Workshop: The Puglia Encounter: Food, Lifestyle & Photography in Italy’s Deep South, 26 – 29 October

Workshop: The Puglia Encounter at Masseria Potenti
I remember very well the first time I ever visited a “Masseria” in Puglia, in south of Italy.

It was August 1st 2015. There was a full moon. The blue moon, to be precise; the largest full moon of the recent years. The masseria I visited that night, was a traditional one; a sort of a farm land, with a main house for the land lord, and small cottages for the farmers. Once there would have lived sheep, goats and chickens. Masseria was a self sustainable small ecosystem. 

On that full moon in that humble farmhouse, I experienced the simplest and most essential form of luxury: simple food prepared by local people, a young poet and musician playing his acoustic guitar and singing the folkloric chants of old times, and hectares of dry, but fertile land. He played and sang under the bright moonlight, we listened in wonder and awe, following the footsteps of a wise man who showed us the way through the wild plants, explaining their name and use, and encouraging us to remember their smell. 

The poetry and the depth of that experience, mingled with a disarming simplicity is a memory I can hardly ever let go of, as well as other wonders like the ones I wrote about in this post where I shared many photos and stories from my stay in Puglia. As soon as I visited that land and its old masserias, now remodeled for the functions of modern life (often as bed & breakfasts), I knew they would be the perfect place to run retreats and workshops. It was a dream for me to share the wonder, the quite and the incredibly rich culture of Puglia with likeminded people in search of beauty, slow traveling and of course, good food.

Workshop: The Puglia Encounter at Masseria Potenti
The Puglia Encounter at Masseria Potenti - Saghar Setareh-6
The Puglia Encounter at Masseria Potenti - Saghar SetarehI am happy beyond words to tell you that that dream has come true! I am incredibly honored and excited to tell you that together with the talented and inspiring ladies Emiko Davies  and Alice Kiandra Adams, we will hosting The Puglia Encounter: Food, Lifestyle and Photography in Italy’s Deep South.

The experience is a two and half day stay at the end of October in the marvelous Masseria Potenti, where together we will discover the surrounding, food and craft of Puglia. We will cook, eat, drink, chill and take photos by the swimming pool and around the masseria. We will wander a bit in the area, treasure hunting in Grottaglie for Puglia’s trademark ceramic craft. We will forage and gather seasonal herbs, flowers and vegetables and will set the table with all that is authentic to Puglia.

welcome-home-1-1
Photo credit: Masseria Potenti

Workshop: The Puglia Encounter at Masseria Potenti
Workshop: The Puglia Encounter at Masseria Potenti

Photo Credit: Emiko Davies

Autumn is a fascinating time in South of Italy, where it’s still warm, the light is golden and the olive trees are ready for the harvest. With a bit of luck, we will taste some new oil and we will definitely make toasts with Primitivo wine, that is typical of that region.

Here you can check out Emiko’s post for a lot of incitement and inspiration and here you can read about how enthusiastic is Alice about the ceramic treasure hunting in Grottaglie. Ci vediamo at #ThePugliaEncounter!

The Puglia Encounter – Autumn Edition

Food, lifestyle and photography in Italy’s Deep South

Book here!

The Venue

Workshop: The Puglia Encounter at Masseria Potenti
Photo Credit: Masseria Potenti

La Masseria Potenti near Manduria, Puglia, about 15km from the turquoise Ionian sea and one hour from Brindisi (the closest airport). The white-washed masseria (a traditional Pugliese farmhouse), which dates back to the 1300s, is an oasis in the rugged, “wild west” of Puglia, set amongst grain fields, ancient olive groves and Primitivo vineyards. A boutique agriturismo and self-sustainable farm of 130 hectares, the masseria was brought to life by Maria Grazia Di Lauro and her husband Paolo, whose dream was to transmit their love for their native land to their children and friends. It’s a special place that will inspire every one of your senses. Web | Instagram

The Workshop

The experience will include two and a half days of cooking, photography and styling sessions with your hosts, who will share their experience with you, as well as an excursion to nearby Grottaglie to discover the artisan ceramics and local cheesemakers. We will take a wander through nearby fields and pick vegetables out of the garden to prepare meals and set the table. There will be delicious, traditional meals prepared by the cooks of the Masseria – and plenty of time to relax and enjoy the Masseria in between.

The Puglia Encounter at Masseria Potenti - Saghar Setareh-9
The Puglia Encounter at Masseria Potenti - Saghar Setareh-2 copy
The Puglia Encounter at Masseria Potenti - Saghar Setareh-5

Date

26-29 October 2017

Who Can Apply

Continue reading

Immigrant Food Stories: A Persian Quince Stew, A Supper Club & A Cookbook from When It Rained Bombs

Persian Quince Stew | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-11 Quince Stew – Other photos from my last trip to Iran in August ’15

Immigrant Food Stories, a Feast of Togetherness for Dark Days

It was a rainy Saturday night early in November. There was the smell of cardamom and butter in the air. Windows were condensated after hours of boiling rice and stewing meat. The speakers of Alice’s record player were connected to my phone, that played songs of which only I could understand the words. Others were distracted from the melodic tunes by the food and the conversation. Around a long table topped with pale rose, red Autumn leaves, quinces and pomegranates, there was a cheerful group of eight people who were chatting the cold, rainy night away. With a glass of Syrah in our hand, we were feasting on the colorful and aromatic dishes, in a company that was just as vibrant and stimulating.

We were from Iran, Italy, The US and Sweden, with some German background. The food was Persian, fragrant and seasonal. This was the Persian Autumn Dinner that I hosted at Latteria Studio, as a trial for my supper club. It was only a couple of days before the US election. And I could’ve never imagined that 3 months later when I finally wrote a recap of that evening, we would be standing where we stand now.

This post is a part of the Immigrant Food Stories; the contribute many fellow food bloggers are making against hate and fear of the other, particularly to Trump’s dumb and cruel muslim ban (that thanks to a healthy judiciary system, has been halted). I am touched by these people’s stories, and willingness to narrate how we are all similar at the end of the day. Make sure to check out the links below and to look for #ImmigrantFoodStories on instagram, twitter and facebook, and please share your own immigrant food stories too!

If you have followed Lab Noon for a while, you’d know that this whole blog is a long, ongoing immigrant food story. It’s the tale of my Iranian culinary heritage combined with what I learn everyday from the spectacular food culture of Italy, where I immigrated a decade ago. What you might not know is another food story; the food stories of wars, the food stories of sanctions, the food stories of shortage, instead of abundance.

Persian Quince Stew | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-1

Immigrant Food Stories | Persian Food | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh00012
Immigrant Food Stories | Persian Food | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh00011

Immigrant Food Stories | Persian Food | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh00026
Immigrant Food Stories | Persian Food | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh00005

Persian Quince Stew | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-8
Immigrant Food Stories | Persian Food | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh00001
Immigrant Food Stories | Persian Food | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh00014
Immigrant Food Stories | Persian Food | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh00013

Immigrant Food Stories | Persian Food | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh00022
Immigrant Food Stories | Persian Food | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh00032
Immigrant Food Stories | Persian Food | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh00033

Persian Quince Stew | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-4
Immigrant Food Stories | Persian Food | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh00003

Immigrant Food Stories | Persian Food | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh00004
Immigrant Food Stories | Persian Food | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh00021
Persian Quince Stew | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-6

Bombs, Coupons and a Cookbook from “Rosa

I was born in 1985, right in the middle of eight years of Iran-Iraq war. I still remember as if it was just yesterday when the bombing siren went off, and what I now associate as the most horrifying voice in the world, announced the beginning of the bombing and the minutes we had in order to run to shelters. As terrifying as the siren was, the running and hiding seemed like a big, collective game to us children. A game that our parents were often too concerned and worn out to play with us.

Food and other essentials were rationed during the war in Iran. A grocery coupon system was applied so that all families could have to them, without having to obtain their food and other goods from the black market (which was also very active). The aisles in the super markets were often half empty, and the queues in front of shops that sold with coupons were very long.

I had long forgotten about the grocery coupons and the long queues until some weeks ago, when I received a small, but heavy parcel from my mom. It was the two huge volumes of “The Art of Cooking” by Ms. Rosa Montazami, the bible of cooking in Iran. The book is a vast collection of Iranian and international savory and sweet recipes, so important that for decades it has been gifted to young brides to help them cook well in their new home. Continue reading

A Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake with Pistachios & Goat Cheese for Virtual Pumpkin Party

Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh

Announcement: I am hosting a Persian Autumn dinner in Rome, Trastevere on November 5th to kick start my supper club. Tickets are on sale and they’re selling fast. Get yours if you’re in town. 

The Virtual Family Gathering

When Aimee contacted me a while ago to take part in the huge food blogger round up for a virtual pumpkin party, automatically my mind started searching for something Persian and sweet. But then I remembered I had already posted my favorite Persian pumpkin dessert last year. So after giving it some thought, I knew I was going for an Italian recipe for this orange marvel of Autumn. A savory one. 

Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-1

Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-14
Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-9

A hearty pasta bake, I thought. (believe it or not, this is my first pasta recipe on the blog!) A baked pasta dish is the heart of an Italian table at Sunday’s lunch. Just think lasagna, cannelloni or other pasta bakes. It’s often cooked by a granny, or a collaboration of aunts. It should be bubbling hot and cheesy, yet with crunchy and crispy at the edges of the pan, just instant before being burnt. That’s what your guest will fight to get, the angles of baked pasta, kinda of like our Persian tahdig (the crust at the bottom of a rice pot).

Try to picture this big family reunion on a Sunday; where you hear that distant hums of everyone chatting in the kitchen while preparing, when you’re chilling on a couch. It’s a crisp, cool day in October, a large number people sit at one enormous table, break bread, chat and share their stories over a meal. 

This round up is a kinda like those Sunday family lunches; we’re in one hundred and eleven! ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN pumpkin recipes, from different places, and different people. You can find the complete list of all the fellow bloggers with a link to their post after my recipe.

Before I let you sit back and enjoy all these beautiful posts, I should thank Sara and Aimiee for “hosting” this party and all the organization. It’s a tough job, we know, and we’re very grateful of all this shared bounty. <3

Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-11
Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-13

Tips for The Pumpkin Pasta Bake with a Persian Touch

This pasta bake is extremely simple, and unlike the typical Italian pasta al forno, is not too heavy/oily/cheesy. I have used only parmesan and aged goat cheese. By all means do add besciamella when layering the pasta if you feel like it. I found the saffron pumpkin sauce sufficiently creamy and wet to embrace all the pasta.

The reason I used aged goat cheese is that the pumpkin sauce (since quite simple), is very sweet, so the full and strong flavor of aged goat cheese is crucial to create a balance between the sweetness and tartness of this dish.

I have used whole grain conchiglie (sea shell) pasta, and I suggest you use a short pasta that can absorb all the sauce. Fusilli e penne can also work well. Use whole grain pasta to get more nutritional goodness and fiber. (Also, refined carbs don’t like me much.)

Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-5

For this recipe, I cut the pumpkin (I used kabocha squash) in small pieces for roasting the oven, because I wanted to increase the surface of caramelization on the pumpkin, gives a depth to the flavor. But you can just roast the pumpkin  and scoop out the flesh for making the sauce, although in my opinion it will be too sweet this way. The skin is edible and delicious too! Don’t waste it. I also put two mandarines (cut in half) for roasting the pumpkin in the oven, merely for good (holidayish) smell.  Continue reading