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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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