In This Issue
Truffle Hunting in Tuscany
Pizza Recipe
For Thanksgiving - Oyster Dressing
Sonoma in 2015 and Tuscany

Jump here to watch Topa the truffle hunting dog do her work in Tuscany!



Quick Links



2015 Food & Wine Tours


May 29 - June 5

June 6 - June 13 

Sept 26 -Oct 3  


Bologna & Tuscany

October 4 - 11

Sonoma, California
April 14 - 18, 2015

Join us next year for a full immersion to the regions of Tuscany and Emilia Romagna - great food, wine, history and culture!   


Vacation Villas
& Farmhouses

Casa Marta
Great accommodations for either a night or a week. When planning your stay in Italy, begin your 'country living' on a Saturday and depart the area the following Saturday for the best selection of villas and houses! 
Call for more information.
Contact Mary: 972.342.8308 
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Ecco La Cucina Cookbook

gina's cookbook

Looking for a good present this holiday season?  



You can order Gina's revised and updated cookbook. It has more than 20 new recipes! This collection of traditional Tuscan cooking, features dishes of the Siena area and some of her favorites. 


Louisville and Ramekins
Gina will be teaching this winter in Louisville KY - here's the link for dates, times and locations.

Springtime in Sonoma - Gina will be teaching a cooking class at Ramekinson April 13 prior to our tour starting on April 14. This class is open to the public and will feature a spring menu.  

Please call 707-9343-0450 to register Ramekins Cooking School

Cari amici,  

At Thanksgiving especially, we reflect on our many blessings. We would like to express our gratitude to all of our clients, customers and friends! We enjoy meeting and cooking with you all and truly appreciate the way our work in Italy has enlightened our lives and allowed us to know you all!  


God bless you and your families on Thanksgiving!

Buon appetito!
Gina and Mary

Treasure in the  Woods 

They're impossible to find without help from a dog. They look like gnarly knobs of dirt but are treasures worth their weight in gold. The treasure is the famed tartufo bianco di San Giovanni d'Asso, the white truffle of the Siena Crete region from the town of San Giovanni d'Asso, just north of Pienza. This past October and we were conducting a culinary tour in Tuscany; what better way to spend a morning than hunting for truffles in the woods!


In Tuscany, there are several varieties of truffles, including some that are inedible, but the two most important truffles are the black summer truffle, found in the late spring through the summer, and the white truffle of the Crete Senese, found from early fall till the end of the year.


Our friend and professional truffle hunterPaolo, lives with his two dogs in the heart of the Siena Crete region where they hunt one of the most prized truffles, the tartufo bianco, or white truffle, of San Giovanni d'Asso. We've found the black summer truffle before, with Daniele, of Cinta Senese pig farm fame, and his black and white short haired pointer, Ombra. The forest around Daniele's house is rich with black truffles and on any given early summer day, Ombra turns up a few. They're very delicately flavored and neither as highly prized nor as expensive as the autumn black truffle of Umbria. If fact, Tuscans are fond of saying "Ma, sa di niente." They have no flavor.


But the most important truffle found in Tuscany is the rare and expensive white truffle. Found only in Alba in Piedmont, San Miniato in Tuscany, and San Giovanni d'Asso in the Siena province, the white truffle is the most prized both because of its intense perfume and strong flavor. A few shavings of white truffle on a plate of fresh tagliolini is strong enough to perfume an entire restaurant.


That cool October morning, we drove to San Giovanni to meet Paolo and Topa in front of the Osteria delle Crete, where we were to have a truffle lunch following the hunt. Topa knew her job and was anxious to get started. Only female dogs, of any breed, are trained to hunt truffles because they have the most sensitive noses, and it requires an extremely sensitive nose and a dedicated hunter to find these elusive fungi. (They used to use pigs, but it's easier to get a dog to obey and drop the prize without scarfing it down.)

Hunting truffles here to finish the article...   
Truffle and Fresh Tagliolini

An incredibly easy pasta dish -

Make fresh tagliolini, toss with butter and add a few white truffle shavings to each dish or your main dish. Enjoy! 
(No cheese.)

Oyster Dressing

1 pint or more of fresh oysters with their juices
2 celery stalks, cleaned and diced
1 onion, diced
3 tbsp butter
3 cups fresh breads crumbs or diced bread
- cup cream
Sea salt and pepper
Dash tabasco sauce
2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped


Melt the butter in a saute pan and add the onion and celery; add 1 teas sea salt and a grinding of pepper. Saute until soft and clear, being careful not to burn. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients, stirring to mix well. The amount of oysters you use is up to you, the more the better! Butter a baking dish or casserole pan and put the dressing in, pressing down slightly. Bake in a 375 oven until cooked through and browned on top. BuonAppetito!

Tuscany to Sonoma, California Tour
We'll be taking Tuscany on the road to Sonoma next spring! We had such a wonderful time this past April we are returning with another food and wine tour. We love this picturesque area in northern California and the foodie culture with so many local producers, farmers' markets and wineries. Our culinary adventure will include cooking classes and insider visits to local producers of wine, cheeses, seafood and more. This area has a rich history to learn from the early settlers to the immigrants many of whom were Italians that brought their traditions to America. We'll be staying at the beautiful Ramekins Inn in downtown Sonoma and hold  cooking classes in their fabulous kitchen with foods we buy at the market.
The dates are April 14 - 18. Contact Mary if interested for itinerary and pricing:; 972-342-8308
2015 Tuscany Tours
We announced our 2015 schedule (shown above) a few months ago - and have just confirmed our Villa for our Tuscany weeks. Our small group tour is a wonderful balance of cooking classes, winery visits, culinary excursions and sightseeing. Our all inclusive package makes you feel more like a local rather than a tourist staying in a comfortable villa overlooking the Tuscan countryside!
Join us in the spring or in the fall next year.