In This Issue
2015 Tuscany Tours
Tuscan Retreat in Sonoma, CA
At the Italian Table Supper Club
Try these sweet fried 'rags' for your Carnevale celebration:

Cenci Recipe

1/2 cups AP flour

3 eggs
pinch of fine sea salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sweet liquor (tuaca, cointreau)
1/4 cup water

Mix all ingredients together until a soft dough forms, adding additional flour if too sticky to handle.   

Let it rest 15 minutes then roll through a pasta machine to form thin strips, adding flour when necessary.  Fry in peanut oil and dust with powdered sugar.


Click to Read MORE about Carnevale traditions! 

Quick Links


Trip Advisor reviews



2015 Food & Wine Tours


May 29 - June 5, 2015 

June 6 - June 13 - 2 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 
Find us on Facebook
Join Our Mailing List
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. 


Cari amici,
Seems like yesterday we were in the midst of the holidays...and now the 40 days of Lent are upon us! Time for some decadence with a traditional lasagna and yummy fried Carnevale treats. There's a recipe below and also on Gina's blog (links are below).

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 $1.13, and we are keeping an eye out for lower air fares for spring and fall travel. We have several culinary trips planned this year - take a look below for more information. If you're interested in renting a villa contact Mary - there is still availability at some of our favorites!

Buon Appetito!
Gina and Mary

Carnevale Treats     

There is a big celebration all over the world in the days leading up to Lent, in what are, or formally were, Catholic countries.  Called carnevale in Italy, the word literally meant "a removal of meat", and began as an acknowledgment that they would soon be faced with 40 days of fasting before Easter.  It evolved into a decadent celebration of masked parties and rich foods, before Ash Wednesday reminds us all that "man thou art dust and unto dust thou shall return."

Italy abounds with many special dishes that show  up in celebration for any number of feast days and holy days, some more regional than others.  The fried and sugared pastry strips of the last blog (recipe to the left, here), cenci, lattughe and chiacchiere, are found throughout all of Italy, with different names; but in Naples you also find struffoli, those little chickpea size fried balls with colored sprinkles.


It is also in Naples that you will find an especially rich lasagna dish called Lasagna di Carnevale. Chock full of meat balls, sausage balls, mozzarella and ricotta, this rich lasagna is a celebration of the Napolitano kitchen.  It is the origins of what Americans typically copy for lasagna and has become common at any important celebration in Naples. But it was originally a rich expression of eating well and fully before the privations of Lenten sacrifice and penitence. Click here for the recipe 

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
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 shuckoysters, 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  
At the Italian Table dinner series  
Gina's private dinner series - "At the Italian Table" has kicked off to rave reviews in Louisville.
Click here to read learn more about the supper club on our website and how to be a part of it.
Each month Gina hosts a small, intimate dinner party. Call it a "pop-up", a supper club or underground dinner club, but whatever the name Gina is delivering excellent food and a unique experience. Contact: Gina -

Last year we received great reviews for Gina's cooking classes and our culinary tours!
Grazie tante!
There were 2 articles written about in case you missed's the one on the "Top 10 Trips to Take that will Teach You Something" and for that we are so thankful.
(Click to read!)