In This Issue
New class in US
Italian Herbs
Villa Pienza for Rental
2015 Tuscany Tours - Naples & Amalfi Coast
At the Italian Table Supper Club

 Blooming Thyme!
Quick Links


Trip Advisor reviews



2015 Food & Wine Tours


Sept 26 -Oct 3 - 4 spots left!   


Bologna & Tuscany

October 4 - 11

Naples, Campania, Amalfi
Sept 16 - 22, 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. 


Spring Dates - if you're in the area!

Near Louisville, KYA wonderful B&B in Jeffersonville, IN is hosting Gina with a cooking class and dinner on June 27 Saturday @ 5 pm a hands on class making 3 courses and fresh pasta plus an antipasti during class, followed by dinner. $95 Market Street Inn 

Please call Carol at the Inn to make your reservations! 812.285.1877
Ciao a tutti,
Spring is in full swing here in Italy!  In this edition Gina shares some insights on the most important herbs for the Italian kitchen and table.

Milano hosts the World's Fair this year - called 2015 World Expo. It's central theme is "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" and runs May 1- Oct 31. It showcases countries and institutions from all over the world; their challenges and innovation in providing food. Why not visit there and then explore the foods (and wines!) of Tuscany with us!
World Expo

Buon Appetito!
Gina and Mary

Planting an Italian Herb Garden   

Herbs are such an important part of the Italian kitchen and are generally used fresh, picked right out of the garden when needed. Many of the herbs are perennials, coming back every spring and anchoring a special place against a rock wall or lining a path. This past winter, friends in Tuscany sent pictures and I was really struck by how green everything there. I realized that it was all due to the gorgeous bushes of rosemary, sage and bay that adorn every nook of Tuscany and while dormant in the winter, are always green. Then in the spring they come back to life and put out blossoms and new growth. 

Since spring is the time when we're replanting our gardens and planning for the summer growing season, let's talk about some of the fresh herbs we use in Italy that make any garden a better space and will keep it green even in the winter.

The two most commonly used herbs in Tuscany are sage and rosemary. Both are widely used in Tuscan stews, ragu, roasted meats and wild game.  With their high oil content, these aromatic herbs are always cooked before eating and their soft purple flowers attract bees and birds and to your garden. Sage leaves are wonderful fried, especially if you can find the variety that has big leaves, or put inside a stuffed turkey breast or pork loin along with parsley and bread crumbs. Rosemary sprigs can be thrown whole into a rustic lamb or beef stew; the needles fall off and you pull the empty stem out of the pot before serving.

Two other perennial herbs that are widely used in Italy are thyme and bay. Bay is grown as a hedge in Tuscany and while you never find it dried in a jar in the store, it is always used fresh off the tree. Whenever you need a leaf or two for the soup or braised meat, you simply pluck a few leaves off your neighbors tree. Thyme also presents delicate purple or white flowers in the spring as it prepares to come back in force, and is a quick-growing border to the garden.

Tarragon is a wonderful herb that goes well with chicken or vegetables like green beans and has been used in the Siena area since the middle ages. Also a perennial, it gets bigger and taller every year. Take care not to get the Russian variety which has very little flavor, especially after the first year.

Italian, or flat leaf, parsley can be either an annual or a perennial, but we tend to replant it every year, even if it volunteers to come back from last summer. It is indispensable in a wide variety of dishes and is extremely versatile: the stems are used for stocks and broths, the leaves can be tossed in when sautéing garlic for marinara or when stewing meat, and its fresh clean taste is wonderful added raw to a salad or to finish any dish or garnish a plate or platter.

Basil is one of the only herbs that is an annual and must be planted in a sunny spot every year. Since basil is a water-based herb, it is not used in cooking for long periods of time, but rather is added raw into a sauce or salad at the end of preparation. In the early fall or late summer, when basil comes to the end of its life cycle, it can be harvested and pureed together with garlic, olive oil, parmigiano and pine nuts or walnuts for pesto.  

Villa Pienza Available Sept 5-12!
This beautiful villa has become available for some of you last minute planners! What a gem and find this close to the date. A painting group had to cancel their reservation for this villa that sleeps 12  (6 bedrooms/6 bathrooms) just 5 minutes from Pienza in southern Tuscany. It is a perfect spot to relax and visit the area towns - Pienza, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Siena and a wonderful time of the year. Weekly price is 3900 euros but discounted to only 3400 euros. Call Mary - can share more pictures and details of this gorgeous villa! 972-342-8308
There are 3 separate apartments to give you and your traveling companions privacy. Swimming pool and stunning views of the southern Tuscany landscape!

2015 Tuscany Tours
We're dreaming of Italy this fall! The euro exchange is great for travel to Europe. And we have just a few openings for our September and October trips. We 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.
Click here to see a sample itinerary. 

We've scheduled our tour to Naples and Campania and the Amalfi Coast! This beautiful area with the picturesque seas and Mt Vesuvius are a foodie destination with it's pizza, seafood and mozzarella of that region...did we mention the wines too? Our tour is scheduled for Sept 16 - 22, more information on our website or call Mary 972.342.8308.
Tuscan countryside
At the Italian Table   
"At the Italian Table" will open a retail space with a commercial kitchen offering cooking classes and small private dinners! Look for an opening later this summer. In the meantime - when Gina returns to Louisville from Italy this spring her private dinner series - "At the Italian Table" will continue while she works to open her retail space. 
Click here to 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 -