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Chef Marco from Italy

Marco's Kitchen

New Member
I'm Marco from Italy, Lake Maggiore, I run a cooking school and I offer personal chef services in the villas in the area of Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta, Lake Como and Milan.

I hope to have you as a participant in one of my cooking classes or to prepare a delicious meal for you.

Happy to help if you have any questions about Italian food or the region where I live.

:)
 

joe

500+ Posts
Hello Marco and welcome to a friendly forum!

I indeed have a question for you. My wife and I have traveled to Italy 4 times in the past ten years, almost all the trips to Piemonte, with some time also spent in Liguria, Bologna, and the region around Verona. We have always been there in the autumn (late September-October), and are always amazed at the variety of seasonal produce in the markets at this time of year : olive oil, hazelnuts, grapes and wine, corn, pumpkins, pears, truffles and many other crops. Simply a great delight for us, and a significant part of our holidays is spent touring markets, attending regional events celebrating the harvests, and just enjoying local products and making meals with them.

We have been thinking of perhaps going next time in the spring, probably May. I'd like to ask you how you would compare these two times of year with regards to seasonal produce? And if I may ask, do you, as a chef, have any preference for either season when it comes to what is available at the market?

My impression is that the markets in Italy are great all year round, each season having something special - but we have never been there except for autumn. Thanks!
 

Marco's Kitchen

New Member
Hi Joe,
nowadays there are some products that you can find in any season. If it's not the season they come from greenhouses, but the taste is different Examples: eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, etc.
Some products are strictly seasonal: for example truffles or porcini mushrooms. that cannot be cultivated, or tangerine and oranges
As you maybe know in Italy in the south it's warmer than in the north, so usually the seasonality of products is extended, some products come in spring first from the south of Italy and then from the north.
Regarding your timing choice: in May usually, the weather is fine, in the north sufficiently warm and in the South hot enough to start swimming in the sea, mostly avoiding the crowd.
 

Ian Sutton

500+ Posts
Hi Joe
I think we have a lot in common! Definitely plenty of shared holiday interests, as well as an enjoyment of Piemonte. That time of year has always been a favourite for us as well, initially for the slightly cooler (but still warm) temperatures, but also for the seasonal foods.

If it's not late September to early November for us, then late April - May has typically been our alternative. Less in the way of food festivals, but there are some. The early season vegetables can be excellent (worth checking white Asparagus season up in the north east) and celebrated. However two long time favourites for us have been:

Alpine/woodland/wild strawberries - Fragoline di Bosco, which usually make an early appearance in fruit/veg shops and markets. Tiny little things, but with huge intensity and more than a hint of violet (apparently betraying Strawberry's genetic links to roses). I grow these in the garden (a mix of bought seeds and some wild plants we had growing locally that we liberated prior to a building development going up where they are).

Nespole (loquat) - My favourite fruit of all, but one that has a short and early season (from memory April-May). Incredibly juicy and whilst sweet, it also has a faint touch of bitterness that adds to the experience. It ought to be a huge seller, however it has one major drawback for retail, that it bruises incredibly easily, which makes retailers reluctant to stock it. That's a shame as minor bruising has little effect on the flavour and is (IMO) a good sign that it's properly ripe. The large seeds are easy enough to grow in the UK, and the young saplings seem to survive winter ok, but whether they will grow large enough to bear fruit, I'm not so sure.

I'll also mention that the Kiwi fruit we got from a wonderful fruttivendolo in Torino (le Primizie di Osvaldo, via San Quintino 48, nearer the Porta Susa end than the Porta Nuova end). All their fruit (and indeed later in the year, their white truffle) was excellent by any standard, but their Kiwi fruit in April/May was exceptional and unlike any I've had before or since - like a Kiwi Fruit sherbet, with vibrant flavour and acidity.

So a different food experience, but one that I very much look forward to.

Regards
Ian
 

Marco's Kitchen

New Member
HI Jan,

if you come again to Milan, I'm 30 minutes by car from Malpensa airport, come and see me:
Fragoline di bosco - I have them because I live in a house in the wood
Nespole & kiwi - my father ln law supply me, he has trees (he lives 5 minutes by car from me),
I also prepare jam for personal consumption

regards
Marco
 

joe

500+ Posts
Marco and Ian, thanks very much for your replies - much appreciated.

We have loquats here in their (short) season, however if you don't eat them fresh from the tree, they taste a bit "industrial" - I suppose that they have been hybridized to death here. They are grown under netting to prevent bird damage. Hope that in Italy things have gone better. Usually anything we eat in Italy tastes better...

We saw a lot of kiwi orchards in Piemonte, but were never there when the fruit was ripe - there seems to be a rather large amount of cropland devoted to this in the area near Cuneo. One of the agriturismi we stayed at was smack in the middle of this region. It would be interesting to see how the Italian varieties compare to what is grown here.

We will definitely have to try spring time if the opportunity arises, if only for the new experience....
 

Ian Sutton

500+ Posts
there seems to be a rather large amount of cropland devoted to this in the area near Cuneo. One of the agriturismi we stayed at was smack in the middle of this region.
Not Tetto Garrone by any chance?
We stayed there a while back and enjoyed it very much.
 

Ian Sutton

500+ Posts
HI Jan,

if you come again to Milan, I'm 30 minutes by car from Malpensa airport, come and see me:
Fragoline di bosco - I have them because I live in a house in the wood
Nespole & kiwi - my father ln law supply me, he has trees (he lives 5 minutes by car from me),
I also prepare jam for personal consumption

regards
Marco

A lovely offer Marco. We've just had a single day in Milano so far, but have stayed not too far away in Ghemme a couple of times. It's a very untouristy place, but has an 'inner charm' that we've warmed to.
 

joe

500+ Posts
Not Tetto Garrone by any chance?
We stayed there a while back and enjoyed it very much.

We definitely do have a lot in common! Here's three cheers for Tetto Garrone! We've stayed there twice, and they will be our eternal choice for accommodations around Cuneo. What a lovely family and beautiful farmhouse. We've sat with them around a campfire roasting chestnuts, and they let me help a bit last time with the harvest. Fulvio is such a great host. The communal kitchen is a real plus for us as well.

Tetto Garrone does border on a kiwi orchard, but the place I was referring to is north of there, just outside Verzuolo. The farm is called Cascina Giselberga, and it is also right beside a big kiwi packing house (Kiwi Uno).
A lovely place, but after staying at Tetto on our second trip, there's no going back...

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Ian Sutton

500+ Posts
Fulvio is such a great host. The communal kitchen is a real plus for us as well.
Indeed - someone who has a genuine passion for his region and for his guests to have information and access to what they want from it. I was secretly rather delighted when a young Italian couple agreed to have some of the fried porcini I was cooking up. Nothing fancy, the most basic of seasoning and good local butter. Chef Marco would I'm sure do a much better job, but they went down well (thank the quality of the produce). We also have a very fond memory of an evening spent watching some Italian TV with Fulvio's mother.
 

joe

500+ Posts
We also have a very fond memory of an evening spent watching some Italian TV with Fulvio's mother.
If there is one reason that I am sorry that my Italian skills are so limited, it is the fact that I can't have a conversation with her....
 

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