{Retreat} The Old School Kitchen: From the Etruscan Table to the Roman Banquet, June 30 – July 6, Tuscany

A CULINARY RETREAT INSPIRED BY ARCHAEOLOGY AND ART

I am excited and honored beyond words to tell you that I have joined archaeologist and food writer Farrell Monaco to offer you what I’d shamelessly call the dream workshop for food and history geeks and Italy lovers with a side of science and eye for art.

I first discovered Farrell last year quite by chance, and I was blown away by her archaeological research in the food of ancient Romans (particularly her fascinating excavations in Pompeii), and her recreation of many ancient Roman recipes. We met, and many emails and calls later, I am delighted to announce this summer we will take you to a castle in the midst of the Tuscan countryside for a culinary retreat inspired by archaeology and art.

Read on for the full program.

The Old School Kitchen: From the Etruscan Table to the Roman Banquet

culinary retreat in tuscany roman and etruscan food

Join food archaeologist, Farrell Monaco, and food photographer, Saghar Setareh, for a 5-day live-in edible archaeology master class at a palatial medieval castle hidden in a valley in the Tuscan countryside as they explore the food history of Etruria and Rome from 800 BC to the Imperial Roman Era (AD 476).  June 30 to July 6, 2019 – Monte Amiata (Tuscany), Italy.

About the Retreat

The master class will be comprised of 10 sessions held at the iconic Castello di Potentino, a restored medieval castle, that is situated in the heart of an ancient Etruscan valley in Tuscany, Italy. Originally a medieval castle built over an Etruscan settlement, the towering castle boasts three kitchens, two dining rooms, 11 large guest rooms, a pool, an olive grove, a wine cellar, and a vineyard that produces award winning wines. In the surrounding area are Etruscan archaeological remains that take us back 2,500 years in time to a place that is pre-Roman but that is key to the development of Roman food culture and the Roman civilization itself.

Courtesy of Castello di Potentino

Your hosts pride themselves in providing a culinary experience that is authentic and based on legitimate historical data. Daily workshops will begin with a lecture in the medieval chapel adjacent to the castle followed by hands-on cooking, the use of ancient food preparation technologies, ancient meal preparation and bread-making lessons, the use of ancient herbs and spices, food-styling workshops, food photography lessons, and a session on staging Roman food frescoes for the camera. Lessons and recipes will be compiled using authentic sources and peer-reviewed research from the Etruscan, Greek and Roman archaeological, written and pictorial records.

Participants will also enjoy a foraging trip into the countryside with a local resident who will teach us how to identify and prepare edible wild herbs and fungi that are indigenous to the valley and have been used for culinary purposes for millenia.

Left: Panis Quadratus by Farrell Monaco, Right: Panis Quadratus fresco in Pompeii

About your hosts

Left: Farrell Monaco (Photo by Ash Naylor), Right: Saghar Setareh

Farrell Monaco is an archaeologist and food-writer whose research centres on foodways, food preparation, and food-related ceramics in the Roman Mediterranean. Farrell is well known for her experimental archaeology projects where she painstakingly recreates Roman recipes using instruction, ingredients, and technologies sourced from the archaeological, written and pictorial records. Her blog, Tavola Mediterranea, was nominated for a Saveur Blog Award (2018) and her work has been featured on Atlas ObscuraRadio New ZealandMade in Pompei and the BBC. Farrell’s current research is centred ancient Roman bakeries and breads. She is a member of EXARC, the Archaeological Institute of America, and she sits on the media relations committee of the Society for American Archeology

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Saghar Setareh is an Iranian food photographer and writer based in Rome, where she discovered her love for the culinary arts of all forms. Her blog Lab Noon, which was nominated for Saveur Blog Awards (2015 and 2017) and Corriere della Sera Cucina Blog Awards (2017 and 2018), celebrates Persian and Italian recipes. Her work has been published on Italian and Anglo-Saxon websites and publications. She also collaborates with restaurants, chefs and food brands regarding their digital communication and food photography and teaches cooking, styling and photography workshops. 

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Saghar’s food photography & food styling

About the Venue

A Bathroom at one of the guest rooms at Castello di Potentino

Castello di Potentino is an ancient castle built on an Etruscan site. It lies in a secret valley in one of the last undiscovered corners of Tuscany – Monte Amiata.  The medieval building is surrounded by unspoilt countryside, dotted with the vines and the ancient olive trees used for the estate’s small production of high quality wine, grappa and olive oil. Agriculture and viticulture are about growing and living, so eating and drinking well are an important element in the Potentino ethos which is concerned with the sustainability of how we inhabit a place and relate to it physically and mentally.

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SOLD OUT! Workshop in Padua: Photography & Styling for Digital Storytelling, March 4th

Photography Workshop: Photo Lab Padova, Saghar Setareh

I am very honoured to announce this new photography workshop that I will hold in Padua, at This Is Home BnB, that is more than just a food photography workshop, but an experience related to presenting a personal brand or a business identity through photography on social media and websites. 

The workshop will be held in Italian, on Sunday March 4th from 10 am to 6 pm. If you are interested, you can write to me or  info@maisonlab.it. Bellow you can find the full description of the workshop in Italian.

This workshop is brought to you by Elisabetta from MaisonLab.

Photo Lab Padova

Fotografia & Styling per lo Storytelling Digitale

Domenica 4 marzo Guia di This is Home vi aprirà le porte del suo splendido B&B, dal design minimal con un tocco vintage, in cui si respira la magia dei Paesi Nordici ma anche un avvolgente e calda sensazione di casa. Questa la location in cui Saghar di Lab Noon, food photographer e stylist, vi guiderà in un percorso alla scoperta dello storytelling digitale attraverso la fotografia e lo styling.

Una piacevole giornata da trascorrere assieme con l’obiettivo di imparare le basi per creare un’immagine artistica tramite l’uso corretto della luce, delle forme, dei colori, delle texture e della composizione. Spunti teorici ma soprattutto tanto esercizio praticomirato ad apprendere come applicare queste tecniche per allestire il vostro set, curarne lo styling e la composizione. Un’immagine che imparerete ad immortalare attraverso mirati tips di fotografia e di post produzione per una comunicazione visuale efficace.

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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