(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!
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.
That is why I wanted to include this Osteria in our Italy culinary road trip. I was not disappointed and the diversion via Torino back home was worth it. Actually, I shouldn’t write about it here, because I think it is still an insider tip among the people of Torino 😉 The crew welcomed us extremely friendly and patiently explained the food and wine list. We decided on a Vitello Tonnato – excellent – as a starter. As primi I chose homemade taglierini with porcini mushrooms. As main course I absolutely wanted to try the guinea fowl with grapes. Everything was incredibly good. I can’t wait to come back to Turin to dine there again.
Olevano Romano – Have you ever heard of Olevano Romano? Me neither – before I visited this lovely town in the heart of Italy.
This year, we finally did our road trip through Italy. The way was the goal and in order to plan this trip in a culinary optimal way, we also kept to the list of the awarded “Trattorie” in Italy: https://premiatetrattorieitaliane.eu/ I made it already to 6 of the 13 locations. I would really like to emphasize the Trattoria “Sora Maria e Arcangelo” in Olevano Romano. Our expectations were exceeded. The restaurant is homely and the service very friendly and helpful in choosing the dishes and wines. Unfortunately, this also led to the fact that we totally overeaten ourselves, especially with 2 (!) desserts. Luckily we were there for lunch, so we could digest in the afternoon and evening with a walk through the beautifully decorated village.
As a greeting from the kitchen came a fried piece of mozzarella, very tasty. Then we chose fried stuffed courgette flowers (fior di zucca), which is very typical for this region. A plate of raw ham Prosciutto di Bassiano (http://www.prosciuttodibassiano.it/prosciutto-di-bassiano/prosciuttodibassianoriserva), figs and Falia di Pupillo (bread between pizza and normal bread). Simply delicious! For primi, I chose the house specialty Cannelloni and my hubby the pasta with mushrooms, mountain mint (mentuccia) and parmesan. I think one of the best pasta dishes I ever tasted. It sounds very simple, but sometimes the simple things are the most difficult.
We have discovered a new grape variety for us; the Cesanese. It is cultivated in the region around Rome. The wine from Abbia Nova https://www.abbianova.com/ was a perfect match for the meal. For dessert we chose blackberry (called “more” in Italian) with whipped cream and cat’s tongue biscuits and as a second dessert a millefeuille with ice cream.
Be sure to reserve a table early enough in this wonderful restaurant. I would love to go there again today.
Meran Südtirol– The name of the restaurant sounded a bit like a tourist trap at first. But I was taught a lesson.
The restaurant is situated in a historic building, tables are topped with white blankets and traditional silver cutlery. The staff and especially the chef Andrea Fenoglio were very welcoming and helped with the choice of our menu.
Have a look at the gallery with the traditional dishes, newly interpreted. Pizza margherita in the glass and vitello tonnato – not flat on the plate but small turrets – mouthwatering!
The chef also runs a pizzeria in Meran, called “357 tre, cinque, sette” which I will for sure visit during our next trip to Meran: http://trecinquesette.it/
Chiavenna – We spent a weekend in the mountains in Italy near the Swiss border. We learned from these stunning hay lofts from a friend. He had bought the land from the local farmers who historically used them as shelter for their goats when they brought the herds up from the valley to a higher altitude in summer. The new owner of the hay lofts rebuilt the tables into to these spectacular lofts.
You should not be afraid of heights and narrow winding streets as the journey to reach the haylofts is quite an adventure. From Switzerland you take the route over Splugen pass….in itself a wonderful and breathtaking area.
You can choose from three different hay lofts, some with a romantic view into the forest or and others overseeing the valley. All of the lofts feature panoramic windows which is unique for this type of rustico buildings which usually come with very small windows.
There is even a spa house, which again comes with panorama window and phenomenal view. Jacuzzi and sauna are heated with wood which means that you need to let the staff know a few hours in advance if you’re planning to take a hot bath….but the unique architecture of the calidarium built all from local natural material makes this a absolutely unforgettable experience.
Each hay loft features its own kitchen so that you can cook your own meals or you can ask for catering service. There is obviously no central heating but the fire places do an awesome job in making you feel cosy and warm. If you are looking for some peace, pure nature and relaxation this place could not be more perfect.
Milan – Do you know the feeling when you are invited for a family dinner? Now imagine you visit your relatives in Italy. If you like this feeling that your relatives cook you dinner and you just sit in the living room with a lot of different people – then you should go to Trattoria Masuelli. The nonno (granddad in Italian) and owner himself comes to your table to tell you about all the mouthwatering dishes – you will not have a problem to find something you like, but a problem to choose from the temptations.
The restaurant is very traditional and exists since many years in Milan. You can feel and see the history in the rooms with the high ceilings and picture frames on the walls.
I recommend the pasta as a first course and then the veal “Milanesa” (breaded veal chop; some might know it better as “Wiener Schnitzel” but I was told, the Milanesa was created before the Schnitzel) or taste the Saffron Risotto.
Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture from the Milanesa….I had wolfed it down already when I remembered…
We felt great and nicely fed after dinner – I would go again any time when in Milan.