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September, 2013

Enjoying Food and Music in Umbria

Here at Tour de Forks, we love Italy. Especially for the food. But also for the music. This year, we had the opportunity to attend several of Umbria's most lauded music festivals, including Festival di Spoleto, Trasimeno Music Festival and Umbria Jazz. Next summer, let us curate an uncommon audible adventure to central Italy just for you, complete with hotels/apartments, restaurant recommendations, cooking classes, winery visits, historical landmarks, and music festival tickets.

As Shakespeare said: "if music be the food of love, play on."

Festival of Two Worlds, Spoleto

Festival of Two Worlds

Spoleto, in Umbria, hosts one of the most significant and glamorous artistic events in Europe. Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of Two Worlds) brings in music lovers from far and wide. The annual festival was founded by composer Gian Carlo Menotti in 1958, and features a vast array of concerts, as well as opera, dance, theater, film and art. This year, we had the buona fortuna to catch Isabella Rossellini performing a live adaption of her short film series, Green Porno, that explores the secret sex lives of marine animals. Other highlights included Domenico Cimarosa's opera Il Segreto Matrimonio (The Secret Marriage), performed in the opera house recently renovated by fashion magnate Carla Fendi; and the Mark Morris Dance Group, all the way from Brooklyn.

Isabella Rossellini, Green Porno

From Cool Classical to Hot Jazz

There is a world-famous chamber music festival that takes place in the most stunning of settings: the 15th century courtyard of the Castle of the Knights of Malta, on the east bank of Lake Trasimeno. Trasimeno Music Festival is an opportunity for musicians and music lovers from all over the world to gather for a magical week of concerts under the stars. Artistic director Angela Hewitt, regarded as one of the greatest living interpreters of the music of J.S. Bach, performed Bach's The Art of the Fugue at this year's event. Next year's festival is slated for July 4-11, 2014.

Angela Hewitt

Umbria Jazz rocked the region's capital city of Perugia in July. The event celebrated its 40th anniversary this year as the pre-eminent jazz festival in Italy and one of the most important in the world. The program featured some of jazz's biggest legends and hottest stars, including Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, Simona Molinari, Gal Costa and Gilberto Gil, Diana Krall, the Branford Marsalis Quartet, John Legend and Keith Jarrett. If we close our eyes, we can still hear it... next summer, let Umbria be music to your ears.

On the Cassoulet Trail

by Debra Fioritto and Kathy Morton

Cassoulet, a thick casserole of beans and meat, is a hearty peasant dish that originated in the Midi-Pyrenées and Languedoc regions. The names come from cassole, which is the name of the pot used in making cassoulet. A gastronomic council decreed in 1996 that a true cassoulet must consist of 70% beans, the preferred bean is the lingot de Lauragais. This bean is grown in the Aude and stands up to the long cooking required by traditional cassoulet recipes. Various types of meats make up the remaining 30% of the dish. And it's the meats that determine which type of cassoulet it is. The three most well-known cassoulets, dubbed by Prosper Montagné as the "Trinity" are from Castlenaudary, Toulouse and Caracassonne.

Cassoulet de Castelnaudary
This is the 'father' and the oldest recorded recipe. Besides the regional lingot, it contains pork (loin, ham, leg) sausages, fresh rinds and may contain a piece of goose confit.

Cassoulet de Carcassonne
Montagné dubbed this cassoulet the 'son'. It's origins are found in the walled citadel of Carcassonne. The meat in this version is mutton. In hunting season, partridge is added.

Cassoulet de Toulouse
The third version, or 'holy ghost' is from the city of Toulouse. It has the most variety of meats and can contain not only all the meats from the Castelnaudary recipe but also mutton, Toulouse sausage and duck or goose confit.

Learn to make your own cassoulet on our escorted tour next May: Languedoc-Roussillon

Cassoulet de Carcassonne

For further information on these adventures and other destinations call us Toll Free on 888 345 3005 or email

We look forward to helping you plan your uncommon epicurean adventure!