From gorgeous shoes to garlic shoots (and a bonus recipe!)

Michelle Capobianco from Majella Home Cooking tells us how her shopping priorities have changed over the last few years.

Michelle Capobianco aka Majella Home CookingYou can learn a lot about me by examining the evolution of my shopping habits during my travels in Italy. As a student on a shoestring budget, I trolled illegal bancarelle in search of authentic-looking Prada and Fendi knock-offs.

Fast-forward a few years later – as a New York City attorney who could afford the real thing, my vacations to Italy were a marathon up and down the tiny shops of Romes Via Condotti with my poor husband lagging behind as my porter.

Jumping ahead a bit – after coming to grips with the realisation that designer shoes were not worth the gruelling hours and time away from my children, I left my law career to stay home.

During this uncertain phase, my shopping adventures in Italy consisted of studying the shelves of specialty food stores in the hope that one day Id fulfil my dream of starting some sort of food business.

Now Im the owner of Majella Home Cooking, a boutique catering and cooking company in New York and the writer of a food blog of the same name. I spend my summers in Abruzzo and practically live al mercato, giddy with inspiration and pure soddisfazione, as I gesticulate with i contadini about the beauty of their verdure and beg le signore for their favorite farro recipes.

Dont get me wrong, a pair of Prada strappy sandals can still make my heart pitter-patter, but those pretty little shoes have nothing on a bundle of wild fennel and a braid of aglio rosso di Sulmona.



Join Michelle on her tour of Sulmona’s famous market on the morning of Saturday July 4th.

You’ll learn all about the seasonal produce on the market stalls, what to say in Italian when you want to buy something, plus some preparation tips and recipe ideas.
You’ll pop into a couple of typical food shops to learn more about what’s available here in Sulmona and get a taste for the authentic cucina of the area.
Tickets cost per person € 15 – Book your place now!


While you’re waiting, get in the mood with this incredible recipe, courtesy of Michelle to our readers!

…buon appetito!

Calamari and Clams in Garlic Scape and Wild Fennel Broth
Serves 4
A rich and spicy tomato and seafood brodetto showcasing seasonal farmers' market produce
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
  1. 2 tablespoons olio santo (peperoncino-infused extra virgin olive oil - or 2 tablespoons olive oil and one teaspoon fresh or dried peperoncino)
  2. 6 garlic scapes, diced (or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped)
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/2 cup wild fennel stems and fronds, finely chopped
  5. 1 cup tomato sauce
  6. 3 cups water
  7. 1 lb calamari, bodies cut into rings
  8. 2 dozen little neck clams
  1. To a heavy-bottomed stainless steel or cast iron pot, add the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.
  2. Add the garlic scapes (or garlic) and salt and sauté until softened.
  3. Add the fennel and sauté for two minutes.
  4. Raise the heat to high and add the tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the calamari.
  6. Simmer, uncovered, until the calamari are completely tender, 45 -60 minutes, adding a bit more water along the way if necessary.
  7. When the calamari are tender, add the clams and cover for about 2 minutes, cooking until the clamshells open.
  8. Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Ladle into shallow bowls and drizzle with olive oil.
  10. Serve with crusty bread.
  11. Buon appetito!
Welcome to Sulmona

 EDIT: With this post we enter the “Delicious! Abruzzo Foodie Trail” blog competition. Click on the link and get access to yet more inspiring foodie tales!



About The Author

Michelle Capobianco
Majella Home Cooking

A former corporate and security attorney, Michelle turned her passion for Italian gastronomy and culture into a "second-chance" career as a caterer, cooking teacher and blogger. Each summer she returns to Italy with her husband and three young sons to her family home in Salle, on her beloved Majella which she refers to as "star of my dreams, source of my inspiration and beloved summer playground"

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