Monday, January 26, 2009



It is still cold and very wintry here in Minneapolis and I have to say I am suffering from a bit of "cabin fever." It was so frosty today that I decided just to stay home and catch up on a few things instead of running around doing errands, that can wait for a warmer day that is promised later in the week.

While cleaning closets I did catch today's episode of Martha Stewart, She had a segment on her show that warmed my heart about Italian coffee. It seems that Martha and I do have something in common after all. It sounds as though she loves her Italian coffee as much as I do. On her segment was an Italian born coffee maker from Trieste Italy. The coffee can be purchased on line at Martha, like me enjoys the dark, rich and aromatic coffee of Italy.

When leading my culinary tours of Italy, (go to and click on the tours button for information) the first thing I do when I de-plane is find the nearest coffee bar and order myself a steaming cappuccino to help me get over jet lag. I usually have been thinking about that first cup for hours and am really ready for it after a long plane ride.

While touring Lucca, the city that Giacomo Puccini made famous. My clients and I begin our Sunday morning tour of the mid-evil city with a stop at Cafe Turandot. This cafe was named for Puccini's famous and final opera. After everyone has enjoyed a cappuccino, a cafe correcto or a machiato we are ready for a day of touring and eating. I always enjoy my daily stops at the beautiful coffee bars that Italy is so famous for and have been known to indulge in a pastry or two as well. But before my departure for home you can be sure that I always stop at a market and bring home several packages of good Italian coffee. As a matter of fact I am enjoying a warm cup as I write this message to you.

If you can't go with me to Italy and bring home your own Italian coffee, grocery stores such as Lund's and Byerly's will carry several brands that you might enjoy such as Illy or LaVazza,

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Thursday, January 22, 2009



Are you as tired of the cold and snow as I am? I heard this morning that the mercury is going to go way below zero again this week-end. I am looking forward to warm summer days. How about you? Well, I can't make it to Big Sand Lake this weekend the boats and grills are all in storage, but I can still bring a bit of summer to my cucina. I am going to host a picnic!

My sons and their girl friends and my husband are on board, so I am going to turn up the thermometer, dig out the Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffet C.D.s and for a few hours pretend that is summer and that we are not deep into winter. And for a few minutes I will be warm, happy and surrounded by loved ones and best of all my menu is going to bring back summer memories and help me to anticipate my favorite time of year.

My cucina is equipped with a built in grill. And even though we don't use it often, it is a lot of fun to grill burgers and brats on it when the snow is too deep in our back yard to use the gas grill. Bob will pile on the charcoal and get a great fire going to cook the meat and I will round out the meal with warm herbed potato salad, just the way Brian loves it and make a big bowl of coleslaw too. Teddy has promised me that he will make homemade baked beans and to finish out our picnic I am going to whip up some cupcakes in lemon, strawberry and chocolate. I can feel the warmth already can you?

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

Are you looking for a fun cooking experience next weekend, perfect for a cold Minnesota cold snap? Then let me suggest a culinary class at Sopra-Sotto in Rochester.

Located in the University Mall across from the Mayo clinic in downtown Rochester is Sopra-Sotto, an Italian Living Store that offers cooking classes in their beautiful cucina. I have been teaching at their store since if first opened a number of years ago and it is one of my favorite places to teach. The classes are small and intimate and set among all things beautiful from "Bella Italia."

I will be teaching two classes there and I hope that you will think about signing up for one of them. On Friday night Jan 16th, by popular demand I will be teaching "The Feast of 7 Fishes." This is a complete seafood experience. We begin with an antipasti of mixed seafood, olives, artichokes, tomatoes and cheese. Our main course is a delicious seafood stew, full of fresh and varied fish and shellfish, along with foccacia and salad you will enjoy perfectly matched wine and we will conclude our meal with, cream puffs filled with an almond cream and garnished with fresh raspberries. The Italians love this meal and you will too.

Saturday, Jan 17th will find me back in the cucina at Sopra-Sotto this time with a totally new class that I have developed especially for the store, Cucina Calabrese. We will begin with a crostini of fresh ricotta and herbed olives, then enjoy a hearty fettucini al fredo and a meatloaf stuffed with Italian meats and cheeses and finish up with orange and chocolate zeppole. Zeppole are the doughnuts or street food of Naples and southern Italy and are sure to please you. The doughnuts will have a hint of orange flavoring and when you dip them into a dark, rich, and velvety chocolate sauce you are going to think that you have died and gone to Italian heaven.

To register for either class go to or call 507-252-5522.

And if one of these classes doesn't cure the winter blues then you better sign up for my spring tour to Tuscany. Go to and click on the tours button for full details.

I hope to see you at a class or in Tuscany very soon.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins