27 October 2011

Fiore to Cook on TV!

Yep, it's true!  I will cook live on Channel 9 on Saturday the 5th of November!  Should be a lot of fun.  I get to cook my rendition of a dish I ate once in Corniglia, the middle hill-top town of the Cinque Terre along the Italian Riviera.  Here is a link that illustrates some of the rustic, rugged beauty of one of my favorite places in Italy.  http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotos-g187818-w4-Corniglia_Cinque_Terre_Italian_Riviera.html#23232528

Below is my blurb with all the detail.  And check out Jan. '11 under blog archives (in the right hand column of this screen) for the recipe and for the story behind the recipe!


Fiore Cooks on TV!

Pasta in a Rosè Crab Sauce
(recipe at CasaFioreOnline.com under Jan. ‘11)
will be featured live on

KCTS 9 Cooks Dinner!
Saturday, November 5th

Expected appearance time is between 2:00 & 3:00pm. 
This dish is my take on a dreamy dishful once enjoyed along the Cinque Terre.   Check out the full line-up of chefs at

06 October 2011

From the Chef ~ Antipasta!

Like the opening of a great opera, antipasti sets the stage for the proper Italian feast to come.  It precedes the primo piatto and it’s still today an integral part of our Sunday night dinner at Grammy and Baba’s.  A great excuse to try something new or be creative, an ambitious antipasta can even steal the show.  Here are some guidelines I follow when preparing antipasti.

Pick a theme.  A theme provides a unifying element that tells a story of flavor, place, or season.  Our parish auction item, La Sagra di Limoncello, or The Feast of Limoncello, in which we make limoncello with our patrons, featured a mammoth “Antipasti di Terra e Mare”, or Antipasta of Land and Sea:  cured meats and cheeses, fresh veggies, delicacies of the sea.
Pick a range of flavors.  Mix some homemade items with fine store-bought products.  Unless you can make killer coppa cola and smoked fish, concentrate on marinated vegetables or other do-able preparations.  Want some ideas?  Give me a call!

Presentation and plating.  This is your opportunity for artful composition.  Intersperse different colors and textures for aesthetic appeal.  Decorate the plate with greens of all kinds and other items like a sprinkling of capers.  Some antipasti won’t make great neighbors; for instance, I try to keep cheese from briny marinated items that may make it soggy or alter flavor. 

Antipasta as a meal.  Prepare many “small plates”—after all, antipasta is one of the original “small  plates” courses—and serve them together family-style as one big, casual meal.

05 October 2011

Be a Successful Seller Today! Hints for a Victory in Today's Real Estate Market, Part II

We all hear about how tough it is today to enter the real estate market, yet buyers and sellers are closing on sales everyday.  While there is no single formula to attaining success in the real estate market, there are attributes to a successful purchase or sale.  Here are some general rules of thumb for buyers and sellers in today's market.

  • Pick a Realtor That Can Prepare an Appropriate Marketing Campaign.  Sellers need every advantage they can get, so picking a skilled, full-service Realtor is essential.  A savvy agent helps a seller pick a price that will get more bona fide buyers through the door, understands how and when to react once on the market, and considers on a daily basis how to better position the listed home.  Ask a lot of questions and let your Realtor know what you want, as a veteran Realtor is ready to go to the mat for you.
  • Get Their Home Market-Ready.  If you have a few weeks or months before you must list, knock out many of the little things that will make a home inspector and a buyer take pause:  slow drains, leaky faucets, furnace servicing, etc.  If you have several months and some financial resources at hand, address bigger ticket items, again leaning toward structural and mechanical issues over aesthetics.  Sometimes a fresh and jazzy coat of paint can strike the imagination of buyers, but often the new furnace and water heater make them feel as if they have made the safer bet and that they can tackle the painting themselves later.
  • Pick a Reasonable Price...and then consider listing $10-20K lower.  The point is to understand that buyers are looking for fantastic, even ridiculous value when they purchase in today's market.  They want to feel like they got a great home for a great, great price and that they have "hedged their bet" against potential future depreciation.
  • Attend to the Details.  Buyers these days are calculating every detail and therefore a seller must as well.  So, lights on, heat up, lawn mowed, front door freshly painted, home neat and tidy, and door open pronto to any and all shoppers. 
  • Are Realistic.  Even if it is day three and your have three offers in hand, let's not forget that it is clearly a buyers market. Congratulations!  You've have interested parties!  You have hit the mark.  Now is not the time to get cocky and instead dust off some valuable adages:  "Your first offer is usually your best offer."  "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."  "More market time equals less money."  To get a home sold today, a seller must follow an aggressive path throughout the process.  Keep the big picture in mind:  a battle lost over $5000 or an inspection negotiation can still lead to a victory at the end.  So, take a deep breath, say yes, follow the wave of momentum, and you will get your home sold and move on to the next chapter in your life.

04 October 2011

Be a Successful Buyer Today! Hints for a Victory in Today's Real Estate Market, Part I

We all hear about how tough it is today to enter the real estate market, yet buyers and sellers are closing on sales everyday.  While there is no single formula to attaining success in the real estate market, there are attributes to a successful purchase or sale.  Here are some general rules of thumb for buyers and sellers in today's market.

  • Have a Clear Idea of What They Are Seeking.  Make a top 10 list of what you are seeking.  Creating an old-fashioned prioritized list of wants and needs is essential to sorting out which homes have potential and which are just not a fit.  Periodically revisit your list as you see more homes.  Seeing homes "in the flesh" will start to clarify what you want or feel you need in a home.  Sometimes we start with a one set of criteria and end with a total different set.  If you will be sharing your home with your life partner and/or family, having a concrete list to refer to can keep everyone on the same page even during tricky conversations.
  • Pick a Lender They Trust.  Early on in the process, even before they start to look at homes, smart buyers compare loan packages and lenders and find out exactly what they can comfortably afford.  There are still many different loan packages out there, and thankfully, the level of quality in loan officers and mortgage brokers has risen.  The job for buyers is to find a lender that will find the loan package best suited for them, but who will also attend to the details of the loan and be proactive so as to avoid late hurdles that can postpone, or worse yet, prevent final loan approval.  I have many great lenders I can recommend - just let me know.
  • Pick a Realtor That Can Get the Job Done.  Your Realtor is much more than your personal home-shopper.  In one shape or another, a good real estate broker will be your work horse, confidant, details guy or gal, field general, expert, resource broker, insurance policy, and advocate.  Skilled Realtors get regular updates from legal experts, understand the latest contract updates in their MLS, understand values and trends in a given area, and most importantly are watching your back as you travel from Point A to Point Z in what is often a treacherous real estate transaction these days.
  • Are Realistic.  Yes, we are in clearly in a Golden Age for buyers.  We have unparalleled interest rates, fine homes available at great prices, and motivated sellers.  However, apart from the reign of Genghis Khan, no unilateral victory exists.  Buyers do not get to wipe out entire villages, leverage the seller into saying yes to everything, and get 30% off the listing price at the drop of a hat.  Even in today's buyers market, it's unusual that a buyer gets a perfect 10 in a home.  Even the builder of a custom home often pays a bit more for the job or wishes they had one more bathroom at the end.  Remember your end goal:  getting a home that fits your needs.
  • Have Imagination.  If you have not found a perfect 10 out of a 10, consider a seven, eight, or nine out of 10.  By using some imagination and thinking outside of the box, you may find a reasonable way to reconfigure a room or re-landscape a yard to make it the home you were seeking.  Sometimes some minor lighting improvements, a can of fresh paint, and a new appliance or two can make a world of difference.  Given where prices, interest rates, and leverage stands, you should have a some financial resources available to put your own personal stamp on your new home.