(Ambivere) near Bergamo – I have wanted to visit Bergamo for a long time. The old town is really worth seeing, including the panoramic view from the top of the hill.
For dinner though, we made a reservation at the Trattoria Visconti. A place I’ve had on my culinary “to do list” for a long time. We entered the trattoria with a very friendly welcome and were even invited to visit the well-stocked wine cellar with the owner, thanks Daniele :-).
For dinner, we opted for the traditional menu, which included the famous local “casoncelli” here with a recipe by “nonna Ida”. A pasta filled with meat. In the Bergamo area, each family probably has its own recipe for casoncelli alla Bergamasca. Nonna Ida’s pasta came with sage butter and crispy bacon – a treat for the palate. A secret ingredient is hidden for some sweetness. I know what it is, but you have to find out yourself and try 😉 For a starter we had salami nostrano, for main the Guancetta (beek cheek) with polenta and as dessert one of the best apple pies…a very good menu with the best of local ingredients. I’d say the pasta itself is worth the trip to Ambivere, about 15 minutes by car from Bergamo. Be sure to make a reservation!
Zurich – A delicious culinary trip to Italy and Spain.
We took the 4 course menu, which is price wise very fair for 98 CHF. As starter we had Pulpo salad, second was pasta with red chicory and ham. For the main course we had a whole sea bass baked in salt coat and for dessert I chose the chocolate tartlet with a warm and liquid centre. The wine cellar is well stocked with good wines from Italy and Spain. Really very worthwhile the visit with personal and friendly service. Reservation necessary.
Sorrento was a revelation for me. A mid-size city directly by the sea, situated on a spectacular cliff, nearby the famous Amalfi coast. A shopping tour before dinner is recommended especially for hand made leather sandals – I bought mine for example at: www.sandalisiniscalchi.it/en/ you can have them made individually with every imaginable leather, coral or crystal… The region is also known for its delicious lemons, which can be seen in every shop as fresh fruit, cuddly toys, soap, perfume or even decorated cups and household goods. After the shopping you can relax at the big main piazza which is ideal for an nice “Aperitivo” (in Italy pre-dinner drinks are always accompanied by small bites).
The dinner at the Antica Trattoria was spectacular: An interior could hardly be more kitschy and seemed like a scene from an Italian film from the 60s where Sofia Loren or Gina Lollobrigida would enjoy an extended dinner. The waiters wore traditional uniforms and the walls were decorated with painted tiles, framed pictures and plants hung from the ceiling in the cozy pergola.
The food was local and traditional. We shared some starter of Calamari, Fior di Zucca and Melanzane. As main course I had Tagliolini al limone….not just a plate of long noodles with lemon sauce, but homemade fresh pasta with fresh lemon sauce, part of the portion neatly rolled into a hollowed out lemon half. It was simply DELICIOUS! My hubby had the Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe. A special thanks to Vincenzo, the mandolin player, who entertained the guests in the restaurant with his passionate play and made our evening even more special: Grazie mille Vincenzo. www.lanticatrattoria.com
Matera is the European Capital of Culture 2019 and rightly so. We made a stop in Matera on our road trip through Italy and could not stop being amazed. (read more about the history of Matera, 3rd oldest town) The place is really very special, because the old part consists of caves – so-called Sassi. The people lived there with their animals until the 1950s, when the mayor of Matera had everything cleared for hygiene reasons. In the 1990s the Sassi were rediscovered and prepared for flats, hotels, restaurants and shops.
We stayed in a beautiful cave hotel – the Sextantio – , which was a very nice and extraordinary experience.
It was also astonishing to discover that in this relatively small village there are two restaurants with Michelin stars. But we relied on the recommendation of our hotel – it was worth it. The restaurant Baccanti with local cuisine is embedded in a cave and although it was still 30 degrees outside, it was pleasantly cool inside. As starter I had animelle (sweetbread on artichoke cream, hazelnuts and black truffle), my hubby chose the “probably” best cheese flan in the world (Podolico cheese flan with pork sausage) and as main course I went for calzoncelli (filled pasta) with black garlic and tomatoes. Of course our stomachs were already full but we still had to try the Tiramisu and the Ricotta dessert. Everything was excellent and I can warmly recommend the restaurant. Reading the menu back home now, I am dreaming of going back to the Baccanti for a great dinner tonight.
Valdenas Rhine gorge – The hotel “Gasthaus am Brunnen” in a 500 year old building is exceptional. It is far away from tourism and crowds of people. It has only 7 rooms and all of them are very different, simply furnished. The house is almost only made of wood and so the room smells wonderfully of wood, one can relax very well in this place.
Restaurant and Dinner
The restaurant in this hidden place is really fantastic. Meat, vegetables and dairy products are from the surroundings/region. The jam for breakfast and homemade and just very delicious. The great thing is that you can simply eat a main course or a whole menu with various delicacies, you always get full. In the afternoon you can drink coffee by the wooden well or have a cocktail in the lounge in the garden and watch the ducks from the farmer next door.
In the surroundings you can visit the Rhine Gorge or take a hike to Lake Cauma and/or Lake Cresta. The nature is beautiful and there is something for every fitness level.
The Hacienda Colomé (by Swiss entrepreneur Donald M. Hess) is not only worth a visit for its wines, but for the special place. The next small village is about 45 minutes away by car. From Salta you can do the zigzagging roads by going over the top of a pass (Cuesta del Obispo) and “Parque Nacional de los Cardones” about 5 to 6 hours, depending on road conditions (partially dirt roads). This means that one does not go there spontaneously for a winetasting. For a long time we had the idea to include the Bodega Colomé on our next trip to Argentina because we know friends that stayed there. Since the hotel has only 9 rooms, this was the first thing we booked for our trip and planned everything else including flights only afterwards. It was really worth it. It is a place with a certain magic. You can relax, get some peace and quiet, do walks and besides; taste the best wines of the region. We spent New Year’s Eve at the bodega and had a really wonderful evening with people from France, Brazil, Switzerland and Argentina. Bodega Colomé grows their own fruits, vegetables and herbs in their garden and cooks only regional and seasonal meals. The staff conjured up a delicious multi-course menu for the guests that evening, including wine pairing. At 12 o’clock we all toasted to the new year on the terrace under the roof of stars and there was – still on top – a huge dessert buffet. Those who make it to Colomé should stay at least two or three days, as the James Tyrell Art Museum is also very worth seeing.
A friend from Switzerland knows the wine region Mendoza (Maipu and Valle de Uco) very well. She was also the one who gave me the contact to Alejandro Vigil to book a table in the restaurant. The bodega was founded by Alejandro Vigil and Adrianna Catena in 2009. I had already tasted the Malbec from El Enemigo wine in restaurants (for example La Lucia) before and was thrilled. So my anticipation was even greater. I was not disappointed at lunch and included tasting. It was an extraordinary visit with excellent food, wine and service. We were happy that we didn’t have to drive ourselves that day.
In order to get a table in the restaurant, one has to book early, preferably two or three months in advance. We had already made a reservation for the “El Enemigo” at noon the same day and therefore only did the tour and the tasting. I have rarely seen such an impressive bodega. It was only opened in 20016 and is one of six bodegas of Zuccardi wines. For the construction, natural materials from the surroundings were used, such as stones from the estate area. The cement tanks are built without “epoxy”. Piedra Infinita won the Great Wine Capitals Global Architecture award in 2016 and World’s Best Vineyard Award, for its overall Winery experience.
The tasting was great but again, a lot of wine to drink….If we manage to visit Mendoza again, we would probably also book a table at the restaurant, the meat on the BBQ looked mouthwatering.