Spring Tour USA 2016 - Events Schedule

Seattle Events February 5-12

Feb 5 - Delaurenti - Trampetti Olive Oil Tasting, from 1:00 - 6:00
Feb 6 - The Shop Agora - Terre Margaritelli wine & Trampetti Olive Oil Tasting, from 2:00 - 6:00
Feb 9 - PoggiBonsi (Renton) - cooking class with me, wine & olive oil tasting 6:00 - 8:00
Feb 10 - PoggiBonsi (Renton) - cooking class with me, wine & olive oil tasting 6:00 - 8:00
Feb 11 - Barnacle - Terre Margaritelli & Trampetti wine & olive oil tastings 3:00 - 6:00

Nashville Events Feb 15-17

Washington DC Events Feb 19-28 at Via Umbria in Georgetown:

Feb 19 - Cooking Class with me & Terre Margaritelli tasting
Feb 20 - Terre Margaritelli winemaker dinner
Feb 24 - Trampetti Olive Oil tasting
Feb 25 - Terre Margaritelli winemaker dinner
Feb 26 - Cooking Class with me & Terre Margaritelli tasting
Feb 27 - Terre Margaritelli winemaker dinner
Feb 28 - Terre Margaritelli winemaker dinner

Grand Cayman Feb 29-March 11
(ok, this is vacation, but if you are there and want to organize something or just hang out, let me know!)

Philadelphia & NYC Events March 13-23

March 15 - Boffi Soho showroom (NYC) cooking demo & Terre Margaritelli wine tasting
March 16 - Boffi Soho showroom (NYC) cooking demo & Terre Margaritelli wine tasting
TBA - Urbani Truffles (NYC) cooking demo & Terre Margaritelli wine tasting

rest of dates TBA

Spring Tour USA 2016!

As some of you already know we are planning our big US Tour!  In each city we will be holding private dinners, Terre Margaritelli wine tastings, Trampetti olive oil tastings, cooking classes and much more!  Below you will find the dates for each city, if you would like to organize a private wine dinner (minimum 8 people), send me an email and we will do our best to accommodate you.  Follow along on my social media for our upcoming event calendar!

Seattle: February 5-12

Nashville: February 15-17

Washington DC: February 19-28

Grand Cayman: March 1-11

Philadelphia/NYC area: March 13-23

100th Rave Reviews on TripAdvisor!

I'm proud to announce that we have just received our 100th outstanding review on TripAdvisor!  Thanks to my partners and travellers to Umbria for making each experience unique and fun! Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 16.02.26


My New Food & Wine Tours in Umbria for 2015!

See Umbria through the eyes of a Chef with
Jennifer from Life Italian Style!

A professional chef since 1998 by way of Philadelphia and Seattle, Jennifer is now a private chef and leader of active Food & Wine tours in the heart of Umbria. She works closely with the local, artisan producers she has met over the years and keeps her ears open at the markets, always ready to learn a new traditional recipe from an Italian Nonna to share with you!

Custom Food & Wine Tours
Single or multiple day tours available for guided exploration of the best local artisan producers in Umbria!

Private Chef in Umbria
A classic Umbrian dinner prepared directly in guest villa, using only the best local and seasonal ingredients. Umbrian DOC wines included. “Pizza Night” available for those staying in villas with a pizza oven. Please enquire for Cooking Classes as well!

Cycling Tour of the Umbrian Valley
Tour along country roads with a professional Italian guide through the beautiful vineyard and olive grove covered hills of the Umbrian Valley, stopping in small villages along the way. A full Umbrian Picnic lunch in the countryside completes the day!
Hiking and Walking Tours also available.

Horseback Riding & Winery Lunch
A 45 minute tour on horseback (no experience necessary) through the vineyards of the Terre Margaritelli winery in the countryside of Torgiano (just outside of Perugia), followed by a tour of the winery, wine tasting and lunch.

Nature Abounds in the Valnerina
We begin our day with a visit to a local pecorino cheese maker to see the production of various sheep’s milk cheeses.  This is followed by a visit to a local family which specializes in saffron production. We will then take a walk through the forest with them to forage for edible and medicinal herbs. Afterwards we enjoy a lunch with a guided tasting of local sheep & goat cheeses as well as delicacies prepared with foraged greens.

Farm to Table Tour
Our first stop is at a unique stone flour mill and wood-fired oven bakery. We learn about breadmaking beginning with grain!  We then move up to a local farm where a local family raises animals for salumi making, meat and cheese production. We will make cheese and pasta with Nonna Rita before indulging in a traditional farm lunch.
*Wild Asparagus hunting in the Spring
*Truffle hunting available in June and July

The Artisans of Perugia
We begin at the base of the historic town with a visit to the weekly farmers’ market. Then we will move up into the center to discover the lost art of weaving jaquard and silks on 17th century looms. We then stroll through the city stopping in artisanal bottegas along the ways before enjoying lunch in an enoteca known for its exclusive use of Umbrian products.

Meat Lover’s Tour
A tour of a local farm which raises prize-winning Chianina (native white cow of Italy), Cinta Senese pigs, sheep, birds, and crops. Included is a brief demonstration of butchery & salumi making. We then move on to the Terre Margaritelli for a lunch of grilled meats from the farm accompanied by a wine tasting & tour.

Wine and Chocolate Tour
We will first visit an artisanal chocolate producer to see how some of their specialties are produced.  From there we will move on to the Terre Margaritelli winery for a tour of the winery and full wine tasting lunch.

Umbrian Cooking Class & Lunch
Cooking classes are held in the rural village of Cannara, located in the heart of Umbria between Asissi and Spello or directly in guest villa. They are based around the best local ingredients in season, and includes making antipasto, primo, secondo and dolce followed by a lunch (eating what we just made, of course!)

Please contact Jennifer directly
at [email protected]
for booking and information!



Decoding Italy: Wine!

IMG_6179One of the biggest challenges for visitors to Italy is usually trying to understand Italian wine labels.  Yes, it can be daunting task for the uninitiated, but after learning a few simple rules, the whole endeavor becomes much more potable...

Classification  All Italian wines are classified according to their designation or denomination.  It is a way to help guarantee to the consumer what type of wine to expect in the bottle.  I like to think of these designations as concentric circles.

The smallest circle would be DOCG Denominazione di Origine Controllata e IMG_3312Garantita.  These wines are identifed by a purplish tag placed on the cap of the bottle.  DOCG controlled wines have very strict requirements which range from how densely the vines can be planted, to how much alcohol is in the wine, to aging requirements, color, fragrance, and of course, which grapes to use in each wine.  The wine must also be produced from grape to bottle within a very specific zone, and the bottles are counted and analyzed by government officials.  These wines typically carry a heavier price tag due to the costs of production.  This is not a guarantee that it will be an amazing wine - it is only a guarantee that the winemaker followed the specific rules of vinification during the winemaking process!  Here are a few examples: 

Continue reading "Decoding Italy: Wine!" »

An Italian Recipe...

This week some students of mine asked me to teach them how to make a certain type of cookie that they had been eating in nearby Spello.  Now remember, here in Umbria (as well as pretty much all of Italy) recipes and typical dishes can vary greatly from town to town - even villages just 10 km apart, like Spello and Cannara.

Continue reading "An Italian Recipe..." »

Wine Soaked Memories

....oh, where to begin?!  We are wrapping up the main season of 2014 (of course, we are always here to continure to welcome our off-season guests as well!) and what better way than to give a little recap of our 4th annual Food & Wine Tour of Umbria with Ciao Thyme of Bellingham, WA.

Every year we try to do the seemingly impossible and out-do the previous trip, and yes, we achieved this goal yet again!  More food!  More wine!  More Umbria!

Continue reading "Wine Soaked Memories" »

Ciao Thyme Umbrian Food & Wine Tour!


We are welcoming back our good friends Matiao and Jessica from Ciao Thyme in Bellingham, WA, for our 4th annual culinary tour of Umbria!

As always, I have a lot of great experiences planned for the group, including rustic cooking classes, saffron picking, the olive harvest & pressing of the new oil, farm tours, winery visits and tasting, cheesemaking and more!


Follow along with our adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+, hashtag  #CTumbria.  

Then, come join us in 2015 for our May and October tours - A presto!


Checking out the Competition in Pienza

So... yesterday I went to the forbidden land... you know that neighbor to the north of ours that begins with a T.... and yes, if you are wondering, my husband (good Umbrian that he is) did threaten to change the locks on the doors. 

That's right.  I went to Tuscany (gasp!).  The lovely town of Pienza to be exact (double gasp!).  I had been hearing a lot about Pienza from passing tourists and since some friends of mine wanted to check it out, I thought I would tag-along. 

Now, it really bothers me when journalists treat Umbria as a sort of lowly step-sister to Tuscany, but I have to admit, after my visit yesterday, I kind of get their mentality.  I could compare Pienza to my favorite Umbrian town, Bevagna.  Both are medieval towns set in the idyllic Tuscan/Umbrian countryside.  They are similar in size, as well as aritistic and historic offerings.  But, there was one big difference:  Pienza was OPEN FOR BUSINESS.  Enotecas and restaurants started tastings at 11:30.  Shops were alive and inviting, not to mention open all day (a shock for someone like me who lives in the land of the never-ending pausa).  The sun was shining, the wine was flowing, it was a perfect Tuscan afternoon... but yet, something was amiss...

IMG_0012 IMG_0008 IMG_0010 IMG_0004_2 IMG_0002 IMG_0013 IMG_0016_2 IMG_0014

Where were the Italians?  Ok, obviously the shopkeepers were Italian (all of whom, right down to the gas station attendent, spoke perfect English (and probably German as well)), but where were all of the old people sitting around on their plastic chairs, where were the men arguing about local politics in the piazza?  Where was the real Italian life?  Where was the bric-a-brac hardware store, and the alimentari?  Everything was just a little too slick and polished and the town seemed to be created for tourists.  This feeling was confirmed when, getting a coffee, I asked the barista where she liked to eat.  She couldn't tell me one place (as she neither lives in, nor frequents Pienza) and so referred me to the owner, who gave me a glazed over 'all of the restaurants are good' answer.  Hmmmmmm.

It seems to me that both regions have to work on their toursim a little bit.  Tuscany has certainly paved the way to greatness, but has gone off the rails and now seems to have a Disneyland type mania going on.  Tuscany is a brand.  I engaged in a conversation with a tourist from New York, and, when I told her that I lived in Umbria, the next region over, she said to me (as do many tourists) "Oh yes, I just love all of Tuscany!"  That kind of thing breaks my heart, while at the same time makes me happy that Umbria is not saturated with these hapless "UnderTheTuscanSunTourists".  Umbria, on the other hand, could learn some things about marketing and attracting tourists:  swinging wide open those doors and shaking off that closed 'member's only' feeling... and maybe cutting down the hours of the mid-afternoon pausa - we can't eat four hour lunches every day.  Time to throw your hat into the ring, Umbria!


On to the important stuff, here's where I ate:

La Bottega di Pienza:  we stopped in here for a tasting of local cheeses and Ercolani wines produced by this family.  At €5.50 for a jumbo size glass of wine and tons of cheese, this was a bargain - the wines, however, were unexceptional in my opinion.

La Buca di Enea:  Lunch.  Cute little trattoria with good local food - we had a Fonduta of Pecorino with porcini mushrooms and lardo di Colonnata, Pici (the local Tuscan pasta) with duck ragù, and Ribollita (Tuscan bread soup).  The food was decent, but rushed - I still had my pasta in front of me when the owner slammed down 3 bottles of digestivi on our table - nice touch, but we had been thinking about trying one of the meat courses, let alone dessert - I guess not!  That is something that will never happen in Umbria - they don't even think about turning tables, in fact they seem to get really annoyed if they have to reset a table during service!

La Bandita:  Not satisfied with the wines we had consumed so far, we decided to try one more place.  La Bandita is a modern restaurant/wine bar in a boutique hotel of the same name (owned by Americans).  It is worth the trip alone just to sit outside on their patio, sip wine, and watch the chef pick fresh herbs for your cheese plate.

The 12 Days of Umbrian Christmas


Sing along to "A Partridge in a Pear Tree" aka "A Coppa di Testa (Stuffed Back into a Pig's Head)":


On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...


IMG_617912 bottles of Umbrian wine



11 liters of extra-virgin olive oil MMG_2243

Photo 1(1)  10 types of Italian cookware


            9 Nativity scenes Photo 3



8 pounds of curing meats



                7 Sicilian oranges  Photo 3(1)

Photo 2 6 (00) grams of white truffles

5 Rotting Persimmons (perfect by Italian standards) Photo 4


Photo 3(2)

  4 Slimy eels (they're for Christmas eve)



                3 Panettone Photo 1(2)


Photo 2(1)2 Gingerbread Houses




... and a Coppa di Testa (Stuffed Back in to a Pig's Head)!

Photo 1

Happy Holidays!!!