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Making Music in Mercatello and Florence with '3' maestros!

by: Jennifer Richardson on

An immersion in song, food and culture!

This year our big singing in Italy event was a cultural and singing immersion spent in 2 stunning locations and our lucky group of singers were given a real treat with 3 brilliant maestros including our much-loved Tony Backhouse

The Create Escape group and Animae Voces combined choir with directors, Tony Backhouse and Edoardo Materassi after our performance in Florence. What a grande gruppi!
 
Tony was in good form and instantly had the group sounding like a professional choir on tour! This really took our local maestro in Mercatello, Guerrino Parri by surprise as we had discussed the concept… ‘a bunch of people come together from all over Australia, NZ and beyond as strangers and learn a repertoire’… ‘some of them will be stage performers and others are shower singers’ but you never know, maybe it will be good enough for a concert at the end of the week.

 

Mock
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Palazzo Donati and the village of Mercatello provided a warm and welcoming cradle for our first 6 days. The accommodation included Palazzo Donati and Palazzo Ducale and gorgeous apartments throughout this quaint medieval village of Mercatello. 

Although a little sceptical at first we were soon to find the whole village opened their Bars, Pizzerias, Ristorantes, Gelatarias and their arms and voices for us.


There were various forms of transport, from private charter to public bus to Urbino and even a tractor ride to take us to dinner!


We found Guerrino to be a phenomenal choir and music director and it was a thrill to see our group of passionate singers of ‘american black gospel’ take to singing a completely different repertoire. I'd been talking with Guerrino for many years about this dream to bring people here to this delightful village and to work with him .. this was a dream come true.
Hmm - It did not go unnoticed that he looked very similar to Tony (perhaps a slightly younger version).. they even wore similar clothes!
 
Take a look at the video of our itinerant concert around the village of Mercatello sul Metuaro. This was the Anteprima performance to launch the annual summer festival of Musica e Musica, curated by Guerrino Parri

After this lovely concert where the Mayor and a large proportion of the village turned out to check us out we celebrated with a shared meal. Guerrino's choir and a group of us prepared our meal. Sally Battson's pavlova's were won the evening! You'll have to ask her the story of the making.. it's a story in itself. 


The following 6 days were spent in Florence. A different scene after the gentle village immersion in the countryside of Le Marche. But how could anyone not love the city of Florence? We stayed in another gorgeous Palazzo, Palazzo San Niccoló, in the artisan’s area near the Arno River.

One of our most adored directors, Edoardo Materassi was our local teacher in Florence this year and he got us inspired and energised in the mornings and evenings with fun warm ups and exquisite songs.  We were joined by members of his brilliant choir Animae Voces and worked towards a concert in the superb acoustics of the magnificent Chiesa Valdese.
 
Edoardo’s choir equally loved learning the spontaneously joyous gospel under the skills of the legendary Tony Backhouse. They were singing their hearts out!
 
And the concert? Well you can look and listen at some of the results of the concerts in both Mercatello and Florence in videos I posted on our YouTube channel. We play them over and over again because they are simply beautiful harmonies and delightful to watch.

 

Here's a link that should take you to the playlist. YouTube >

If you are green with envy, don’t fret, we are working on bringing Edoardo to Australia for some workshops and there will be another Italian singing immersion coming up in 2021 with Edoardo and Guerrino.

There's a similar type of event happening in Buenos Aires in 2020 with Tony Backhouse, Eric Dozier and Gerardo Flores! Take a look at The Gospel Explosion in Argentina >>

We also have our Singing in Sardinia and Corsica event coming up next year.. you better book now for that one it is selling up quickly. Singing in Sardinia >>

Or let us know of your interest now for 2021. >> Contact us

 

Art. Food. Relax. ITs Italy

by: Jennifer Richardson on

During my 3 month stint in Florence earlier this year I had the pleasure to meet some extraordinary local artists and artisans. Apart from gaining some great new friends, I was thoroughly inspired to pursue an art journey of a difference in Tuscany.

Stay tuned because we have some exciting programmes coming up in 2018 and 2019 with inspiring teachers from around the world.  We’ll be offering painting and drawing courses and exploring the seldom discussed, but exciting contemporary art scene and hidden treasures of this area. We’ll be welcomed into studios of outstanding local artists, we'll explore sculpture parks, museums and beautiful sites for both architectural and landscape drawing. 

There will be time to relax in the countryside, explore prized vineyards in the Chianti and Brunello regions, eat and cook delicious produce, pick olives and walk some quiet ancient cypress lined roads and drink up the beauty of this region and beyond. It is Italy!

A few more images from Florence and glimpses inside some local artists' studios. 

If you would love to bring out your artistic flair in one of the most picturesque and historical regions in Europe, let us know. 

Dates, Venues, Programme and Prices are coming soon.

Contact us with any questions and interests about these trips now >>

Quality and Price

by: Jennifer Richardson on

"Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort."
John Ruskin

and this one...

"The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it."
Henry David Thoreau

These quotes are both so true when it comes to what we do at The Create Escape, there is a big investment in time and energy to create a great event but what really makes them just so wonderful is in equal parts what we put in and what you put in. It is the joy felt from all that collective effort.

This pic is taken at the home of our wonderful 'Singing in Siena' event for the last 7 years.

We are taking bookings now for 2017.

http://bit.ly/1T3FV9e

#tonybackhouse #singinginsiena #thecreateescape #singabout
— at Montestigliano.

Food, wine on the Dalmation Coast

by: Jennifer Richardson on

I traveled 30 hours - Sydney - Singapore - London - Zagreb - Split and possied up in a sweet room with a view.  I'm one happy camper!

I'm here for a week long recce to further explore the food, wine, singing and culture of the Dalmation Coast and of this little town before our Sailing and Culture trip departs to other islands on Saturday. I have to say that I am not disappointed.

Recce trips can be fun and it has been easy slipping into a routine here. The day begins with a walk through the old town to the cafe so I get my caffeine hit and take in the atmosphere, I then head off to the markets to buy my food for lunch. Walking through the vibrant market and stopping to buy delicious fresh produce is my kind'a heaven.

 

My favorite little piazza for morning coffee.

Trogir Markets.

 Winding my way back through these gorgeous little alleys is such a delight.

 And again the food... think fresh, think Mediterranean.. Adriatic to be more precise.

 This little town really does it for me with all it's light and shade

Plans for another cooking and culture retreat are nicely brewing.

Contact us know if you wish to know more >>

Feeling Greedy today!

by: Jennifer Richardson on

Sitting down watching two of my all time favorite cooking heroes- Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo !

Gado Gado

by: Jennifer Richardson on

Ok I'm living in Indonesia and here is one of my all time favorite versions of Gado-Gado that I found online! It's so good I had to share it with you, it's by Wil and Wayan

Gado-gado is one of Indonesia’s most famous dishes, and with good reason– it’s delicious! The combination of sweet, spicy peanut sauce with crisp vegetables and soft potatoes or congealed rice really is something a bit different the first time you try it, too.

There is no set way of making gado-gado. In fact, the word ‘gado-gado’ has another application in the Indonesian language for talking about things that are ‘a bit of a mix’. For example, if someone speaks a mixture of Indonesian and English in one sentence, people might jokingly refer to is as ‘bahasa gado-gado’ (gado-gado language).

So, in keeping with the spirit of gado-gado, please see this recipe as flexible. Once you have the peanut sauce, try using it on other vegetables, too. The only rule is to keep the vegetables crispy and have something else soft in there to soak up the sauce!

Ingredients

Vegetables:

250g beansprouts

250g green beans

100 gr cabbage

Peanut Sauce:

125g roasted or fried peanuts

1 small chilli

2 cloves of garlic

25g palm sugar (or 2 tbsp brown sugar)

2 kaffir lime leaves

2cm kencur (white ginger – if you can get it)

salt and pepper (to taste)

Nice things to mix it up with (any or all of the below):

boiled new potatoes (quartered)

lontong (congealed steamed rice)

fried tofu

fried tempe

boiled egg

Instructions:

  1. Either blanch in boiling water or steam the vegetables then leave them to one side.
  2. Fry the chilli, garlic and kencur over a medium heat for a couple of minutes then remove from the heat and grind in a pestle and mortar, slowly adding the peanuts and continuing to grind until it is ground finely. Mix this mixture with two cups of water then transfer it back to the pan.
  3. Bring the mixture to the boil then add the kaffir lime leaf, palm sugar, and salt and pepper then simmer until thickened slightly, stirring constantly.
  4. Once the mixture has thickened, remove it from the heat and leave for at least a minute to cool.
  5. To serve, put the vegetables in a bowl along with the other ingredients you would like to add (potatoes, longing, tofu, tempe, egg) then pour a good few spoonfuls of the peanut sauce over the top and mix it all together.

This can be served warm or cold but always make sure you add the peanut sauce just before you serve it. A sprinkle of fried shallots or peanuts on the top gives the texture a little more interest and a handful of prawn crackers gives it a real authentic touch. You could also drizzle some kecap manis over the gado-gado for a bit of extra sweetness or add some sambal (chilli paste) for a bit more punch.

Salamat Makan.

Click here for more recipes from Wil and Wayan >>

Email us if you would like to learn Balinese cooking with experts in Bali (and all there is know about making the perfect cup of coffee!)>> 

Anna's Risotto with Radicchio and Gorgonzola

by: Jennifer Richardson on

One of my favorite recipe's from Anna our cook at Montestigliano for you to try.

RISOTTO CON RADICCHIO E GORGONZOLA 

Ingredients

100g butter
1 onion
1 radicchio
125g gorgonzola
1.5litres of vegetable stock
Olive oil, salt, pepper
250g aborio rice

Preparation

Heat oil and add finely chopped onion and radicchio, saute on a gentle heat. 

Add a little stock, salt, pepper, simmer until vegetables are almost a sauce.  Blend in the gorgonzola.

Melt butter in pan, add rice and cook 1 minute, add stock gradually and stir until rice is al dente.
Blend through the radicchio sauce.

Add parmesan to serve.

We will be adding more recipes to blog so stay tuned.

Join us for Cooking at the Source for a week of cooking and a hilarious good natured local festa with the Donati family or Singing in Siena this year to meet up with Anna and learn direct from the source.