Extra Virgin Season 5 Premiere – “A Gift to the Neighborhood”

Extra Virgin is 5 years old today. The girls have been growing older, changed city and schools, found new friends, and learned what is like to live in a real neighborhood, Brooklyn that is. Debi and I are happily in love, tired at moments but very excited about what we have been able to accomplish together, since all of this started on Youtube almost a decade ago.

Our first book “Extra Virgin, Love and Recipes from our Tuscan Kitchen” has gathered great reviews and even made it into the NYT Best Seller list, Debi and I are humbled and grateful by the way people have accepted us into their homes, and on their kitchen’s book shelves.

Before moving to New York City I have never lived in a city neighborhood. Growing up in a Tuscan farm sounds impossibly romantic now that I am in my  forties, but as a growing child it actually was a somewhat frustrating experience.

The things I now miss the most about my piece of land, the quiet, the wilderness, the ability to truly disconnect, have been a huge obstacle to socializing and making new friends while growing up. Most of the time I was able to distract myself by bicycling wildly across the fields and through the woods, invading hunters’ cabins to steal porn magazines, setting stuff on fire in the yard whenever nobody was around… you know, the usual boy stuff. But I still remember how it used to burn, when hanging at school with my class mates, realizing about the kind of relationships they were able to slowly develop while leaving “down”, in the city. They took buses, met around town, went to the arcade, became best friends… On my part the process was a bit slower, simply because I was stuck with rabbits and pheasants, “up” at the farm.

Fast forward 30 years, Brooklyn, Park Slope. A small house, two public schools, a deli at the corner and a tribe of neighbors. For the very first time in my life!

Since we arrived a little over three years ago, people on our block have become to us an extended family. For the most part we all know each other, my daughters have friends across the street, I have a tab at the corner’s Deli (again, for the first time in my life), if our car is parked on the wrong side of the street there is always somebody that will knock at our door… and yes, I can now borrow eggs from neighbors too, something I’ve only seen happen in movies before.

I am touched. Being part of a community, supporting each other, having the ability to make yourself available to others, these are all qualities so important to a thriving neighborhood, and I am now very happy to be part of one; I am happy for myself and I am happy for my girls.

To thank all the families and friends that have welcomed us, Debi and I have decided to rent a small Cafe’ on the block and throw a party with free food for everyone. We spent a couple of days preparing what turned out to be a super fun event, filled with friends and families gathered together on a warm summer afternoon, for a taste of our Tuscany.

This is what our Season 5 Premiere is about, it is about gratitude. Gratitude for our neighbors that are now our extended family on the East Coast, gratitude for our army of fans that keeps growing and shares our recipes with their grandmothers, gratitude for all of you out there that follow the simple adventures of my family between Italy and the US. Both Debi and I hope you will enjoy this premiere, it is dedicated to you.

Tonight, at 9pm Eastern on Cooking Channel!

Season 5 – Episode 01 “A Gift to the Neighborhood” –  Menu

Bruschetta with Eggplant and Pecorino

Seared Hanger Steak with Almond and Sage Pesto

Vegetarian Lasagne