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David is not a chef. He's Italian! Canadian-born David Rocco immerses himself in the charm and beauty of Tuscan life as he visits local markets and prepares authentic, easy-to-learn classic Italian dishes.Inspired by "cucina povera", or peasant cusine that’s at the heart of Italian cooking, David makes dishes using simple fresh seasonal ingredients that any home chef can do anywhere.
Simple ingredients make magical meals. For instance, its just flour and water but from these two humble ingredients Italy has built several culinary classics. David goes to an organic farm, grinds his own grain in a windmill, and then makes some of those classics: including Tuscan bread and pasta. And then another simple combination produces the classic dessert zabaglione.
David visits his local butcher who raises his own animals and sells organic meat from a cart at the side of a country road. After the visit, David heads home and makes a variety of meatballs using the beef. He also makes meatballs out of fish and some vegetarian ‘meatballs’ that would please any meat eater. And for each meatball, there’s a matching sauce.
Who doesn’t love pizza? David makes dough from scratch and then its pizza pandemonium as he makes savory pizzas, calzones, foccacia and dessert pizzas in his wood-burning oven.
Inspired by a lunch in Florence at one of his favorite street vendors, David makes a series of Italian sauces including a chili pepper jam that is to die for.
David makes a series of foods called ‘sfizi’: These are smaller bites that can be enjoyed on their own or put together in a big antipasto spread.
What’s more comforting on a chilly day than a bowl of soup? David makes simple but hearty soups using mostly inexpensive cupboard staples with a few seasonal vegetables thrown in.
David finds out everything you’d ever want to know about chestnuts, from the very unusual way in which they are harvested, to how versatile and nutritious they are.
David throws a fall festa at his farmhouse for friends and neighbours with a little help from a group of artistic friends. This is an annual feast where they celebrate the vegetables of the season, freshly pressed olive oil and serve Italian classics like fire-roasted porchetta.
Every fall the Tuscan Hills ring with the sound of guns as hunters track the famous cinghiale, or wild boar. This wild meat is so associated with Tuscan cooking that the area’s capital Florence has a bronze statue honoring the beast in one of its major tourist markets. David goes out with a group of hunters and then prepares dishes with the meat. David also befriends his neighbours who have a gourmet men’s cooking club that meets once a month to cook some macho dishes—including their own take on cinghiale that no woman in their right mind would touch.
In Italy, it’s considered the food of the Gods. For generations the harvesting and pressing of olives into olive oil has been one of the major food events in the country. In Tuscany, people take time off from their regular jobs to work the harvest and take their payment in olive oil. David goes to Fattoria LaVacchio where Faye and her family have been producing organic olive oil for over 40 years. He learns about their farm and participates in the harvest. David makes a number of recipes that feature olive oil.
Welcome to Chianti one of Italy’s most famous wine regions. Here in the verdant rolling hills of Tuscany is Castello di Trebbio, a historic 11th century castle now owned by Anna, Stefano and their family. They produce some of the best wine and olive oil in the area. David tours the grounds, takes part in the grape harvest and makes some dishes using their wine and grapes.
It’s in every kitchen, but it doesn’t get as much respect as olive oil or wine. David travels to the Tuscan town of Volpaia to see how fine vinegar is made and cooks with it. The same place also makes fine Vin Santo, a wine with spiritual associations that he uses to make a heavenly dessert.
David travels to the Tuscan town of Panzano and spends time with the most famous butcher in Italy, maybe the world! Dario Cecchini is a flamboyant character who is fanatical about meat and a master at selecting, cutting and serving it. People from all over the world make pilgrimages to meet him and eat in one of his restaurants. David and Dario spend a wild time together exploring their mutual passion for meat, cooking meat and eating meat!
The Roccos take a relaxing weekend visiting the Sicilian beach resort of San Vito Lo Capo. They explore the beautiful beaches by boat. Rocco makes some of his favourite beach food and is taught how to make a surprise Sicilian specialty—couscous—from scratch by an internationally renowned expert.
Rocco and Nina take a scenic drive to the Medieval Sicilian town of Erice, to visit a man considered the epitome of Sicilian Hospitality: hotelier/chef Carmelo Tilotta. True to his reputation, Carmelo has booked every second of the day. Rocco learns how to make Sicilian cannoli. They wind up the day at a noisy backyard festa—a BBQ—Sicilian style, where everything homemade and where friends become family.
It's St. Andrea's Day, as Rocco and Nina return to Ravello to visit their good friends Professore and Eddie. They discover that Professore now owns La Rondinaia, the former home of famous writer Gore Vidal. It's a beautiful property built into a cliff with incredible views of the Mediterranean. Rocco helps Prof and Eddie throw a party on the terrace and makes dishes using the famous Amalfi lemons. The Roccos end the day at a traditional St. Andrea's procession in Amalfi.
David Rocco and his friends throw a monthly potluck dinner party. This month the theme is chocolate, an ingredient that has a surprisingly significant historical tie to Tuscany. Rocco uses chocolate to make some savory main dishes for the gathering, but it's not all work for our intrepid foodie. Rocco treats Nina to a chocolate and wine tasting at a favuorite bar, and a chocolate massage in a local spa.
It's one of Florence's hottest bars with a reputation for its sophisticated aperitivo menu and signature cocktails. So what happens when the owner/manager has an emergency and asks the Roccos to step into the kitchen and behind the bar to run the place for a night?
Since Roman times people have been coming to the Italian town of Ischia to bathe in its thermal waters, said to have healing properties. Ischia is also famous for its incredible natural beauty, its beaches and great food. Rocco and Nina explore it all—visiting old friends at their beachside restaurant, and a top chef, who has landed a gig at the luxurious Manzi Hotel and Spa. While Nina gets pampered, Rocco and the chef go to new heights to get fresh ingredients.
Palermo, Sicily is famous for its three massive outdoor markets where the food ranges from the freshest fish, meat and produce available to some–um, shall we say unique–specialties that perhaps only a local could love. Rocco takes it all in. Along with his friend Giacco, an internationally renowned musician, and his band, Rocco fires up the grill and helps throw a name day party right in the market piazza.
The Roccos travel to Sicily to visit the Planetas—a Sicilian noble family of winemakers. A tour of exotic vineyards, some family recipes, and wine tasting on a yacht, these are some of the ingredients of a full day that ends with a feast and a bonfire on a secluded Sicilian beach.
When Rocco and his soccer pals get their butts kicked at a pick up soccer game they agree that they've got to get back into shape. Rocco feeds them one last comfort food meal before taking them through a day of physical activity and light, but tasty dishes. Will their resolve stay steady or will it crumble in the face of a new toy and a tasty aperitivo time food spread?
Rocco spends the day putting together an insider's food guide to Florence. Along with his photographer friend Chris, Rocco shows us the ins and outs of buying fruits and vegetables at one of the city's fabulous open air markets; he explains everything you've ever needed to know about ordering a coffee in Italy. He shows us a recipe from one of Florence's hot restaurants, and finally, he takes time out to enjoy a pre dinner aperitivo and of course, an after dinner digestive. This is la dolce vita.
Rocco and Nina are in Sicily visiting friends who run Fontanasalsa, an agriturismo in Sicily that grows, produces and exports olive oil. The Roccos are treated to a private olive oil tasting. They explore the countryside on horseback, take part in a traditional garlic harvest and Rocco makes authentic Sicilian dishes using fresh ingredients at hand.
When spring comes to Tuscany, Rocco, Nina and their friends celebrate by heading out to the country to soak in a natural spa alla ancient Romans. On the way back to town, Rocco comes—um—face to udder, with the process of making sheep’s milk cheese from sheep to the finished product, at one of Tuscany's small specialty diaries. Along the way Rocco makes spring inspired meals and ends the day at a Florence street festival that dates back to the Middle Ages.
While in Sicily, Rocco visits Salvatore, who runs his family's business harvesting natural sea salt. The visit kick starts an adventure that takes him to the fishing port of Sciacca, a visit with Baldo, his family and a trip to a frenzied market where fisherman pull their boats in, auction their catch off and head back out to sea to do it all over again. Along the way Rocco cooks with local ingredients and teaches us how to make world class lemon granita.
Rocco is treated like family when he meets up with the charismatic Eddie Oliva while on vacation along the Amalfi coast. Guided by Eddie, Rocco embarks on an adventure in search of fresh mozzarella, limoncello, and the true Neapolitan pizza. Featured recipes: mozzarella in carozza; insalata di caprese; spaghetti alla caprese; limoncello.
When Nina leaves on a day trip to Rome, Rocco spends a relaxing day alone, checking out markets and making his favourite snacks. That is until his buddy Francesco swings by, convincing Rocco to spend a wild night with the boys. Featured recipes: crocchette di patate; drunken pasta; gelato affogato; caruso martini.
Rocco and Nina experience all that Florence has to offer when it comes to the performing arts. A night at the ballet is followed by a day of acting, dancing and of course, cooking. Rocco and Nina spend their time at Teatro Del Sale, a dinner theatre created by famed chef Fabio Picchi, which fuses performance art with innovative dishes. Featured recipes: spaghetti alla carbonara; roasted peppers gratinate; picchi's lazy tuna.
It’s fall and mushrooms are in season. Rocco shops for truffles at the local market, only to find that most of them are at the truffle festival in San Miniato. Determined for a taste of the exquisite mushroom, Rocco and his friend Marco embark on a journey to the quaint town, hoping to find their very own tartufo. Featured recipes: zuppa di porcini; funghi misti w/ turkey; tagliatelle w/ truffles.
Rocco encounters a string of bad luck as he prepares a festive dinner. Between trying to find a costume, shopping for pumpkins and cooking for his friends, he gets a lesson in Italian superstition and as a result, learns the source of his misfortunes. Featured recipes: croccante; pumpkin soup; pollo con salsa di zucca.
It’s Gigi’s birthday and what better gift for a busy dad than a day of fun away from a hectic parenting schedule? Rocco and Nina play babysitters for Gigi’s two kids but the task turns out to be harder than they thought. Featured recipes: tiramisu; pasta al burro; cecina pizza; tommaso’s baby carrots.
From the perspective of a Canadian-Italian living in Florence, Rocco writes a true-to-heart article for a North-American magazine about the sights and sounds of his city and the comfort foods it inspires. Featured recipes: trippa alla fiorentina; la ribollita; involtini with chestnuts.
Rocco gets a frantic call from his sister, who runs a summer camp for kids. Enlisted as a camp counseler he is going to teach the campers a few things about cooking, but not before the camp grandmother shows him a thing or two in her kitchen. Featured recipes: pizza dough; pappa al pomodoro; chocolate risotto; pizza.
Max, a friend from San Diego, returns as Rocco’s houseguest indefinitely. Determined to get Max settled in Florence, and not on his living room couch, Rocco takes Max apartment hunting, teaching him a few Italian etiquettes on the way. Featured recipes: brutti ma buoni; pasta e fagioli; branzino alla Max.
Rocco and Nina get the royal treatment on their vacation when they visit their old friend Vincenzo Palumbo, who takes the couple out to sea. Cruising the Amalfi coast for fresh seafood, Rocco and Nina stop to check out the fjords of Furore, before getting a tour of Ravello by their generous host. Featured recipes: seppie con limone e sedano; totani e tubetti; baccalà alla pizzaiola
During a game of pool with Marco, Rocco realizes that he has forgotten his wedding anniversary. Thinking on his feet, Rocco improvises an anniversary full of surprises, including a few special dishes for Nina. Featured recipes: lazy man's lasagna; arancini di riso fried eggs con tartufo; strawberries w/ balsamic vinegar.
Rocco organizes a potluck feast in a nearby castle for his friends and family, asking everyone to bring their signature dishesthis way the cooking is not left to one person. Rocco learns that not everyone is sticking to the rules, including his sister Maria, who tricks him into cooking her dish. Featured recipes: salsicce con rapini; Maria's spezzatino; Marco’s polenta.
A vacation along the Amalfi coast is not complete without getting into some sort of mischief with Peppe. With Rocco as his accomplice, Peppe plays hooky for the day, turning a quick 5-minute coffee break into a trip to Positano, a game of soccer, and a feast fit for his bachelor friends. Featured recipes: carla's torta di pera; peppe’s polpette; dunderi with pesto al'amalfitana.
Host David Rocco helps a friend set up a cooking school at her estate in Tuscany. Rocco creates distinctive recipes for each of the villas on the property, inspired by the interior and exterior characteristics of the buildings.
Host David Rocco’s friend Eddy visits from the Amalfi coast. Together, the duo paint Florence red with songs, good company and Neapolitan dishes.
Host David Rocco plans the menu for a friend’s baby shower in Florence, Italy. Featured dishes: Chocolate Eggplant, Ricotta and Grana Padana Gnocchi, Grana Padana Ice Cream, and Coriander Spumanti with Lime.
Host David Rocco prepares some simple food for his friends before they head out for a night on the town. Rocco also makes a quick meal to eat in the wee hours of the morning, along with a breakfast menu for after the sun comes up. Featured recipes: Beef Tenderloins con Balsamico, Lentils con Proscuitto, Spaghetti Aglio Olio.
David Rocco and his friends leave the heat of Florence behind and head out of town for a dip in the Mediterranean. Rocco prepares a few simply made antipasti to bring to the beach.
Host David Rocco examines different Italian sauces and their complementary starches. Featured sauces: Bolognese; Napolitano with Porcini Mushrooms.
While training for the Rome Marathon, host David Rocco trains for the Rome Marathon by preparing high-carb recipes.
Host David Rocco celebrates the Sunday soccer game in Florence with a few classic Italian dishes. Rocco heads to the local market to shop for a few key ingredients for his pre-game feast, stopping in at the local pastificio shop for a pre-game Sunday must – fresh pasta. Featured recipes: Braciole with Gravy, Caramelized Fennel with Grana Padana, Patate al Forno, and Zabaione con Crema.
Host David Rocco creates a provocative menu for two friends being set up on a blind date in Florence, Italy. Featured dishes include: Beef Carpaccio with Pomegranate, Panna Cotta al Mango, and Beet Risotto with Truffle Oil.
Host David Rocco acts as tour guide when his friend Max arrives in Florence, Italy for a visit. From authentic Tuscan dishes to a lesson in Florentine cultural etiquette, Rocco ensures that this will not be a trip Max forgets. Featured recipes: Panzanella, Stracotto al Chianti, and Tuna Bean Salad.
Host David Rocco celebrates the changing of seasons at Sesame, a chic new restaurant in Florence, Italy.
Host David Rocco escapes to the Chianti region outside of Florence, Italy for the weekend. Inspired by the art and abundance of fresh olive oil and wine, Rocco creates a meal in an open-air kitchen using the ingredients of the Chianti region.
Host David Rocco and his buddies play hooky and head to a spa in a town outside Florence, Italy. Rocco creates an Italian feast that the gang enjoys after an afternoon of relaxation.
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