What is the Deep, Dark Secret To Great Italian Cooking?

Olive Oil Pouring
Olive oil

Lunch!

Ciao friends!

If you have followed me even a little bit you know that Pete and I are HUGE foodies! We honestly would go to the ends of the earth for a great meal.

That was one of the reasons we purchased our home in Calabria, Italy ten years ago. Obviously there are a million reasons, but the food in Calabria is the very best in the world (in my humble opinion).

And in Calabria, I am a great cook. I wow myself with almost every meal I make and I get wowed by every meal I eat there no matter who makes it.

So I knew that there had to be a SECRET to great Italian cooking.  And there is!

I looked long and hard and finally found it! And it was so simple!

Calabrian Cuisine
Calabrian Cuisine

Even the best and freshest ingredients will fall flat in your dish if you don’t start with a really good basic ingredient and in Italian cooking the most basic ingredient is the super high quality, Italian olive oil.

Once I stumbled on that bit of brilliance, I started looking in my kitchen in California at the olive oil I had been cooking with. I thought to myself, Hmmmmmm, I bet that is not the best I can find.

And that, my friends, started me on a quest to research and find the BEST olive oils in the world and learn everything I could about them.

As I researched, I ran into so much false data and contrary facts. Everyone it seems has an opinion that they defend to the death even when it conflicts with everyone else’s opinions.

Chris Olives
Olive Market

I had to go back really far into the past before all this weirdness began to find the correct data. And again I found it, this time in an obscure little book written by a Spanish olive nerd living and working in Italy in 1900 by the name of Dr. Alejandro Bizzarri.

Dr. Bizzarri wrote down in almost excruciating detail EVERYTHING that had to do with the cultivation, the harvesting, the pressing, the storing, and the transporting and selling of olives.

His book is part chemistry, part physics and part agriculture. I got it and translated it, pulling out the parts that I knew we all needed to know here in 2020 to understand, use and cook well with any olive oil.

And I took these golden nuggets of information and compiled them all in an easy to read and entertaining FREE Ebook so that you can have fun and learn about EVERYTHING OLIVE at the same time.

Foodie’s Guide to Decoding Italian Olive Oil Ebook

Since we understand that many people learn more visually, we created an online course of seven high quality videos, each one packed with vital information from Dr.  Bizzarri’s book. Here is where we debunked the myths and dispelled the mysteries of everything olive.  We also picked out a bunch of frequently asked questions to answer that I know you want to know because so many people have been asking them.

slowfoodrenaissance.com
Foodies Guide to Decoding Italian Olive Oil Video

By then I had REALLY been bitten by the olive bug and I had to learn more!

So Pete and I ordered five of the top ranking Italian olive oils on Amazon.com. It was like Christmas when they arrived! We then researched the best way to taste them and compare them.

Video Comparison 5 High Quality Italian Olive Oils

Then we created a video, side by side comparison of these five top ranking Italian olive oils and we were blown away by what we found! Each one was so different but so delicious! We loved the unfiltered ones for salads and pestos. Learning this was like opening a huge door to a completely different world of food and cooking. Who knew that one of the the oldest and most basic ingredients on the planet could create such a change in our every day lives?

So having tasted all of these magnificent olive oils, we decided to create a new and original recipe for each one of them.

5 Best Mediterranean Recipes Video Series

We created a video series of cooking classes, one for each recipe featuring one of our Italian olive oils. These recipes were amazing as they each were created with a high quality Italian olive oil in mind.

Italian olive oils
5 Best Mediterranean Recipes Ebook

In order to make it easier to purchase the other ingredients and follow the recipes, we then created an Ebook containing these recipes.

And, since we know that once you start in on this path, like us, you will be transported to true olive nerddom, I added Dr Bizzarri’s book from 1900, translated and annotated by me so that you can understand everything he was saying.

Dr. B's book
The Oil Of The Olive

Pete and I had so much fun creating this package of Olive Mastery for you and we are so excited to make it available.

To start on your journey go get your FREE EBOOK right now. And welcome to a new life of great cooking and eating!

XO Chris

 

The Truth About Leaseholds In Italy

Italian hill town
Italian House
Photo credit Pixabay

Ciao,

I am so blessed in that I get mail every week from people with various questions about purchasing property in Italy.

A few times now I have received requests for information about leasehold estates vs freehold estates.

In California real estate, a “freehold estate” is one that is owned outright. A “leasehold estate” is a lease or rental.

Italian village
Photo credit Pixabay

In Italy and in the UK there are certain leasehold estates that to us might be similar to a co-op except that a leasehold is really just a long term rental.

It seems that certain real estate agents in our area of Calabria are now offering leasehold estates and the prices seem very low. On the surface it looks too good to be true.

So since people are wondering whether these leaseholds are a good option in the Italian real estate market, I did a bit of research and here is what I found.

How a leasehold works:

A leasehold is basically a long term rental. The “purchaser” has purchased only the right to live in the unit for a set period of time. The land the units are on is owned by a landlord or” freeholder” who charges rent for it and, through management company, maintains it.

One of the issues according to an article in The Guardian is that the landowner charges a fee for the maintenance of the communal areas. He or she can also charge for any work being done, decide who does it and how much it will cost. The leaseholders then have to pay for it.

The Guardian is a magazine in the UK and it discusses the situation specific to the UK however when we asked Ivan De Luca from Agenzia Immobiliare Casabella in Scalea, Italy, his concerns were similar.

Italian house
Photo credit Pixabay

In looking at the apartments that are available in our area under these leasehold contracts, it is unclear exactly what the situation is. It appears to me that these are individual apartments that are rented out with all of the rent paid up front to the owner of the property,  but then monthly fees are paid to the management company.

The fees are not fixed and you never know when they will go up.

In addition, Ivan De Luca of Agenzia Immobiliare casabella warns that there may be hidden fees that you don’t find out about until you have paid the purchase price.

In short you are at the mercy of the property management firms. If they raise the fees you have no recourse.

Additionally property management agencies are highly variable in terms of honesty and ethics.

Another issue that concerns me greatly is the fact that it does not appear that a notaio is involved in the purchase of the rental contract.

In one of the ads I read for a leasehold through an agency, they recommended using the same attorney for the buyer and seller which could be a conflict of interest.

The role of the notaio in property purchases is clear.  He is the one who makes sure everything is done according to the law. He makes sure the title is clear and that everything is in order.

There is a larger degree of safety in a transaction that goes through a notaio.

In a lease hold, you may not even know if the person leasing it actually owns the property as it appears to me that  no title search is done. And you don’t know if any other encumbrances exist. In short you may buy the perfect property only to find that someone else has  certain rights to it that you were not aware of.

You also do not know if the property management agents are honest. I hate to say it but I have heard of some shady deals in our area. The agents there may all be honest but you don’t know for sure.

And the Italian court system is painfully slow so that by the time you went through the courts on something like this, you will have paid out more money in expensive attorney’s fees than you would ever get back.

According to Ivan, a leasehold option may make sense in a very expensive city like Monaco or London where property prices are really high but in Calabria where you can purchase an apartment for very little money, the risks outweigh the potential benefits as you may be buying a bagful of headaches.

If you are looking for a property in Calabria, especially in the Riviera Dei Cedri regions (The prettiest place on earth) please contact us. We have purchased several properties there and have done renovations. We love to share our experiences and new found knowledge with you.

Hope you found this helpful!

Chris and the Gulf of Policastro at sunset
Chris and the Gulf of Policastro at sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

When can we go back to Italy?

 

                          Photo credit Pexel.com

 

Ciao friends!

If you are like me, you have been watching news reports like a hawk to get some idea as to when we can all head back to Italy.

We are all hoping that sometime this Summer Italy will open up and be back to some form of normal even if it is with social distancing, masks and other paraphernalia.

Happily someone sent me a link to the Italian Ministry of External Affairs website which gives a pretty complete rundown of the rules as they apply now during phase 2.

In short, you can travel to Italy under some circumstances but the country is not open to tourism yet, at least for those outside the EU.

That said, here are the restrictions as outlined on the website. I copied and pasted them.

  • Which rules apply to persons travelling to Italy from March 28?
  1. Before boarding, the carrier’s staff is required to check the self-certification (to download the form) setting out the following detailed information: the reasons for travelling to Italy (health needs, work requirements, reasons of absolute necessity), the place of self-isolation for 14 days, own or otherwise private means of transportation used to get to the place of self-isolation and a mobile/land phone number. The reasons of “absolute necessity” are as specified in the FAQs previously posted on the website.
  2. All persons entering Italy, whether at an airport, ferry port or railway station, must avoid using public transport and must therefore make arrangements to be picked up, take a taxi, if and as allowed, or hire a car, with or without a driver.For airport transits and for the rules that apply to pickups at the airport, port or station, please consult the specific faq.
  3. All persons entering Italy are required to self-isolate, including persons with their own transport. Persons travelling to Italy for work may postpone the start of the self-isolation period by 72 hours (which can be extended for a further 48 hours), albeit only if strictly necessary.
  4. All persons entering Italy, including persons with their own transport, are required to report to the local health authorities on arrival at their destination.
  5. All persons entering Italy may self-isolate either at home or other place of their choice.
  6. If a person entering Italy has no place for self-isolation, or is unable to travel to their place of self-isolation (if they have no-one to pick them up, if there are no available hotel rooms, etc.), they will be required to self-isolate at a location established by the Civil Protection Service, at the interested person’s expense.
  7. The above rules do not apply to the following persons: cross-border workers, health services personnel, passenger/freight transport crews.

Phase two is still pretty strict but the statements I have seen from Italy’s culture and tourism minister, Dario Franceschini, indicate that he and his team are looking at opening the country up for tourists and are in conversations with other EU countries to see how they can safely make that happen.

While they are only looking at EU countries right now, I am sure other countries will be evaluated soon and we will have the answer to our question, “When can we book?”

Right now, there is no answer to that question but as we get information and sift through the facts versus the fakes, we will know more.

I have also asked our mayor in Santa Domenica Talao to keep me informed and he said he would let me know as soon as he hears something.

It is clear that Italy is picking its way right now after being blindsided by this vicious virus and they want to ensure that they don’t lose any more citizens. Their population tends to be on the older side so they want to take every precaution.

Still, it is our hope that by August we can all go back. We can’t wait. There is so much happening there.

Stay tuned here and I will share whatever information I get.

Meanwhile stay safe and keep making plans!