Culinary Concierge
makugingy.jpg

culinary concierge, blog

ViaMedina is a culinary concierge service providing private chefs, cooking lessons, exclusive events, and interactive food and wine tours.

Posts tagged Tuscania
Traditional dishes of Tuscania

Our adopted home of Tuscania is about 80km north of Rome and 30km south of Tuscany, in an area known alternatively as Tuscia, Maremma, or that stuff you pass as you leave Rome to go to Florence.  As such the culinary roots of the area are an extensive tangle of Roman specialities like pasta (cacio e pepe, amatriciana and our favourite mystery, carbonara) combined with some of the canonical Tuscan dishes like cacciatore, acquacotta and porchetta. There are also some pretty incredible offal and organ dishes within this library that, while not for everyone, are still a really worthwhile thing to try out. 

For a little town there's a lot to choose from, and recipes will very according from one family to another. And trust us, this is in no way a definitive list; we'll keep adding as we go and if anyone has a dish that is a must, we'd love to hear from you. 

Read More
The First Annual ViaMedina Easter in Tuscania Roundup!

For most of us, Christmas is really the star of the yearly holiday show: besides the obvious draw of presents, it's got the kind of participatory appeal that really manages to catch on, and just enough crossover between Christianity and popular culture so that those celebrating from the sidelines really do feel connected to the starters on the field. It's a time of ugly sweaters and big dinners, and for most a mass or even two. 

Easter on the other hand, is another thing altogether. In my family in New York it was the time that our most profound guilt complexes came out for air, expunged as it were by the intrepid Lent sacrifices that usually involved us having to give up something awesome for a time period and not quite knowing why. Sure, there was some fine eating to be had particularly in the form of macaroni pie or timballo, a maelstrom of long pasta and lard (though now its Crisco) that we would eat on Easter Saturday before the obligatory Easter Ham. 

The thing is, Easter as a commercial holiday is sort of a hard sell; sure, the bunnies and eggs are great and they probably test well with kids (well, unless they are these bunnies) but there is always a looming sense of sacrifice that hangs over Easter. It's an important holiday, to be sure, because its full of a distant kind of repentance that makes us feel ever so slightly guilty tucking into that giant ham roast or our third chocolate bunny. 

Read More
Tell Me, O Muse: The Immortal Technique of Pecorino Marras
Each man delights in the work that suits him best. 
-Homer, The Odyssey

Some legends have it that the fearsome Cyclops of Homer's Odyssey was in fact a humble cheesemaker that was just misunderstood by his neighbours. Indeed it is thought that the passage in which his craft is described is among the first mentions of cheese productions; perhaps the poor Cyclops got a raw deal on the whole telling of the tale and has been forgotten for his trade. But you know, it isn't such a leap: cheese is a powerful food and those who know how to tame that beast into the form we know are in some way a bit fearsome. As the author Clifton Fadiman once said, cheese is milk's leap toward immortality, and few people know this better than Francesco Marras. 

Read More
Nikki's Chickens

Here at ViaMedina, we have the great fortune of having a wealth of collaborators with whom we have cooked, eaten, and worked over these past months. As a member of the core crew, Nikki has helped us about a million times with everything from Sagras to Thanksgiving dinners; we thought that now might be the best time to acknowledge how generally badass she happens to be. Nikki moved to Italy and went to work at her fiancee Tiziano's family plant nursery where, with her highly applicable background in fashion marketing, she started tending to the chickens that once belonged to Tiziano's grandmother.

Read More
A ViaMedina Thanksgiving

So here's the thing. What we eat is almost always a function based on proximity and therefore convenience: we eat the things that are grown around us or that we manage to save for a while and an area's specialties will reflect this availability. Why we eat is elemental: in whatsoever form it takes, eating is our most fundamental tool of survival. 

Read More
Olive Harvest 2015: Don't Call it a Comeback

Of all the many things that make Italy a special place, the olive harvest is an undeniable contender for the top of the list. It's got just the right ratio of ritual to pragmatism which is a crucial element towards most of my existential quotients. Because I must confess that I am a sucker for a good ritual; I've very nearly joined a handful of religions for the ceremonial perks, only to be ultimately saved by my fundamental disinterest in long term commitment and lack of enthusiasm for changing my name to something my mom would have to look up to pronounce. 

Read More
Kids will be Cooks

Over the summer, we had the opportunity to do some really wonderful events and collaborate with some wonderful people in and around Tuscania. One of our favourite days was spent in July at Arte e Agricoltura, an agriturismo owned by our friends Maurizio Pio Rocchi and Petra de Goede; for more than 20 years they've been using their talents as artists as well as farmers to bring some incredible events to life. This year was the eighth year that they've held a summer camp for children, and we thought it would be a great opportunity to show kids how to make pasta. And indeed, despite intense heat and the lure of a very awesome swimming pool, the kids were passionate. Their orecchiette game was also pretty on point.  

Read More
The Right Fit

It's a pithy word, isn't it? 'Fit'. A small and unconvincing word that should not carry the weight that it does. As words get bigger and more hyperbolic it seems even more unlikely that 'fit' should still be relevant and indeed, decisive. It's frustratingly small and smug and irrefutable.

Read More
A Tale of Two Sagras, Part One: The Sagra del Baccala

I must first make a confession. I don't necessarily love Baccala (salt cod) as a foodstuff, and its various permutations as they are found throughout the world rarely leave me enraptured in any substantial way. Instead, I have a much clearer memory of piles upon piles of salt cod pieces stacked upon each other in the myriad bodegas that have featured throughout the course of my life in New York. I remember living in Montreal near a cluster of Portuguese shops where giant unwieldy licks of preserved cod would dangle precariously above voluminous sacks of short grain rice and make the impossibly narrow aisles of the grocery store even more so. I remember the great bellies of cod splayed out across tabletops in various epiceries around Marseille and not in the beautiful old port section where you all still figure that young men named Marius await their next departure whilst debonairly drawing smoke from a never-ending Gauloise. No no, this was in a particularly dodgy little narrow lane in Noailles, and while the name escapes me now the smell lingers on in that lizard bit of brain none of us ever seems to shake. 

Read More