Episode 117 | Cozy Winter Cooking with Farm-to-Table Restaurant Owner in the Italian Alps | Vea Carpi of Mas Del Saro

It was so fun to talk to a fellow homesteader and mama who shares my love for cozy winter cooking.  My new friend, Vea Carpi, is a farmer, cook, wife, mother, and restaurant owner in the Italian Alps.  In this conversation, she shares all about her unlikely story of becoming a homesteader and what she is currently cooking and serving in her restaurant and home.  I came away from this conversation with so many new ideas to try in my own kitchen, and I hope you will find some inspiration too.

In this episode, we cover:

  • What lead Vea to start a restaurant out of her home
  • What Vea is serving in her farm-to-table restaurant and in her home
  • A creative way to use kitchen scraps to flavor future dishes
  • Italians’ simple approach to food
  • A variety of traditional Italian dishes and techniques that you could easily incorporate into your own kitchen

About Vea

Vea Carpi is an ex-city gal who fell in love with one man and then fell in love with his mountains: the Italian Alps.  Vea and her husband and three children live and work on their small mountain farm raising a variety of animals and growing their own food.  Together they run an intimate farm-to-table restaurant, Mas Del Saro, adjacent to their home.  Vea is the author of a cookbook in Italian and German entitled La Mia Pasta Madre


Vea Carpi of Mas Del Saro | Website | Instagram
Lisa Bass of Farmhouse on Boone | Blog | YouTube | Instagram

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Lisa Bass [00:00:15] Thanks for joining me even though our time difference makes this somewhat of a challenge. I really appreciate you jumping on. Can you introduce yourself to everyone? 

Vea Carpi [00:00:24] Yeah. So I am Vea. I am Italian, and I live in the Italian Alps, so far north and next to the border with Austria, the Dolomites, that area. I live on a very small farm with my family. But almost all farms up here are not that big. We’re not used to American-sized farms because there is not that much land, so they have to be small. And it’s me, my husband and we have three kids. Already, three teenagers. And yeah. Oh, and we have a farm-to-table restaurant.

Lisa Bass [00:01:11] Oh, and that. 

Vea Carpi [00:01:14] Yeah, and that. 

Lisa Bass [00:01:16] When you say “small,” I’m curious what that means. What size? 

Vea Carpi [00:01:22] In acres, I think it should be something around three acres, maybe. I’m not sure because we use hectares, but it should be something like that. 

Lisa Bass [00:01:34] Yeah, somewhere around there. I gotcha. Yeah, you can fit a little on that size of property. I think people do need that encouragement, too, because I’ve seen people with full-blown farms on two acres. It can be done. 

Vea Carpi [00:01:47] Yeah. Yes, it absolutely can be done. It was done in this area. It was very, very typical because people in the mountains were very much isolated and they had to live on what their farm was providing. And the season is very short, and the land is very steep, but they managed it. So yeah, you can do it. 

Lisa Bass [00:02:14] I originally found you on the Homestead Mamas page, and just tell us: what do you raise on your farm? 

Vea Carpi [00:02:24] We have a little bit of everything, and that is the main idea— to recreate a traditional mountain farm. As I said before, they were small, but they were really trying to be self-sufficient. So we grow vegetables mainly, and then we have sheeps, we have pigs. We have a field that is a little bit lower in altitude so that we can grow potatoes and corn. We have a little bit of orchard. We have bees and we have hens. 

Lisa Bass [00:03:06] Well, you manage to have a lot based on the amount of acreage that you have. You manage to cover pretty much everything. Where is the restaurant? Is the restaurant close to your farm? Do you raise a lot of the things that you actually serve in your restaurant? 

Vea Carpi [00:03:22] Yes, the restaurant is really— so, the house was built in 1877. Then we built this small restaurant attached to the house. I have a door, and I just go from the house to the restaurant, which is, very—

Lisa Bass [00:03:46] Oh, that’s so cool. 

Vea Carpi [00:03:49] It’s really cool, but sometimes it makes this kind of mixture between private life and work. But all farmers know that. Our idea is to give our guests mainly what we produce. 

Lisa Bass [00:04:05] Okay, that is why I wanted to talk to you. Right now it’s winter, and winter is a good time for cozy and comforting foods. I just know that you probably have so many creative ideas for what you’re making during this time. I guess we could start with what are you serving in your restaurant right about now? 

Vea Carpi [00:04:27] Hmm. Well, winter, as you can guess, it’s always more challenging.

Lisa Bass [00:04:39] Yes, exactly. Exactly. 

Vea Carpi [00:04:41] Yes. We’re very proud of our own corn that I grind just before dinner and we make polenta. I don’t know if you know what polenta. It’s the way that Italians have their corn. I have an electric mill, so I grind it and then you cook it with water for quite a long time until it becomes like a dough. And that’s really typical in Italy at every latitude, especially in the North. And then we have potatoes now and then I have black kale. We have, of course, kraut, sauerkraut. 

Lisa Bass [00:05:34] Okay, so did you grow the cabbage and then ferment it whenever it was summer? 

Vea Carpi [00:05:38] Yes. 

Lisa Bass [00:05:38] Yeah. Oh, awesome. How many people do you serve in a day in your restaurant? 

Vea Carpi [00:05:43] We have five tables, so the maximum is 20 people. But I would say the average is like 10, 12, which is how we like it. So we can take care of our guests, it’s not the the classical cook job, where you’re always in a hurry, very stressed. And it’s nothing like that. I don’t want that. I didn’t want that. 

Lisa Bass [00:06:12] Right. So are you changing the menu items sometimes on a daily basis? Or does it stick around for most of the winter time? 

Vea Carpi [00:06:19] Usually I change it like on a monthly basis, but I’m not too rigid about that. 

Lisa Bass [00:06:26] Yeah. So, since you do a lot of polenta, how much corn do you guys put back? I mean, I’m assuming you must grow a lot. 

Vea Carpi [00:06:34] No, because the restaurant is small, and really corn is quite efficient. So you can get really quite a lot of polenta out of not that much. But we didn’t invent anything on how we farm here. We really got ourselves inspired by our ancestors. Farming in the mountains can be really challenging, and we realize that there is not that much that we have to invent. Everything was already sorted out for centuries. So we’re trying to stick to that. 

Lisa Bass [00:07:18] Yeah, yeah, that’s true. You don’t really need to reinvent it, just embrace it. So did you inherit the farm or did you guys buy it? How long have you been living this lifestyle? 

Lisa Bass [00:07:28] Hmm. That’s a nice question. No, I was born in Tuscany. We moved here, but we had completely different plans. I was really the classical city girl, and I moved here. Actually, we were looking for a motorcycle because my husband used to be a biker, and I hated to travel as a passenger because it was really boring. And at that time, there were no microphones or AirPods to talk, so it was incredibly boring. So I said, “Okay, I want to be a biker as well. I want to have my own bike and have some fun as well when we travel.” So we were looking for a motorbike, actually, and suddenly we found this advertisement. They said, “Very isolated farm for nature lovers.” We were not really thinking about it, but my husband said, “Okay, let’s go and have a look.” And it was in a in a very nice area where we used to hike a lot. So we just had a look and he felt in love with it immediately. And I was just like, “Oh my gosh, where am I going now?” And you know, when my mother first saw this house, I was pregnant with my first child and we moved here. I really didn’t know what I was doing. And my mother started to cry and she said, “You’re crazy, guys. What are you doing?” Yeah, we’ve been here 20 years and I never looked back. 

Lisa Bass [00:09:03] You’ve raised your kids here completely. 

Vea Carpi [00:09:05] Yes, they were born here and raised here.

Vea Carpi [00:09:07] So they’ve known this lifestyle. 

Vea Carpi [00:09:09] Yes. Yeah. 

Lisa Bass [00:09:10] And the restaurant— when did that start? Shortly after that? 

Vea Carpi [00:09:15] No, our story is kind of a slow one. We got into this life very slowly and step-by-step, as it wasn’t planned. When I read and I meet all these homestead momas, a lot of them— it’s really interesting because they had a plan. They really wanted that kind of life. I didn’t. I mean, it’s not that I didn’t want it, but I never thought about it. And I just found myself here. I always say it was my biggest luck of my life because if I didn’t buy this farm, I would never have known what I really wanted to be in life. So we started quite slowly, and year after year we were adding something and then it became like a real farm. And then we said, “Okay, but there is also the money part.” Passion is very important, but passion is not everything, right? I also wanted to have a little bit of income out of it. And so I have always loved cooking and I said, “Okay, why don’t we add that to this?” But this came only in 2016, and we’ve been living here since 2002. 

Lisa Bass [00:10:32] Okay, yeah, several years after.

Vea Carpi [00:10:33] Slow process. 

Lisa Bass [00:10:33] We’re supposed to be talking about winter cooking, but I want to ask you so many questions about that. Do people just who are local come to your restaurant or do they come from all over? 

Vea Carpi [00:10:49] Let’s say 50 percent are local, and 50 percent come from nearby areas. Instagram has helped a lot with that because it’s a way people get to know you, and they’re curious, so they travel a little bit also to come and eat here. 

Lisa Bass [00:11:11] My husband said, “You need to make reservations.” I’m like, “Kind of a little bit farther away for people with seven kids.” He was sold right away. He wanted to go. 

Vea Carpi [00:11:22] Oh yeah. He will be more than welcome. 

Lisa Bass [00:11:26] He was checking out your Instagram and your website and everything, looking at everything. He was sold. So let’s dive in to some of the food and some things that you’re enjoying making. It doesn’t just have to be in your restaurant, but in your home. What kind of comforting foods are you specifically enjoying right now in the wintertime? 

Vea Carpi [00:11:46] Oh, wow. The wintertime is where I have a little bit more time to cook. Let’s be honest, in summer it’s always a big rush. Fortunately, the kids help. They’re used to that. So sometimes they cook. But in the winter, we have a little bit more time. I would say that in winter, we love to have soups. And what I really like is to have velouté. It’s a soup made of one vegetable plus potatoes so that you can really savor the one ingredient. Let’s say squash or leeks. I just cook them with oil and a lot of squash. I cook it in the pan with oil. Yeah. And then I add some water and some broth or vegetable stock, and then I put it in a mixer and have it really, really smooth. And then add some bread in it, you know, very simple. In the restaurant, it’s a little bit different. But at home I like to really enjoy and give like the highlight on the one ingredient we have in that moment. 

Lisa Bass [00:13:25] Hm. Yeah, I don’t I don’t think I do that very often, but I like the idea of it. Usually it’s throwing in as much as I possibly can, but I like the idea of highlighting one thing. Yes, I think it’s both ways. In winter, it’s like a necessity. But it also comes out very, very nice. A warm bowl of pumpkin soup with a little bit of herbs or a little bit of toasted bread. It’s really simple. If you add some potatoes, it’s also quite energetic. 

Vea Carpi [00:13:57] Yeah. What kind of broths are you making in your kitchen? 

Vea Carpi [00:14:02] So basically and mainly I use vegetable broth. And this is something that can be kind of interesting. What I do when I cook vegetables— I keep the scraps. Is scraps the correct word in English? 

Lisa Bass [00:14:18] Yeah, yep. 

Vea Carpi [00:14:19] The things you cut when you— yeah? Okay. I keep them. I wash them very, very nicely and I put them away. If I don’t have time, I freeze them. And then when I have a little bit of time, I take all of this. I cut them in quite small pieces and then I cook them with salt. Quite a good amount of salt in a nonstick pan until they have released all their water. And then again in a mixer. You make a kind of a paste of it, which is really very salty and very, very flavoring. And then I put this base in the ice molds. Little ice molds. So I have this like vegetable stock cubes that I use later on, either to have like simple broth with maybe some egg pasta in it, or I add them to give some flavor to anything. You can use them in risotto, you can use them when you cook meat, whatever. And I think that’s a very good way to use your kitchen scraps. 

[00:15:31] Yeah. So is there water involved or it’s just cooking them with the salt in the pan? 

Lisa Bass [00:15:37] No water. Only salt. You cook them very slowly, so they will release all their water and they will kind of dry out. But the salt will keep it like a paste. So you can really scoop it in the ice molds. 

Lisa Bass [00:15:54] Are you doing peels of any kind or just ends? Like ends of a carrot, ends of a leek? Or what kind of things are you putting it? This is interesting. I’ve never done something like this before. 

Lisa Bass [00:16:04] Yes, it’s like when you peel the carrot. If you peel the carrot, you wash it before and then you peel it, and you keep the peels. Or when, for example, you have the green part of the leeks— that again, you can use that. Or, for example, the leaves of an onion that you will eventually throw away. Or when you cut a cabbage and you take out the outside leaves, you can use them. You can use whatever you have. As long as you like it, you can use it. It’s really, really very useful. 

Lisa Bass [00:16:46] Yeah, yeah. I could see that. I’m trying to think of how I could incorporate something like that in my kitchen just to add a little punch of flavor to things. Normally I find myself putting all of those same scraps in with bones and making a bone broth, but I’ve never thought about not using any water and making the paste. 

Vea Carpi [00:17:05] Yeah, that’s something in Italy. I don’t know if it’s the same in the States, but in Italy, a lot of people and this. It’s called these stock cubes that they buy in the store. But they’re really not that good and not really healthy because they add a lot of other stuff to give flavor. And you never know what there is in those things. But I mean, this is homemade. 

Lisa Bass [00:17:34] Yeah, yeah, that would be something similar to bullion cubes. I guess maybe that would be similar to that.

Vea Carpi [00:17:43] Exactly. Yes. I didn’t have the word, but that’s it. 

Lisa Bass [00:17:46] Okay, so it is the bullion cubes. Interesting. I wonder how to make that with a bone base, or if it would be possible in any way to do something like that. They sell like chicken bullion cubes. But I have no clue how one would recreate that same idea. 

Vea Carpi [00:18:01] Well, I think it’s possible. The important thing is just that you have quite a bit of salt and no liquids added. You just let it cook very, very slowly, and the salt helps all the the liquids to get out from the vegetables or meat. And then I think it works exactly the same. 

Lisa Bass [00:18:24] Okay, nice. What are some herbs and spices this time of year that are making their way more into your dishes that are warm and comforting? Are there any that overwinter where you live? 

Vea Carpi [00:18:36] Yes, not very many, but yes. We always have sage. That is all year round.

Lisa Bass [00:18:45] Yes, that’s the one we have too. 

Vea Carpi [00:18:45] Yes, she survives also under under snow. One herb that I really, really like is bay leaves. I add them to everything. I really like the flavor. And those as well— they survive through the winter. And I also dry quite a lot of herbs during the spring and summer and autumn, so that then I have some herbs powder always at hand. You don’t need that much because herbs are so— and especially when they are dried, their flavor is even more intense. So you don’t need to have that much, but you know, just a jar for each herb and it will do. I have chive. I have nettles dried out and then I have. I also dry elder flowers and those I use very much in the winter. Yes, for teas. 

Lisa Bass [00:19:59] Yeah, I’ve never thought to use that. We went and picked elder flowers last summer and I just didn’t even know what to do with them. We made fritters with them, but I didn’t think to use them as an herb to dry it out and use it in soups. What other application do you use them? 

Vea Carpi [00:20:19] The elder flowers are really something that people here use a lot, and every family has its recipe for elderflower syrup which we make. Really, every family makes a lot of it and then we exchange them. And I mean, it’s pretty always the same, but we have slightly different recipes. So we exchange recipes and it lasts all through the winter. There is always a bottle of elderflower syrup here in the farms. 

Lisa Bass [00:20:56] Okay, so is that sugar-based or honey-based, or how is it made? 

Vea Carpi [00:21:01] Unfortunately, it’s sugar-based, so it’s really you have to be kind of, you know, don’t indulge too much, but it’s really easy to make because it’s like you have 10 flowers. They’re very intense in their flavor, so you don’t need that many. And it’s like one liter water, 10 flowers, sliced lemon, and then you leave it for a couple of days and then you drain the water and put sugar in the water. Quite a good amount. I would say half a kilo and then you cook it and bottle it, and that’s it. It’s really very easy, very easy to make. 

Lisa Bass [00:21:42] Yeah. So then people put it on pancakes, maybe in desserts?

Vea Carpi [00:21:48] We more like drink it. In summer, we drink it with cold water. And in winter we add warm water. Okay, so we have something like a tea. 

Lisa Bass [00:22:02] Yeah, yeah. That is another topic I wanted to talk about a little bit was drinks because I’m always wanting something hot in my hand all day long in the winter. It’s one of the best things about winter. That and the woodstove. Otherwise I would totally not like it. Yeah. What are some other drinks you’re finding yourself making over there? 

Vea Carpi [00:22:21] Oh, this one, we make a lot. This is one of our favorite. And yes, I try not to drink too much of that because there is a lot of sugar. This is why I also dry flowers. That’s the second option so that you use the flowers, the elder flowers to make tea. I also make syrups out of roses, and that’s also a very, very good one. And also you can use it both in summer with cold water and in winter with with warm water. That’s also an option. Yes, syrups are really very— I use them a lot. 

Lisa Bass [00:23:08] Interesting. That is not something— unless I’m just way out of the loop— I don’t know that anybody really does that around here. I hadn’t thought to make a syrup with an herb and then take that syrup and then put it in hot water. That would be a really simple drink to have all winter long. 

Vea Carpi [00:23:24] Yes, I also have a couple of jars of mint syrup, and that is also you can drink it warm. I mean, basically all of them, you can drink them warm. 

Lisa Bass [00:23:34] Yeah, that is a good idea. I hadn’t thought to do something like that. I wanted to ask you more about your polenta and how do you flavor it? Do you just use salt and mostly just highlight the corn? Or what are some ways that you flavor that? 

Vea Carpi [00:23:46] Okay, so the basic polenta, traditional polenta, is just corn flour, water and salt, and we cook it in a special pan that is made of— I don’t know the English word. Anyway, it’s a metal. It’s looks like gold, but it’s not gold. 

Lisa Bass [00:24:09] Copper?

Vea Carpi [00:24:11] Copper. Yeah, that’s it. We got it. Copper. And yeah, that’s really typical. And we usually make it on the wood stove. That’s really the typical polenta. It’s so typical that in this area that most of the families have it every Sunday. I mean, you don’t call it a Sunday if there is not polenta for lunch. My mother-in-law, she taught me how to make it, because there is a special way to mix it. You cannot just mix. You have to have a special training from your mother-in-law. And that’s the typical typical dish. You can also have something that we call polenta concha. That means that almost at the end of the cooking, you add some some cheese, some grated cheese to make it a little bit more interesting in flavor and nutritious, which is really also very easy. I mean, you grate some cheese and you add it at the end of the cooking or sometimes at the restaurant in summer, I add some herbs. Like rosemary or a mixture of the rosemary, sage, thyme, all this kind of herbs. 

Lisa Bass [00:25:37] Now is that a side dish? Or when you say people have polenta on Sunday, are they eating something with the polenta or just a big bowl of warm polenta? 

Vea Carpi [00:25:45] No, it’s a side dish, because the thing is that in this area, there is not very much a tradition for bread. Because we are too high and it was very difficult to grow wheat because it’s too cold. But corn adapted very well when it arrived from America basically. So our traditional dish comes from America, which is kind of interesting. So this is why there is not that much bread tradition, but polenta is the same as bread. They usually eat the rabbit with it. Rabbit is very, very common here. Or any kind of meat with sauce or eggs. You can have eggs with it, whatever you like. 

Lisa Bass [00:26:37] Yeah, yeah, I’m definitely going to try it. I don’t know if you believe this, but I’ve never made polenta in my entire life, so I’m going to do it. It sounds good. 

Vea Carpi [00:26:47] I really believe it because— this is something interesting— I made some research about it. And you know what? That when polenta came to Europe, it had this big success because it was so easy to grow and so productive. So Europeans got really crazy about corn. But they developed their own method to eat it, which is basically making polenta, which had nothing to do with where it came from, because in America they didn’t do it. They didn’t do polenta. They did something different. That’s interesting, you know, how food connects.

Lisa Bass [00:27:30] It is because, I mean, I’ve obviously heard of polenta, but I’ve never thought to make it. But it seems like a really nice carb to add to a meal because it’s pretty simple. 

Vea Carpi [00:27:42] Yes, it is. 

Lisa Bass [00:27:43] I’m thinking about, though, sourcing because you grow corn. I’m not sure where I would source a good quality corn. Do you have any online recommendations that you know of? 

Vea Carpi [00:27:54] It’s quite difficult here as well because, I mean, it’s very easy to find polenta in the stores here. But the thing is that to have a longer shelf life, even the best polenta mills, they have to take out the oil because otherwise the shelf life will be really, really short. So the polenta that you buy in store is always very, very dry. On the other hand, the polenta that we have, it’s our corn. So we grind it just before cooking, and it has all the nutrients, oil as well. So it’s really different. It’s very oily, much more nourishing and much more flavor. It has much more flavor in it. In your area, do they grow corn? 

Lisa Bass [00:28:47] Yes, but it’s all genetically modified corn, that I know of. So yeah, I think it’d be kind of challenging. It’s difficult to find it even for animal feed, to find non-GMO crops, but I’ll check out some of my usual sources. What about grains? So you said that you can’t really grow it in your area, but I know that you do some sourdough. So what are you using for that? 

Vea Carpi [00:29:10] So basically, in this area, they used to grow rye which is very, very much adaptable to the mountain territory. And barley, oats. Well, I use wheat as well. Yes, basically, I use these grains. 

Lisa Bass [00:29:30] Okay, so are those what you’re using to make your sourdough loaves? 

Vea Carpi [00:29:33] Yes. 

Lisa Bass [00:29:34] Okay. Do you have any tried and true recipes for your sourdough or is it something that you’ve experimented with or did it come from any cookbooks or anything? 

Vea Carpi [00:29:42] Oh wow. Sourdough was— is still a journey. It was and is a journey, as you know. Actually, sourdough was the first thing I might say that my journey as a homesteader started with sourdough because it was the first thing I learned to do with my hands. That’s opened for me so many doors because I realized I actually could make something with my hands. And it turned out good. So, so from there, I mean, I never stopped. Yeah. It’s more than 10 years that I bake with sourdough, and things have changed a lot. Now I use a more liquid sourdough. I used to have a stiff one, but now I have a more liquid one. Yeah. I also wrote a book of sourdough recipes. Unfortunately, it’s only in Italian and German. 

Lisa Bass [00:30:46] Okay, well if anybody in my listeners speak Italian and German, that would be a good one to get your hands on.

Vea Carpi [00:30:54] Yes, there are also some traditional recipes here with sourdough. They don’t do them anymore with sourdough, but I’m pretty sure they were sourdough. I mean, people used to bake with it until the Second World War. So for sure, they were. 

Lisa Bass [00:31:12] What are some of the traditional ways that just a normal sordough bread loaf or any kind of other recipes that people make around there? 

Vea Carpi [00:31:22] Yes, there is one recipe that I really love because it’s very typical from this particular valley where I live in. This is a peculiar valley because we are just two thousand people. So it’s very, very small. And one thousand out of two thousand— they speak a very different dialect. It’s a German dialect, so they don’t speak Italian, actually, but they speak an ancient German because they came from Germany in the middle age and they were so much isolated that they never mixed with the Italian people. So until today, they maintained their language, which I find really fascinating. 

Lisa Bass [00:32:09] Yeah, that is interesting. 

Vea Carpi [00:32:10] Yes, that’s really very interesting. And they have also their own recipes. And one of them is— I really love it because it tells a story of poor people in the mountain that did the best that they could with what little ingredients they had. So they’re called [speaking Italian], and they are kind of little bread fritters, I would say. They’re very simple because you make a dough with sourdough, buttermilk, rye flour, a little bit of all-purpose flour, and half a teaspoon of baking soda, and olive oil. And you make this dough, which is a little bit sticky. And it’s nice because you can put the dough in the fridge and then it will last one week. So when you want to make these little kind of pancakes, you just take the dough and you make the pancake and you put it on the non-stick pan or directly on the wooden stove, and they will cook in like two minutes. And this is really very, very typical from here. 

Lisa Bass [00:33:28] Okay, so it’s a rye-based little pancake? 

Vea Carpi [00:33:32] Yes. 

[00:33:32] Yeah, that sounds really good. Seems like something my kids would absolutely love. It seems to me the focus for you in your home and your restaurant is really figuring out how to take simple ingredients and make them as delicious as they possibly can be and really highlight things in the simple form but making the flavor come out of them. 

Vea Carpi [00:33:54] Yes, exactly. That kind of closed the circle of our life and choice, and being able to offer this to other people and to explain to them what it means to us— this food— I’m really grateful that I could end up doing that. I feel like I’m kind of worshiping my land I’ve been given in the best way I can. And really, I try to keep it simple to keep so not to add too many ingredients. Because I really want what we grow to be the star.

Lisa Bass [00:34:48] Right. Yeah, yeah. And bring out the flavors with simple things without— I’m always more ingredients, add this vegetable, add this herb, we’re going to really amp it up. And sometimes there’s a place for just simplicity in taking something like corn and making it into something delicious. 

[00:35:04] Yeah, I don’t know if you know what WOOF is— Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farming. It’s an association that puts together farmers and volunteers from all over the world. So we have been WOOF hosts for quite a long time and we had people from all over the world here, and we had so much exchange about the way of cooking. I think most of them, what they noticed, people from other parts of the world was exactly this: that Italian cooking in general tend to be quite simple in a way. So we don’t use many ingredients in dishes and each dish has its highlight ingredient. That’s kind of what was the feedback from them. 

Lisa Bass [00:35:57] Yeah, yeah, that’s what I’m noticing, too, but I really like the idea. It keeps it simple and it gives you space to perfect a technique with one particular ingredient instead of adding more to maybe cover up the taste of making an error on it and just getting better and better at that one particular. How about pasta? Are you making pasta as well? Or do people not really do that in your area as much? 

[00:36:24] Yes, but there are other areas in Italy that are more famous for their pasta. I would say central Italy is more famous. I do a lot of egg pasta, though, because it’s so simple. You can do so many things with that egg pasta. You can do lasagna, you can do tagliatelle. you can do. Sometimes I just have broth with some— I have tagliatelle in the freezer, and I just break them in the broth and have this soup of tagliatelle and broth. Or you can have a more complicated lasagna. It’s really something I love with just eggs and flour. That’s it. I mean, it’s so exciting. 

Lisa Bass [00:37:17] Are you using the rye for that as well? 

Vea Carpi [00:37:22] No, no. In that case, I use wheat flour. Yes, it’s a classical egg pasta.

Lisa Bass [00:37:28] Yeah, that is delicious. I like to make pasta with einkorn flour, the ancient wheat. I don’t know if you have access to that. I know that you probably do. I think a lot of it’s grown over there, right? 

Vea Carpi [00:37:41] Einkorn, yeah. Yes, it is. It is. Yes, yes. And I mean, in the sourdough bakers community is quite common to use einkorn. 

Lisa Bass [00:37:52] Yeah. Yeah. Are there any more favorite recipes? I saw on your Instagram stories where you made foam cookies. 

Vea Carpi [00:38:18] Oh, yeah, that’s a Jewish recipe. It’s not really typical from here. And yes, they’re really easy. It’s like egg white, and sugar, and some nuts. And that’s it. Basically, that was very, very easy to make. And yes, we made we made them last year on the Remembrance Day. That’s a really such a wide word. You know, desserts. My second daughter is specialized on those. Tiramisu is something very typical. Very typical Italian. But I suggest you don’t have it on a daily basis because it’s really, really— you know what the word that tiramisu means? 

Lisa Bass [00:39:17] No, I do not. 

Vea Carpi [00:39:19] Tiramisu means pick me up. That’s quite easy. It’s a layer of biscuits, and then you have to make this cream with mascarpone. I’m sure you have mascarpone. I don’t know if there is an English word. 

Lisa Bass [00:39:46] No, that’s just the word we use. 

Vea Carpi [00:39:47] Mascarpone is in English the same. Okay, super. And you make a cream with mascarpone and egg yolks and sugar, and then you dunk the biscuits in coffee, and then you make a layer of biscuits dunked in coffee, and then a layer of this mascarpone cream, and then a layer of biscuits, and then a layer of mascarpone cream, and you go on until you finish your ingredients and then you put it in the fridge. And that’s really delicious. Easy and delicious. 

Lisa Bass [00:40:26] Are you making the biscuits portion from scratch as well? 

Vea Carpi [00:40:31] No, basically because the traditional mascarpone is made with a specific kind of biscuits, which are quite difficult to make at home. They’re called savoiardi, but you can really use whatever biscuits you have on hand, or you can also make them. 

Lisa Bass [00:40:52] I think it would be good. Either way, it sounds delicious, but I need to make it in the morning or I will be up all night, I think. Tell us more about where everybody can find you, your Instagram, your website or where you want to direct people to check out more about your restaurant. If they happen to be somewhat in the area, they can come check it all out. 

Vea Carpi [00:41:16] Oh yeah, I had some visitors from the States this year. A couple that I met through Homestead Mamas, and they managed to come. So that was really exciting. We are on Instagram, mostly. That’s the social I really like the best. So it’s @mas_del_saro on Instagram or on our website. Yes, where you can find also the menu. I try to translate almost everything in English on Instagram as well. Especially after I joined the Homestead Mamas community. So I feel like, you know, to be as inclusive as I can. So, yeah, I’m trying. 

Lisa Bass [00:42:05] Yeah, no, I looked through your stories and noticed everything had the English subtitles and made it to where I could actually understand it all. We appreciate all that. Well, thank you so much for joining me and talking about food. I found this conversation really fascinating. Do you give farm tours when people come out to your restaurant? I’m thinking that would be so fun to see. 

Vea Carpi [00:42:26] Yes, of course, especially before lunch. Especially it’s my husband to do that because he’s the one serving. I’m in the kitchen and he’s outside. So yes, he is very proud of his pigs especially, so he always wants to show the pigs to everybody. 

Lisa Bass [00:42:44] Oh, that’s so cool. Well if anybody can get out to Italy, get over there, definitely go check out Vea and her amazing restaurant and farm. Also check her out over on Instagram and all that they have going on. You can at least just be peering in even if you can’t make it over to Italy. 

Vea Carpi [00:43:01]  I hope to have many of you here visiting. That will be lovely. And we are planning a trip to the States. 

Lisa Bass [00:43:11] Oh, so where are you headed in the States? 

Lisa Bass [00:43:14] Oh, our idea, but now it’s just a dream. But we’re starting to talk quite a lot about it. Our idea would be to have three months off and travel all through the States with an RV or a caravan visiting all the homesteads I’ve been watching on the Instagram. That’s my big dream. Parking in their backyard. 

Lisa Bass [00:43:41] That would be so cool. Yeah, I’m serious, if you come to Missouri, which you will because Missouri is right in the middle. So you have to go through Missouri pretty much. 

Vea Carpi [00:43:52] Yes, for sure, for sure.

Lisa Bass [00:43:55] Unless you’re going to hit north or south. But yeah, you can message me and park your RV in our property. 

Vea Carpi [00:44:01] Oh, thank you. We will do that. 

Lisa Bass [00:44:05] Yeah, I’m sure you’re making contacts all over the place. 

Vea Carpi [00:44:07] Yes. Yes, no. It’s really an amazing community, I have to say, Homestead Mamas. I was surprised of how involved I got from all of you. I mean, it’s really so different from how we farm here, but it’s so inspiring. I mean, for me, it’s really inspiring. It’s something new and fresh.

Lisa Bass [00:44:29] Yeah, yeah, that’s how I feel about yours, too. It’s always interesting to see how people do things in all parts of the world. It’s really neat. 

[00:44:34] Yes, and I’m really— you are one of my heroes because to see you with seven kids and managing all of it— wow, that’s really great. 

Lisa Bass [00:44:49] Well, thank you.

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