Risotto with Asparagus and Shrimp

11709415_10153362464781357_5099074015839789754_n (1)We were atop a ridge in eastern Pennsylvania but felt as if we were in northern Lombardy or Alto Adige. The 360-degree view of trellised grape vines and distant forests from Galen Glen Winery‘s tasting room is stunning.

Last weekend, the folks at the award-winning Andreas, Pa., winery hosted a cookbook signing and tasting of SimpleItaly’s Risotto with Asparagus and Shrimp paired with its crisp Grüner Veltliner 2014 Stone Cellar Dry White wine. The wine’s notes of grapefruit, mandarin orange, and honeysuckle embraced and softened the grassiness of the asparagus. What a match.

Owned by Galen Troxell (the grape grower) and Sarah Troxell (the wine maker who was awarded “Best Woman Winemaker” in 2014’s International Women’s Wine Competition in California ), Galen Glen was recently named the Best Winery in Pennsylvania in the New York International Wine Competition.


Galen and Sarah Troxell (right) of Galen Glen Winery. On the left are Galen’s forbears who originally farmed the land in Andreas, Pa.

Philadelphia food writer, Craig LaBan, wrote, “they have pioneered the growth in this region of aromatic Northern European grapes — edgy Austrian Grünner Veltliner, exotic Alsatian Gewürztraminer, minerally Riesling — well-suited to the cold climate, and well-drained, stony soils.”

Family-owned, dedicated to excellence from the earth . . . Galen Glen may not be in Italy but it sure feels like it is.

Recipe for Risotto with Shrimp and Asparagus

Grillo White Wine From Sicily

P1090982Browsing in my local wine shop, a bottle of white caught my eye.

It came from Tenuta Regaleali, a name I recognized as the much lauded estate and cooking school in Sicily. It was founded by the late Anna Tasca Lanza, who did so much to bring Sicilian country cooking to wide acclaim. Tasca Lanza’s daughter Fabrizia has taken over the school. (This is off topic, but David Lebovitz published this gorgeous post about the estate.)

I also had never encountered the varietal Grillo, which means cricket in Italian, so I was doubly intrigued.

Golden in color, this vino is aromatic with hints of citrus. It’s a sumptuous dry Italian white for summer times.

I learned the back story of this indigenous Sicilian grape on The Wine Hub blog. Once the primary varietal used to produce fortified Marsala wine, it has largely been replaced by the higher yielding Catarratto. Happily, it’s being revived by modern vintners.

Cin Cin!

Tenuta Regaleali
Cavallo Delle Fate
Sicilia DOC 2013

$13.99 for 750 ml. bottle in Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits Store

Do you know of an Italian white that veers from the standard pours list? Share it here!

Travel and Adventure Show


Imagine yourself in a thousand magnificent destinations at a Travel and Adventure Show.

By Walter Sanders

John Golicz is the ring master of the nationwide Travel and Adventure Show series in seven U.S. markets. When the circus gets to your town, take advantage of it.

travelshowsAt the recent show in the Philadelphia Convention Center, all our senses were dazzled. Scrumptious aromas wafted across the exhibit floor as chefs prepared their specialties at the Taste of Travel Stage. We touched the brocaded robes of a tour operator from Nepal. We heard joyful music from Saint Lucia. And everywhere we looked was the colorful tapestry of global travel. You saw visitors trying out a Segway, and others scaling a rock wall.

Experts shared their wisdom at the Destination Theater. We sat in on the hour-long “Insider’s Italy” session featuring nostri amici Kathy McCabe—publisher of Dream of Italy and host of the upcoming Dream of Italy on PBS—and Italian authority and writer Susan Van Allen.

the-bookWe enjoyed speaking with the engaging Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. She is like the Pied Piper of travel. We would follow her anywhere.

We spent some time with John Golicz to get a sense of how he shapes up the 2015 travel scene.

“What will be the hot international travel destination this year?” we asked John.

“Now’s the time to go to Europe. The dollar is strong versus the Euro—about 23 percent stronger than last year—and many analysts predict parity by 2016,” said John. “While the US economy is gaining strength, there’s softness in many European countries. That means better deals at hotels and restaurants as these vendors compete for tourist spending. Plus, with more transoceanic air competition, it is very likely that European airfares will drop as carriers have more seats to fill.”

“SimpleItaly fans would enjoy hearing about your Italian experiences. Anything you’d like to share?”

“We love Italy. We’re very fortunate to share multi-generational family trips with my parents and my children. One of our favorite trips was to Italy when the kids were younger. We started in Rome, then settled into a villa in Greve, right in the heart of the Chianti zone,” said John.

John Golicz

John Golicz

“The food and wine were exceptional, as usual. The kids enjoyed the pool, the hill towns of Tuscany. In Florence, we were smart enough to hire a guide who made the city and its art come alive. In the Uffizi, the guide told the back stories of some of the paintings and that really engaged the kids. They still enjoy visiting museums because they realize every work of art has a human story.”

The Golicz family does more than travel together. Son Jon is the mastermind of 1,000 Travel Tips a travel resource for the best tips, trend information and expert advice for any travel situation you can imagine. SimpleItaly looks forward to becoming a contributor.

The shows 2016 schedule is out, visiting seven cities between January and March. Whet your travel appetite by attending the show in your market.

Lasagna alla Bolognese

Lasagne alla Bolognese

By Sharon Sanders

Lasagne alla Bolognese (Bolognese-style lasagna) is a dish that embodies the allure of slow food. It has only four components but each deserves attention.

Little language lesson:

Lasagna (singular) is one sheet of pasta.

Lasagne (plural) is more than one sheet of pasta.

The Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is the ingredient that takes the most time to produce—an average of two years. Luckily for us, the fine cheese makers of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano shoulder that task.

The salsa besciamella (béchamel) can be whipped up on the stovetop in 10 minutes. I enrich my besciamella with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (salsa alla Parmigiana) which makes it technically a Mornay sauce.

Learn more about lasagna alla Bolognese

The Great Flood of Florence

Among those cleaning up the Santa Croce courtyard after the flood are Marcello Gori (left standing on the ground), who was my employer at The Leather School, and Padre Franchi (second from right) who became head of the Franciscans at the Basilica.

Some of the men who would become my friends in Florence labored to clean up the Santa Croce courtyard after the flood. Massimo “Max” Melani’s head is just visible (third from the left on the truck bed). On the ground are Marcello Gori (left), who was my employer at The Leather School, and Padre Franchi (second from left) who later became head of the Franciscans at the Basilica.

By Walter Sanders

When I moved to Florence in 1971, the city was still recovering from the disastrous flood of November 4, 1966. High water marks—stained by mud, heating oil, and gasoline—stretched like taut ropes across building facades near the Arno.

It was harsh stuff that floated to the top. And below the crest mark, on walls around the city, were murky shadows of flood residue.

These ugly reminders faded with time, but have been memorialized with plaques designating the height of flood waters throughout the city. Five floods from five different centuries are noted by these marble plaques; none are as high as those commemorating 1966.

I worked at the Scuola del Cuoio, the Leather School,  from 1972 through 1975. The workshops and showrooms were located in the old Franciscan monastery attached to the Basilica of Santa Croce, one of the hardest hit victims of the flood. I still remember the stains, and even the faint smell of fuel, on the exterior and interior walls of the courtyard.

Kayla Metelenis and Diane Cole Ahl

Kayla Metelenis and Diane Cole Ahl

Those memories rushed back when I attended a presentation “Looking Back at the Flood of Florence in 1966: Disaster, Recovery, and Cultural Conservation,” sponsored by the Art Department and The Ideal Center of Lafayette College, Easton, Pa.

Sharon and I had met the one of the presenters, Diane Cole Ahl, Rothkopf Professor of Art History, when she curated a traveling exhibit of “Offering of the Angels” from the Uffizi at the Michener Museum, Doylestown, Pa.

Ahls’s student Kayla Metelenis ’15, art history major, was co-presenter.

Learn more about the great flood