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August-September, 2014

The Last Month of Summer

In a few weeks time, September begins and the Mediterranean is transformed. Schools go back, beaches start to empty, and the number of tourists decreases. Best of all, it's harvest time. If all this isn't enough to tempt you, don't forget that the prices of hotels fall significantly after the end of the high season. Our favorites are Sicily and Puglia in Italy; Languedoc and Provence in France; and San Sebastian/La Rioja in Spain. Email us for a taste of the Mediterranean at for more details.

Lisa in Fiano di Avellino, Irpinia

Where We've Traveled Recently...

Last month, Tour de Fork's SVP Lisa Goldman traveled to Irpinia. Irpinia is an hour north of Naples in the region of Campania. It is also an undiscovered, untouristed region that is rich with archaeological and historical sights, medieval villages, castles, and acres upon acres of vineyards growing ancient varietals such as Aglianico, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo and Falanghina. Among the many wines she sampled, Lisa recommends the Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino, 2011 and the Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano di Avellino, 2011. Both were refreshing, lively and textured wines, perfect for late summer drinking. Best of all, they are available stateside for under $25.

Pistou Soup


Pesto is a very commonly known and commercially produced basil/olive oil/garlic condiment used in Italian cuisine. Pistou, it's lesser known cousin, is a basil/olive oil/garlic condiment used in French cuisine. The main difference is the pine nuts - which are used in the Italian version and not in the French. The traditional French version of pistou is made only with garlic, basil, olive oil and salt. It is now common to see it made with Parmesan or other cheeses and sometimes with a tomato thrown in for extra flavoring.

The word itself - pistou - is a Proven├žal word derived from the latin pestare which means to pound. Pistou is made by "pounding" the ingredients together using a mortar and pestle. Food processors have taken over from the mortar and pestle, but Patricia Wells notes in her cookbook that only by using the traditional method of the mortar and pestle will you be able to retain the bright green color. The sauce is best used within one to two days of making. To store it longer, cover it with a thin film of olive oil and keep it in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen.

Pistou can be used as a sauce for pasta or as a flavoring for steamed vegetables, grilled fish and chicken. Perhaps the best known use is in Soupe au Pistou. This Proven├žal soup showcases a wide variety of garden vegetables. In certain regions, bacon, sausage or ham is also added. Here is our recipe for pistou:

  • 4 cups fresh basil, finely shredded or cut with scissors
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper
  • (OPTIONAL) 1/2 cup freshly grated Gruyère

  1. Place a half of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend. When the purée is smooth, pour it into a bowl.
  2. Purée the rest of the ingredients and add them to the first batch.
  3. Stir in the cheese, if using. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days

Sonoma Wine Country

Experience Bountiful Sonoma During the Harvest: October 20-23

We have a few seats left...amidst the rustic surroundings, gorgeous wine country and magnificent coastline, you'll tour award-winning wineries; take an exclusive cooking class with Chef John Ash, father of California Cuisine; enjoy a baking lesson, learn about sustainability at a top-ranking farm, and taste the finest wine, artisanal cheese and award-winning olive oil.

For an itinerary or to make a reservation, contact Sur la Table's concierge at 866.392.3302 or click here.