The Tasca home supports a traditional Sicilian cuisine, which Anna, while respecting the local culture, has combined with the more international one she found in the Lanza Di Mazzarino family. In this productive small universe, amidst the vineyards and the hum of tractors, the family shares its passion for the land and for time-honored recipes with those who want to learn and appreciate the secrets of old traditions.
“I have learned a lot from my husband family in the 8 years I lived with them, but…I never knew where the kitchen was, I never spoke to the chef myself, orders for him came either from my father in law or from my eldest brother-in-law, it wasn’t Sicilian cuisine except a few recipes which my father-in-law loved…my cooking school was not even in the mind of God at that time and I was only an aristocratic lady living like one! Everything has changed since and I have become a cook! I am more happy now and enjoy my job enormously. The cuisine of my in-laws has certainly influenced me, but especially in refinement, in my palate and in taste (meant as “buon gusto” also in exteriority).”
Anna Tasca Lanza conducts and directs the cooking courses at the Regalfali-Tasca d’Almerita Winery. She is assisted by her sister Costanza di Camporealf and often by her husband, Venceslao Llanza di Mazzarino, a specialist in Sicilian history. He joins the sisters and their guests at dinner.
Anna Tasca Lanza In the News:
In Sicily, a Winery Tour With Lunch Included
About halfway between Palermo, on the north coast of Sicily, and Agrigento, on the south, lies one of the island’s premier wineries and cooking schools – Regaleali, which has been in the family of Count Lucio Tasca since 1830.
Regaleali, near the tiny village of Vallelunga, is not a palazzo but a grand country estate of 1,200 acres. It is also a working farm that provides all the wine and almost all the food it serves its guests. A couple of years ago the count’s son, Giuseppe Tasca, realized that those who were coming for the wine tasting were interested not only in the vineyards but also in the wonderfully peppery green olive oil from the 4,000 olive trees, the extensive vegetable garden and fruit trees, the chickens and sheep and the cheese made on the estate from the sheep’s milk.
Soon a simple wine tasting was turned into a typical Sicilian five-course lunch paired with the estate’s wines.
Regaleali, which is derived from an Arabic word meaning home of Ali, offers a serenely romantic view of Sicily. The cultivated hillsides stretch as far as the eye can see from the buildings that house the winery and the count’s residence. The wine tastings and lunch are served in the handsomely remodeled barn, its ochre stucco walls trimmed in blue, the barnyard now a brick-and-cobblestone courtyard.
The wine lunch changes with the season. A typical meal would start with panelle, deep-fried wedges made from chickpea flour, or with vegetables from the garden. The antipasto is always served with Almerita Spumante, a delicious sparkling wine.
The primi, or pasta, course might be served with fava beans or with a tomato sauce and the farm’s fresh sheep’s-milk ricotta. The secondi course is often the estate’s tender lamb, cooked with one of the winery’s finest reds, Rosso del Conte, or the fat and succulent chickens. Homemade cheeses follow. For dessert the ricotta is sweetened and used to stuff freshly fried cannoli. Fruit in season is another choice.
Mr. Tasca’s aunt, Anna Tasca Lanza, the cooking teacher and cookbook author, conducts cooking classes, as she has for more than 15 years, at Casa Vecchie, in the middle of the vineyards. Her charming demonstration kitchen has white tile walls, brightened with a border of blue and white tiles. Like the lunch with wine pairings, she bases her classes on the seasonal offerings of the farm. A five-day stay includes cooking classes each day with side trips. Up to 10 students can be accommodated.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
The James Beard Foundation Workshop Series
Wouldn’t we all like to experience the life of an Italian contessa? While it is too late to secure yourself a title—the Italian Republic abolished noble titles in 1947—you can still learn to cook and eat and drink like royalty at this Sicilian workshop. Led by Anna Tasca Lanza, the daughter of Conte and Contessa Giuseppe and Franca Tasca d’Almerita, this workshop will highlight the traditional food and wines of her native Sicily.
Lanza attended finishing school in Switzerland, and after her coming out ball back home at Villa Tasca at age 18, she married the Marchese di Villa Urrutia, Veneslao Lanza di Mazzarino (but you can call him Vinces). They had one daughter, Fabrizia. After Fabrizia went away to college, Lanza went to work for her family’s estate and winery, Regaleali, which they have owned since 1830. In 1989 Lanza opened a cooking school there, a turning point in her life. She began traveling in the United States and elsewhere, spreading the word about Regaleali’s fine wines and Sicily’s great food. She has since written six books, including The Heart of Sicily (Clarkson Potter, 1993), The Flavors of Sicily (Clarkson Potter, 1996), and most recently, The Garden of Endangered Fruit, which she self-published in 2004.
Everyone who sets foot into the Casa Vecchie kitchen on the Regaleali estate where Lanza holds her cooking classes falls in love with the place. In Condé Nast Traveler last July, Gully Wells explained why six days wasn’t enough time there. “I stood, inhaling the chamomile, listening to the birds, shading my eyes from the dazzling noonday sun, not wanting to disturb them and—more selfishly—wishing that I could imprint this scene in my mind (and nose, ears, eyes, and the soles of my feet) forever.” Wells described Lanza as “one of Sicily’s finest cooks,” and called Regaleali “one of the best-known wineries in Sicily.” Describing the scene in the vineyards, Wells wrote, “The hills were covered in brilliant red poppies, yellow wheat, and infinite rows of green grape vines. It is the vines that have made Regaleali famous.”
By the end of this workshop you’ll know why Anna Tasca Lanza has become Sicily’s culinary ambassador to the world and, courtesy of Winebow—an importer that represents over 80 wine estates throughout Italy and has been importing fine Italian wine into the United States for 25 years—you’ll know exactly why the Regaleali wines are famous. The only thing you might not have when you leave is a better idea of the life of an Italian contessa. For that you’ll have to sign up for Lanza’s classes in Sicily.
Regaleali is one and a half hours by car or train from Palermo.
Anna Tasca Lanza ToAppear in New York
Anna Tasca Lanza, from the World of Regaleali, will be hosting a dinner at a new restaurant in New York. She will be at Bellavitae on Tuesday, February 15, 2005. There is a reception from 6:30-7:30 pm where you can meet this fabulous chef, and a dinner following at 7:30 pm. The dinner will be a special five-course menu featuring Sicilian dishes preapred from Anna’s cookbooks and will include a tasting of Regaleali Tasca d’Almerita wines and olive oil. A Night in Sicily will be a rare opportunity to meet and talk to a noted culinary authority and taste the flavors of Sicily here in the United States. Reservations are limited, so please contact Bellavitae as soon as possible.