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Experiencing Agriturismo in Italy's Piedmont Region Print E-mail
Written by Melissa Pellegrino and Matt Scialabba   
Langhe Peppers from PiedmontThe region of Piedmont is not one of the more famous regions of Italy -- certainly not as famous as Tuscany or Sicily -- but in terms of its abundance, it ranks right up there as one of the best. Truffles, Barolo and Barbaresco wines, chestnuts, and fabulous produce in every season, the region is a food lover’s dream. Adding to the beauty and character of the region is the fact that a majority of the farms are family-run and many have become agriturismi: working farms offering lodging and meals to adventurous travelers. We spent four months traveling through Northern Italy and working at the agriturismi. As chefs and cookbook writers, we learned about the close connection to the land and the rhythm of farm life and brought these experiences to our cookbook “The Italian Farmer's Table.”

In September, we will be taking a group to Piedmont to experience the agriturismo culture first hand.  For more information on what we think will be a great adventure, check out our website: or contact Ashley at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 860-729-1185

To get you in the mood, here is a recipe from the Piedmont region – a great one if you (or your local farmers market) has a yield of peppers coming soon. (Click "read more" for recipe.)
It's Farm-to-Fork at the "Dinner in the Barn" Series From Moody's Bistro & Lounge Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   
Moody's Barn DinnerAnybody who’s been to the North Lake Tahoe town of Truckee knows that Moody’s Bistro & Lounge is an institution, known both for its jazz and for its food, with its emphasis on seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. This summer, Moody’s will again take diners to the root (as it were) of those ingredients with its third annual “Dinner in the Barn” series. For this, Moody’s executive chef and co-owner, Mark Estee, has partnered with Gary Romano of Sierra Valley Farms, a certified organic farm and native plant nursery on the Feather River near Sierraville, to provide four-course meals in the farm's 1936-era barn (built by Romano’s uncles) over eight evenings this summer: June 19-20, July 24-25, August 28-29 and September 4-5.

Each meal will be put together by Chef Estee and Moody’s Chef de Cuisine Guy Frenette using fresh organic vegetables that are picked that day and paired with appropriate wines and live music. Before dinner, guests are encouraged to tour the farm. Romano will talk about how the vegetables are picked and then Estee will talk about how they were prepared -- in other words, it's about as farm-to-table (or, as Romano calls it, farm-to-fork) as you can get.

Cost for each “Dinner in the Barn” event, which is limited to 60 people, is $125 per person. This includes the four-course dinner, wine, beverages, farm tour, tax and tip. Transportation to and from the farm dinner will be available through Truckee Tahoe Transportation. For reservations to “Dinner in the Barn,” call Moody’s at (530) 587-8688 or for more information on "Dinner in the Barn" (or the summer cooking classes) visit
Mii Amo's Red Rock Garden (and Gazpacho!) Print E-mail
Written by Bekah Wright,   

Mii amo gardenAs a fan of GardenstoTables, I keep an eye out for gardens during my travels. Mii amo, a destination spa at Enchantment, did not disappoint. Though the red rocks of Sedona hinted at dry heat, the area was lush with vegetation. Tucked away by the side of the spa was a pathway that led to an intimate, fenced-in garden with 60’ x 25’ dimensions. Propped up against the fence was the bicycle of Doug Copp, the local, organic gardener who lends his services to Mii amo’s herb-and-vegetable garden.

Copp was more than happy to give a tour of the garden, which was making the transition from winter to summer plants. He escorted me through the raised beds with their irrigation system. “Mii amo was looking for a more sustainable way to raise food,” Copp says, “so they started the garden in 2008.” Organic composting and a worm garden of little red wigglers was also part of the venture. “Mii amo believes in garden to table, then back to the garden,” Copp says of the philosophy behind the compost.

As for the plants they choose to grow, Copp says Mii amo Chef Steve Sicinski supplies him with a wish list that ranges from mint for mojitos to habanero chilis. In most cases, Copp starts the plants at his home from seed, then replants them in the garden. “People are always surprised to hear it freezes here six months out of the year,” he explains, which is also one of the reasons a floating row cover can often be found in the garden. (Click "read more" for rest of story and gazpacho recipe.)

Seed, Sow and Sup in Los Olivos, California Print E-mail
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Written by Ann Shepphird   

Bernat vineyardsThe town of Los Olivos in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley may best be known as the place that almost put merlot growers out of business: It was outside the Los Olivos Café that the character of Miles gave his diatribe against the grape in the film “Sideways.” (Fans of the film may also remember the café for its wall of wine, shown behind the characters as they dined.)

The irony is that Los Olivos is located within an incredibly rich agricultural region and truly seems to understand the importance of its local growers. The Los Olivos Café even lists the local farmers whose produce is featured on that day’s menu, and the owners, Sam and Shawnda Marmorstein, own and run the organic Bernat Vineyards & Winery (pictured, above).

Vineyard RetreatThe 10-acre Bernat property will be the site for an event on June 19 that doesn’t just celebrate local farmers, chefs and winemakers but brings guests to where it all begins: the land itself. With a table set between Bernat’s organic vineyards and the organic farm run by Shu Takikawa, “Seed, Sow, Supper” will serve produce gathered that morning and prepared with locally grown grass-fed beef and chicken and topped off with local wines. For more information on the event, which will benefit the Santa Ynez Valley Jewish Community, visit or call (805) 693-4243.

Those who can’t make the dinner – or who just want to take their wine-country experience a step closer to the actual grapes – can stay at Bernat’s new Vineyard Retreat (pictured, right), a one-bedroom guesthouse on the Bernat property with a quiet atmosphere, a view of vines and an array of animals (three horses, two dogs and a very friendly cat) to greet you. Included in the stay is a bottle of Bernat wine and a $10 coupon to the Los Olivos Café.

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