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The Willows Inn + Blaine Wetzel + Italian Ragu + Modern Design + a Little Drama

Dining at the Willows, Italian Ragu with Chef Simone (Italy) + Modern Interior Design + a little Drama

Ragu in Parmesean Bowls FINAL

Ciao!

I’ve been chomping at the prosciutto to post both beautiful food and recipes from my last Tuscany, trip as I had promised you.

I’ve been back from Italy for a couple of weeks or more.  But what-ever?

How about you?

Have you ever gotten back from some lovely time away, and it seemed like you had to pay for it again?I get that because apparently life goes on even whilst I’m sipping Brunello in Montalcino.  

How dare it?!

My mellow Brunello buzz was abruptly killed when I returned to competing situations, shouting;  “DEAL WITH ME NOW!”

I’ll confess, that I did succumb to the perceived urgency by relinquishing my generally calm state of mind.  Which B.T.W. I work VERY diligently at creating in my life. OHM…..

So, here’s what I’ve been up to:

Just so you know that,  I’m not being a:

BFLPOF (Big Fat Liar, Pants on Fire), when I say I’ve been too busy (Abhor that term), to share the recipes and the Italian experience I had told you I’d share.

First off, my very cool, but out of town most of the time, tenant moved out rather suddenly.

My beloved little Zen Chick Pad had been rented for a few too many years, and it had gone quite fugley.

Here is what I had on my plate:

Ridgeway Ruined

I dearly LOVE this home, so it was heartbreaking to see her so unkempt and I became a rather..hot mess.

Actually, anxious and bitchy might be a more accurate description, but hot mess sounds more cool and vague, so I’ll go with that…

As one good friend diplomatically mentioned: “This house situation, is not in agreement with you”.

But check her out now!

Fugley Fence re-do

 View of Kitchen
Hello Sweet Cucina. I love you.

And then there’s the inside…

Zen Chick Pad
Zen Chick Pad

At the same time, furniture from Italy arrived for an interior design project I am doing. I’ve taken a lengthy break from the design profession but wanted help from a former favorite client and friend with a beautiful home.

so this is rolling along like:

Ooooh, but wait there’s More….

How could I forget?

It was Fabulous Husband’s birthday and went to the Willows Inn for dinner!

Chef Blaine Wetzel just won the James Beard Award so it was VERY fun to see the crew pumped up,  and proud.  The excitement was electric!

I managed to get a blurry pic of Blaine, just back in town, as he was charging around the place:

Blaine Wetzel
Hi Blaine.  Am I in your way? Sorry…sort of 😉

Despite the hubbub, they treated us (and everyone else)  very well.

Check out our private table…psst, don’t tell…

IMG_8557

We feel very fortunate to have had this beautiful, convivial and delicious experience!  It was a basket lister for sure – because I don’t enjoy the word bucket.

I’ll write a post on the whole thing later but here’s a little preview:

Cheers on the deck!
Cheers on the deck

Chrispy Bread

Savory Kale yeah!

And Finally:

HERE is an almost live cooking class for classic RAGU from Italy!!!!!

Let’s Roll:

And now for the recipe: I wrote it exactly as Simone presented it to me because it translates the way in which he approaches cooking.  You’ll just have to figure out how much “some celery” is, which is part of the fun.  (Hint: about a stalk).

Chef Simone’s Ragu

Ragu in Parmesean Bowls FINAL

Stuff you’ll need:

• 2-3 large onions
• 2-3 carrots
• Some celery
• Ground beef meat
• 1 cup of red wine
• A tablespoon of tomato paste
• Some peeled (or canned) tomatoes

How to make it:

Grind carrots, celery and onions, and, in a large pot, cook with extra virgin olive oil (in a proportion 50% onions, 25 and 25% the other 2). When it’s a bit drier add tomato paste, let it cook for some minutes and add the meat. When meat begins to change color as it begins to cook, add wine and let it absorb. Step by step add some wine til color changes in darker and then pass to add water. Then add peeled tomatoes and cook simmering, adding from now ahead all the water you want. Finsh after a couple of hours with salt and pepper. Cook in with pasta or what you like.

We had this mixed with homemade pasta,  in delicious parmesan bowls.  More on that later!  I have so much more to share.  I can’t wait. Thanks for being here.  I’m happy that you are.

Chef Simone’s Italian Ragu
Author: Lisa Spencer
Ingredients
  • 2-3 large onions
  • 2-3 carrots
  • Some celery
  • Ground beef meat
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • A tablespoon of tomato paste
  • Some peeled (or canned) tomatoes
Instructions
  1. Grind carrots, celery and onions, and, in a large pot, cook with extra virgin olive oil (in a proportion 50% onions, 25 and 25% the other 2). When it’s a bit drier add tomato paste, let it cook for some minutes and add the meat. When meat begins to change color as it begins to cook, add wine and let it absorb. Step by step add some wine til color changes in darker and then pass to add water. Then add peeled tomatoes and cook simmering, adding from now ahead all the water you want. Finsh after a couple of hours with salt and pepper. Cook in with pasta or what you like.

Also: This is an older post and I’m aware that there have been accusations about the Willows Inn and Blaine Wetzel.

It does not go unnoticed by me that the things he was accused of are not O.K. at all, but I didn’t see any of those things firsthand.

And our personal experience was with the generous people who helped us to enjoy an extraordinary culinary experience at The Willows under Blaine’s watch.

Please feel free to say more or ask questions, down in the comment area below!

8 Comments
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  1. Yum yum, i followed along and omg did it turn out amazing <3 Lisa I think you need to have your own cooking show or something girl!!

    1. Thanks @Michelle keegan! I’ll get right on that cooking show thing! I’ve been thinking of doing that since it’s so much easier to simply SHOW people how to make things. Thanks for the comment and thanks for stopping by!

  2. I can’t believe how much work you put into that home that you rent out! Lovely! You are a true master worker!

    The recipe looks absolutely stunning. I can’t wait to try it with ‘some celery’ (maybe a half a stalk, since I’m not a huge fan).

    Take care of you and remember to breathe. You are very important to us! We need you here! Remember that! <3

    1. Thank you! I love the home and I did find a great renter so it’s a relief! I agree with you on the celery @tabitha not my favorite thing to add as it can overpower any sauce or stew quite easily. Take care of YOU too, beautiful lady!

  3. Everyone needs to try this! An authentic sauce! My hubby is Irish/Italian, and when he cooks….oh my goodness! Forget about any “diet”…..his homemade lasagne and white lasagne are TO DIE FOR!!!!! Yum.

  4. Holy schmoly–whatever a schmoly is–I want to try that dish RIGHT NOW! Everybody out of my kitchen!

    Is it just me, or did you write that recipe in an Italian accent? ‘Cuz that’s totally how I read it. Come on, it’s not just me, is it?

    About the house–sorry it knocked you off your mellow Brunello buzz. 🙁 If it helps any, the house looks gorgeous. My seven kids and hubby and I would love to “break that place in” for ya! 😉

    Thanks for a great recipe. Pinning this!

    1. OMG @Marissa, YOU are cracking me up! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for making my day with your Italian accent holy schmoly! Seven kids? Holy Schmoly! How do you get time to read my blog, sister? You’ve gotta be a busy lady!