Tag Archives: Food

Great Grange & Grand Italians – A wine tasting event

20 Mar


Penfolds Grange is unquestionably Australia’s most famous red wine and has reached celestial heights in terms of adoration and expectation. From its experimental inception in 1951 by winemaker Max Schubert, Grange has been lovingly crafted to shine as a uniquely Australian wine of longevity, power and class.

“Grange’s aesthetic quality and remarkable aging potential is the stuff of legends.”

Andrew Caillard MW

In line with the 20-year celebration of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, an event was arranged that could commemorate the significance of this anniversary. Two bottles each of Penfolds Grange 1971 and 1976 (tested by the clinic in 2011) were obtained from a close friend of the owner of my workplace. The extensive museum Italian wine list was pulled out for perusal. It was like being a kid in a candy store as eight other wines were chosen that hail from Italy which would sit alongside Australia’s most iconic wine. The wines selected are classified in the upper echelon of quality and come from the most respected producers. These include rare wines such as Ceretto Bricco Rocche Barolo Brunate 1990, Produttori del Barbaresco Montefico 1985, Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino Schiena d’Asino 1990, Tedeschi Amarone della Valpolicella ‘Monte Olmi’ 1991, Castello di Ama Chianti Classico 1997 and even the famous Toscana IGT wine Antinori’s Tignanello 1985 and Bolgheri’s inimitable Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia DOC 1987.

In total, the combined age of these wines is over 200 years. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one that I feel privileged to have been able to pour at. Below is a visual diary of the evening with small commentary made as to the condition of the wines.

La Donna del Vino savouring a glass of Grange

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Besugo al Horno – Baked Bream with Potatoes & Tomatoes

5 Apr

Sharing is caring, correct? Well how much do I care to be showing and sharing with you this delightful recipe from my Casa Moro cookbook!

It is called Besugo al Horno aka Baked Bream with Potatoes & Tomatoes

Newsflash: This recipe is SPANISH! Spreading the wings a little this week.

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Worthy of writing about!

18 Feb

Bucatini pasta with good extra virgin olive oil cooked to infuse with garlic, mixed with chilli, parsley and anchovies

Glass of 2005 Henschke Hill of Grace

Fricken awesome

Mangia Krystina, mangia!

20 Dec

Whilst the ex-boss and wife and child were still sleeping I got up and had breakfast on my own in the kitchen and dressed for lunch as they informed me we were going to the ristorante Bovio in Ceretto Langhe with Ornella also in attendance. Together we rugged ourselves up and braved the chilly winter air and sat down to a wonderful lunch. We ordered and pretty much were all having an antipasto and a secondo but then the restaurant chef who knows Giorgio well ended up bringing us an antipasto on top of our other orders which consisted of carne crudo di vitello in small balls on bread, a spoon of insalata russa and grissini…the child of Anja and Giorgio, Lidia, is two years old and eats like an adult. In fact she ate more of the antipasti than everybody else. On top of that she also ended up eating an adult sized primo of agnolotti, then a smaller sized steak. Hungry kid.

My choices were coniglio then polpo caramellata. I brought Giorgio Meletti-Cavallari’s 2006 Impronte red wine for lunch. First we had a Spumante that was lovely, followed by a Vermentino done by Antinori which was terribly simple and bland. Then we had the Bolgheri rosso, which Giorgio said he liked but Anja wasn’t so keen on. We talked a little about the wine and how La Spinetta’s going etc. The coniglio was delicious in an involtini-style dish cut into slices with an orange-coloured sauce alongside. They followed up with a surprise primo of beetroot-coloured gnocchi with lobster sauce. Again delicious but rich and thankfully portioned well. Giorgio ordered another red wine blind as he wanted to be surprised and it tasted really good and ended up being the 2005 Sezzana (La Spinetta’s reserve Tuscan label) that he would like to put down for another 10 years even. I was really impressed with that one. I also came to learn that the reason for him drinking so much Vermentino of late is because La Spinetta Toscana are doing a Vermentino, 2009 being the first vintage from bought grapes.
My secondo of caramelized polpo (octupus tentacle) was ordered by Ornella and Giorgio also, and was too sweet and the balsamic darkness of the sauce overpowered the freshness or any polpo taste you were hoping to get! It was on a lovely bed of polenta but the sweetness dominated and ruined the dish overall. I mean, it wasn’t horrible, it just could could have been much fresher for fish, y’know?
Afterwards we had said no to dessert and they still brought us coffee cups of tiramisu, probably the best tiramisu I’ve tasted with a yellow-creamy topping, not white, so I wasn’t disappointed they brought us this, but we were trying to eat light! Che ridere! Amazing dessert.
Anja, Ornella and I went for over an hours walk after lunch up the hills to attempt to work it off and chatted about everything. I mentioned how I am going to start studying again and how I’m interested to learn the business side of things also. Anja was interested in that and I think in the new year we will see what we can work out, whether there can be some sort of arrangement. Can’t really say anything just yet.
Later on I went back to Alba with Ornella to her place and we reheated her pipes with a hairdryer to get water as it had frozen. The joys of living where there falls snow. It worked anyway, no matter how funny it looked blowdrying a box. We then went for a walk together and got an espresso in the centre of town before heading back. At 7pm Manuela Rivetti and her boyfriend Simone passed by the house and picked me up and together we had an aperativo first at Piazza Duomo in Alba with rockclimbing friends of Simone, then had dinner at ‘Il Corsiero’ in Cinzano with his group of rock-climbing buddies. The night was spent chatting away with Manuela about old times. Good times, good times.

A feast to remember

15 Nov


Ristorante La Conchiglia in Viareggio, Provincia di Lucca, Toscana.

Where one goes to understand the meaning of fine dining in the true sense of the word…with a price tag to match.

Being a restaurant that resides by sea side, what would one expect other than the very best in seafood produce?! We were a group of 7 in total, including Giorgio & Francesca, Luca & Helena, Alessandro & Claudia and myself. On entering we handed the waiter our coats then sat down in the private dining room surrounded by artwork and the kitchen in the background. We were then greeted by the chef, Patrizio, who ran us through the program he’d created for us today. We would only have to select the wine, the rest we would leave up to him.

We were left in fine hands. Giorgio chose a Franciacorta from winery Alice to start with with our tartare and pane appetiser. We followed on from that with an assortment of dishes, all with some form of seafood and drank Trebbiano from Abruzzo 2007 then Pinot Noir from France.

Two hours later we arrived at dessert which began with Castagnaccio (a delicious local cake using flour from chestnuts, pinenuts and not much else then you put some olive oil and rosemary on top once it’s finished). Followed on by three offerings on a long plate of semifreddo with a fresh concoction of chocolate sauce, creme custard with rasperries, and panacotta…which Giorgio later recollected was like a woman’s boobies, soft with movement but not too hard…that’s Giorgio for you. Caffe’ was drunk by all and then we took our well-feasted selves our for a walk. The portions and the lightness of the food meant we didn’t feel so stuffed that you felt sick, but more the fact that you knew you weren’t going to be eating dinner that night for sure!

Afterwards us girls took off in the big Land Rover and drove along the backstreets towards the gorgeous town of Petrasanta in the province of Lucca also, swiping off a mirror of a blue Renault parked a little wider than normal. The mirror of the Land Rover was in the same condition…decapitated. We didn’t stop…though I suggested we should. Typical Italians for you.

At Petrasanta we arrived to find some sort of festival taking place involving lots of food, cheese and other produce…we didn’t touch a thing. Instead we took a look around the town then stopped for a drink at a bar which played music that reminded me of bars in Melbourne. In other words, modern.

After a long hard day of nothing we all drove back to Grattamacco, this time taking care to drive a little wider when passing parked cars, then watched ‘Italians’ on the big screen at home. It’s like ‘Manual of Love’ for those of you into Italian movies, entertaining, and always unpredictable. That’s one thing I can say about Italian movies in comparison to typical American ones. You can generally guess where the story line is headed with other movies, but with this one we were taking stabs during the film and of course nothing ever eventuated like we thought it would! Great movie though.

Olives Olives Olives

29 Oct

The olives are being harvested for oil. How does one know? You walk past a tree and there’s a carpet surrounding it and you hear a compressor working it’s little butt off in the distance whilst a person stands under a tree with a stick and a strange thing at the end that moves and shakes off the olives. After which, the olives are gathered up and put into a case. Cool stuff, just wouldn’t want to be shaking a tree when spiders and whatever other insects that live in trees fall on your face too whilst doing the work! Glad it’s not me. I’ll just have the end-product thanks very much!

Fish – Pesce

17 Oct

The good thing about living in a coastal town is that they like to eat fish frequently. I remember mum telling me you can never say no to fish as it’s so good for you, so I take her advice and make sure I sample each morsel that is offered my way. Most of the time I’m not sure of the exact translation of what sort of fish I am eating, but I’ll take a stab at listing some of the things I’ve eaten so far whilst here:


Fresh Calamari






Dried salted cod (baccalà)



…and the list goes on my friend


7 Oct

Sai cos’abbiamo mangiato sta sera alla casa di Alessio? Cinghiale! Or for those of you who don’t know what I’m on about…’we ate wild boar!’

Alessio’s mum cooked it perfectly using olive oil, onion, a little garlic, carrot and celery, sage and thyme and cooking the meat in small 2-3cm cubes with some sugo di pomodori e olivi for about 4 hours. The meat was tender (hunted only a couple of days ago by Alessio’s dad Michele in the hills nearby) and we ate it with a little polenta. Michele had also found like 100 porcini mushrooms the other day which the mum cooked some up in a spicier sauce. One of the best meals I have had here so far.

Conto Rosso and the Bianco Notte

20 Sep

Can you tell I have been too busy to write? We’ve processed a large proportion of the Moscato d’Asti already, which has been tiring seeing as we start at 5:30am in the morning. But the smell as the grapes are crushed is divine. Do you know it smells just like the resultant wine? The yeast we use too smells just like fresh nectarines and peaches as we’re making the starter culture! So many good smells in the winery! For someone like me with a manic-sniffing nose, that sort of thing puts a smile on my face regardless of the task I am doing.

After an exhausting day of work today I went out to dinner with my flatmate Manuela and her sister Ele to a restaurant in Alba called Conto Rosso. It was quite busy in the town centre because it was the first festival day in tartufo (truffle) season. The night was called Bianco Notte (white night).

Manuela ed Ele – sono sorelle

For dinner I ate a delicious antipasto of carne crudo di vitello (raw veal) with lemon dressing. For main I had a ravioli del Phin in a rabbit sugo. For dessert, gelato!

We drank: 2006 Elio Grasso Barbera d’Alba. Disappointing, weak nose, unbalanced acidity, weak structure. Shame…

La Contea, Neive

7 Sep

So it’s Sunday and into my second week at La Spinetta where I’m doing vintage in Piemonte, Italy. The winery work has not begun to reach that state of chaos just yet though. Fortunately this gives me time to do other more local things!

Today Gianni took me out for an aperativo in Neive where we then went to the brilliant restaurant La Contea for a long lunch. It was set up in the town’s courtyard with rows and rows of long tables for all the guests. The first course had a couple of things on the plate, one being shreds of yellow capsicums with sardine paste on top, or a minced baby veal shaped like a tomato (salted and seasoned to perfection) and insalata russa.

La Contea, Neive

Following the spuntino was the primi of small basil-sauced ravioli, then the obligatory second alternative of meat-ragu home-made pappardelle pasta.

The secondo was capretto (baby goat) in a rich sauce and the dessert was a stunning peach sponge cake with nocciola (hazlenuts) sprinkled over the top. You could have killed me with happiness then and there.

Wines we drank:

2006 Ugo l’Equio Langhe Nebbiolo from Neive

2005 Fratelli Cigliuti Barbaresco from Vigne Erte (younger vines than Serraboella)

2005 Ca Veja Paitin Bricco di Neive Nebbiolo d’Alba by Pasquero Elia