Sep 042015
last supper

last supper

so our week in piemonte has come to an end, we had a last supper with thomas and his family, it was a tribute to the italian cuisine and started with zuccini flowers deepfried in a light batter and topped with an anchovie. we followed this with the classic pasta con vongale and then a risotto con tre formaggi. ida and thomas made classic lemon tart with a soft meringue topping.

now its back to zürich in the car and then an overnight with christian and claudia before flying to amsterdam and catching the train to apeldoorn to spend some time with michiel, boki and dali.

finally some random leftover images!



Sep 022015

barolo vineyards

arguably one of the top 5 wine growing districts of the world is the region in piemonte known as barolo, centered around the town of the same name and famous for their nebbiolo grapes.

the zone of production extends into the communes of barolo, castiglione falletto, serralunga d’alba and parts of the communes of cherasco, diano d’alba, grinzane cavour, la aorra, monforte d’alba, novello, roddi, verduno, all in the province of cuneo, south-west of alba. although production codes have always stipulated that vineyards must be located on hillsides, the most recent revision of the production code released in 2010 goes further, categorically excluding valley floors, humid and flat areas, areas without sufficient sunlight, and areas with full-on northern exposures.

barolo is often described as having the aromas of tarand roses, and the wines are noted for their ability to age and usually take on a rust red tinge as they mature. barolo needs to be aged for at least thirty-eight months after the harvest before release, of which at least eighteen months must be in wood. when subjected to aging of at least five years before release, the wine can be labeled a riserva.

thomas invited sal and i along to one of his visits to the producers, we came to the home of ferdinando principiano to taste his barolo’s as well as some of his other wines. his wife, belen was the one to look after us as ferdinando had decided this was the day he had to harvest the grapes for his dosset or dolcetto wine as the sugar in the grapes had reached the specific level for harvest. their home is in the beautiful village of monforte d’alba and their plots spread around the barolo zone.

we sampled a sparkling wine, an extra brut rose made from 100% barbera grapes. a lovely dry, crisp, mineral wine with a nice acidity.

we followed that with a rivera di monfort, a classic barolo, leathery nose, lots of tannin very dry and a big long enduring mouthfeel and aftertaste. we thought it was magnificent and grabbed a box of them!

the next wine was their premium barolo, the boscareto, a classical barolo, very elegant and completely balanced – i actually didnt enjoy it as much as the rivera.

we finished up with a dessert wine, a muscato that was less sweet than i expected, big, round, lucious, rich and fruity with raisins and prunes. most winemakers in the region harvest the grapes and then dry them on racks with hay in the attics to get the intensity and dessert wine style from the grapes, ferdinando leaves the grapes on the vines, but cuts the stem of the bunch from the vine in august and then leaves the grapes in the sun and breeze to develop through to octomer when he harvests them. the wine then has 3 years in oak before bottling. we also took a box of this wine!

Aug 292015
all the cheeses, smelly, old & mouldy!

all the cheeses, smelly, old & mouldy!

acqui terme was another town we discovered driving around the piemonte country side, known for its hot springs – including a very hot fountain in the central piazza – we were lucky enough to arrive by chance on market day. we spent a couple of hours wandering around, stocked up on some yummy goodies from an amazing cheese store and had a pleasant lunch in the piazza at a pizzaria.

the architecture was quite impressive and the town had a very laid back yet cosmopolitan feel to it. i am sure we will be back for another visit before we depart!

Aug 282015

villa la ginestra

so here we are in piemonte, the days have slipped by rather quickly and i still havent caught up with the blog posts- too many days exploring the amazing countryside, helping cook up amazing meals with thomas and just lying by the pool doing nothing!

anyway here is the villa we are staying in, its about 5kms out of a town called bistagno which is north of genoa and south of milan.

basically it doesnt matter which direction you head out in, there are narrow, winding roads through the steep, vine covered, hill sides and every few km’s another church announces a new village to explore. a little further afield are larger towns, all beautiful in their own way, asti, alba, acqui terme, etc.

the first town sal and i explored was alba, which is basically in the centre of one of the most import wine regions of the world, home of the famous barolo wines, we found our way into the center of town and parked near the large piazza so we could go for a wander and grab some lunch.

we found a nice little cafe with lots of locals eating there and ordered a couple of bowls of the local pasta, tajarin with a ragu sauce and a couple of glasses of local red. the pasta is made with extra egg yolks so it is very yellow.

we had only just sat down at the table when we heard a voice calling our names, to our absolute amazement it was 2 friends from home, debbie webb and anne byrne!! we had no idea they were in italy nor did they know we were there – they spotted us as we walked into the cafe as they were coming in to order coffees. shortly after their husbands trevor & chris joined the table and we spent a wonderful hour or so catching up on each others journeys.

it truly is a small world and the most unbelievable coincidences do happen!

the day was rounded off with a wonderful veal neck, red wine ragu with cannelleni beans that was constructed during the afternoon!


Aug 272015

the start of the susten pass

whilst we were in denmark staying with thomas and mie, they mentioned they were coming down to piemonte in italy for a week at the end of august and asked if would like to join them and stay in the villa for the week.

they were going down for a 40th birthday party for one of thomas’ colleagues and bringing thomas’ parents, 2 brothers and sister in law. so it was going to be 13 of us including kids.

we jumped at the chance to head back to italy, which remains our favourite country in europe, it also meant we had the chance to drive from zürich up and across the swiss alps and down to italy. i knew that some of the world’s best roads are in this part of europe so i did my research to find the best of the best and create a route that would be a little longer but take us on an amazing route through the alps and along the passes with the reputations for amazing roads, scenery and steepness!

we were lucky enough to get a VW golf which was a perfect car for the roads, beautiful neutral handling, enough power for the conditions and small enough to throw round the hairpins!

the views were breathtaking and I can safely say the roads were definitely the best I have ever driven in the world, nothing compares to this.

first we drove the susten pass from wassen to innertkirchen, this was the most impressive road and had the least traffic as its not as well known as some of the other passes, then we drove the grimsel pass along side the aletsch glacier and down to brig glis before crossing over into italy.

for me it was the realisation of a life long dream to drive these roads, reinforced by watching clarkson and the top gear mob throw ferraris and aston martins around these moutain passes! it was just as much fun as i imagined, tempered only by the frustration when i caught up with slow traffic with no safe place to pass – the serial offenders were the sad sacks on their hardly davison motor bikes – forced to travel at painfully slow speeds due to the woeful handling and low ground clearance of their iron strides, they hold up just about all traffic as they splutter like a massey ferguson tractor around the corners.

it was also a great sensation to cross the border into italy, the buildings were all a bit dilapidated, the road magically deteriorated and suddenly no one was taking any notice of the road laws – very refreshing after the perfection of switzerland for a month!

of course what improved was the amazing food and coffee! we pulled into a service station to get some fuel and went into the ‘chef grill’ and got yummy panini with mozarella and prosciutto and a €1 euro espresso that was the best coffee i have had since leaving home!

it felt like coming home to be back in italy, and we realised just how much we love this country, its amazing produce, food, coffee and its wonderful people!