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Archive for September, 2011

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It’s hard to believe that three months ago we were driving through the vineyards of Piedmont.
Everything was looking great for a wonderful vintage this year. The growing conditions were perfect and the vines were full of fruit. It’s harvest time in Piedmont soon. Only time will tell if this is to be a great year for the Barolo, Nebbiolo and Barberesco wines.

 

 

 

 

 

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Nine years ago, a girlfriend and I made a sudden decision to hop off the train in Asti instead of going on to Turin. After many phone calls, we finally found a room and a taxi driver to take us Locanda del Sant’Uffizio in Penango, north of Asti. A beautiful spot in the heart of the Monferrato!

We could only stay one night, so we arranged for the same taxi driver to take us to our next night’s accommodation at Villa Beccaris in Monforte d’Alba, about an hour south. Whilst we zig-zagged across the stunning countryside, he proceeded to tell us the best restaurants in the area that we should not miss.

What a lucky find. His list was amazing!
Over the next week we went from Monforte to Barola, La Morra, Cherasco, Bra and back again in search of the next amazing food experience.
This was the start of my love affair with Piemonte!

Top of his list at this time was Antica Corona Reale-da Renzo in Cervere. It is still on top having since received a second Michelin star. Renzo’s son, Gian Piero Vivalda has been running the restaurant for a while now but Renzo is always there for a chat.

This year, their new outdoor courtyard was unveiled – a perfect place for lunch.

Courtyard at Antico Corona Reale in Cervere, Piedmont

The new courtyard

Courtyard at Antico Corona Reale in Cervere, Piedmont

Another view of the courtyard

Courtyard at Antico Corona Reale in Cervere, Piedmont

Pefect setting for lunch

Lunch began!!

Omelette with red onion and flower of tiglio at Antica Corona Reale in

Omelette with red onion and flower of tiglio

I asked the waiter about the tiglio flower and he sweetly went off the the garden and picked one to show me.I’m not sure what it was in English but the leaf is shown decorating the omelette.
 
 
Porcini mushrooms at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere,

Porcini mushrooms and potato with mountain herbs

 
Piedmont is home of the slow food movement which promotes using locally grown produce. Each course on the menu mentioned where the produce came from. For our appetiser we shared the ‘Funghi porcini della Valle Pesio con patate di Entracque alle erbette di montagne’. Sounds far more appetising in italian but it is interesting that it is mentioned that the porcini came from the Pesio Valley and the potatoes from Entracque, both south of Cuneo at the base of the Maritime Alps.
 
 
Asparagus Tortelli at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere

Tortelli di Asparagi biologici di Satena all' olio extravergine di Lucinasco

 A very tasty dish of  tortelli of organic asparagus served with asparagus spears and asparagus julienne with extra virgin oil from Lucinasco.
The choice of wine was overwhelming, so the waiter suggested a glass of Rocche Costamagna Nebbiolo with our entrees.

 
I Gobbi della Tradizione Servitti al Tavaglio at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere

I Gobbi della Tradizione Servitti al Tavaglio

Gobbi are a variation of the local speciality, agnolotti filled with a mixture of different cooked meats and served in a serviette.The pasta was so thin you could see through it.
 
 
 
 
The main course of perfectly cooked veal with a breadcrumb crust and spring vegetables, was so tender and succulent.
With a glass of Barbera D’Alba Trevigne from Domenico Clerico, I was in heaven.
Scamone di Fassone Piemontese in Crosta di Pane a Cottura Rosea con Vedure di Primavera

Scamone di Fassone Piemontese in Crosta di Pane a Cottura Rosea con Vedure di Primavera

Now for dessert!!

Dessert wine at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere, Piedmont

Stunning desserts need a dessert wine!

 
 
 
Apricot dessert at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere,

Apricot dessert

Although not ordered, an apricot mousse with a layer of apricot puree, red current and finely chopped pistachio started the parade.

Tiramisu Moderne at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere, Piedmont

Tiramisu Moderne

 From Sicily to Piedmont, the search for the best tiramisu continued. Da Renzo’s was a modern interpretation of a traditional dish. A layer of biscuit was sandwiched between chocolate icecream and tiramisu icecream with custard cream sauce. It tasted as good as it looked!
 
 
 
My dessert was sensational!
 
Sentieri di Langhe Dessert at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere,

Sentieri di Langhe

 Sentieri di Langhe was described as a taste of the Langhe with six different desserts – a hazelnut cake, caramel icecream, pannacotta, a rich chocolate pudding, chocolate mousse and homemade hazelnut torrone. Great choice!
 
 
Piccolo Pasticceria at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere, Piedmont

Could we eat any more? Yes!!

 
A plate of piccolo pasticceria  finished another stunning meal!
 
 
 

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Antico Corona Reale Ristorante
Via Fossano,131
Cervere
Tel: +39 0172 474132
Antico Corona Reale Ristorante

Look out for the yellow building on the left hand side of the road just past the first traffic lights after the Cervere sign!!

 

 

 

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After our fabulous lunch at All’Enoteca we drove east to our accommodation at La Villa Hotel in Mombaruzzo, a small town near Canelli and Nizza Monferrato in the north western part of Piedmont. It was great to be back in the hills of Piedmont, surrounded by beautiful vineyards.

Vineyards of Piedmont

Stunning scenery

Chris and Nicola Norton opened La Villa Hotel in 2005 after renovating this seventeenth century villa . They have created a beautiful and stylish home into which you are warmly welcomed.

Entrance to La Villa in Piemonte

The entrance

Sitting area of La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Sitting area

All the rooms are tastefully decorated with great views over the valley or the beautiful gardens.

Bedroom at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Bedroom decor

Gardens at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Beautiful gardens

Garden at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Another view of the garden

The pool provides welcome relief in the summer

Pool at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

The pool

La Villa have their own chef, Martin Teplitzky, an Australian who previously has worked in Glasgow and Sydney. If you don’t feel like going to a local village for dinner, you can eat in every night except Tuesday.
Breakfast in the courtyard or loggia is a perfect way to start the day

Outdoor tables at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Outdoor tables set for breakfast

Hydrangeas in the loggia at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Colourful hydrangeas in the loggia

Tables set for breakfast in the loggia at La Villa Hotel,

Tables set for breakfast in the loggia

Fresh fruit salad, plates of salami and proscuitto, fresh breads and croissants as well as a tempting plate of frittata and freshly squeezed orange juice is waiting for you each morning

Breakfast at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

fabulous breakfast

Breakfast at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Selection of cold meats and cheese for breakfast

Outdoor tables at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Home sweet home!

After a day exploring the local villages, it’s always great to return back to this tranquil haven.

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La Villa Hotel
Via Torino,7
Mombaruzzo (Fraz Casalotto)
Tel:+39 0141 793890
La Villa Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

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Two weeks after our visit to the Collingwood Children’s Farm Market in Melbourne, we are off to the Slow Food Market at the Abbotsford Convent, just down the road.
Some of the familiar stall holders are back but there are a few new ones as well as some organic producers. It’s amazing how new varieties of produce can appear and others disappear in a couple of weeks

Stall Holders dot the grounds of the Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne

Stall Holders dot the grounds of the Convent

Slow Food Market at Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne

Busy day at the markets

Slow Food Market at Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne

More stalls

Slow Food Market at Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne

Daffodils for sale

Persimmons were in season. I found them hiding under the camellia tree.

Persimmons under the camellia tree at the Abbotsford Convent Market in

Persimmons and pears

Persimmons at the Abbotsford Convent Market in Melbourne

New seasons persimmons

Did you know there was more than one variety of pistachio?
I hadn’t realized this until I spoke to the gentleman at Hi- Fye Pistachios who explained the difference between them. It’s mainly about sweetness!

Pistachio stall at the Slow Food market at Abbotsford Convent in

Hi-Fye Pistachios

There is always a fabulous selection of vegetables.

Vegetable stall at the Abbotsford Market in Melbourne

Beautiful greens

Organic Vegetable stall at the Abbotsford Market in Melbourne

Organic kale,spinach and spring onions

Vegetable stall at the Abbotsford Market in Melbourne

More greens

Vegetable stall at the Abbotsford Market in Melbourne

Leeks, kohl rabi, celeriac and parsnips

New season’s oranges were arriving at the market

Trays of Oranges at the Abbotsford Market in Melbourne

Trays of Oranges

Potato seller at the Abbotsford Market in Melbourne

The potato man was also here

I had a very exciting find here! Brussel sprouts being sold by the stalk..a new experience for me!

Brussel sprouts on the stalk at the Abbotsford Convent Market in Melbourne

Brussel sprouts on the stalk

Beetroot at the Abbotsford Convent Market in Melbourne

Colourful beetroot

Last stop is the Convent Bakery, for a fabulous selection of different breads and rolls. The beetroot and fennel bread is great and the fruit loaf is a must. All the breads are made in their 1901 wood fired oven. If you can’t live without their bread, the bakery is open every day.

The Convent Bakery at the Abbotsford Convent Market in Melbourne

The Convent Bakery

Fruit loaf from the Convent bakery, Melbourne

Their fabulous fruit loaf

The market is a great way to spend Saturday morning. Apart from buying some of the freshest, tastiest produce available, its also helps to support our local producers. Families come and enjoy the morning and friends meet up for coffee.
Even the dogs love it!

Dog at the Abbotsford Convent Market in Melbourne

Waiting patiently

Dog in a raincoat at the Abbotsford Convent Market in Melbourne

I'm ready if it's going to rain!

 

 

 

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Images of Marie Antoinette came alive as we trod the beautiful marble tiles at the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon, her stunning refuge in the grounds of the Palace of Versaille

 

 

 

 

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Year after year we return to Piemonte. Most of the time has been spent in the Langhe area, staying in the hill top towns of Monforte d’Alba or La Morra but this year we thought we should be adventurous and stay in a different area.

Piemonte (Piedmont in English) is home of the slow food movement, an area of fabulous, locally produced food and wine with some of the best restaurants in Italy.

After leaving Turin, we had one important stop to make before heading east.
We could not drive past Canale without stopping for lunch at our favourite restaurant “All’Enoteca”.

On the edge of the arcaded town of Canale, Davide Palluda has created one of the best restaurants of Piemonte.

Through the pretty courtyard, past the Enoteca Regionale del Roero on the left, up the stairs and you are in the restaurant.

Entrance to All'Enoteca in Canale,

Entrance to All'Enoteca

Menu at All'Enoteca in Canale

The menu cover

A selection of breads, nut grissini, saffron wafers, olive bread and foccacia is bought to the table as we read the menu. It all looks fabulous, so avoiding a decision, we choose the degustation menu.
A girl’s gotta try it all!!

Table with a view at All'Enoteca in Canale

Table with a view

A capsicum is presented for our first dish. Of course it’s not any old capsicum. This one has been reassembled with a mixture of anchovy and tuna with a capers sauce.

Capsicum with anchovy and tuna and a caper sauce at All'Enoteca, Canale

Capsicum with anchovy, tuna and a caper sauce

Melon balls with duck and port at All'Enoteca in Canale

Melon balls with duck and port

Calamari with funghi and whitebait at All'Enoteca in Canale

Calamari with funghi and whitebait

Perfectly cooked veal with eggplant and beetroot slice at All'Enoteca in Canale

Perfectly cooked veal with eggplant and beetroot slice

Amazing foie gras & fragole piadini at Alle'Enoteca in

Amazing foie gras & fragole piadini

Lamb with pea puree and potato at All'Enoteca in Canale

Simple but stunning lamb with pea puree and potato

Now for dessert! There were two but I finished the peach gelatin with rasberries and yoghurt gelati before I realised I hadn’t taken a photo!

Strawberry and amaretti mousse with Piemontese almond cake at All'Enoteca in Canale

Strawberry and amaretti mousse with Piemontese almond cake

Piccola pasticceria at All'Enoteca in Canale

Piccola Pasticceria or petit fours.

Davide Palluda had done it again!

What is your favourite restaurant?

All’Enoteca
Via Roma, 57
12043 Canale
Tel:+39 0173 95857
All’Enoteca

 

 

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Spring is a beautiful time of the year anywhere in the world, none more so than in Melbourne. Flowers are blooming, birds humming and the city is slowly coming alive. I’ve been staying in Richmond and a walk along the banks of the nearby Yarra River is a great way to start the day.

The Yarra River, Melbourne

The Yarra River

The Yarra River, Melbourne

Banks of the Yarra

Rowers on the Yarra River, Melbourne

Rowers on the Yarra

The wattle is still flowering.

Wattle Tree, Melbourne

Wattle tree

Victorian Home, Melbourne

Old Melbourne home near the Yarra

We usually end up at the great little cafe, “Friends of Mine” in Swan St.
Perfect for breakfast, coffee or lunch.

Friends of Mine, Melbourne

Coffee at Friends of Mine

Wandering back through the streets, the flowers in some of these old Melbourne homes are a sight to behold.
The camellias are a picture……

Camellia Bush, Melbourne

Old camellia bush

Camellias, Melbourne

Beautiful Camellias

Camellia, Melbourne

A great colour

Camellias, Melbourne

Frilly camellia

Camellias, Melbourne

Another beautiful camellia

Garden sculpture in Richmond, Melbourne

You never know who is looking over the fence!

the magnolias are stunning…….

Magnolia FLower

Magnolia Tree, Melbourne

Magnolia Flower, Melbourne

Magnolia Tree, Melbourne

and the blossom beautiful……..

Almond Blossom and Magnolia in Melbourne

Almond Blossom and Magnolia cover the house

Blossom Trees in Melbourne

Blossom trees line the street

 

Even the bees are getting in on the act!

Lavender Bush, Melbourne

Lavender honey in the making?

 

 

 

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The Brera is one of my favourite areas of Milan.
Found just beyond the Duomo and La Scala, it is an area full of fabulous art galleries, fun shops, excellent restaurants and small B&Bs.

The Pinacotera di Milan, Milan’s famous art gallery is in Via Brera. The gallery houses a world renown collection of renaissance art.

The atmosphere of the Brera is best reflected in Via Fiori Chiari. This cobblestone street, with it’s planter boxes is lined with boutiques, restaurants and antique shops. My favourite shop, ‘Candele Mum’ at No 16 sells beautiful candles of all different shapes and sizes.

Via Fiori Chiari in Milan

Via Fiori Chiari

Cobblestone Streets in the Brera in Milan

Cobblestone Streets in the Brera

Welcome Mat at Torre di Pisa in Milan

Welcome Mat at Torre di Pisa

Another cobblestone street, Via Madonnina leads off from here at Ristorante Il Cestino, winding past intriguing shops and buildings, eventually taking you to the Church of the Santa Maria del Carmine and it’s piazza.

Church of the Santa Maria del Carmine in Milan

Church of the Santa Maria del Carmine

Near here are a couple of my favourite spots, both in Via Cusani.
Da Claudio: By day, it is a fish shop and quick lunch stop. At night it becomes a popular bar where prosecco is on tap and seafood antipasti available. In summer the crowd spills out on to the pavement

Ristorante Da Claudio in Milan

Ristorante Da Claudio

Antonio: Over the road from Da Claudio are three fabulous shops under the name Antonio – Antonio Shoes, Antonio Donna and Antonio Uomi – all displaying the latest fashions

Window at Antonio Uomo in Milan

Window at Antonio Uomo

Milan has a fabulous aperitivo culture. Bars offer a selection of antipasti with drinks, none more so than those in the Brera. The Brera comes alive at night, especially on the weekend. Restaurants and bars are full and people are window shopping or perusing the street markets that line Via Fiori Chiari.

Aperitivo in Milan

Aperitivo snacks

Via Solferino is another busy street in the Brera. There are some interesting shops here. Look out for Jamin Peuch for fabulous bags, AG Spalding & Bros for luggage accessories and L’Artigiano di Brera for great flats. Further up the street, you will find Antica Locanda Solferino, a popular B&B.

Fioraio Bianchi Caffè, is not far from here. Dine amongst the flowers or relax with coffee and cake.

Fioraio Bianchi Caffè in Milan

Fioraio Bianchi Caffè

On Monday or Thursday morning, the Via San Marco markets take place.

Fruit and Vegetables at the San Marco Markets in Milan

Fruit and Vegetable stall

Zucchini Flowers at the Via San Marco Markets in

Zucchini Flowers

On the outskirts of the Brera, Corso Como is where you will find Milan’s eclectic fashion emporium,10 Corso Como. This is also another interesting area with many boutiques, bars and restaurants.

Inside Dieci Corso Como, Milan

10 Corso Como

To get here, take Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi which borders the Brera on one side.
On the way, stop at Radetzky Cafe for coffee, lunch or aperitivo. I can highly recommend Sunday brunch!

Radetzky Caffe in Milan

Radetzky Cafe

Don’t want to explore the Brera on foot. Hire a bike instead!
Like many European cities, Milan has their own bike sharing programme called BikeMi. Dotted around the city are many bike stations where you can pick up or drop off your bike. Hire it for as long as you like, it’s a great way to get from one spot to the other. The first thirty minutes are free!

BikeMi station at the Duomo in Milan

BikeMi station at the Duomo

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Sitting on Cable Beach, champagne in hand and watching the camels parade at sunset.
A perfect finish to the day!

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Visit Eataly in Turin

Eataly in Turin is one stop shopping, Italian style.
Opened in 2007, this former vermouth factory was the first its kind showcasing the principles of the slow food movement. There are now branches in New York and Bologna.

Eataly in Turin

Eataly

Often described as a “megastore with a high end food court and learning centre”, the ground floor is dedicated to separate areas displaying an amazing selection of cheese, meat, fish and fresh vegetables.

Fresh vegetable selection at Eataly, Turin

Fresh vegetables

Meat selection at Eataly, Turin

Buy your meat here!

Fabulous cheese selection at Eataly, Turin

Fabulous cheeses

A large gourmet food section offers many different brands of oil, vinegar, pasta, rice and tomato sauce .
I stopped in front of a wall of extra virgin olive oil . There were hundreds to choose from. It was the same with the pasta.

Extra Virgin Oils at Eataly, Turin

Which one do I choose!

Pasta selection at Eataly in Turin

Pasta selection

There’s even a milk vending machine. Simply bring your empty milk bottles and refill them here.

Milk vending machine at Eataly in Turin

Milk vending machine

Dotted around these fresh food areas are the many food counters offering different meal choices
Choose from La Vedura, for a vegetarian lunch or cheese platter. La Carne grills different cuts of meat whilst over at the La Pizza e La Focaccia, a wood fired oven waits for pizza orders. There were also many pasta dishes to order. Finish with dolci from the great selection of cakes, pastries and gelati.Wander around the stations choosing from all on offer but don’t forget to reserve your table first so you are able to give them the table number when you order your meal.

If you prefer to be waited on, downstairs is the restaurant Guido, from Pollenza.

Vegetarian dishes from Le Vedure at Eataly in Turin

Order vegetarian dishes from Le Vedure

The meat counter at Eataly in Turin

The meat counter

We chose a tasty baked fish and vegetables from the seafood restaurant.

Baked fish and vegetables at Eataly in Turin

Baked fish and vegetables

Don’t forget to visit the cellars. There is an extensive selection of wines from all over Italy. The special bottles are found in the Reserve Room! There’s even a beer bar for hubby to try the latest boutique beer whilst you peruse the cook books or look for that special kitchen gadget you must take home.

Wine cellar at Eataly, Turin

Wine cellar

Wines at Eataly, Turin

Wines for sale

My favourite area was the glass fronted coolrooms which are also downstairs.
Wheels of parmesan sit side by side, whilst next door the prosciutto and salamis are hanging around

Parmesan stored in the cellar at Eataly, Turin

Parmesan stored in the cellar

Prosciutto at Eataly, Turin

Prosciutto

Coolroom at Eataly, Turin

Proscuitto and Salami in the coolroom

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Eataly
Via Nizza 203/14
Lingotto, Turin

Take the underground from Porta Nuova to Lingotto and walk back past the Fiat Factory

 

 

 

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