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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy San Silvestro & Happy New Year!

I will be spending New Year's Eve (known as San Silvestro) and New Year's Day here in Italy between Abruzzo and Umbria..corporate events to oversee, a special New Year's Eve Cooking Class, dinner party for a corporate group..and hopefully I will still be able to enjoy the New Year. But as long as it is filled with good food and wine..I think I can survive..

If you would like to join me and spend New Year's Italian style, here is a recipe to enjoy and some traditions to follow in your own home.

But for New Year's Eve & Day dontl forget to have lentil soup to bring you good luck for the New Year.

Here is the recipe from last year's post
and other favorite posts with recipes for New Year's can be found here at

Here is wishing you a happy and safe New Year and make this a New Year to share not just with family but with friends and those in need.

Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene,


For more great recipes get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at

A special thanks to those of you that ordered the book as a Holiday gift! Enjoy

Monday, September 1, 2008

Trentino-Alto Adige

Trentino-Alto Adige is a beautiful, mountainous region in the north of Italy, bordering Austria and Switzerland. Interestingly enough, inhabitants of the region’s northern province, Alto Adige, don’t speak much Italian at all. Because of its roots as an Austria-Hungarian land before 1919, those living in Alto Adige (which is also called South Tyrol) speak mainly German to this day.

Seeing as it is a peninsula and it juts into the Mediterranean, it is understandable that so many of Italy’s regions are known for the stunning beaches and seaside resorts. Trentino-Alto Adige, however, offers Italians and tourists alike a very different but equally entertaining attraction: skiing. Approaching the town of Madonna di Campiglio, visitors will find themselves in one of Italy’s most notable and stylish ski resorts. Most famous for its intermediate slopes, beginners and advanced skiers can enjoy their time here, as well as the neighboring ski towns of Folgarida and Marilleva, connected to Madonna by the lift system. Madonna alone boasts 56 miles of slopes but should a visitor buy the Superskirama pass, they would have access to all three towns—totaling 94 miles of ski slopes. For more information about Madonna di Campiglio, a great site to visit is

Monday, August 18, 2008


There are a wonderful array of random, interesting facts about the Italian region of Basilicata: the regional capital of Potenza is the highest in Italy, the region used to be called Lucania (with the people of Basilicata still often referred to as Lucanians), it is known for its traditional handicraft (especially using wood and ceramic mediums), it is one of few regions with shores on both the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas, etc. Though the region is not exactly economically well off, the people live by holding steadfast to tradition.

Lucanians have adapted to the fact that Basilicata is a mostly mountainous region—some in more creative ways than others. In the city of Matera, a traveler should be sure to experience the architectural phenomenon of the Sassi. The people of Matera sculpted the buildings of the Sassi from the side of the mountain on Murgia Plateau, on the edge of a ravine. Carved from the tufa, the homes are part-mountain, part-hand-built. They left no room to spare; the buildings were constructed in extremely close proximity to each other, often one right on top of the next. And the homes are not the only attractions of the Sassi. Because of the region’s passion for tradition and religion, it comes as no surprise that over 150 rock-cliff churches, partially carved right out of the mountain or into the sides of caves, exist along the ravine. As the site is so important to the history and culture of the region, UNESCO named the Sassi a world heritage site in 1993.

For more information on Basilicata (especially Matera), a great site to visit is

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Puglia (Apulia)

The heel to Italy’s boot, the region of Puglia (called Apulia in English) meets the shores of both the Ionian and Adriatic seas. With hundreds of km of coastline, Puglia might initially seem like an obvious tourist attraction but for whatever reason, compared to other regions in Italy, tourism here is relatively slow. This could actually make for an incredible travel experience without the crowds and the noise.

The province of Bari is home to an important seaport and the region’s capitol, a city where modernization grew around a traditional city center instead of replacing it. With its historical churches and annual festival (Fiera del Levante is one of Italy’s most popular fairs), the city of Bari is definitely worth a visit. However, if time is limited, a definite on the “must see in Puglia” list should surely be Castel del Monte. Still within the province of Bari, this castle could be one of the most fascinating in Italy if only for its incredible form. Construction began in 1240 by order of Emperor Frederick II of Swabia. The number eight must have been the inspiration for this castle, seeing as it recurs all throughout the structure: on the first two floors, eight rooms overlook an octagonal courtyard guarded by eight towers. The builders successfully blended several styles and influences—Romanesque, Classical, Gothic, and Muslim—together to make it a truly exceptional work of architecture.

A relatively short trip from Bari is Alberobello, a very interesting town that would make for a great day trip. Here, in the midst of the Itria Valley, can be found the highest concentration of a unique, ancient form of habitation: the Trulli. Trulli are cleverly constructed buildings with limestone walls and circular roofs topped with white cones. No one knows for sure why Trulli were built in the first place but there are plenty of theories, such as deforestation and large quantities of limestone. Trulli are such a distinctive mark of the region, of Italy even, that the United Nations has named Alberobello a World Heritage Site. Should a traveler have the urge to spend the night in one of these structures, there is actually a website that offers the opportunity to do just that:

For more information on Puglia, visit

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fruili Venezia Giulia

Fruili Venezia Giulia, a region at the most northwestern tip of Italy, borders Austria and Slovenia. The complete region seen today was not officially created until 1963 with some of the province of Trieste added in 1977. Before then, areas of the region belonged to Yugoslavia, and long ago, much of what is now Friuli (the shortened title that the region often goes by) was considered part of Austria. Though it has been solely Italy for over 40 years, strong Slavic and Austrian influences are apparent to this day.

In the southern lagoon of Fruili sits Grado, an island of luxury since Roman times. With its beautiful beaches and famous thermal spas, it would be easy to turn this island into a modernized sea resort, more like a party town. Still, Grado has managed to retain its old town charm with cobblestone streets lined with flowerboxes that are only accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists. Naturally, between May and September would be the best time to visit the island but it might be a good idea to wait to experience the first Sunday in July here. On this day each year, the town holds the Festa del Perdon (also called Perdòn di Barbana) where a series of elegantly decorated boats ride in procession to the island of Barbana until they reach the Marian sanctuary, a tradition they have acknowledged for hundreds of years.

A few miles north, inland of Grado is Aquileia, a small town famous in Roman times for its wealth and military expertise. Remains of the Roman Empire, including a Roman Forum, can be seen all over town and in the National Archeological Museum. Aside from all the Roman ruins, a true gem of Aquileia is the church, the Basilica of S. Maria Assunta. Construction of the building began in the 4th century. Though extreme makeovers have been done to the Basilica since then, some of the original is still apparent, like the intricate mosaics from the time that are still intact. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the crypt and the apse were frescoed, adding to the incredible beauty within the church.

For more information on the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, a great site to visit is the

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On the west coast of central Italy lies Lazio (Latium), a region that is home to two of the world’s most famed cities: Rome (Roma) and, in it, Vatican City. It is virtually impossible to pinpoint a single destination in Rome as a “must see” because it is a place that appeals to so many people for so many reasons. There is the Vatican in all its religious, artistic and architectural glory. There are the Pantheon, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum for those fascinated with thousands of years worth of history (they don’t call Rome the ‘Eternal City’ for nothing). Art lovers around the world treasure the Capitoline Museums that house an astounding array of ancient art and sculpture (ancient themselves, the museums were founded in 1471). And the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps are gems of Rome that should not be missed.
Trevi Fountain

Though it is the capital of Italy and one of the country’s largest cities, Rome is not the only place worth visiting in Lazio. The Pontine Isles, volcanic islands off Lazio’s coast, are a brilliant reminder of why Italy is often considered one of the most beautiful places in the world. For those overwhelmed by Rome’s intense, so-much-to-see environment, the Pontine Isles provide a much-needed break, an island getaway with breathtakingly stunning surroundings. On Ponza, the Isles’ largest island, “relaxation and leisure have been transformed into a high art,” according to The beauty of Ponza can be seen all along its jagged, colorful and rocky shores, in its numerous seaside coves, and on its secluded, pristine beaches.

For more information on Lazio, two really informative websites to visit are and

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Le Marche

Almost every description of the region of Le Marche (The Marches) depicts it as a place of unspoiled beauty, untainted landscape, and undeniable charm. It is a place where historical centers and farmland replace big cities and green rules the scenery. In the tradition of preserving this untouched landscape, Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini (Sibillini National Park) was created in 1993, as well as a collection of regional parks. The national park spans over 70,000 hectares and promotes the tourist experience by offering horseback riding and climbing, as well as the usual hiking and cycling.

Because Le Marche is not typically a touristy area, it is a great place to get a real feel for Renaissance Italy, away from tourist attractions. In Le Marche, Urbino is a town that is still very much in tune with its Renaissance past. Art from the period is displayed in the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, located in the Palazzo Ducale, a Renaissance work in its own right.

For more information about Le Marche, visit

Monday, July 7, 2008


If you are looking for a place in Italy where the scenery and the history are equally fascinating, Campania might be the region for you. Like much of Italy, Campania has survived the empires of the Greeks, Romans, and Normans, though each has left their distinctive mark on the area.

The third largest city in Italy, Naples (Napoli) was founded in 600 B.C. and was once a Greek trading center. Its name originated from the Greek word Neapolis, meaning “new city.” Towering over Naples is Mount Vesuvius, the still active volcano that destroyed the infamous ancient city of Pompeii in 79 A.D. Some artifacts recovered from Pompeii, as well as other intriguing discoveries like 4th century B.C. tomb paintings, can be viewed at Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Paestum. The bustling, chaotic city of Naples is located on the shores of a beautiful bay and there is no better place to view the picturesque scenery than at the Castel Sant’Elmo, a star-shaped castle atop the area’s largest hill.

For those who crave to be surrounded with such beauty, Capri is quite literally an island paradise. Though accommodation there can be considerably pricey, the natural wonders visitors experience make it worth the cost. For over 2,500 years, tourists have been making their way to the island, including Julius and Tiberious Caesar, who had summer villas built there. Capri is rife with splendor. Of all its wonderful natural attractions, be sure not to miss Grotta Azzura (Blue Grotto). The Blue Grotto makes for a charming excursion; after entering (the entrance is only about 3 feet high), travelers will observe the brilliantly unique way that light refracts on the water, creating a display of colors and silvery reflections.

For more information about these and more destinations in Campania, a great site to visit is

Monday, June 30, 2008


According to, Emilia-Romagna is a region of Italy that was once known as “the breadbasket of the Roman Empire.” With a rich history of fine cuisine, it is responsible for many of the culinary treats people take advantage of worldwide, including Parmesan cheese and prosciutto di Parma.

The city of Bologna is not only the capital of Emilia-Romagna; it is also known as one of the culinary capitals of Italy. It is called by many names: “Bologna la Grassa” (Bologna the Fat) because of its gastronomic specialties, “Bologna the Learned” because it is home to the oldest university in Europe (founded in 1088), and “Bologna the Red” because of the rust colored roofs on the city’s buildings. A great place to begin exploration of Bologna is at Le Due Torre, or the
city’s two leaning towers, found in the Piazza di Porta Ravegnana. Constructed in the 12th century, these towers were originally built as family status symbols. Today, they serve as a symbol of Bologna, and should a person be willing to climb the nearly 500 steps of the Torre degli Asinelli (the taller of the two towers), a breathtaking view of the city and beyond is rewarded.

The city of Modena is also an important area of culinary art, though other industries take precedence. In modern times, the auto (Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc.) and ceramic industries are held in Modena’s highest regard. Culture is also an incredibly important aspect of daily life, and the people of the city are undoubtedly proud to boast that it was the home of Luciano Pavarotti.

For more information about tourism in Emilia-Romagna, a great site to visit is

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Italy’s region of Veneto is a land of history and amazing architecture, set against the backdrop of the Dolomite Mountains. The cities in Veneto are well known for their charm and romantic settings. The city of Treviso is very charming. It is sometimes referred to as Città Dipinta, “Painted City.” This is because, at one point, it was popular for Treviso’s wealthy inhabitants to have the outside of their homes frescoed, some with simple designs and others with intricate representations of mythological scenes. Many of these buildings can be seen near the Piazza Duomo. Treviso goes by another name, too: Città d’acqua, “City of Water.” The city is known for the intricate canal system that cuts through and surrounds it. WWII bombings destroyed many of the Treviso’s historic landmarks and treasured buildings. The war did not, however, destroy the city’s charm.
Venice (Venezia) is another city in Veneto where water plays a major role in everyday life. Actually located in a lagoon, the city of Venice is made up of 118 masses of land, all separated by canals. Most places in Venice can be visited on foot, though it might be more fun for a tourist to explore the city by means of the vaporetto (waterbus) or a romantic gondola ride. There are numerous churches and museums in the city that are worth visiting, but none as spectacular as the Basilica di San Marco, built in 829. A fascinating display of Byzantine and Romanesque architecture, the exterior of the building is characterized by its five enormous domes. The interior walls and ceilings of this 8,000 square meter area are lined with gilded mosaics, dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries, that depict images from both the New and Old Testament. Within the church hides the remains of St. Mark himself. Appropriately enough, the floor plan of the basilica is actually in the shape of a Greek cross.

It is interesting to note that also within Veneto is the town of Verona, the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which continues to be a popular place for couples looking for a romantic location to visit. For more information on Treviso, Venice, and other worthwhile places in Veneto, visit

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Consistent with many other Italian regions, Piemonte (Piedmont) sports a diverse landscape; the Po, Italy’s largest river, cuts across the plains that span out from a collection of hills and the peaks of the Italian Alps. The Piedmontese are a people of both tradition and innovation. In a region where the car, textile, engineering, and other industries provide for constant contact with international markets, the people have created a happy balance between old ways and renovation. Turin, Piemonte’s capital, is one place where modernization is undeniable. It is the home of the Fiat auto manufacturing company, which has boosted the city’s economy and turned it into a wealthier area. Aside from Fiat, Turin is also home to another very different attraction: the burial shroud that is believed to have belonged to Jesus. The shroud is housed every jubilee year in the Cappella della Santa Sindone, a chapel in the Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista, and is otherwise held in the Museo della Sindone where it is rarely on display. Still, when it is exhibited, hoards of faithful believers flock to the site to view it.

As noted, tradition is also very important to the Piedmontese and is an incredibly present aspect in the lives of those in the Piemonte province of Asti. Though Asti’s impressive wine industry and scattered traditional festivals make for good reasons to visit any time of year, possibly the best time to visit is autumn. Around the third Sunday each September, Asti holds its annual Palio di Asti, a medieval horse race that celebrates an eight-century old victory of a battle against their rival town, Alba. The people of Asti spend months preparing; there are medieval, traditional costumes to be sewn for the riders to wear, banners need to be embroidered with the town crest and a depiction of Asti’s patron saint to be hung in the streets, intricate flags must be created for the flag-wavers, and massive feasts have to be organized. Palio de Asti is a fantastic celebration that, if at all possible, should not be missed on a visit to Piemonte.
Photo by Vittorio Ubertone.

For more information about Asti, a great website to visit is Note: this website is in Italian. For a rough English translation, go to In the search bar, type in ‘atasti’ and the second listed site should have an option to the right of it that says ‘translate this site.’ Click on ‘translate this site’ and the entire website will automatically be translated into English.

For more information on Piemonte itself, please visit

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Bordering the Adriatic Sea and speckled with the peaks of the Apennine mountains is Italy’s southern region of Abruzzo. Due to its geography, the region is particularly remote and offers an ideal place to explore Italy’s wilderness.

Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo (the National Park of Abruzzo), with its headquarters in the province of L’Aquila, is a perfect spot to experience Abruzzo’s natural wonders. It acts as a habitat for a variety of animals, including, according to, some once endangered species like the Apennine lynx and the Marsican bear. Several tree species compose the forests that grow over most of the park and house these creatures. The fact that there is only a single paved road cutting through Parco Nazionale’s 150,000 acres adds to its sense of seclusion. To really experience the park, a person should either hike at least one of the roughly 150 walking trails—information about them can be found at any of the seven visitor centers available—or bike along any of the countless unpaved roads.

Away from the mountains and wilderness, Abruzzo’s other shining feature is undoubtedly its coastline. With nearly 130 kilometers of beaches spotted with resorts, Abruzzo has long been a popular place for both Italians and foreign travelers to spend their summer vacation time.

For more information about Abruzzo, visit


The largest island in the Mediterranean, the Italian region of Sicily (Sicilia) has successfully meshed together aspects of several Mediterranean cultures (Greek and Roman, Arab and Norman, Spanish, French, and Italian) to form its own unique identity. Aside from its eclectic culture, Sicily boasts many frozen impressions of times past, as well as Etna, the highest volcano in Europe, standing 3,323 meters tall.

Situated in southeast Sicily, Siracusa (Syracuse) is a place where history is extremely visible. Once a powerful Greek and then Roman city, temples and theaters from ancient times still stand to remind Siracusans of their past. The Tempio di Apollo (Temple of Apollo) is one site that truly reflects Siracusa’s complicated history. The temple was built in the 6th century BC on Siracusa’s island of Ortygia and stands as the oldest Doric peripteral temple in the world, according to Originally, the temple is said to have been built to honor Apollo, though Cicero wrote that it was in dedication to Artemis. Before long, the temple was converted
into a Byzantine church, then into a Muslim mosque, and then back into a church

No matter where you are in Sicily, there is one distinctive feature of the region that cannot be avoided: the food. Sicilian cuisine is treasured worldwide. Due to its numerous outside influences, the cuisine is an interesting mix of fish, homegrown foods, Italian pastas, and foreign ingredients.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Toscana (or Tuscany) is known largely for its fantastic landscape. It is a region of beauty, mountains that meet their end on the warm shores of Tyrrhenian Sea. All of Tuscany seems to be painted with a dusty, pastel palette; it comes as no surprise that artists have been drawn to the region for centuries. The Tuscan city of Florence (Firenze) was the place that legendary artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli, as well as writers like Macchiavelli and Dante, called home. Their work, and the work of several other renowned Italian painters, can be seen in Florence’s Galleria degli Uffizi, or the Uffizi Gallery. According to, the Uffizi palace was originally built, beginning in 1560, for government offices. Still, the Medici family, a family of great power in Tuscany at the time, reserved areas to store and display their impressive art collection. Today, the Galleria degli Uffizi is one of the most popular art museums in Italy.

Pisa, a city known more for its architecture than its art, is located about 60 miles west of Florence. Though the Torre Pendente (leaning tower) has become Pisa’s signifying symbol, there is so much more to the city to explore. Even in the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles), the piazza where the Torre Pendente is located, are other beautiful and historic pieces of architecture including a Duomo, a Bapitstry, and a graveyard.

June is a very eventful month for Pisa and could provide an extremely interesting travel experience. On June 16th, tens of thousands of candles are lit and placed around the city’s palaces that line the Arno River, all in honor of Pisa’s patron saint, Ranieri, who is celebrated the following day.

Also in June, Pisans compete in the Regatta of Saint Ranieri, a race between four boats representing the four historic districts of Pisa, with rowers costumed in Medieval dress. On the last Sunday in June in Pisa, a historic battle (the battle of the bridge) is recreated into a sort of tug of war contest across a central Pisan bridge.

Aside from these two famous cities, Tuscany is full of wonder and beauty. For more information about Tuscany, visit

Monday, May 19, 2008

Count Giovanni Pico della Mirandola: Part I

Born in 1463, Count della Mirandola was an Italian philosopher and humanist. Many people who lived during the Renaissance believed that Count della Mirandola was the ideal man. His handsome looks reflected his inner harmony.

In 1484, Count della Mirandola went to Florence. he soon become one of the most active members of Lorenzo d'Medici's Platonic Academy. He was also the most active supporter of Italian Neoplatonism. The Count studied Hebrew and wrote an essay on the reconciliation between Chrisitanity and Platonic philosophy.

In 1487, the Count was forced to withdraw 13 of his propositions. In 1488, he was arrested because of his clash with Pope Innocent VIII.

Israel's Wine Revolution: Part I

Israel, that tiny Middle Eastern nation, is celebrating its 60th birthday as a democratic nation. A little known fact is that Israel produces wines. Let's follow a bit of history to see another entirely different Israel--one that you have never experienced.

History of Israeli Wine Making

It is said that the Middle East and East Mediterranean was the cradle of wine production. The ancient land of Canaan was, indeed, one of the earlies countries to develop viniculture 2,000 years before wine got to Europe!

Recent archaelogical expeditions to the area seem to support this historical theory. Scientists have found ancient wine presses as well as storage vessels that show that a well-developed wine industry existed there. Old coins and jars have been found with wine type designs.

Friday, May 16, 2008


One of Italy's 20 regions, Lombardy (also known as Lombardia) is a fascinating place. Within the region is the infamous city of Milan, the largest city in the north of Italy, known worldwide for its fashion output. Fashion, however, is not Milan's only claim to fame. It is a fast-paced, whirlwind cultural experience that wouldn't be complete without its marvelous museums or monumental pieces of architecture. One such building that is an absolute must-see on a trip to Milan is called the Duomo.

According to, the Duomo is one of the world's largest cathedrals, second only to the cathedral of Seville, Spain. Beginning in the late 1300s, its construction took several hundred years to complete. Over time, design trends change and thus, this cathedral is a brilliant combination of both Gothic and neo-Gothic architecture. For more information about the Duomo, visit the Sacred Destinations website at
98 miles south east of Milan you will find another exceptionally charming Lombardy city: Mantua (Mantova). Though it might seem somewhat uninviting in the winter months due to the immense fog (the city is located on the banks of the Mincio River), the city's art makes it an attractive and popular travel destination. A center of Renaissance art, Mantua's monuments are largely dedicated to a single family, the Gonzagas, a peasant family who took over the city in the early 1300s, controlling it until the 1700s. Their control spanned over some of the most influential years in Italian art and since the Gonzagas were passionate about art, their collections can still be seen all over the city, especially in their former home, Palazzo Ducale.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pietro Aretino, the Bold

Pietro Aretino was born on April 20, 1492 in Arezzo, Republic of Florence Italy. He was a poet, prose writer and dramatist who wrote in a bold inimitable style in 15th century Italy.

Aretino traveled to Perugia as a young man. He painted there for a time and then left for Rome in 1517. One of "The Aretine's" closest friends in Venice was the painter, Titian. Aretino sold many of Titian's paintings to Francis I, King of France. Titian painted a portrait of Aretino (c. 1545 that showed him wearing an elaborate gold chain. The gold chain was a gift to Aretino from Francis I.

Aretino wrote many satirical essays but he is best known for his Italian tragedy, Orazia published in 1546.

The Wonderful Wines of New Zealand

New Zealand is a country surrounded by ocean; but, it is also a country dominated by rural pasture. For the casual diner, much is available: crayfish from the sea, lamb and venison.

Chiefs of the Pacific Rim Basin cook with an international flair. These men and women use the energy of a young country to cook with food. The reputation, therefore, for the finest freshest food goes along with award winning wines.

Vineyards abound in New Zealand. From the elegant boutique vineyard to an estate vineyard, everything embodies what Americans call "class." For example, the Kumeu River vineyard owned by Mick and Kate Brajkovich and their son, Mate. They emigrated from Yugoslavia in 1938. In 1989, Michael, the Brajkovich grandson, became New Zealand's first member of the prestigious Institute of Masters of Wine, London.

For more information about New Zealand and its fascinating viniculture, please see

Friday, May 9, 2008

Beautiful Bifolium

The picture of a commercially produced manuscript entitled "Rosarium" written and illuminated in Bologna Italy toward the end of the 13th century is being displayed on the website of the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. This can be found at on the archive page.

This bifolium is material evidence that commercial manuscript production was a complex Renaissance project that involved many hours of arduous work by scribes, illuminators, decorators, notators and correctors. These craftspeople were supervised by different contractors.

The Sommelier: Jean-Luc Le Du

More complicated than the wine waiter, the sommelier (wine steward) is an educated wine professional who works in a fine restaurant. He or she specializes in all types of wine service.

Jean-Luc Le Du is the former sommelier at the restaurant Daniel. He is now the owner of Le Du's wines in New York City's West Village. Mr. Le Du has performed every aspect of the sommelier: sipped, swirled and spat. He has worked with some of the best wine on Earth!

Forever the total oenophile, Monsieur Le Du shrinks in horror when he sees a bottle being stored in an upright position or a bottle being stored at room temperature. Mr. Le Du believes that his shop is as close to perfect as possible. He's not giving up until it is.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Greco-Roman Contributions to Wine History

The spread of Greek civilization brought wine to Europe around 1600 BC. There are very detailed descriptions of wine culture in Homer's Odyssey and the Iliad. Wine had become an important commodity of Greek commerce. Greek doctors like Hippocrates, were the first to tell their patients to use wine as part of medical practice. The Greeks perfected the use of herbs and spices to keep wine from spoiling.

The very basis for viniculture in Western Europe has been attributed to the Romans. From 1000 BC, the Romans worked in areas life classifying different types of grapes and they identified the myriad colors. They observed the ripening process as well as treating diseases. Romans became experts at pruning and increasing crop yields with advanced irrigation and fertilization methods.

The Baroque Era: The End of the Story

Annibale Carraci and Caravaggio are the two artists who should be credited with the integrity of the Baroque tradition. These important figures of art history brought strength and power to Italian painting which has been classified as "artificial and often complicated in style" in the late 16th century.

In the 17th century, Rome was the artistic capital of Europe. The Baroque style spread to what was then known as Flanders, France and Germany. In some countries, it became extravagant in style and in other countries it was modified to suit more conservative tastes. In France, Louis XIV used the arts to promote his imperial presence. His palace at Versailles represents a grand amalgamation of architecture, sculpture, painting and decoration.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Baroque Era (Part I)

The word baroque is both a noun and an adjective. It is a term used in the literature of the arts with a unique meaning.

The word has a long and interesting history. It might have originated with the Portuguese word for misshapen pearl.

But, in English, it has retained three principal meanings. The first and primary meaning labels the style of European art that occurred between Mannerism and Rococo.

The second meaning refers to the general label for this period when this style was in great fashion, mainly in the 17th century and in some areas of the globe large parts of the 18th centruy. It is referred as the age of Baroque, Baroque politics, etc.

The meaning that is used very little refers to 'baroque' with a small "b" and refers to any time in history when art displays change and use of the intellect.

A Middle Eastern Wine Tale

Once upon a time, a long time ago an cient Persian fable recalls a lady of the court with the discovery of wine. The lady was a princess who had lost favor with her father, the King. She attempted to poison herself by eating some table grapes that had spoiled in a jar.

She became intoxicated and finaly fell asleep.

When she came out of her sleep, she found the stresses that had made her life not worth living were gone.

The princess regained the favor of her father, the King. The King shared the princess's discovery with his Court. And the rest is wine history.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Where Wine and History Meet

In 1867, when excavators were digging the foundation for a new house in a vineyard near the town of Speyer Germany, there were surprised to find two Roman stone sarcophaguses.

These ancient stone coffins contained a green-yellow amphora (storeage jar). The jar dates back to approximately 325 AD. The amphora has handles formed in the shape of dolphins. One of several bottles found, this is the only one with the contents still preserved.

The preserved liquid has much silty sediment. It has been estimated that 2/3 of the contents are a thicker, hazy mixture. This is probably olive oil. The ancient Romans used olive oil to float on the surface of a bottle of wine to preserve the contents from oxidation.

This amphora or storage jar, along with other wine antiquities, is on display at the Historisches Museum der Pfalz (History Museum of the Pfalz) near the town of Speyer in Germany.

Wine lovers enjoy the following sites:

Italian Renaissance Architecture and Art: Mannerism

Originating in Italy as a reaction against the equilibrium and form characteristic of the High Renaissance, mannerism is equated in art as well as architecture (c.1520-1600). In Florence, Pontormo and Brozino, and in Rome, Il Rosso, Parmigianino and Beccafuni created a new form. These elegant figures were elongated and in uncomfortable postures.

Mannerists rendered pieces of art in which scale and proportion were deliberately off kilter. Good examples of this type of art exist in the work of Tintoretto and El Greco.

The works of the Zuccaro brothers took mannerism to another plane. By the end of the century, the Baroque age had taken over.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Long Island is Wine Country!

In February 2008, the New York Times announced that it would publish a new section on the Long Island wine region. Noted wine expert and veteran New York Times writer, Howard Goldberg, wrote an introduction for this new section of the newspaper. Summing up he said, "while the Finger Lakes in north-central New York define the state's largest region, the Long Island wine region seems the most exciting."

In the past thirty years, the Long Island wine industry has evolved from one small vineyard to nearly 3,000 acres of vines with over 30 wineries producing wines with a world class reputation.

The Long Island region embraces both Nassau and Suffolk counties. The majority of the wineries are in the East End of Long Island, specifically the North and South "forks." Time honored traditions have been amalgamated with state of the art technology to produce wines that are highly praised throughout the world.

Traveling to the Long Island Wine region is an extraordinary experience. You will be able to sample and purchase award winning wines directly from the vineyards as well as enjoy beautiful scenery and a wide range of leisure time adventures.

St. Peter's Church

The present Church of St. Peter in Rome was begun by Pope Julius II in 1506 and completed in 1615.

Known the world over as the church of the Roman Catholic Popes, St. Peter's is one of the largest churches. It was built to replace Old St. Peter's Church built by Constantine over Peter's traditional burial site.

St. Peter's Church was built according to the original plan of Donato Bramante. This design was to take the form of a Greek cross around the Central Dome.

Many other architects are connected to the design of St. Peter's like the Renaissance artist, Raphael. They changed the original design from the Greek cross to a Latin cross; however, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger returned to Bramante's original idea.

Michelangelo,who follwed Sangallo, almost finished the drum for the massive dome before he died.

Pope Paul V adopted the sketches of Carlo Madero, which extended the church nave in an easterly direction. Bernini added the piazza, lined by the colonnades, that introduce the basilica.

St. Peter's Church is filled with Renaissance and Baroque priceless masterpieces, including Michaelangelo's Pieta and a bronze throne of St. Peter.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Art, Wine, Architecture and more...

I am so excited to welcome Sandra Pianin as a guest blogger on Maria & Co.
Watch for Sandra's blogs on wine, art and architecture..all of the subjects she has a passion for...
Sandra will be blogging a few times a week and as always you can post your comments to her here on her blog entries..

Welcome Sandra!!!!

Ciao for now..
Maria Liberati
Visit me at

For recipes and to and get your copy of the bestsellign book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at $5 off retial price and free shipping as well..

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tiramisu light

One of my favorite desserts is tiramisu. It reminds me of along afternoons at the coffee bars in Italy..a great mid afternoon dessert to have as a pick me up.

Here is my own lighter version of the recipe. The original version does contain mascarpone cheese..which is reallya 'scrumptious' cheese and it is an artisanal cheese but becasue it has such a high fat content I have decided to make a still healthy but lower calorie version of this dessert.

here it is..

Tiramisu (light version)
(copyright, 2005,2006,2007, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking, Maria Liberati)

*16 ounce package of savoiardi or ladyfingers
*1 cup espresso coffee with 1 tablespoon sugar
* ¼ cup powdered unsweetened cocoa
*1 tsp amaretto or anisette liqueur
*8 ounces of fat free coffee flavored yogurt
*8 ounces fat free cream cheese
*small piece of dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)

Place espresso coffee with 1 tblsp of sugar or 2 packets of artificial sweetener in shallow bowl. Dip each ladyfinger in the coffee mixture for about 2 seconds. Then arrange biscotti-side by side to on a plate.
Place yogurt and cream cheese in bowl and whip together till well belndedwith hand mixer. Blend in liqueur.. Spread about 3/4 of yogurt mixture on top of ladyfingers. Repeat again and top with ladyfingers and then top with remaining yogurt mixture. Place in refrigerator for at least one hour. Right before serving, dust with powdered cocoa and shave some dark chocolate on top.

For more recipes get the bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at for $5 off retial price and free shippping now!!see what everyone is talking about..

Ciao for now,


Sunday, March 30, 2008

copyright, Maria Liberati, 2008

Enjoy Spring & Asparagus is one of my favorite Spring recipes for Asparagus. This is from my upcoming book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking Holidays and Special Occasions

Crespelle agli Asparagi

(Asparagus Crepes)
For 4
For the crespelle:
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup milk
4 eggs
Pinch of salt to taste
1 cup of fresh ricotta cheese
1 lb of fresh asparagus steamed
1 egg and 2 egg whites
1/3 cup of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Pinch of salt to taste

Wash, clean and steam aspargus. Cut off tips. In bowl, place in ricotta, yogurt, grated cheese, 1 egg and 1 egg white, asparagus tips. Blend with wooden spoon and set aside.
In another bowl place all ingredients in for crespelle (Italian version of crepes). Belnd with wire whisk. Heat non-stick crepe pan and cook crespelle, like crepes. Use one tablespoon per crepe. When finished with batter, stuff crespelle with ricotta mixture. Lightly butter a casserole dish, Place filled crespelle in casserole dish when filled. Top with freshly grated cheese. Bake 10 minutes or until top of crespelle are golden.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Eggplant Arrostite ...and oh those herbs!!

I do love my eggplant and am always coming up with more ways than the typical eggplant parmigiano to serve it. It is so healthy for you so why not come up with some different ways to enjoy this 'purple jewel of the earth'. This recipe also combines some of my favorite fresh herbs to make this so naturally tasty.

Hope you enjoy this recipe we have come up with from my new book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking -Holidays and Special Occasions, copyright 2008, Maria Liberati
(release date -2009)

Arrostite alle Erbe (Herbed Roasted Eggplant)

copyright, 2008 Maria Liberati
1 lb of fresh eggplant
1 fresh hot red pepper
1 small handful of each of these fresh herbs-thyme,basil,marjoram
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
Pinch of salt
Wash eggplant, cut off both ends. Then slice thinly
Prepare a marinade using 1 tblsp olive oil, half of the herbs chopped finely,half of the red pepper cut into small cubes.
Place eggplant in plate and marinate with oil mixture.
Slice garlic clove in half lengthwise, in a separate bowl place remaining olive oil with sliced garlic and remaining chopped herbs, remaining hot pepper chopped into small cubes. Blend, cover bowl with plastic wrap, set aside
Heat electric grill. Grill eggplant on both sides.
Arrange eggplant slices on plate. Remove garlic from olive oil mixture and pour on top of grilled eggplant slices. Salt to taste. Serve eggplant slices on grilled slices of crusty bread.

Ciao for now,


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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring is here..ahh Primavera

copyright, Maria Liberati, 2008, Editor Lauren Scheller

Ahh... it is beginning to feel like 'Primavera' ..if not in the air at least in my mind.. Nothing makes you feel like Spring more than a special dish or treat in the kitchen....

Fast Forward to Spring With this Sea Inspired Salad

Spring is in the air, but, while we patiently wait for it to arrive, here’s a great recipe to beat the winter blues and combat cabin fever. If you scroll down the list of ingredients for Insalata Profumata di Mare, you can’t help thinking of a warm, beach breeze and summer sun. While this salad is actually a traditional Italian dish on Christmas Eve, the presence of the shrimp, mussels, and calamari make it perfect reminder of seaside flavor and fun anytime of the year. Combine these fresh ingredients to create a light, tasty insalata that is sure to make your spring arrive a little faster!
Insalata Profumata di Mare
(Flavors of the Sea Salad)
*1 lb of steamed, cleaned shrimp
*1/4 pound cleaned, steamed mussels-shelled
*1/3 lb of calamari-cleaned and cooked
*1 red onion
*2 red, ripe tomatoes
*4 parsley sprigs chopped finely
*1 tablespoon of olive oil
*1 fresh lemon
*salt and white pepper to taste
Clean and slice the onion into round slices. Separate slices into separate rings. Wash and clean the tomatoes, cut in slices. Clean and chop parsley finely. Wash and cut lemon in half. Squeeze lemon with juice squeezer, remove seeds. Place fish in bowl and dress with lemon juice olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top and stir. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes in refrigerator.

On a large plate, arrange tomato slices. Place marinated fish on top and then top off with onion rings.
~ For this delicious recipe, and many others, be sure to check out Maria Liberati’s The Basic Art of Italian Cooking and one of her newest cookbooks-Holidays and Special Occasions from The Basic Art of Italian Cooking... Coming to you soon! Go to to order your copy now..

Monday, March 17, 2008

A special gift...

I am sending a special continuing tribute to my special aunt that passed away last week..she was one of my inspirations for discovering and loving Italian cooking.. It is so hard not to think of special things that she made for us everyday..especially now that St Joseph's Day and Easter and Passover Holidays are here.

Although, there is not any Jewish member of our family...she was fascinated by the foods to celebrate Passover and we would sometimes be invited over to her house to have a Passover dinner cooked totally by her...even when she was 90 yrs old..

A fan of the food network and many of their chefs as well...she was always reading cookbooks and watching TV cooking shows to learn new ways of preparing things..or adding a twist to her age old recipes...But I think she could teach everyone a thing or two..

From Easter Ham to her St Joseph's Day Calzones to her apple pies to her carciofi (artichokes). I never really realized what masterpieces each little treat was that she made for us-her own masterpiece that she made with her own hands using her own special gift that was given to her by the powers above..
And oh how I regret how many times I didn't partake of one of her delights because I was watching my weight. I didn't realize that I missed out on a masterpiece that was only here for a short period of was her way of giving us her love, showing how much she cared, how much she loved us...

These masterpieces were not as famous as a Davinci but more precious....

As time passed and she got older, family members would receive more and more dinner invitations ... some we could accept and other times because of work or time commitments we could not....but what special gatherings we passed up and how we realize now that they were special invitations to her heart and her soul..the thing that made her and her love of it!!

"Eat more, you did not eat enough" those words she would always utter to me and I could not understand why she was not happy if I did not want to eat a lot or not at all..
bit it was her way of telling us she wanted to give us more and more of her love.... of her heart...of her soul

A special life that created special times and special memories.

The oldest female relative on my mom's side- she was what held the whole family together since my grandmother passed away..she always made sure that the whole family was together for Holidays to partake in a family meal.....something that was important to her ....

As time passes, I hope that it does not hurt as much to be without her and the calm feeling that she was always there. That thought that she would always be there was a comforting one that we took for granted..
The hurt may lessen but will always be there and I wish that I could hear those words of hers again.."Maria why don't you eat more, take another piece..."

I can comfort myself by knowing that I was fortunate to have been touched by this special person in my life and one who made my love for food grow even more for I will always think of her with every cookbook I write and every special recipe I make and that is the gift she left for me.....

Ciao zia... tanti tanti baci......ti manchi tanto......xxo


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Special Life, Special Times, Special Recipe...

It wasn’t a life that would impress kings or queens or heads of state but it was a beautiful simple one- filled with children and a husband and grandchildren and food and cooking and lots of it!! I would like to dedicate this blog to a special aunt who passed away yesterday.
She was an inspiration to all of us. At 90 yrs old she was still cooking the Christmas Eve dinner on her own- all 7 fishes. The day before she died she had all her supplies ready to make the ‘calzones’ for a special day that is approaching on March 19th-St Joseph’s Day.

These are a special sweet calzone made with the paste of chickpeas, honey and cinnamon. Each year,my aunt made them with tender loving care-peeling the chickpeas first then mashing them in the food processor. Then mixing, mixing and then comes the dough and the frying and all the time to make these delights.

They were sort of like her recipe for life-simple but yet special and long in the making.

And if she left one special memory on this earth-other than her children and grandchildren- it will be those calzones. Something the family is sure to remember and sorely miss year after year.

Unfortunately, we won’t have any calzones for St. Joseph’s Day this year in my family but in memory of her wonderful life I would like to post the recipe. Hopefully right now St Joseph is thanking her for all the wonderful calzones she made in his honor..

Calzone di San Giuseppe
1 lb flour
3 eggs
water if dough needs more moisture
1/2 cup honey
1 lb of chick peas (pureed)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon oil
Oil for frying

Make dough like pasta dough & roll out with rolling pin or in a pasta machine. Place chick pease in processor and puree. Then add in cinnamon oil, sugar, honey. Proceed as usual for preparing calzoni. Cut dough into circles using a the rim of a water glass. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center, fold circle in half. And crimp edges with fork. Fry in hot oil till brown. Remove and dust with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Year of the Cookie...

Could this be the year of cookies? With so many cookbooks about cookies being released –everyone from Martha Stewart to…. well everybody has been has been talking cookies.
And there is now doubt why. These goodies go back as long as baking has been documented. One reason is because they travel well. Their origins have been traced to 7th century AD Persia, when the use of sugar became common. By the 14th century they were common in all levels of society throughout Europe from royalty to common street vendors.

Most of us have treasured memories of baking cookies in the kitchen with a relative or a special occasion filled with a particular cookie. But today we have gone ‘cookie crazy’. There are so many varieties that cookies have now become upscale. Why the trend now is to give not only gourmet wines and dressings as gifts but also gourmet cookies now make wonderful gifts.
These delights have become special enough to give as a gift. They have also gone organic. Mnay companies ar now offering pre baked cookies with organic flours, sugar adn butter.
Of course, it is nice to bake a batch of someone’s favorite flavor for a gift or to show our appreciation..but who has the time??? and now you can get mail order cookies shipped to someone special.
What a great idea..cookies as gifts. A thank you gift.. a romantic gift, a corporate gift, a birthday gift…a just to say’ your kindness is appreciated’ gift.
A gourmet cookie is a gift for the taste buds but also for your mind-sort of therapy to make you happy!!
In Italy we call cookies- biscotti and here is a recipe for some..
Biscotti alle Nocciole
2egg whites
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
½ cup ground hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place sugar and egg whites in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Add in
‘flour, and egg yolk. Blend all in well with wooden spoon.
Butter a cookie sheet. Drop dough by the spoonful onto cookie sheet with space between each cookie mound .Sprinkle each cookie with ground hazelnuts. Bake for 5 minutes, then raise oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from oven. Makes 6 servings.

For more recipes go to or get your copy of the bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at
Ciao for now!!Maria

Friday, March 7, 2008

Slow Food and eating healthy..

Slow food is really a healthy food concept that originated in Italy and now boasts chapters all over the world. It is what the original Mediterranean diet was based on. It is a concept of cooking food and eating food- slow. So as to promote the use of fresh foods and not processed foods when cooking and also to promote sitting down and taking time to eat your food in a slow manner.
I base most of my recipes on this since they follow the Mediterranean diet.
However, as far as low-cal slow food, here are some points to ponder:
*Slow food is recipes that are made in the original way using the original ingredients. So for instance you would not substitute fat free margarine for olive oil to make the recipe lower in calories. Fat free margarine has a lot of preservatives in it and the concept of slow food also promotes eating food in it’s' most original state. But you can use less olive oil in your recipe if it will still work. When I cook 'tomato sugo' (tomato sauce). I tend to use only a light touch of olive oil-1 tblsp. Most people tend to use 3 and 4 or more. This is not necessary as long as the other ingredients you use are first quality-fresh red ripe sweet tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh onions, and garlic. All the flavors complement one another and should be balanced and not be overdone.
*Slow food also promotes using artisan foods- foods that are literally handmade and not machine made or usually made in smaller production-not mass produced in a factory. So you couldn't use fat free mozzarella in a recipe and still consider it really slow food. You would have to use freshly made mozzarella and cut back the portion size or the amount you are using. You would not use fat free lower cal bread that is probably produced in a factory with loads of preservatives but a freshly made loaf of bread cut in thinner slices.
*Of course fresh fruits and vegetables are part of the slow food regimen and are all lower in calories than processed foods and healthy for you.

It is all about keeping true to the origin of the foods and even true to the traditional recipes that originated in the town the recipe originated from. So if you want to stay true to slow food and have lower cal foods- cut back on the ingredients like olive oil, cheeses and pump up the fruits and /or veggies. However you will be altering the recipes so it will not remain true to its origins. But it will give you a lower cal way to experience a version of it.

*Most cheeses in Italy are not extremely fat laden except for mascarpone which is absolutely delicious but loaded with calories and fat. Parmigiano-Reggiano is actually a naturally low fat cheese and is easier to digest because of the artisan way the milk is produced and the grasses that cows eat that produce the milk for this cheese.

*Also eating foods slower does force you to become fuller and you will generally not eat as much as you would if you ate fast. It also is healthier for digestion, so it does have an indirect effect on losing weight as well. Many diet programs teach you to eat slower.

However, also keep in mind that there have been studies done that show that eating less processed foods makes your metabolism work faster and people that do eat less processed foods burn calories quicker.
The slow food diet is a healthier diet not necessarily a low cal diet but natural foods are lower in calories in general than their processed counterparts.

If you would like more info or recipes, let me know. I have added one that is a lower cal version of Tiramisu. It is based on the classic version but lower in calories. Mascarpone cheese is so heavy in calories and fat that I thought it would be best to enjoy this dessert in a healthier way so I substituted fat free cream cheese and yogurt for the mascarpone cheese.

Tiramisu (light version)
(copyright, 2005,2006,2007, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking, Maria Liberati)

*16 ounce package of savoiardi or ladyfingers
*1 cup espresso coffee with 1 tablespoon sugar
* ¼ cup powdered unsweetened cocoa
*1 tsp amaretto or anisette liqueur
*8 ounces of fat free coffee flavored yogurt
*8 ounces fat free cream cheese
*small piece of dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)

Place espresso coffee with 1 tblsp of sugar or 2 packets of artificial sweetener in shallow bowl. Dip each ladyfinger in the coffee mixture for about 2 seconds. Then arrange biscotti-side by side to on a plate.
Place yogurt and cream cheese in bowl and whip together till well belndedwith hand mixer. Blend in liqueur.. Spread about 3/4 of yogurt mixture on top of ladyfingers. Repeat again and top with ladyfingers and then top with remaining yogurt mixture. Place in refrigerator for at least one hour. Right before serving, dust with powdered cocoa and shave some dark chocolate on top.

And of course for more recipes go to and purhcase your copy of the bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati. You will receive $5 off the retail price and free shipping and handling..

Ciao for now..


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Women and Healthy Eating....

I was asked to day about a topic that many people alwyas ask me about- How do I think the media and women's magazines are affecting women's eating disorders..I am going t oshare some of my answers with you here..Eat healthy and you will have a wealth of health....
Even though we seem to have recognized that there is a problem with the media encouraging women and younger and younger women eating disorders and claim to be toning down magazine content and using not emaciated models,, there is still extremely mixed messages.
There is also an extreme difference between just staying healthy and eating healthy and eating to stay in shape and healthy and starving yourself to lose weight. We have grown to think that starving to lose weight is also a way to eat to stay healthy and fit. But the two have nothing in common. However, women’s’ magazines seem to play upon this- and- in one article tell us about taking the right amount of vitamins and minerals and in the next two pages may be giving us a way to lose 10 pounds in a week ( a sure way to deplete your body of vitamins and minerals). And then the next page could be a double chocolate brownie that most women will eat and then feel guilty. The worst part is that most will eat a miniscule amount of calories the next day to punish themselves for eating that brownie. .

However, what the magazines need to do is to connect these topics in a healthy way. For instance if you eat in moderation you can have a small piece of double chocolate brownie and still stay healthy and happy and in shape. You won’t feel so deprived that you are going to gobble down the first chocolate brownie that comes your way.
We should not be made to feel guilty for eating that small piece of brownie. So even though there are stories about losing weight and then a heavy recipe in the same issue, they are still sending mixed messages.

We are definitely sending the wrong message and trying to provide a quick panacea that will sell magazines. But there is never a quick fix without repercussions. Losing a lot of weight in short periods of time is a sure way to make you unhealthy.

I have noticed some magazines like Prevention using ‘real looking models’ in their recent issues-that is refreshing!
People need to get in touch with food and learn about it and not abuse it. We need more articles on how to ‘know’ food and not just dump a bunch of ingredients in a bowl or open up a vacuum sealed pack and call that a meal.

Many European countries are trying to spread positive messages to young women. In Spain, they banned overly thin models from participating in Fashion Week.
In Italy, eating disorders are a growing problem, they are organizing initiatives to promote healthy eating .One recent program during fashion week in Milan was a cook off with fashion models presenting cooking classes of gourmet Italian foods. The press is trying to begin to send messages to the public to equate food with staying healthy and eating healthy.

If you want any more on this topic just send me an email, I would love to hearthoughts and ideaso nthis topic form all of you out there. You can email me at

Modeling and living in Europe for some time led to my interest and studying of nutrition and the culinary arts. I got caught up in the unhealthy eating practices so common in the modeling industry and was not feeling so healthy. At the same time I was also learning the real Itlain way fo eating . Spending some time in Italy while modeling there I began to also study the culinary arts and eventually coupled that with my education in nutrition. I then began to eat healthy, stay active, eat more than what I was normally eating but I was not gaining weight and feeling better. It is the Mediterranean diet..all things in moderation…pasta, freshly made cheese, fresh breads, fish, fruits, nuts, veggies, olive oil, wine and an occasional gelato. I could not believe that I was actually eating the most luscious food in the world and still eating healthy, staying fit and not gaining weight.

Ciao for now..Maria

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Great Politics and great food- a perfect pairing

Is it just me or does it seem like the rest of the world has also gone crazy for our American potlitical election? Many of the European countries have formed interest groups for specific political candidates.

In Italy and France there are some groups that are interested in Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. They have regular meetings to discuss the candidates, have meetings to watch primary elections and see how their candidate fared even though they can not vote for them.

It is all in the fascination for everything American..just as we have a fascination with the Italian way of life.

Italian political watching has become one of my hobbies and I do so enjoy watching their Senate meetings on TV. Quite different from a US Senate meeting. A bottle of champagne may be popped open at the end of a successful meeting.. it is also a chance to see the latest fashions worn by both men and women and a smattering of the latest sunglasses-many Senators wear dark sunglasses to these meetings. Since I have grown tired of many of the same old predictable celebrity events.these political events have now taken my interest..But I am also learning about the rest of the world and the other political systems while being entertained.

It seems as though American politics have become so predictable- well I guess not this year with the first woman and African American candidates- we have added something interesting and we all may be witness to an important part of American history if one of these candidates gets elected..

But Italian politicians are more passionate about what they do and I always get the feeling that I am watching an opera -without the music-and not a Senate meeting or a political speech, everything is always so dramatic and everyone is so passionate about their cause.

It is a veritable modern day opera..

We(Italians) are descended from the ancient Roman Philosophers- a trait that is very visible in today's Italian politicians.

Everyone wants to be the next Roman emperor and have their day in the spotlight or at the Roman forum (Foro Romano) and Italian politicians are no exception.

Oh well just a little happy hour chit chat to enjoy a glass of a light sparkling wine like Bracchetto D'Acqui, it goes great with appetizers and desserts. Here is an appetizer to accompany your glass of Bracchetto:

Torta Salata con Brie
copyright 2008, Maria Liberati from "

The Basic Art of Italian Cooking -Holidays and Special Occasions, art ofl iving, Prima Media,Inc.
This makes a great antipasto!!

*A disc of puff pastry (big enough to cover bottom and sides of a pie pan about ¾”-1” high)
*3/4 lb of brie
*1 fresh red pepper
*1 fresh yellow pepper
Olive oil
Pinch of salt

Cover pie pan with puff pastry. Cut the brie into thin slices (do not eliminate the white skin). Lay brie slices on puff pastry. Wash the peppers and cut into thin slices, place on top of the brie. Drizzle about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on top, and sprinkle a pinch of salt.

Bake in preheated oven of 375 degrees for about 7 minutes or until puff pastry is golden.
Served best hot instead of warm.

Ciao for now!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Think Positive and "Mangia".....

Think positive thoughts ..think positive thoughts..can be much easier to say than to do. I have been speaking to so many people that have become so overwhelmed with health to family to money problems.. For the health and family problems my advice is always to think positive thoughts and remember that as Scarlett O'Hara said.."tomorrow is another day" and another glorious day it usually turns out to be if you just have patience..

Now for money or financial solutions.. especially for those out there that may want to start their own business or expand their own business or even for personal reasons-to enjoy the finer things in life.. you can get loans for business or even personal loans to enjoy the finer things in life.

In today's economy it seems to be like finding a needle in a haystack finding a loan that is unsecured, but you can find that personal loan have found your needle in the haystack.

So be responsible and realize that for your money problems there is a solution out there..find your loan and move forward with your life....there are always bigger and better things out there for go for it.. Enjoy that trip you have been waiting so long to take or that new car or adding another room to the house..or something special to make life seem more special..

Now..for a positive outlook on life ..don't forget that food..and not just food..but 'great food...puts a smile on anyone's face and makes a not so great day turn into a happier one..
So as we say in Italian (our solution to almost every problem) "mangia" and you will see your life through rose colored least temporarily...

Ciao for now..

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A new treasure on the net

Have you ever longed for the exotic and the and clothes can be so predictable but now with the dawn of the internet we have the possibility of finding the unusual, the ecletic, the out of the ordinary.. I found it today at this wonderful gem of a site called Afrik-Boutik

The site is a great find for stylish, but yet interesting pieces- to create that one of a kind style. You will find necklaces and handbags from Africa-these are handcrafted pieces that reflect the beauty of African culture, and are really unlike typical things you will find at a regular bricks and mortar store. The boutique was started by two partners who longed to bring the beautiful yet authentic artwork of Africa to the rest of the world. And they have certainly accomplished that. Each and every piece you will find on the site are created by artisans, many of whom are friends of the founders. So many of these pieces are hard to find and you would have to take a trip to Africa to find these pieces, as many tourists do..but how many times a year can you go to Africa and how do you know where to find these pieces.??The African Dashikis are truly beautiful and look like they would be the perfect thing to keep cool in the summer.
However, being a handbag person that I am (I share my bedroom with closets full of handbags) I have my eye on one of their beautiful handcrafted leather bags.. they are all truly a work of art and will be hard to make a decision..But also don't forget to enter the contest for bloggers go to
and enter the bloggers contest for your chance to win ..are you ready..a beautiful handcrafted African mask worth $175.
( I am hoping to win it..) It is one country that, unforutnately I have not gotten to visit yet, so I don't own any art or handcrated pieces from there and look forward to shopping for now at :
And by the way if you visit tell them Maria sent you..
Ciao for now!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

San Valentino and more....

Thanks to everyone that attended my roundtable interview and discussion on Athena Isle at Second Life. That was my first experience on Second Life and a fun one!!

In honor of San Valentino, here are two more recipes from my upcoming book

The Basic Art of Italian Cooking-Holidays and Special Occasions (copyright 2008 Maria Liberati) to be released later this year..

Let me know how you celebrated your Saint Valentine's Day. San Valentino represented love, so you can celebrate this day with any one special in your life-your friends, your parents ,siblings, somoene that is special in your life..

Cocktail di Mare (seafood Cocktail)

*6 jumbo shrimp(steamed)
*12 large scallops (steamed)
*2-3 drops of Tabasco sauce
*6 tablespoons of olive oil
*1 tablespoon of vodka
*2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
*6 hot red peppers
*10-12 leaves of romaine lettuce
*1 tsp of powdered red pepper
*2 tsps of salt
*6 shish kabob type wooden sticks

Place on sticks first-one scallop then one shrimp (vertically) then one scallop. Repeat using all 6 sticks. In small bowl place vodka, salt powdered red pepper, lemon juice, Tabasco sauce , olive oil. Beat wit ha fork until all ingredients are blended.
In tall glass, arrange a few lettuce leaves on side of glass. Alternate in each glass, 3 hot red peppers and 3 shish kebabs. Drizzle sauce on top and serve.

Cuori di Pane

*Pre made pizza dough-1/2 lb (uncooked)
*3 tablespoons of flour
*2 tablespoons of dried tomatoes
*1 tsp of Sapori D’Italia Spice Blend or Rosemary
*4 dried red peppers
*3 tablespoons of olive oil
*2 tsps of chopped scallion

Drain dried tomatoes and chop into small squares. In separate bowl, crush 3 dried red peppers with wooden spoon, place in chopped dried tomatoes, chopped scallops. Blend. Place ball of pizza dough in bowl and work in mixture. Knead pizza dough for 5 minutes until all ingredients are blended into dough.
Dust wooden board with 1 tablespoon of flour. Place pizza dough on top. Flatten dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutter in shape of heart.
Place sheet of baking paper on cookie sheet. Place hearts on baking sheet. Crush remaining pepper in small dish, mix with ½ tsp of Sapori D’Italia or Rosemary. Drizzle hearts with teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle remaining crushed pepper mix on top. Let hearts sit for 30 minutes. Then cook in oven preheated to 450 degrees or until crisp and golden (about 15 minutes).