Cafe CAPRICCIO Chef’s Table Inspirational Cooking

Dazzling Antipasto di Pesce: Grilled Whole Fish, Tuna, Octopus, Stuffed Nero di Sepia, Fried Smelts, Potatoes, Greens, Tomato & Lemon. Where else would you find this feast? Contact Colleen for Reservations: Cafecap@aol.com. 10-15 guests. Bring someone you love to the Chef’s Table. Jim Rua

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Cafe Capriccio’s Chef’s Table

Inspirational Cooking—Timballo di Maccheroni. Most of us were introduced to this extraordinary festive dish in the classic film The Big Night. For 20 years I have been preparing timballo as an occasional antipasto in the Chef’s Table. Here’s a recent example. Contact Colleen for a reservation, 10–15 guests: cafecap@aol.com. Tell Colleen you’d like timballo as one of your appetizers. Bring someone you love.

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CAFE CAPRICCIO CHEF’S TABLE INSPIRATIONAL COOKING

Sardinian Seafood Paella—Clams, Mussels, Calamari, and Monkfish; Fregola (Cous Cous) Instead of rice. The Spaniards occupied Sardinia for 3 centuries, leaving a profound culinary influence. Inspirational cooking at the Chef’s Table; where else? Contact Colleen for Reservations: Cafecap@aol.com—10 to 15 guests. Jim Rua

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Cafe Capriccio Books

We Have a New Book Coming to Town

Franco and I have a new book now at the printer that is all about our fabulous vineyard home in Chianti, Fattoria Lavacchio. In it you’ll find glorious photography, information about the magic of Tuscany, and you’ll meet our friends who run the vineyard. We’ll also show you how to cook like a Tuscan, fearlessly and with Inspiration. Enjoy dozens of Tuscan-food photos and our new innovative approach to the writing of recipes—think of us as counterrevolutionary food writers whose approach to cooking instruction is wholistic, not rudimentary. You’ll get it right away and it will vitalize your cooking spirit. Pictured above, the front and back covers. Available October 1. 🙏. Jim Rua

Franco and I have a new book now at the printer that is all about our fabulous vineyard home in Chianti, Fattoria Lavacchio. In it you’ll find glorious photography, information about the magic of Tuscany, and you’ll meet our friends who run the vineyard. We’ll also show you how to cook like a Tuscan, fearlessly and with Inspiration. Enjoy dozens of Tuscan-food photos and our new innovative approach to the writing of recipes—think of us as counterrevolutionary food writers whose approach to cooking instruction is wholistic, not rudimentary. You’ll get it right away and it will vitalize your cooking spirit. Pictured above, the front and back covers. Available October 1. 🙏. Jim Rua

Visit Italy with Café Capriccio in 2019 - Bring Someone You Love

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Visit Italy with Café Capriccio in 2019 - Bring Someone You Love

 Our 2019 Travel Itineraries Are New and Exciting 

We Visit Organic Farms, Vineyards, Olive Groves, Fabulous Restaurants

We Hunt Truffles, We Meet Great Chefs

We Enjoy Cooking Lessons, Remarkable Food, Exceptional Wine 

We Live at Café Capriccio’s Vineyard Home in Chianti

Fattoria Lavacchio 

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About 25 years ago I decided that Café Capriccio should sponsor guided tours to interesting locations in Italy as part of our commitment to understand the great traditions of regional Italian cuisine. With this understanding my objective is to honor those traditions by serving vera cucina Italiana (truly authentic Italian cuisine) at Café Capriccio each and every day.  Since our travel project began, we have returned to Italy countless times, and I have personally escorted hundreds of travel companions to every part of Italy.  Our trips have been designed as holiday excursions with emphasis on history, culture, and cuisine.

Almost two decades ago I was with a group in Umbria that included my son Franco, then about 15 years old.  Our guides were taking the group to Rome for a short visit before returning to the U.S.  Franco and I decided to take a detour to Tuscany to visit a vineyard recommended by our Italian partner Giorgio Orofino as a potential location for future Café Capriccio travel programs.   Giorgio thought we needed a vineyard home in Chianti.  He was right.  Mama mia.

We were instantly smitten by the beauty and grandeur of Fattoria Lavacchio, and we became fast friends with the Lottero family who own and operate it.  Since then, I have escorted more than 1,000 Café Capriccio travelers to the vineyard and Franco and I have returned there countless times.  During the past 20 years Fattoria Lavacchio has truly been our vineyard home in Chianti. 

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This photo at left shows Franco with our family members at Fattoria Lavacchio when he was about 17 years old.  We had already been visiting the vineyard for several years.



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Fast forward, the photo at right shows Franco conducting a ravioli cooking class at the vineyard with Chef Mirco Malevolti just last year.  We have visited Fattoria Lavacchio one or more time every year for two decades and now we invite you to join us for a profound Tuscan culinary experience at our vineyard home near Florence.

In 2019 Franco and Carli McCoy will begin a series of Café Capriccio excursions designed for individuals who wish to experience the Tuscan organic lifestyle and learn the ancient secrets related to all aspects of traditional Tuscan agriculture, wine and olive oil production, salumi, and of course cooking.

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This photo shows Franco, Carli, and the Rua children on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence last summer. Our family has strong ties to Tuscany and we are eager to develop new travel programs that focus on traditional and regional cuisine, organic agriculture, farming of livestock respectful of the local ecosystems, and related aspects of traditional Tuscan culinaria. 

About Fattoria Lavacchio.  The history of the farm dates to 1700 when it was established by the Florentine noble family Petruzzi.  In 1800 it was acquired by the Strozzi noble family who occupied the estate until 1978 when it was purchased by its current owners, the Lottero family, originally from Genoa.

Fattoria Lavacchio is situated in the Chianti Rufina area, about 20 miles from Florence.

It consists of 110 hectares, of which 44 hectares are olive groves, 21 hectares are vineyards, 6 are wheat, and 9 are wooded forest where you can find truffles! There is also a large productive green garden with fruit, vegetables and chickens.  Fattoria Lavacchio was the first farm in Chianti Rufina to develop organic growing programs and to produce wines without sulfites. The farm has been constantly evolving by combining traditional organic methods with the most advanced technology in order to ensure the highest quality of production.  At present Fattoria Lavacchio produces 100,000 bottles of organic wine annually and it produces a substantial volume of olive oil from more than 8,000 olive plants. 

This web site will contain information about our new travel itineraries, including how you can join our groups.  I know that travel to Italy is a dream for many food enthusiasts.  I hope to see you on one of our exciting excursions. 


Buon Viaggio,

Jim Rua,
Café Capriccio

Fate Lottero (left), myself, and Franco - La famiglia at work in Fiesole 2018

Fate Lottero (left), myself, and Franco - La famiglia at work in Fiesole 2018

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Jim Rua’s Journal— Cook Fearless with Inspiration not Recipes

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Jim Rua’s Journal— Cook Fearless with Inspiration not Recipes

Here’s a pasta idea out of the Latino/Asian fast-food-playbook I keepin my head. Sunday family dinner included pasta with steamed cod tossed with olive tapenade.  Next day, solo, I was looking for a fast supper and found the leftovers: Bingo, let’s try refry.  This is the result and below are the steps in descending order.

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A little olive oil and garlic heated for a minute in the skillet, then add the pasta leftovers.  Sauté quickly on fairly high heat to crisp the noodles, but not to over cook—not more than a couple minutes of cooking time. 

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This is where we started—the virtuous leftovers. Really fast, simple, and delicious.  You can do this. Let me know. Jim

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Jim Rua’s Journal — Memorable Restaurant Fare

I’m proposing that the Albany area’s best restaurants serve Asian cuisine—and there is no better local restaurant than Rain on Lark Street.  Look at yesterday’s lunch that I enjoyed with Caroline Whelehan, my granddaughter who is playing Jane Bennet in Cap Rep’s fabulous Christmas show, Christmas at Pemberly. Just last week I visited Rain with my ❤️Joanne Monagan and vowed to return often—and to shout about it.   Below, sautéed eggplant and the most delicious wanton noodle soup possible. Bravo Rain. 

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Jim Rua’s Journal — Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly Capital Repetory Theatre’s “Perfect Play for the Holidays”

All of my 9 grandchildren are brilliant and beautiful, honest! None more than Caroline Whelehan who will be playing Jane in the Rep’s fabulous Christmas show, opening Friday, Nov. 23, through Sunday, December 23.  Christmas at Pemberly, written by Laura Gusterson and Margot Melcon, imagines Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice characters happily gathered together again for a memorable holiday celebration with a magical conclusion.   Rehearsals start next week. Get your tickets early. See you there.  Jim

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Jim Rua’s Journal What’s Cooking at the Chef’s Table

Last evening’s main courses at the Chef’s Table included this extraordinary rack of veal roasted together with a savory vegetable medley.  The occasion was a family gathering celebrating Miss Stella Armstrong’s 4th birthday.  Stella had previously dined at the Chef’s Table and implored her parents  (Joe and Andrea) to call the family together again on her special day.  We knew the dinner had to be special so Franco created this fabulous feast. 

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Below, the veal roast on a platter headed to the table.  Truth is, Stella was so excited she didn’t eat much, but she had a great time, and her family was pleased.  Happy birthday Stella. ❤️❤️❤️

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Franco’s cooking. 

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Jim Rua’s Journal—Dinner at the Chef’s Table

Autumn Fare Served Last Evening:  Stuffed quail with sausage; Semolina gnocchi; Fried quail egg; Broccoli sauté with tomato.  Let me cook for you some time at the Chef’s Table.  Make a reservation. Dinner for 10.  Jim

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The ripest tomatoes with burrata and basil, still from our garden. Looks like summer.   

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Jim Rua’s Journal — Sempre Famiglia

Sunday Family Dinner, October 7, 2018

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Grandpa toasting cool-John Rua at the family table last Sunday while Maia, Chiara, Valentina, and James settle in together for a bountiful gathering of the clan. Sunday dinner with the family gathered is the week’s highlight occasion for this grandfather.  

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Jim Rua’s Journal Cook Fearless with Inspiration not Recipes

Birthday Turkey Roast: I observed my birthday this week by roasting a turkey for a family dinner. And here it is after 4 hours in the oven, headed for the table. 

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Anatomy of the Stuffing: I sautéed pheasant sausage and pork sausage together with green onions, garlic and herbs, 5 to 7 minutes.

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When the meat is just cooked, I combined it with breadcrumbs, mixed everything together, and

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Stuffed the turkey like this, seasoned it with salt,  pepper, and paprika, then  roasted it for 4 hours, until it was 160 degrees at the leg joint.

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Here’s how it looked on the plate.  

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You can do this. Let me know. Jim

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Jim Rua’s Journal. Report from Tuscany

Just Like at Home:  Franco and I did some cooking while at the vineyard in Tuscany this summer. Here is Franco tending the wood fired barbecue. 

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This is me juggling pots and pans on 4 burners inside.

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And this is our Tuscan Table, 8 for dinner. Just like at home. 

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Below  is the remarkable setting, you can see the back of the barbecue on the left. You may bring your family to Fattoria Lavacchio and stay at the villa named for the Miller’s wife. Tell the Lottero family we say hello and thanks for these extraordinary memories. Jim

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Jim Rua’s Journal Cook Fearless with Inspiration not Recipes

Bucatini with Oven Roasted Roma Tomatoes. Bucatini are long, thin, tubular noodles with a hole in the middle, like a straw.  Cut the tomatoes in half, season with herbs and olive oil, then roast them at 325 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours, until they lose about 50% of their volume. Their taste will be intensified.

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Below are tomatoes that I prepared for roasting in a muffin pan, seasoned with herbs, garlic, and drizzled with truffle oil. Usually I drizzle olive oil, but for this occasion I used truffle oil procured on our recent visit to Fattoria Lavacchio in Tuscany. 

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The muffin pan provides structure and nicely contains the tomatoes. Slow cooking is essential. The tomatoes can be blistered at the end, but not burned.  

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The ingredients for the finished  pasta dish shown above are on this small plate. Chop and sauté the garlic in olive oil, cook the pasta, then toss the pasta in the skillet adding the tomatoes, basil, and Parmigiana.  

This is what it looks like in the skillet. You can do this.  Let me know.  Jim

This is what it looks like in the skillet. You can do this.  Let me know.  Jim

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