In This Issue
Pancetta Arrosto - Roast Pork Belly
Tuscan Retreat in Sonoma, CA
2015 Tuscany Tours
Louisville events

Pancetta Arrosto
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Trip Advisor reviews



2015 Food & Wine Tours


May 29 - June 5, 2015 

June 6 - June 13 - 3 spots left 

Sept 26 -Oct 3 - 4 spots left!   


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  


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


Buon anno,  a tutti!
What a great time to travel to Italy!  The exchange rate for the US dollar to the euro is at its best in over 10 years at $1.16, and all indications point to lower air fares for spring and fall travel. Why not make this the year you join us in Tuscany?

Our culinary tour was voted one of the TOP 10 Trips to Take that will Teach You Something and for that we are so thankful. (Click to read!)

We wish that your new year be filled with
joy, peace and love. And lots of good food!
Buon Appetito!
Gina and Mary

Pancetta Arrosto   

Years ago in Tuscany and most of Italy, before fresh meat was readily available for purchase in the grocery store or a butcher shop, fresh meat was rare on the common dinner table.  Roasted and braised meats or grilled steaks were only available during the hunting season or in the winter when the pigs were butchered.  The rest of the year it was vegetables, bread and pasta, and the protein options were cured meats like salami, prosciutto or pancetta, with the occasion chicken or rabbit for Sunday dinner and special occasions.

January and the winter months were traditionally the time that the pigs were slaughtered, when the cold weather would keep the meat from spoiling before it had a chance to begin to cure.  Hams, necks and bellies were salted and laid down to become prosciutto, capocollo and pancetta.  The Fresh hanging sausages head was boiled in spices and lemon and picked over to be made into soppressata.  All the rest was chopped and ground to be made into sausages, cured in olive oil, or salami, mixed with fennel, garlic and black pepper.

All that is still done, but in modern, temperature controlled facilities on a year round basis.  The seasonality of the pig slaughter has mostly disappeared and with it the appreciation of the rarity of a great chunk of roasted loin, shoulder or pork belly.

During my first winter in Tuscany, one of my most exciting discoveries was roasted pork belly, or pancetta fresca arrosto. To me, the best part of roasted pork was always the fat on the outside, and the cuts had become so lean and dry in the US it had lost its appeal.  But all that fat, hot and roasted, with the skin brown and crunchy, was sheer heaven.

Click here for recipe and finish reading... 

Tuscany to Sonoma, California Tour
Gina and Mary are headed back to California in April 14-18 for a "Tuscan retreat in Sonoma!"  The tour was so much fun last year that we're looking forward to sharing it with you again this spring. There are only a few spots left and spaces are limited so make your plans right away.  We'll visit local food producers, learn to shuck
Wine Tasting in Sonoma 
oysters, visit markets and do two hands on classes as well as taste several local wines made
with Italian grapes. The Sonoma area has a long history of Italian immigrants who have left a hefty footprint on the food and wine of that  region.
Contact Mary for more info:, 972-342-8308  
2015 Tuscany Tours
We're dreaming of escaping back to Tuscany this
May/June and September/October and hope you'll join us on our highly rated food and wine tours! Whether you're looking to celebrate a life event or Italy is on your bucket list, our small intimate food and wine tours are a excellent way to experience the real Italy. It is a wonderful balance of wine, food, culture and history.
Join us this year. Click here to see a sample itinerary. 

There is also a special request to repeat our tour to Naples and Campania and we're looking forward to the pizza, seafood and mozzarella of that region. More information soon on our website.
Tuscan countryside
For those of you in and near Louisville...
Cooking Class and Dinner Series  
Bourbon Barrel Foods will continue to host Gina's class series. The final class for this series will be
Wednesday, Feb. 4 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. 
Cost is $55 per person, per class. 1201 Story Ave. in Louisville.Make a reservation, by calling Bourbon Barrel Food: (502) 333-6103.    
Many thanks to Matt and Leanne for letting us use the great Bourbon Barrel Foods kitchen for the Louisville classes!

Dinner Series
During 2015 Gina is hosting a series of small, intimate dinners in her home. Please contact her for additional information.