My New Food & Wine Tours in Umbria for 2015!

See Umbria through the eyes of a Chef with
Jennifer from Life Italian Style!

A professional chef since 1998 by way of Philadelphia and Seattle, Jennifer is now a private chef and leader of active Food & Wine tours in the heart of Umbria. She works closely with the local, artisan producers she has met over the years and keeps her ears open at the markets, always ready to learn a new traditional recipe from an Italian Nonna to share with you!

Custom Food & Wine Tours
Single or multiple day tours available for guided exploration of the best local artisan producers in Umbria!

Private Chef in Umbria
A classic Umbrian dinner prepared directly in guest villa, using only the best local and seasonal ingredients. Umbrian DOC wines included. “Pizza Night” available for those staying in villas with a pizza oven. Please enquire for Cooking Classes as well!

Cycling Tour of the Umbrian Valley
Tour along country roads with a professional Italian guide through the beautiful vineyard and olive grove covered hills of the Umbrian Valley, stopping in small villages along the way. A full Umbrian Picnic lunch in the countryside completes the day!
Hiking and Walking Tours also available.

Horseback Riding & Winery Lunch
A 45 minute tour on horseback (no experience necessary) through the vineyards of the Terre Margaritelli winery in the countryside of Torgiano (just outside of Perugia), followed by a tour of the winery, wine tasting and lunch.

Nature Abounds in the Valnerina
We begin our day with a visit to a local pecorino cheese maker to see the production of various sheep’s milk cheeses.  This is followed by a visit to a local family which specializes in saffron production. We will then take a walk through the forest with them to forage for edible and medicinal herbs. Afterwards we enjoy a lunch with a guided tasting of local sheep & goat cheeses as well as delicacies prepared with foraged greens.

Farm to Table Tour
Our first stop is at a unique stone flour mill and wood-fired oven bakery. We learn about breadmaking beginning with grain!  We then move up to a local farm where a local family raises animals for salumi making, meat and cheese production. We will make cheese and pasta with Nonna Rita before indulging in a traditional farm lunch.
*Wild Asparagus hunting in the Spring
*Truffle hunting available in June and July

The Artisans of Perugia
We begin at the base of the historic town with a visit to the weekly farmers’ market. Then we will move up into the center to discover the lost art of weaving jaquard and silks on 17th century looms. We then stroll through the city stopping in artisanal bottegas along the ways before enjoying lunch in an enoteca known for its exclusive use of Umbrian products.

Meat Lover’s Tour
A tour of a local farm which raises prize-winning Chianina (native white cow of Italy), Cinta Senese pigs, sheep, birds, and crops. Included is a brief demonstration of butchery & salumi making. We then move on to the Terre Margaritelli for a lunch of grilled meats from the farm accompanied by a wine tasting & tour.

Wine and Chocolate Tour
We will first visit an artisanal chocolate producer to see how some of their specialties are produced.  From there we will move on to the Terre Margaritelli winery for a tour of the winery and full wine tasting lunch.

Umbrian Cooking Class & Lunch
Cooking classes are held in the rural village of Cannara, located in the heart of Umbria between Asissi and Spello or directly in guest villa. They are based around the best local ingredients in season, and includes making antipasto, primo, secondo and dolce followed by a lunch (eating what we just made, of course!)

Please contact Jennifer directly
for booking and information!



Anchovy & Potato Tortino Recipe

IMG_4676After posting pics of my fireplace dinner from this weekend, I just had to post the recipe due to popular demand!

Tortino di Alici e Patate

  • 500 grams of fresh anchovies - not salted!
  • 4-5 medium sized potatoes, sliced very finely
  • 1/2 c breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 c grated aged pecorino cheese
  • 1 Tbs grated lemon zest
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbs chopped parsley
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt

Continue reading "Anchovy & Potato Tortino Recipe" »

Umbria's Best Borscht

-1I know, I know, Umbria and borscht are two worlds that generally do not collide, especially since it is nearly impossible to find fresh, local beets in central and southern Italy (they are always sold precooked in the supermarkets - yuck!).  However, Ada, my trusted veggie lady here in Cannara happens to grow beets, mostly for the Eastern European population living in our area... but also for me!

Continue reading "Umbria's Best Borscht" »

Back to Blogging!

IMG_4065You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged in a while…well, May thru October is my busy season, so other than quick photos or a blurb on my social media sites, you won’t hear much from me.  But I have a lot of ideas rolling around and have been furiously scribbling notes in my daughter's various Hello Kitty writing pads. ;-)
Here’s what you can look forward to reading this winter:

Decoding Italy:  a new series that I am starting!  I actually got the idea from a client in one of my cooking classes.  I will be going through the basics of learning how to decipher things once you reach the motherland:  everything from types of cheese & salumi, wine labels, and pasta to basic restaurant and coffee etiquette…. because it’s a different country and they just do it… differently!

News:  Two Onions Collide:  The Walla Walla and Cannara Sister City Association

and What happened when I attended my first ever soccer/football game in Italy.

World Nutella Day

Photo 1

What is Nutella?  Nutella is that heavenly chocolate-hazelnut spread that you find everywhere in Italy - a staple on both the breakfast table and as a spread on a pizza for dessert.  I first encountered Nutella while backpacking through Europe many moons ago.  As the train pulled into Italy, I realized that I had finished my trusty jar of peanut butter that I had had in my backpack (I was 22...and on a budget).  Perusing the shelves of the supermarket, I quickly realized that Italy had not yet discovered peanut butter... but, there was a jar of something spreadable with a nut on it... and chocolate, which I figured I could suffer through....

Flash forward 15 years and Nutella is now banned in my house, much to my husband's dismay.   It falls into the category of "Once you pop, you can't stop." And, let's face it - for all the promoting the Italian National Soccer team does to push the product as a healthy start to your day, this stuff is packed with hydrogenated oils, sugar, and obviously calories.  It is now something that appears only on a birthday... or if we need new glassware.

Photo 2Glassware?  Oh, yes.  Open the cupboard of anyone's kitchen in Italy and you surely find a collection of fine Nutella glassware.  If you purchase the super-sized Nutella it will come in a plastic tub, the normal size however is always sold in a glass.  The glasses come either plain (for when you have guests over), or painted with the latest animated character or sports figure.... now that I think about it the new 2014 Winter Olympic glasses should be coming out just about now.... I might just have to splurge....

**The local option:  Artisan chocolate producers in Italy have now started to make their own chocolate spreads (or Nutella ripoffs, as my husband lovingly calls them).  One of my favorite producers is Pasticceria Muzzi, based out of Foligno here in Umbria.  Apart from the classic chocolate-hazelnut, they also make a wide variety of flavors which can be sampled in their stores, but I'll save you some time - go for the Pistacchio!

Muzzi-Creme-spalmabili-gianduia-e-granella-di-nocciole-2 Muzzi-Creme-spalmabili-gianduia-e-granella-di-nocciole

The 12 Days of Umbrian Christmas


Sing along to "A Partridge in a Pear Tree" aka "A Coppa di Testa (Stuffed Back into a Pig's Head)":


On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...


IMG_617912 bottles of Umbrian wine



11 liters of extra-virgin olive oil MMG_2243

Photo 1(1)  10 types of Italian cookware


            9 Nativity scenes Photo 3



8 pounds of curing meats



                7 Sicilian oranges  Photo 3(1)

Photo 2 6 (00) grams of white truffles

5 Rotting Persimmons (perfect by Italian standards) Photo 4


Photo 3(2)

  4 Slimy eels (they're for Christmas eve)



                3 Panettone Photo 1(2)


Photo 2(1)2 Gingerbread Houses




... and a Coppa di Testa (Stuffed Back in to a Pig's Head)!

Photo 1

Happy Holidays!!!


 IMG_7242My bumper crop of lemons this year has me begging the question:  am I in Sorrento or Cannara (thanks global warming!)??  Well, I'm definitely not in Sorrento.... but that doesn't mean I can't do lots of fun things with the abundance of citrus fruits right now.  Obviously, the fruit I use comes from southern Italy, in particular from Sicily.  Since we are expecting a new addition to our family (any minute now!), I won't be making my annual pilgrimage to Verona to get my favorite candied fruits to make my Easter Pastiera (yes, I'm already thinking about Easter lunch); so I decided to take a stab at making my own candied citrus peels - time consuming, but simple.  I also made a citrus marmellata and was left with some flavored simple syrups as a by product from my peels to use in the future. Citrus

But first, the peels....

Continue reading "Citra-therapy" »

♪ These are a Few of My Favorite Things ♩ ♬

This time of year, "my favorite things" have nothing to do with Christmas (well, with one exception), but with the seasonal products that we can only find NOW!

-1Who is better than Babbo Natale?  The Orange Man!  As soon as the temperatures start dipping, I keeps my eyes peeled, waiting patiently for his truck to appear one day on the side of the road.  My particular orange man comes up from Sicily a few times a week, loaded with the sweetest oranges, mandarins and lemons.  Just take a look at this picture - the mandarin is the one on the left - it is as big as a baseball!  You won't find those in the supermarket!

Continue reading "♪ These are a Few of My Favorite Things ♩ ♬" »

The Rain Chaser: Mandarino-glazed Olive Oil Cake with Yogurt


I made this cake the other day after a long stretch of dark foggy and rainy days here in Umbria.  The sunny mandarin oranges worked and chased the rain away!  Here is the recipe:




  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange blossom honey
  • 2-3 natural, unwaxed mandarin oranges, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup plain, thick whole-milk yogurt + 1 ½ cups
  • juice of half mandarin orange
  • grated zest of 1 mandarin orange

Continue reading "The Rain Chaser: Mandarino-glazed Olive Oil Cake with Yogurt" »

It's beginning to look a lot like...



Which means that it is time for Christmas Markets or the Mercatini di Natale.  I personally really love to go to the Christmas markets - helps get me into the  spirit - and if you choose carefully, you can also support local artisans and craftsmen instead of... well, you know...

Umbria is not as well know for it's Christmas markets as other parts of Italy -  such as the traditional Northern markets in the Dolomite area or the Nativity-paloozas down in Naples, but there are still a lot of festive, charming options. 

Continue reading "It's beginning to look a lot like..." »