Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Song

Summer at the Villa - as in most places - is a very special, magical time. People open themselves up to their surroundings. They seem to feel like they want to be a part of their spiritual surroundings. The scents, the light, the flora are accentuated by only one thing - the sound of human song. As some of you already know and have seen, music exists in our kitchen. It makes the meal transcend simple nourishment. It also exists outdoors. As the sun begins to set, our voices rise to slowly lower the sun and gingerly raise the moon. But, being human, we can't help but laugh: it relieves the tension. We're not accustomed to baring our souls. The atmosphere makes us giddy with delight - and we break the spell.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fashion 2011

In case you thought all we did at the villa was eat, drink, dance and sing, here's a recent example of something else that happens at the villa every year: an exquisite fashion show with large crowds, beautiful models and style galore.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Why our food tastes so good

Many people often wonder why the food tastes so much better - even if you cook the exact same dish here, using the same ingredients, it somehow always tastes better in Italy. Some people say it's the water, some say it's the air, and some say it's the sun. Although any or all of those MIGHT be true, here's a video showing exactly why it's better at the Villa:

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Weather wasn't great but the guests were.

We had two groups at the villa in late April/early May: One group was from Manchester England that comprised of at least three members of the widely acclaimed band, Elbow. You can see one of their performances here:

The second group (without their own CD's) was made up of guests from Washington, DC, Virginia, Alabama and Los Angeles mostly. John Vocino and Diane Evans, the hosts of the group, came to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. Besides having a totally entertaining Toga Party, they also decided to renew their vows with their family and friends. The ceremony was held up the street at the church of Santa Maria di Cesano, erected in 1055 AD and was officiated by the Monsignor Don Gaetano Valente - also the town historian. The Vocino's great-niece, Lucia Vocino Tarquinia, sang a goosebump-inducing rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" accompanied by her own beautiful guitar-playing.
When we returned to the villa, we were greeted and serenaded by a traditional folk group that sang Italian songs of country life from a hundred years ago. And a huge feast was prepared and served outside on the loggia. Needless to say, the entire week was emotionally packed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Year's Eve 2010

There's no better way to ring in the New Year than with family and friends. As usual, Steven prepared an AMAZING meal. He cooked all local dishes that had the guests bewildered: "How can a guy from Texas cook dishes from Terlizzi that are better than our mothers'?" Yet he does - year in and year out. And how do you work off such a great meal? With dancing, of course! But our wine cellar wasn't big enough for this year's party so we inaugurated our new Great Hall that is perfect for parties, banquets, conferences and exhibits. Take a look.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Christmas 2010

The past few years, I've been spending the Holidays at the villa. It's quiet, beautiful, relaxing and, I must say, downright contemplative. In fact, the past two years I've spend Christmas Eve and day by myself. As much as I like being social and spending holidays with friends and family, I can't bring myself to spending a day like Christmas with families that have young children - especially Italian children. At the expense of sounding totally Scrooge-like, Italian children seem to be the most spoiled, ill-behaved little monsters on the planet. God bless them. God spare me.
This is the first year we've put up a Christmas - see, I'm not a total Scrooge. In fact, we put up three Christmas trees. My three kids - not the spoiled, Italian kind - bought me a great gift this year. Rather than buy me something that would certainly pass with time, they bought me three cypress trees to replace the ones that fell down a couple of years ago. Before planting them in the garden, we grouped them together in the wine cellar and made them look like one giant Christmas tree by wrapping strings of lights around the grouping and then tying red ribbons on the branches. After New Year's, we planted them in their permanent place in the garden. Thanks kids!

Also, this year Terlizzi was lit up like never before. It was absolutely magical!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thanksgiving #5

This was our Fifth Annual All-American Thanksgiving. It's a feast that everyone enjoys and that Italians find wonderfully peculiar. We prepare things they've never tasted: stuffing, cranberry sauce, pecan pies and bars, etc. The feast also helps dispel Italians' notion that in America we only eat junk food. This year we also had the pleasure of our friend's, Dan Berndt, company. And Dan takes some of the most amazing pictures. Here are just a few samples.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Men Who Shall Cook

Mid-October brought a very interesting group of people - from Canada. Eight gentlemen with an appetite not just for eating but for cooking, drinking, sightseeing and just enjoying each other's company decided to leave their wives and varied women-folk back in Nova Scotia and take a trip down Puglia way. Two are very well-know chefs with wonderful restaurants in Canada and the rest were just friends who wanted to eat, sleep and be merry learning how to cook. And cook they did! They are avid followers of Slow Food (even though the local butcher was a little too slow in procuring just the right cut of pork for their porchetta) and just general lovers of all that is good in the world. They even video-recorded the entire week for a documentary to be broadcast in Canada. Oscar has yet to join them.