After a long hiatus, we are back to give you updates on happenings at the villa from record snow storms to our latest guests.  But most importantly, the amazing experience we had — and hope to continue to have — with a guest chef at Villa Cappelli.

Topics we cover:
  • We hosted our annual Thanksgiving dinner at the villa where we cook the turkeys in the wood burning oven
  • Why Italians love our mashed potatoes
  • Our guest chef Teresa who we had visiting us for a month and half
  • How we started our special international food nights at Villa Cappelli
  • Our Teresa, from Pasadena, California, found us through our friend Hilaree
  • How this lead us to want to develop a program at the villa
  • A chef can come and stay at the villa for a week or month or whatever works and help us create these special events
  • If you are interested or know anyone who might be interested, please send them to our Facebook group Villa Cappelli Guest Chef or email us [email protected]
  • Some of the first special night’s drinks included:

Villa Cappelli Margarita

Invented in 1941 in Mexico, when one afternoon, a bartender made a special cocktail for Margarita Henkel, the daughter of the German ambassador. Includes tequila, triple sec homemade lime juice, homemade sour mix, salt.

Villa Cappelli Margarita
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Drink
Recipe yield: 1 Margarita
  • 2 oz Tequila
  • 1 oz Lime juice
  • 1 oz Cointreau or any orange liquor
  • Salt (optional)
  1. Rub the rim of the glass with the lime slice, then roll in salt so the glass is rimmed with the salt. Fill with ice.
  2. Shake the other ingredients with ice, then pour into your glass. Garnish with a lime slice if you like.


 Brown Derby

This cocktail inherits its name after the famous hat-shaped Los Angeles diner where it was created. This refreshing drink is made with bourbon, honey, and grapefruit juice.

Brown Derby
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Drinks
Recipe yield: 1 drink
  • 1.5 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Fresh grapefruit juice
  • .5 oz Honey syrup
  1. Add all the ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake, and strain into your glass.
  2. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge or twist.

California Collins

Mixologist Ryan Fitzgerald created this drink for the San Francisco Slow Food Festival. It’s made with lemon verbena or lemon grass, gin, apple juice and soda.

California Collins
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Drinks
Recipe yield: 1 drink
  • 8 fresh lemon verbena leaves or one 1½-inch piece of lemongrass, tender inner white bulb only, crushed
  • Ice
  • 2 oz gin, preferably Junípero
  • 2 oz unfiltered apple juice
  • 1 oz chilled club soda
  1. In a collins glass, gently muddle the lemon verbena leaves or lemongrass bulb. Add ice and the gin and apple juice, then stir well. If using lemongrass, discard the bulb. Stir in the club soda.


  • Some of the first special night’s dishes included:

Croqueta de Prosciutto

Prosciutto, made from by Paul’s cousins in the hills of Pisa, infused in bechamel sauce, then breaded and fried.

Tartare di carne di cavallo

Horse meat with lemon, capers from our garden, red onion, roasted peppers, and raw quail egg.

Soldadito de Pavia

Fritters of salt cod, potatoes and parsley served with a lemon cream sauce. These “little soldiers” were traditionally served to the sailors to support them during the fighting.

  • Teresa secret for the Soldadito was to use egg whites in the recipe, so they came out nice and fluffy
  • They use bechamel in Italy to make lasagna, but Paul’s mother refuses to use that. She uses ricotta instead.
  • How it’s difficult to find salt cod in the United States
  • It’s a winter dish here in Italy
  • How you can eat salt cod “raw” after soaking it and getting out the salt out
  • What Steven doesn’t like about salt cod
  • One of the specials from the second night:

Funghi a la Plancha

Grilled mushrooms with chimichurri sauce and fried quail eggs.

The chimichurri sauce as the key here. Sooooo good!

  • Paul continued with a sushi night
  • How Teresa did an amazing job of using ingredients that were within the Italians taste profile but presented in a totally different way
  • How the Italians really liked the idea of a having a “foreign” chef
  • How someone at one of the nights said in Italian that the food “was not working for her” and how I misunderstood that
  • How Steven is NOT a good waiter
  • What we did for the Christmas holidays
  • Teresa’s on New Year’s Eve
  • The massive snow storm we’ve had here this winter
  • How it’s one of the coldest winters on record in Italy
  • How a lot of our citrus trees got ruined
  • Our guests the Mangolds and our friends from NYC Kurt & George
  • How we deal with the cold here at the villa

Cirveche guest chef

Horse tartar

Horse Tartar Guest chef


Paella Guest chef

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You might think growing up in a small town in Texas wouldn’t prepare you to live the Italian lifestyle. But in many ways — the family values, the small town culture, the love of food — is very similar to what you’ll find in Italian culture. In fact, I expect it’s pretty universal. Having been married to an Italian for 20 years, it’s been fun to learn and explore the rich Italian culture and share it with you.