Savoury Cheese Cake, tasty!

Here it comes Easter with all its traditional dishes and, as you can imagine, there are several in Italy.

Out of so many choices, we picked the “Pizza al Formaggio”. This is a type of savoury, cheesy cake, very typical of central Italy and especially Le Marche region. You can find this throughout the year, but you will definitely see and eat a lot of it, if you hang around during the Easter break.

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It is such a rich recipe: white flour, eggs, olive oil, butter, milk, a pinch of pepper and nutmeg, zest of lemon and of course mixed cheese, both grated and in chunks.

A great way to celebrate Easter and if you do it for yourself, or are lucky enough to get it from a “grandma”, you will taste the authenticity, the flavour and the richness of traditions over here.

Pizza al Formaggio best goes with a nice local salami, or ham and of course a nice glass of Rosso Conero will make it even smoother. Happy Easter from Made In Marche!

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If you are interested to get the full recipe and try yourself, please do email us. Even better if you wish to come along to Le Marche and get  your hands on with local people, drop us a line!

Be the first one…or maybe just the second!

Yes, we are going to do it again!

As we were planning we have organised a second weekend in early September: from Friday 7th to Sunday 9th.

This is a great opportunity for you to discover and live, even if for a short time, authentic values and experiences in the Le Marche region by tasting local products at the farms and by bringing home tangible memories of your holidays. It is valuable for us to obtain your feedback which will help us gather ideas and give you the best possible experience.

Our aim is to provide a bespoke experience and give you the chance to propose alternative or additional ideas for improvement.

This is what we currently propose….

On the first day: Welcome to Ancona!

You will be given a very warm welcome to Ancona. There will be no emphasis on spending long amounts of time in museums and the usual tourist destinations. Instead we can do relaxed walks and chat through the narrow streets of the old town, up to the Roman Amphitheatre, just behind the Cathedral named ‘San Ciriaco’ and inside the park Cardeto which drops into the sea.

Should this prove to be yet a bit overwhelming, you will find proper refreshments at the end, as we will stop for an ‘aperitivo’ and you may want to try a glass of Verdicchio, a popular, award-winning wine, already described in this blog.

This should whet your appetite, which is great, because just after that we will be heading to a local restaurant where you can try a traditional seafood dinner, including a popular dish of local mussels, which grow naturally on the rocks surrounding the Monte Conero, south of Ancona.

Saturday: make your own wine!

Our planned activity involves a visit to the vineyard, together with a wine expert, followed by a tasting event involving different vintages and blends of red wine.

Once we have tasted and learned a bit more about wine, we will choose our favourite blend and work together to bottle, cork, label and finish our own bottles!

       

You can then either take your bottles with you, or have them shipped back to your homes, so you can pride yourself on your own wine with your family and friends! We will end the day by eating in a local restaurant where you should now be able to choose your favourite wine with ease!

Sunday: chill out

Depending on the weather and the flight schedule, we will choose among a number of options, including some light but panoramic trekking, or lying and relaxing on the beach, shopping, visiting Sirolo and Numana (two very nice villages by the sea, not far from Ancona).

Accommodation

We will arrange accommodation in local B&Bs. The type of B&B will depend on the number of people and the mix of the group. The underlying theme is a family-owned, small and friendly B&B in the Conero area. Please have a look at the pictures below to get a flavour of the style of accommodation you will be staying in:

       

Please be advised that the schedule of the activities may change slightly, depending on the circumstances, such as the weather. However, be sure that we will strive to provide you with authentic experiences and make your trip great fun and very memorable!

Travel Information.

Information on how to reach Ancona can be found here.

Bookings.

If you are interested in finding out more information or if you wish to book a place, please send an email to: madenmarche@gmail.com

Or, you can contact us on the following numbers:

Italy: +39 347 15 53 624

UK: +44 751 67 06 446

See you in Le Marche!

Making My Own Pizza

Perhaps pizza is not the most traditional product of Le Marche, but after my trip back in December, I can reassure you of two facts. The first is that you can have amazing pizza over there anyway. And the second and most exciting thing is that you can learn how to make it and make it yourself!

After a nice walk in the centre of Ancona during a beautiful but chilli day, we went back home at about five, determined to learn from master Mario all the secrets about pizza! Mario is a wizard of handmade cooking and being originally from Naples makes him stand out as a “pizzaiolo”…after a brief chat and introduction the team was ready!

Pizza is a simple thing and I believe it is its simplicity and genuine nature that make it such a good dish. To have a good start you need to mix flour (previously mixed with a bit of salt and sugar) with water, in which you will have dissolved the fresh yeast (no powder please!)

  

You can find yourself the right mix of flour and water that make the loaf soft and smooth. However I found that a mix of 450g of flour with 250g of water is just a perfect mix. I have added about 10g of fresh yeast every 450g of flour (though Mario told me that this also depends on the room temperature and the time you want to allow for rising). It is a magic (though sticky) feeling to have your hands in there. Flour, water and yeast are bread, and bread is life ever since!

At the end, after some efforts, you should get a nice, soft loaf ready for rising…

It takes about an hour or two for the loaf to double its size, depending on the temperature and the amount of yeast you’ve used. It is a good habit – says Mario – to cover it with a dishcloth to ensure that the loaf doesn’t dry on the outside…

In the meantime, we started preparing the ingredients we would have used, tasty tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil for the main. You can then add other ingredients, such as vegetable, sausages, and so forth, though the Italian tradition is for a simple pizza!

       

Wow! I am afraid you won’t be able to smell the freshness of the ingredients, however I could do it and at some point I just couldn’t help!!

Just a quick break, as Mario called me back to order…the loaf was ready…et voilà!

It was now time for the loaf to be laid on the tray and this time I decided to step back and let the master do the hard work! What a mastery, bravo!

   

After laying the pizza on the tray, it was time to add the tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil…we indulged a bit and decided also to stuff the borders with some ricotta cheese. We also decided to make a few “calzoni”, which is a special pizza stuffed with tomato, mozzarella and anything else you want to put inside!

       

Before you put the pizza in the oven for cooking – says master Mario – you want  to give some more time, typically half an hour or an hour, to allow a second and final rising. Finally it was time to put the pizza in the oven, at 250°C to 300°C and see what would come out…

   

Wow, I couldn’t believe that some flour and water could have turned out into such an amazing, crispy and rich pizza in just a few hours! And I had done it myself. What a pleasure to sit down and eat your own pizza, the one you’ve made with your own efforts.

Although a nice beer it is an evergreen combination, I found that a rather young red wine, like a Marche Rosso IGT from a native grape of Montepulciano, can accompany this kind of meals pretty well…but obviously this is ultimately the choice of the diner…

Such an amazing and authentic experience was it, making my own pizza in Le Marche!

Rosso Conero, A Taste of Marche

Wine is something magic, a noble gift from nature that comes from the soil, an ancient product that combines values of the past and traditions.

Wine is not just something that you obtain spontaneously; wine is effort, commitment and a passion. Enthusiasm and consistency are required to manage this fruit of the soil and make sure it expresses the character and roots of the land.

Each region has its own specialities and it was a mix of passion and Marche region that characterized the recent wine tasting organised by the ONAV association and ‘Yes We Conero’ (a group of local cellars such as Lanari, Le Terrazze, Lucesole, Malacari, Marchetti, Mercante, Moroder, Piantate Lunghe, Pieri,Polenta, Serenelli, Catia Spinsanti, Strologo).

All the experts met in the amazing surrounds of the Moroder cellar in Ancona, in order to taste the best wine from the region. Each wine provided a different taste and a different story, the incredible history of all the families from each generation who are working to create these amazing products.  One by one all the producers explained their wine, letting us appreciate sophisticated details and methods that turn a simple product to excellence.

Wine is sight, smell and taste, it combines the senses together. Tasting Rosso Conero, a deep ruby colored wine from Montepulciano grapes, you can immediately recognise various aromas such as cherry, blackberry, soft fruit, black cherry and a mineral undertone that reminds me of the timeless link with the Conero area : sea, hills and sun all in a glass.

Sand and Snow on New Year’s Day

From the beach to the mountains in an afternoon – Only in Le Marche!

Here is a brain teaser: is it possible to stroll on the beach in the afternoon and, an hour or so later, be up in the mountains walking in the snow, tasting delicious regional salami and cheese?

The answer is yes and, more precisely, the answer is Le Marche.

In Italy, we have a saying that you are likely to experience during the year what you experience on the first day. So on New Year’s Day 2012, we decided we wanted a good mix of emotions. (Although we were also determined to walk off the guilt created by the considerable consumption of calories over Christmas…and we ended up eating cheese and salami!)

So straight after a good lie in (necessary after the NYE revelries) we looked out and saw a fantastic day outside (overlooking the chill factor temperature, which reminded us that it was January). A clear sky and the sun shining on the city, what a great way to start the year!

After saying good bye to Ancona we headed South, making time for a quick stop in Portonovo. It was strange, but fascinating, to visit the lively summer hangout, on a cool, clear day in January.

If you are local and you are a regular visitor in the Summer, you would have spotted something strange, as the sun only hit the tower (Torre De Bosis) and the cliff, but missed the beach, which is usually full of sun worshippers in the Summer months.

It was time to head for the mountains, towards the National Park of “Monti Sibillini”. While driving and sharing our new year’s resolutions (such as not eating too much salami!), the countryside with its wonderful Winter colours came into view; hills, fields and a few wispy white clouds were following one another, as we moved away from Ancona and the coast, gaining height.

It only took around one hour driving to Frontignano; by the time we got there the sun was setting, shedding a mix of pink and orange reflections on the rocks surrounding Ussita.

We decided to try to make it to the top, to enjoy the sunset and the view of the valley. While we were climbing up, just for a moment, the reflection of the snow and the openness of the landscape gave us the impression that it was sunrise.

We got to the peak in time to view an astonishing sunset and greet a snowman we met on our way down. With hungry bellies, it was time to grab some cheese and local products at the Christmas market in Ussita!

Now our good intentions for 2012 started creaking seriously, as we saw and smelt the local home-made cheeses. Soft or hard, young or mature flavoured with walnut, pepper, or saffron. “Let’s just buy some, but promise that we will not eat them until after a few days!”…

Time for a stroll around the centre of Visso, another village nearby, a pretty old town perched in between the mountains, with narrow streets and perfectly refurbished houses and palaces.

Suddenly it was dinner time and walking around and chatting had made our new year propositions weaker and weaker, someone said ‘let’s just have a snack!’

It was a great conclusion to a brilliant day and a perfect start to the New Year. Tasting authentic Marche products washed down with a nice glass of Rosso Conero, one of the most popular red wines from Marche, of which we will soon tell you more about!

Happy New Year From Made In Marche! Here’s to 2012!!

Recanati; City Of Poetry.

Recanati is a small town and ‘commune’ in the Province of Macerata, in the Marche region, founded around 1150 AD on top of a hill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This town is a hidden jewel, with its pretty maze of narrow streets surrounded by beautiful, historic buildings and churches and a fabulous, panoramic view of the countryside, the sea and the mountains.

 

 

 

 

Recanati is also a cultural town and hometown of tenor Beniamino Gigli [1890-1957] and one of the most popular Italian poets, Giacomo Leopardi [1798-1837], which is why the town is also known to some as “the city of poetry”. Indeed it is still possible to visit ‘Casa Leopardi’, the poet’s house, where he used to live and composed his most popular pieces of poetry. His progeny still live there and make sure that the authentic settings and spirit of the house remain.

Just in front of the house is a small, beautiful square which is the setting of one of Leopardi’s famous poems, ‘Il Sabato del Villaggio’ (Saturday Night At The Village). Down a few metres from here, you will get to the ‘Colle dell’Infinito’ (Hill of Infinity), the edge of the hill where the poet composed his popular poem ‘L’Infinito’ (The Infinity). In this great piece of work, Leopardi is inspired by the incredible view, only partially limited by a bush, which makes it possible to imagine anything behind it; It is an emotional journey through space and time infinity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translating such a piece of poetry would be an unforgivable sin. Please enjoy it in Italian below. And if you wish, listen to Dustin Hoffman acting the poem in this short video made by the Marche Bureau of Tourism, which also highlights the beautiful landscape of the region.

 

Sempre caro mi fu quest’ermo colle,

e questa siepe, che da tanta parte

dell’ultimo orizzonte il guardo esclude.

Ma sedendo e mirando, interminati

spazi di là da quella, e sovrumani

silenzi, e profondissima quïete

io nel pensier mi fingo, ove per poco

il cor non si spaura. E come il vento

odo stormir tra queste piante, io quello

infinito silenzio a questa voce

vo comparando: e mi sovvien l’eterno,

e le morte stagioni, e la presente

e viva, e il suon di lei. Così tra questa

immensità s’annega il pensier mio:

e il naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare.

Verdicchio Wine – A Light Red Wine Wearing A White Wine Disguise?

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi’ D.O.C (Denomination of Controlled Origin) is one of the most popular white wines in the world and has won numerous awards. The unusual nature of the soil in the Marche area, together with favourable climatic conditions and including the regular breeze (which prevents moisture and mould forming) provides a perfect environment for the development of the grapes. The wines produced in the most sunlit and ventilated areas tend to be more robust and can easily keep for 2 or 3 years, including a short period in oak.

Straw yellow in colour, with greenish hints, from which it derives its name (‘Verdicchio’ is the Italian word for greenish). With a nose of wild flowers, citrus, peach and apple and almond on a full, rich palate.

Verdicchio is a dry wine, fresh but savoury, thanks not only to the salty breeze, but also to the numerous saltpetre banks which characterise the area.

For Verdicchio the minimum required alcohol vol. is 11.5%, for Classico Superiore (superior) 12% and 12.5% for the Riserva, (reserve), although it is not uncommon to find varieties which have over 13% alcohol.  To be awarded the Riserva denomination, the Verdicchio must be aged for a minimum of 24 months, of which at least 6 months are in bottle.

Verdicchio is versatile wine which accompanies many different meals, thanks to its full-body nature, which make some people refer to Verdicchio as a red wine in a white wine disguise. It is especially suitable for accompanying seafood dishes, such as brodetto soup, mussel pasta, fish risotto and grilled fish, but also white meats, particularly the Riserva.

History says that the Visigoth King Alarico used to collect massive quantities of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi on his way to Rome, to increase the vigour of his soldiers. Ancient propitiatory rites with sacred wine are said to have taken place back in 200 A.C. in Cupramontana, a village built around a temple dedicated to Cupra, the goddess of opulence. A likely drinker of the popular Verdicchio!

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