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Finally Ferragosto!

Vacation. Family. Beach and Eating.

These are my buzzwords for Ferragosto, one of my favorite Italian holidays that has always held a special place in my heart. Every year, the whole country of Italy takes off August 15th and heads to the beach, the mountains or just relaxes and enjoys a good meal.

Being completely unknown outside of Italy (and Italian-Switzerland), you must be asking yourself what IS Ferragosto?! So here is a brief history to bring you up to speed.

The word comes from the latin Feriae Augusti meaning “the holidays of Augustus”, referring to the emperor himself. It was set up as a holiday to celebrate the end of the harvest which was marked by a relief from extreme physical labor that comes with agricultural life. Eventually, Ferragosto was extended to take up most of the month. It wasn’t until the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini that people began planning longer vacation trips during the Mid-August holiday. This acted as a way for Mussolini to push members of higher society to take trips to other Italian cities or visit seaside resorts.

With globalization the world has experienced some great advances, but it has a caused a shrinkage of the holiday to keep up with competing economies around the world (although us Italians still like taking a nice long holiday in August if we can manage!) who don’t take the whole month off.

But to me, the holiday is much more than its history and trying to compete with rival, world economies. To me it represents a mandated summer day to spend with family and go to the beach. You see all your friends out doing the same thing, and it represents Italy to its core. Italians do things the way that we want, and for this reason, I know that

While it is harder to continue this tradition living in the US (I don’t think my doctor with give me a note for being “Too Italian” to bring into work for missing the day), my girlfriend and I have made a pact to do something special to keep this special day relevant and as a sign of our “Italianness”.

So, take my advice, and try Ferragosto out for yourself. There isn’t a bad thing about it and you definitely won’t regret it!

If you want to celebrate Ferragosto with me, come down to Via Umbria for a Ferragosto-themed movie night. We’ll be watching the classic film Il Sorpasso while enjoying a delicious mid-August pasta dinner.

Vacation. Family. Beach and Eating. These are my buzzwords for Ferragosto, one of my favorite Italian holidays that has always held a ...

Quick Summer Salads

ASPARAGUS AND RHUBARB SALAD
INGREDIENTS

10 stalks asparagus – ends broken off

3 stalks rhubarb – slightly shaved

2 cups pea shoots

¼ cup lemon juice

¼  cup extra virgin olive oil

1T honey

 

 

     DIRECTIONS

Lightly brush asparagus with olive oil and roast until tender.  Slice into 1” pieces. Slice the rhubarb into matchsticks. Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and honey.  Toss asparagus and rhubarb with dressing in a serving bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with pea shoots and lemon zest.

STRAWBERRY AND ASPARAGUS SALAD
INGREDIENTS

1 pint strawberries sliced

4 cups baby arugula

10 stalks asparagus – ends broken off

Goat Lady Chevre

Marcona Almonds

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

 

 

     DIRECTIONS

Lightly brush asparagus with olive oil and roast until tender.  Slice into 1” pieces. Put arugula in a serving bowl and add strawberries.  Whisk together vinegar and olive oil – season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss the arugula and strawberries. Top with dollops of goat cheese and almonds.

FAVA BEANS AND PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS
INGREDIENTS

1 pound fava beans shelled

3 Portobello Mushrooms cleaned

¼ pound aged pecorino shaved

⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

⅓ cup white wine vinegar

1 T dijon mustard

 

 

     DIRECTIONS

Steam fava beans for 1-2 minutes (should still be bright green) remove from heat and put on ice to quick chill.  Slice portobellos. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss together mushrooms and cooled favas.  Top with pecorino and serve.

ASPARAGUS AND RHUBARB SALAD INGREDIENTS 10 stalks asparagus - ends broken off 3 stalks rhubarb - slightly shaved 2 cups pea shoots ¼ cup lemon juice ¼  cup ...

Ciaramicola Recipe

This donut shaped cake with meringue frosting is pronounced Chara-mee-cola and is also Umbrian delicacy. Legen has it that there was a tradition where a woman would present the cake to her fiance on the morning of Easter Sunday. Now it is a common Easter cake in the Umbrian region and particularly the province of Perugia and we were introduced to this cake by our Umbrian friends, Marco and Chiara. The cake gets its pink tint from the Alchermes liqueur, which some believe to date back to the Renaissance. While not hard to find in Umbria, if you cannot find in the US, you can substitute it with a cranberry liqueur. Enjoy this slice of Umbria in your own kitchen! Buona Pasqua!

CIARAMICOLA
INGREDIENTS

450gr flour

250gr butter

350gr sugar (100 for meringue)

5 eggs (2 egg whites for meringue)

1 cup Alchermes

1 small cup of milk

1 lemon (juice and grated peel)

1 pinch of salt

16gr of baking powder

     DIRECTIONS

-Beat the eggs in with the sugar

-Add the melted butter, Alchermes, lemon, milk and sift in the flour

-Bake at 355F for 45 minutes

 -Remove the cake from the oven

-Beat the egg whites with the first salt at low speed

-Cook for 2 minutes in boiling, salted water and toss with sauce of choice

-Cover the cake with meringue and decorate as desired

-Put back in oven at 220/250F for 10 minutes

-Leave the cake in the oven to cool and dry with the oven door open

This donut shaped cake with meringue frosting is pronounced Chara-mee-cola and is also Umbrian delicacy. Legen has it that there was a tradition where a woman ...

An Umbrian Easter in DC

When our dear friends Marco Palermi and Chiara Cigogna come to Washington from Umbria, it might be an understatement to say that they bring the whole spirit of Umbria with them. With wit, warmth and wisdom, Marco and Chiara are the ideal ambassadors for this truly special region.

Marco and Chiara are well known to anyone who has visited our Umbrian farmhouse but for those who are unaware, they are Umbrians through and through and have built quite a following among the guests whom have they taken care of during their visits to Umbria.

But the true treasure of the green heart of Italy is its people and no one better represents Umbria than Marco and Chiara. We relish that their annual visit coincided with Easter this year as we get the opportunity to spend some time with these cultural ambassadors over a special Umbrian dinner at the chef’s table or at our traditional Umbrian Easter brunch.

But beyond their amazing personalities and hosting skills, their visit also means Umbrian delicacies are flying out of the Via Umbria kitchen at an even higher rate than usual! One of those specialties that is now available in our cafe, is the delicious Ciaramicola, pronounced Chara-mee-cola.

This special Easter cake is Umbrian to its core, and the tradition is that a woman would present this cake to her fiance on the morning of Easter Sunday,  But to be honest that traditional has been left in the dust because it is so good that everyone deserves the right to eat it!

So whether you join us around our communal table for Easter Brunch or Dinner with Marco and Chiara, or come in to the cafe to try some of their Umbrian delicacies, we guarantee you will be just as smitten as we are!

For the recipe for Ciaramicola, follow this link!

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When our dear friends Marco Palermi and Chiara Cigogna come to Washington from Umbria, it might be an understatement to say that they ...

Tagliatelle Recipe

Originating in Central Italy, Tagliatelle has grown to be dispersed throughout the whole boot of Italy. This long and flat pasta can be served with many different sauce, but it is most famous for being paired with a Bolognese meat sauce to create Tagliatelle al Ragù.  You will enjoy the hands on process of making this famous pasta, as well as the finished product!

TAGLIATELLE 
INGREDIENTS

200g semolina flour

200g type 00 flour

4 eggs

     DIRECTIONS

-On a large wooden cutting board, make a well with the flour. Crack eggs into the well. Using a fork, slowly beat the eggs and mix in the flour, being careful not to break the walls of the well

-After most of the egg and flour is incorporated, begin to knead the dough. Knead for at least 10 minutes, until very smooth.

-Cut dough into manageable pieces (3-4 balls) and begin to roll out as thin as possible

 -After dough is rolled out, fold the dough in onto itself, making 2 folds, starting from the outside and working in

-Carefully slice strips of pasta being careful not to press down on the dough. Shake out noodles and place on tray with semolina flour

-Cook for 2 minutes in boiling, salted water and toss with sauce of choice

Originating in Central Italy, Tagliatelle has grown to be dispersed throughout the whole boot of Italy. This long and flat pasta can be ...

Lemon Tart Recipe

Tarts are a very common form of dessert in Italy and Lemon is one of the most common flavors, as it is a naturally occurring fruit. For this reason, this type of dessert is very common, whether it is enjoyed in the morning with a cup of coffee or after dinner, it is guaranteed to please! (This is the recipe for the filling, but you are free to use any type of shell that you would like!)

LEMON TART FILLLING 
INGREDIENTS

12 egg yolks

12 eggs

1.5 cups sugar(granulated)

2 cups lemon juice

4 ea lemon zest

12 oz butter (3 sticks unsalted)

     DIRECTIONS

-Combine first 5 ingredients and whisk over double boiler until temp is about 130F

-Slowly add in butter and use a rubber spatula to keep the mixture moving so it does not scramble.

-When thick consistently, pour in pan, and layer parchment or plastic wrap on top so no skin is formed

 -Let cool in refrigerator

Tarts are a very common form of dessert in Italy and Lemon is one of the most common flavors, as it is ...

Crostini Umbri Recipe

This type of chopped liver pate is a specialty in the Umbria region of Italy and when served on a toasted piece of bread, it is simply called “Crostini Umbri”. Don’t write this delicious snack off without giving it a sample, and now you can try it in the comfort of your own kitchen! Enjoy!

CROSTINI UMBRI- CHICKEN LIVER PÂTÉ
INGREDIENTS

4 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 pound chicken livers

2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained

2 anchovy fillets

1 cup dry red wine

Salt and pepper

     DIRECTIONS

-Rinse livers and drain thoroughly. Trim any fatty bits or tough fibers.

-In a 10-12 inch sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add livers, capers, anchovies, and cook until livers are lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Add the wine, and cook until most of it has evaporated.

-Transfer all to food processor and pulse until thoroughly blended but coarse.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and spread generously on bread.

This type of chopped liver pate is a specialty in the Umbria region of Italy and when served on a toasted piece ...

Gnocchi with Porchetta Ragù Recipe

If Gnocchi couldn’t get any better, pairing it with Chef Liam’s Porrchetta Ragù makes you wish the pasta bowl was bottomless! Try this unique pairing of Gnocchi, which will not only be a fun and different preparation process to normal pasta, but is also guaranteed to be delicious when it’s time to sit down and enjoy!

GNOCCHI WITH PORCHETTA RAGÙ
INGREDIENTS

Gnocchi:

6 large potatoes, bolied

1 egg

salt and pepper

00 flour

Porchetta Ragù:

2 lbs cold porchetta

2 carrots, minced

2 celery sticks, minced

1 large onion, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

rosemary, sage, and bay leaves

tomato paste

olive oil

     DIRECTIONS

-Boil the potatoes in salty water with the skin on

-Peel the potatoes, rice them. Let cool.

-Add the egg and salt and pepper to taste

-Add the flour and mix. Continue mixing and add flour until the dough is smooth and not very sticky

-Make a tube and cut into 1-inch pieces.

-Meanwhile, in a large pot heat the olive oil and add the minced veggies and herbs.

-Stir occasionally and add the diced porchetta. Keep cooking for 10 minutes and add the tomatoes paste, Add salt and pepper to taste.

-Continue cooking for 1 hour in low heat.

-Boil gnocchi in salty water until they float. Drain well and add sauce to taste.

If Gnocchi couldn't get any better, pairing it with Chef Liam's Porrchetta Ragù makes you wish the pasta bowl was bottomless! Try ...

Chocolate Halzenut Tart Recipe

Our sweet tooth has continued, and there is no end in sight! We have begged Chef Liam to share another Dolce recipe so that we can try our hands with dessert once again. Not only is this Chocolate Hazlenut Tart simply delicious but it is also simple to make as there is no baking involved, mostly just stirring and mixing. Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE HALZENUT TART
INGREDIENTS

30oz chocolate

10oz Nutella

3 egg yolks

1.5 cups of granulated sugar

1 tspn sea salt

4.5 cups of heavy cream

.5 lbs cold butter cubes

     DIRECTIONS

Combine chocolate and Nutella in mixing bowl

Heat heavy cream and scald

In another bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar and salt

Slowly incorporate cream into egg yolks

Pour cream and egg yolk mixture into chocolate mixture with butter cubes and thoroughly combine

Pour complete mixture into tart molds and refigerate until set

Eat and enjoy!

Our sweet tooth has continued, and there is no end in sight! We have begged Chef Liam to share another Dolce recipe ...

Chocolate Souffle Recipe

There is no shame in having a bit of a sweet tooth, and indulging in the Dolce after a great meal! This Chocolate Souffle is the perfect way to indulge and the best part about it is that it is easy to make! Try your hand at it and enjoy!

CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE
INGREDIENTS

8 eggs

160g sugar

160g flour

500g dark chocolate

400g butter

     DIRECTION

Melt together the dark chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Let cool.

In a clean bowl whip together the eggs with the sugar until foamy. Slowly stir the eggs into the cooled    chocolate.  Add flour and stir slowly until mix  thoroughly.

Pour into small souffle cups and bake at °375 for 10 minutes.

 

 

There is no shame in having a bit of a sweet tooth, and indulging in the Dolce after a great meal! This Chocolate ...

St. Patrick was Italian?

As you could probably guess from the title of this blog post, we are going to suggest an unpopular and rarely heard theory about St. Patrick or San Patrizio: His heritage means he is Italian!

Of course this theory is in jest and is more of an excuse for us to celebrate the holiday that holds his name and celebrates his importance to the island nation of Ireland. Just to give our theory some relevance, St. Patrick was born in modern day Britain, but was during his time, in fact, part of the Roman Empire. By our records, this means that he would be the descendant, like many modern Italians, of the Roman population.

But poor St. Patrick was captured by Irish pirates at a young age and taken to the neighboring island where he would go on to famously banish all snakes and use the three leaf clover as a way to teach about the Catholic Church.

Putting the boring history aside, we will be honoring this “Italian” historical figure with St. Patrick’s weekend specials in our cafe! Come in to enjoy:

Traditional Irish Scones with Currants

Roasted Pear and Cashel Blue Crostini

Prosciutto Cotto(Ham) with Braised Cabbage, Potatoes and  Parsley Sauce

Irish Cheese Board

Pitchers of Beer

 

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As you could probably guess from the title of this blog post, we are going to suggest an unpopular and rarely heard ...

Sausage Ragù Recipe

Ragù can take on many forms, and Chef Liam has created this specialty with his handmade Umbrian Pork Sausage as his base. This ragù can be served with any type of pasta that you desire, and any of the housemade sausages we have in our butcher case. Stop in for all your ingredient needs before starting this masterpiece!Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 3.31.01 PM

Ragù can take on many forms, and Chef Liam has created this specialty with his handmade Umbrian Pork Sausage as his base. ...