Hazelnuts in the Alta Langa, Nebbiolo - a star of Piedmont, Palio Tour 2019 and scenes from the spring
Ciao a tutti!
We had ANOTHER fabulous time in both Tuscany and Piedmont this month! Awesome people who chose to travel with us this spring made our trips exceptional. We thoroughly enjoyed sharing our insights and expertise in these two regions of Italy. We are always thrilled when return clients want to explore a different region with us and we welcomed 3 people back this Spring! Grazie mille! 

Just a little behind in getting this month's newsletter out. We were having so much fun in Italy, it just got pushed to the back burner (on simmer!) . Read on... we're highlighting some of the delights of Piedmont - the IGP hazelnuts, a recipe and the nebbiolo grape!
   
Buon appetito!
Gina and Mary
Hazelnuts in the Alta Langhe
One of the most beautiful features of the Piedmont region is the landscaped rolling hills of vineyards and hazelnut groves. In the Langhe area hilltop towns crowned with castles complete the picturesque landscape designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here a specific type of hazelnut is cultivated and protected under strict agricultural regulations. The variety is called, Tonda Gentile and has a perfect shape, thin shell almost completely filled with fruit and delicate flavor. This hazelnut grown in the Alta Langhe (south of Alba) is the only variety of hazelnut to have the IGP certification (Indicazione Geografica Protetta or protected designation of origin), which speaks to its superior quality. Other parts of Italy also produce hazelnuts, but Piedmont's hazelnuts and specifically this variety are considered the best.
 
There are many recipes for hazelnuts, of course, and in Piedmont chocolate and hazelnuts are married perfectly in a multitude of ways.  I know, always coming back to our favorite -- hazelnuts and chocolate! Think nutella, gianduia, torrone and gelato. But just as many savory dishes showcase hazelnuts, and the Piemontese include them in their traditional dishes. While in Barolo earlier this month, we enjoyed a delectable "Hazelnut Encrusted Guinea Fowl" that was out of this world delicious!  [Recipe below]  Be sure to use a good quality chicken breast, and this dish will remain a mainstay on your table all summer.
 
You can buy IGP hazelnuts on line here. Or buy them when you come to Piedmont with us, we visit a producer of these delicious nuts!  
Nebbiolo - one of Italy's top wines
The nebbiolo grape is considered the most prestigious grape of northern Italy and is grown primarily in Piedmont and Lombardy. It is a grape that's been around since the Roman times and today, some of Italy's finest wines are made solely with the nebbiolo grape.  
 
The DOCG nebbiolo wines are named after a town or geographic area - for example: Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero, Gattinara, Ghemme, Alba, and Langhe Nebbiolo all are made from 100% nebbiolo grapes. They are wines known for a beautiful garnet color, floral aromas contrasted with high tannin and acidity with great aging potential. The wines will vary in their tannin, acidity, alcohol and flavor profile depending on the type of soil and geographic area for the grapes. Same grape, but different wines produced. These rich, full bodied wines pair perfectly with the foods of the area. Try a Nebbiolo d'Alba DOC or a Barbaresco DOCG with the Hazelnut encrusted Chicken Breast recipe below!
This Month's Italian saying...
"Ne vale la pena"!

In translation - It is worth it!  Literally: "The pain is worth it"  
Ever suffer through something, but the pain was worthy in getting the result?  Like maybe enduring an overnight flight to Italy in coach and once you get there,  
you can enjoy your destination? 
Hazelnut Encrusted Chicken Breasts
Boneless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally and pounded to make thin cutlets. (2 breasts usually will yield 6 or 7 pieces).  
Flour for dredging; 2 eggs, beaten lightly; Breadcrumbs (without sugar or high fructose corn syrup), coarsely ground hazelnuts (about 1/3 cup, hold some back for topping at the end so that your mixture is 2/3 breadcrumbs and 1/3 hazelnuts),  
1 T butter and 2 T olive oil for sautéing.
 
Heat the oil and butter in a sauté pan. Salt the chicken on each side. Put in 3 separate dishes the flour, egg, and breadcrumbs mixture. Working with one cutlet at a time, dredge a cutlet in flour, shaking off excess. Transfer to egg dish, turn cutlet to coat both sides. Allow excess egg to drain off. Transfer to bread crumb mixture and coat both sides. Cook about 2 minutes a side, working in batches, don't crowd pan. Top each cutlet with a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts and a little chopped Italian parsley. With steamed zucchini or green beans for a side and a Nebbiolo d'Alba you have dinner!
The Palio of Siena 2019
We are offering an exciting tour of the July Palio of Siena next year! This tour is a week filled with history, events, special dinners and high emotions. Gina lived and breathed the Palio in her contrada - The Selva and we offer you the most inclusive, insider's view and experience to this great event that happens in Siena twice a year. We'll be joining the festivities leading up to and including the July 2nd Palio. The dates: June 28 - July 3, with an optional 2 day food and wine tour after the Palio events are over. T he deadline to sign up is August 1, 2018.   
 
Is it the most exciting sporting event in the world? Well, it is more than just a 90 second bareback spin around the Piazza del Campo, Siena's main square. There are ongoing rivalries and competition between the contrade (the neighborhoods in Siena). The lead-up and the day of the race teem with traditions, passion and pride. We'll immerse ourselves in everything "Palio" during our tour! Check out the website for more information.   

Our Culinary Tours to Italy
Interested in traveling with us? Be sure to check out the schedule - 2019 is filling up.
 
A few pictures from our time in Tuscany and Piedmont this spring! There was a lot of wine... 
Enjoying lunch after our cooking class 
 
Dinner at the villa 
 
Exploring the castle 
 
Aperol spritz for everyone & toasting the birthday girls! 
We are thrilled when our guests rave about their experience with us on our personal, small group tours! If you loved your week with Ecco La Cucina Culinary Tours, we urge you to share your memories with your friends, on Trip Advisor, Facebook!
 
Gina Stipo and Mary Stipo Potter | Ecco La Cucina| 1-972-342-8308| Email | Website
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