Grow It, Grill It

Sometimes to go forward in life we just need to look where we came from, our ancestors. The sustainable way of life has lit a fire, (no pun intended) under many people today in the US. A trend I hope sticks around. The funny thing is if we just travel 8 hours by plane to many places in Europe; like Ireland, Italy and Sweden, we can see first hand how simple it is, because this kind of lifestyle hasn't changed much for many there. They still grow it, raise it, cook it, grill it and in this case - just keep the recipes simple. 

homemade manicotti I was so fortunate to have been embraced by the beautiful Barba family, who own Trattoria La Tagliata, perched high in the hills above Positano. You know, that Amalfi coastal village made extra famous in the movie, 'Under The Tuscan Sun'. This trattoria is hidden from the tour buses and shops. And you'll find centuries old-style cooking. Sustainable is an understatement there; the wines, olives, olive oil, cheeses and meats are all raised by the family.

very fresh mozzarella and vine ripened tomatoes
A combination of fresh ingredients and traditional family recipes, made from their hillside farm crops create simple tasty, original dishes. The Barba family uses every inch of their steep hillside property. The olive trees are artistically grown among lemon trees, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, basil and chickens on the loose.
The part that really struck me was the way the family works together. Everyone has an important role. Bartolo Barba (nicknamed O'Baron) helped La Tagliata blossom and grow through his brotherly love. He's the king of the grill and knows all the secrets of cooking meat to perfection. To describe the precise taste of his meats are, well, you just have to taste it. It's not just one thing- the magic of meat, meets fire and smoke.
Luigi Barba, (bellow, nicknamed O'Cheffon) had a vision. His passion for good and wholesome food took him to a piece of land high up on a hill and with his dedication he realized a dream come true, at La Tagliata.
Dora his wife, has always worked with her husbend, O'Cheffone. She enriches each recipe with her experience. Her dedication contributed to Tagliata becoming a family business. Her smile always warming, awaits you and encourages you to mangi or eat up. 
Enzo and Peppino are the sons of O'Cheffone and Dora. They were raised with good work ethics from their parents. Thanks to strong family values and love of their land, they have continued improving the family business created by their father.
So the story is- grow it, cook it, or grill it and do anything for that matter with love and it will be good!

Traditional Holiday Foods Around The Globe

I'm so happy to share global traditional from around the globe with you. It's one of my favorite things to discover in my travels. I always say we are all connected by food, it's the common denominator that reminds us we all play an important part in this big melting pot around the world.

Turkey is often regarded as the common Christmas meal but it appeared on the menu only around 1650 after European colonization of North America. It was introduced to Europe by Sebastian Cabot on his return from the New World. The bird got its name after merchants from Turkey made it a popular dish. Prior to this, goose, peacock or boar were associated with the Christmas feast. Seasonal foods vary with geographic locals and traditional family customs.


The US is a melting pot of cultures, so we have adopted a mix of many foreign traditions at Christmas time. Feasting on goose, turkeyhamcrown roast, a variety of root vegetables, squash, wild rice, and end our meal with a apple pie or pumpkin pie.


Christmas is in midsummer and lunch is often a barbecue of prawns, steak and chicken with ice cream or sorbet for desert, maybe cooked at the beach. 

Czech Republic: 

Traditionally the meal is eaten on Christmas Eve and consists of fish soup, salads, eggs and carp. The number of people at the table must be even or the one without a partner is supposed to be dead by next Christmas. (Incentive? How about rent a partner?) 


Traditional Christmas dinner will be a casserole of macaroni, rutabaga, carrot and potato, with ham or turkey. A mixed platter of meat and fish is also popular. After the meal it is a tradition to have a sauna and then to visit the graves of relatives. (Odd combination, but OK)


Roast Goose is the favored Christmas meal, accompanied by potatoes, cabbage, carrots, parsnip and pickles. The meal is usually eaten on Christmas Eve. Rural southern Germany feast on game like wild boar and venison. 


The Christmas feast may include Little Auks, (these are seabirds that are a bit like Penguins), wrapped in sealskin and buried for months until decomposed. 


Christmas lunch can run to seven courses including antipasto, a small portion of pasta, roast meat, two salads, two sweet puddings followed by cheese, fruit, brandy and chocolates.  


The traditional Christmas dinner is rice, gungo peas, chicken, ox tail and curried goat. 


Christmas Dinner is cooked brown peas with bacon sauce, small pies, cabbage and sausage. 


The Christmas meal is eaten on Christmas Eve and for coastal regions is traditionally cod, haddock and lutefisk. Inland they will dine on pork chops, Christmas meatloaf and special sausages are eaten. Farmers leave a bowl of nisse (gruel) in barns on Christmas Eve for the magic Gnome who protects their farms. 


A special Christmas meal is salted dry cod-fish with boiled potatoes eaten at midnight on Christmas Eve. 


Christmas food includes cakes, pies and meat dumplings. The mythical Babouschka is enjoying a resurgence following the ban under Communism. She brings gifts to Russian children rather than Santa Claus. 

South Africa: 

Christmas is during the hot summer season but the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings is still eaten at Christmas. 


A Smorgasbord Christmas meal eaten on Christmas Eve includes varieties of shellfish, pork, cooked and raw herring fish, caviar, cheeses and brown beans. 


Huge meat broths are eaten on Christmas Eve after which children await "Father Frost" to bring presents. 

United Kingdom:

Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies are top picks. The largest Christmas Pudding weighed 7,231 pounds (3.28 tons) and was made at Aughton, Lancashire on July 11, 1992. The largest Mince Pie weighed 2,260 pounds (1.02 tons) and measured 6.1m X 1.5m. It was baked in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire on October 15, 1932.

image: NTF

Thanksgiving Countdown: Cakes and Cookies

OK, I won’t be lining up today for seconds. I am more of a savory than a sweet kind-a-guy. But, these are memorable reliable tried-n-true recipes I created for you. All are pretty easy, and can be made in advance to lighten the last minute cooking load. I’ll be making the Lemon Ricotta Cake a few days before serving, because it actually tastes better a day or two old. 

Note to Self:  those bearing sweets always get invited back.

New York Style Cheese Cake

Carrot Cupcakes

Lemon Ricotta Cake

Lemon Bars

Honey Orange Cake