ritual in Cortona.

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Unless it is Monday, and Tuscher is closed, hardly a day passes that we don’t enjoy one or more meals here. After our several mile hike each morning, Len always declares, “It’s time for a proper lunch,” and for us, that’s typically a Tuscher lunch. We love the food and the atmosphere, and most of all, we love the friends and friendships we have made here.

As for those lovely ladies I introduced to Tuscher in the morning…well, they obviously liked the recommendation as they were back having lunch when we arrived to do the same.

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To Dani, Massimo, Niccolo and Edoardo, thanks for all of your hard work and dedication and for making Tuscher Caffé such a special part of our Cortona life. And to my dear friend, Dani, Buon Compleanno!

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You truly are a sweetie pie!

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If you are a regular, see you there. If you’ve never been, try it. You’ll thank me later!

Ciao,

Judy

www.caffetuschercortona.com

La Bella Sophia

19 Sep

Buon Compleanno – Happy 80th Birthday, Sophia Loren!

From ITALY Magazine

ITALY Magazine

As Sophia turns 80 today, enjoy a few of her sayings that epitomize her life:

“A woman’s dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view.”

“I always think positively. It is very rare that you find me in a mood that is sad or melancholic.”

“Having pride in your experience will keep you satisfied with your age, whatever it is. If you can look at yourself and know that you have faced difficulties and overcome them, taken risks and dealt with the consequences, gambled with your time and your love and at least sometimes won, then you will feel glad to be the age you are…”

Good for you, Sophia. A salute!

 

From ITALY magazine

From ITALY magazine

Ciao,

Judy

For more on Sophia, www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/buon-compleanno-sophia

 

Piazza Life

15 Sep

Recently, I read an article in a Chicago paper about a local community that created a new and different type of outdoor space. It’s a place where restaurants, shops, pedestrians and vehicles commingle. While this may be new to an Illinois community, it is a way of life in much of Europe, something that I have long referred to as Piazza Life.

What is it about Italian Piazza Life that is so appealing? Just about everything.

Each piazza has its own borders, if you will, created by beautiful ancient buildings that have been repurposed. An old prison is now a museum, a villa now a bank, and a stable now an enoteca.

The center of the piazza may have a fountain or statue, or be empty and provide a stage for any number of diverse events. Nowhere is this better seen than in Cortona, where Piazza Life is a way of life.

While there are several piazzas in Cortona, the two main ones are Piazza Republicca and Piazza Signorelli. They are physically adjacent to one another, yet each has its own identity and events.

You know you are in Piazza Republicca when you are facing the grand staircase of the Municipio or Municipal building.

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While it is used for several city functions, it also provides a beautiful setting for many weddings where everyone in the piazza seems to join in the celebration.

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In this piazza, you can sit in or outside of a number of cafes; shop at a grocery store, fruit market, wine store, or florist; and buy  shoes, handbags, linens, and even a borselino, all actually made in Italy.

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People gather, some doing their morning shopping, others stopping for a chat with friends.

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Cars and cyclists navigate through pedestrians of all ages, and pop up performers are a common site.

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Celebrations commemorating historical events are held here.

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And while the piazzas are significantly quieter in the winter, they still draw people together for such delights as the incredible Christmastime lamp lighting celebration.

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Piazza Signorelli, the adjacent Piazza, is also breathtaking in its beauty, whether bathed in sunshine

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or glowing in the moonlight.

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Piazza Life provides a daily local gathering venue, be it day or night, for spontaneous and scheduled events, including

kids playing soccer;

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local musicians;

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vintage car enthusiasts;

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food and antique vendors;

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annual traditions;

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marching bands;

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and avid sports fans.

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Whether you find yourself almost alone in an ancient Piazza, (and yes it is possible!)…

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or surrounded by friends you have not yet made,

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just be prepared to be amazed by the sights and sounds.

Piazza Life – wonderful! …and no reservation required.

Ciao,

Judy

 

Sunday Dinner

3 Sep

Missing everything about Italy, especially friends and food, I decided to try to replicate one of my favorites dishes. In Italy, pasta con ragu is pasta with meat sauce. The dish varies based on the region and the person in the kitchen, but it is usually a combination of meats stewed in tomatoes for hours.

At AD in Cortona, they call this paccheri with braceria sauce. Annalisa the chef says it is what her grandmother served every Sunday in Napoli when she was growing up, as it was an inexpensive means to serve many people. This is my attempt at her recipe.

I assembled my ingredients:

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Browned the meat:

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Sautéed the onions, then added tomato paste, herbs, and some figs for a slight sweetness:

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United the meat and the onions:

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Added the tomatoes, then turned the burner to low and started the slow, slow cooking:

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Like Annalisa’s grandmother, I decided to share my Sunday dinner, so I made a few calls, then whipped up some appertivo:

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And after about eight hours, we were rewarded with this!

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Great food (if I say so myself!), great conversation, great gathering! Felt just like Sunday dinner in Italy…

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Oh, and yes, we did have dessert… sautéed peaches with a dab of gelato and a ginger biscuit.

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Ciao,

Judy

 

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