Spring Lamb
Travel in Italy, Florence apartments
Ciao a tutti!
Ah, spring...beautiful, sunny, warmer days...followed by bone chilling cold and snow. Makes us wish for hot summer days!  Spring vegetables are showing up - artichokes, fresh peas and asparagus in some parts of the world. This time of the season we see a lot of lamb - agnello - on the menus in Italy and it is delizioso now!  Below is Gina's latest blog about spring lamb.

We were in Italy at the beginning of March and saw SNOW there. It's been a very unusual, late winter in southern (and northern too we've heard) Italy with late arriving snow pretty far south. Rome was freezing and there were piles of snow everywhere. We didn't stay but went on to Puglia. I'm sure it was all very beautiful coming down and covering everything in white but we had to get on to the heel of the boot!  Our dates are set for our 2019 Puglia tours and we have a wonderful tour planned for this region! Non vedo l'ora!  (Read on for its meaning below)

Buon appetito!
Gina and Mary
Spring Lamb
While this season brings us spring vegetables like peas, asparagus and artichokes, by far the most important spring food in Italy is the lamb!

Traditionally, the season for lambing - when a mama sheep gives birth - was spring, and
the cycle of life meant that the mama was kept for her milk to make pecorino cheese, many of the lambs were slaughtered for food. And before the days of refrigeration, vacuum packing and freezers, the meat had to be consumed right away. Hence the dishes of "spring lamb" that abound! Luckily we can now enjoy lamb all year long, whether roasted or grilled over open coals.
Most of the lamb we get in the US is raised in Australia or New Zealand, both fantastic countries for raising sheep. Many new sheep-raising farms are in Colorado, which is becoming famous for its lamb. But the great news for us here in Kentucky is that lots of farms here have revived the historic tradition of raising sheep in Kentucky!

Kentucky apparently was famous for its sheep, the famed bluegrass being healthy for sheep as well as race horses. One farm that stands out is Freedom Run Farm, run by Valerie Samutin www.freedomrunfarm.org

We serve roasted lamb in the spring and grilled lamb all summer long, and in cooler months I'll
braise a leg of lamb in Chianti (that recipe's in my cookbook, by the way, Ecco La Cucina!). Racks roasted whole and placed on a bed of rosemary and mint, or cut into chops and grilled over hard wood; butterflied leg of lamb, grilled over open coals and then topped with herb butter or mint salsa verde (pictured) and sliced to serve, revealing the juicy red meat inside the dark, crisp exterior.

Sometimes, when I tell people arriving for dinner what's on the menu, there will be someone who looks alarmed when I say "lamb." They'll say "oh, I don't like lamb. My mom used to make it." And I tell them: "I'm going to grill it and send you a small piece before it's served. If you don't love it, I'll make you something else." And after they put that delicious, juicy piece of lamb meat, done to perfection, into their mouths, every single person has exclaimed "That's delicious! I'll eat that!!" I love my job.

So here's to a happy spring and the hopes of getting those grills out, firing them up and grilling some lamb. Whether Kentucky, Colorado or down under, we hope you'll enjoy this delicious meat all summer long!
This Month's Italian saying...
Non vedo l'ora!
We'll say this in Italian when we want to say something like: "I'm looking forward to it"!
In translation it means - "I don't see the time" and in other words....
"I'm so excited that I can't even perceive of the day/hour when it will happen.
What are your travel dreams for 2018 and beyond?
If a culinary focused tour is on your list, consider joining Gina and Mary to explore
the wonderful regions of Italy. Dates are on our website for 2019! (click here)

What's new with our tours? 
This October we'll be making a stop in Bologna at the end of our Tuscany tours - check out the dates and details here!  We've added a 3 day tour of Bologna and its delicacies
next June in between Piedmont and The Palio tour.

We've got 2 weeks in September 2019 scheduled for Puglia. Followed by our Tuscany adventure (also 2 weeks offered here). Check out the details on our website and join us.

Celebrating a 'big' birthday or anniversary?  Our tours are a wonderful way to celebrate with our small group tours based in some of the most beautiful regions of Italy - Tuscany, Piedmont, Puglia and Emila Romagna. With us you'll feel like you're with a group of friends. The smallness of our groups allows you to enjoy and learn and see places you'd never find on your own. Enjoy Italy with us - worry free and relaxing! We are with you every step of the way to show you the best each region has to offer.  

Check out this article written about us and our life-changing trips in Italy! 
Not sure where to start? Give Mary a call (972) 342-8308 or mary@eccolacucina.com! 
Antique & Vintage Tour in Tuscany this May!
Are you a last minute planner and love antiquing and shopping? There are only two spots left for a tour given by friends of ours - May 4-13, 2018. They explore the countryside hill towns and some of the more famous Tuscan cities of Florence (fabulous finds here!) and Siena with a stop in Rome at the end of their tour. If you're interested - click here for more details. Call or email questions! It sounds like a fun girlfriends' trip! Join like minded people and explore Tuscany with these gals!
Florence Apartment
Our good friend has a spectacular apartment in a quiet area of Florence that she is renting. This is just a 7 minutes walk to the Duomo, but yet on a quiet street away from the partying crowds. Close and convenient! It is in a former palazzo on the second floor and has amazing features - an original fresco from the 1700s along with all the modern conveniences and spacious too. Mary is handling the rentals, so contact her if you're going to Florence. Its a better alternative to AirBnB! You know what you're getting plus Gina and Mary have stayed there and can vouch that its fabulous! 972-342-8308 or mary@goitalyhomes.com

Gina Stipo and Mary Stipo Potter | Ecco La Cucina| 1-972-342-8308| Email | Website