Memories of our Umbria Palace

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This time last year, our family holiday to Europe was coming to an end.  One of the highlights was staying at what I called our Umbrian Palace, Laguscello. This beautiful farm house was tucked away from the traffic, offered endless views of rolling hills, modern, clean, pretty pool, and it was luxurious and spacious. It even had a couple of hammocks and a wood-fired oven.

Just a couple of minutes drive to Castel Giorgio for necessary supplies, and a short drive to pretty medieval Orvietto, it was perfectly located. I want to live there.

I’m dreaming of Umbria and Italy now.  Don’t you wish you were there too?

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UPDATE

The “Little House” that adjoins the main farm house has been renovated since our stay last July (2012) – it wasn’t open / available when we were there. Together, the main house and little house sleeps 14 people. It’s so gorgeous, don’t you think? I’d love to sit on the balcony every sunset with a nice glass of something and contemplate the world. Sigh.

Little House_nc July 2013_ main bedroom towards terrace_ low res Little House_nc July 2013_ first floor terrace   pool form above_ low res Little House_nc July 2013 16_ kitchen from stairs_ low res Little House_ nc July 2013-1_front of houseFACT FILE

Lagoscello is located in Umbria, just over the Lazio border (1.5 hours drive from Rome).  Rates vary depending on the season and number of guests.  Visit www.laguscello.co.uk for more.

 

Cook like an Italian

If you want to cook like an Italian, then you need to learn from the best in the business – makes sense, right?

Guiseppe Pagliariccci (Perugino) and Egidio Squillace (Event Style)

Giuseppe Pagliaricci (Perugino) and Egidio Squillace (Event Style)

Six Italian chefs are each holding an Italian Cooking Master Class between 20 May and 9 September 2013 at the stunning Accento Home showroom in Claremont, Perth. Each chef’s restaurant has earned the Ospitalità Italiana certification awarded by the Italian Government. That means they are proficient with Italian cooking knowledge, have Italian speaking staff available, and use some Italian imported ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil.

Last night was the Accento Italian Cooking Master Class series launch. We thought the chefs would be demonstrating three or four dishes. Wrong. We watched them prepare and we tasted  20 dishes. No wonder we all rolled out of there at the end of the night, vowing not to eat for the next week!

Giuseppe Pagliaricci from Perugino Restaurant and Egidio Squillace from Event Style were our chefs for the night. They wow’d the room with every dish.  Just when you think, ‘this one is my favourite,’ the next dish is even better. Their execution was mesmerising to watch. Precise cooking times and fastidious presentations to ensure we were well looked after. This is what we ate:

Finger food / Antipasti

  1. Prawn and pesto sauce
  2. Scallop carpaccio with mango
  3. Pumpkin and smoked cheese dumpling
  4. Bacala (cod) and potato fritters
  5. Bacala (cod) fritters (without potato)
  6. Prawns and pancetta with balsamic
  7. Deep fried mozzarella balls
  8. Crostini with cheese and truffle
  9. Herbed focaccia
  10. Crostini with Italian sausage and cheese

Pasta

  1. Gnocchi with gorgonzola, apple, parmesan and pine nuts
  2. Ravioli filled with potato, cheddar, and proscuito di San Daniele with a pumpkin sauce and a dash of béchamel

Main / meat

  1. Rack of lamb cooked with olive oil, lemon juice and oregano
  2. Chicken with olive oil, mint, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper
  3. Rabbit with black olives and white wine

Dessert & Cakes

  1. Macadamia panna cotta with white chocolate sauce
  2. Pistachio panna cotta with berry sauce
  3. Fig and amaretti tart
  4. Rice and apple cake (gluten free)
  5. Quince and chestnut cake

Needless to say, the food was delectable. The gnocchi was an absolute stand out dish. The gorgonzola had that gorgeous blue cheese bite to it, the sauce was creamy, and the addition of apples added a tarty sweetness to the salty cheese sauce. The gnocchi were light and fluffy, just as they should be – and just as one would expect them to be given they were made by a pro.

Guests can expect to taste a number of beautifully cooked Italian dishes. Moreover, there’s the chance to ask questions, like, ‘how do you make the gnocchi so it is light and airy?’ Or, ‘what is the secret to cooking the perfect tomato base sauce?’

Marco Mari, Secretary General of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) that are facilitating the cooking series said that attending a class is a perfect opportunity to learn from the best in the business as the masters of Italian cuisine are not readily accessible.

“Guests will learn techniques and specific Italian dishes, and they will also taste all the dishes and sample matched Italian wines, so we advise guests to come along with an empty stomach!”

For the wine aficionado, varietals on offer include Barolo, Chianti Classico, and Nero D’Avola Syrah from the respective esteemed wineries Michele Chiarlo (Piedmont), San Fabiano Calcinaia (Tuscany), and Fuedo Arancio (Sicily) to name a few.

Mr Mari said the series is designed to be informative and fun. “For the same price as eating out at a good restaurant, guests have the added bonus of taking home new skills, making it exceptional value for money.”

If the launch is anything to go by, I’d recommend wearing elasticated pants, the most stylish ones you have of course. After all, you will be mingling with Italians.

FACT FILE

All demonstrations start at 6.30pm and held at the Accento Showroom, 256 Stirling Highway Claremont. Cost per class is $90 or $500 for the series of six.

For more information, visit www.icci.asn.au or call 08 9217 4200.

Declaration: The ICCI is a client of Dianne Bortoletto’s business, Pronto PR. Despite this fact, I would have posted about the cooking class in any case because learning about great food is an absolute passion of mine – and so is eating it!

Other Blogs

Check out what other food bloggers had to say:
Perth Munchkin

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Eating without cooking

To eat like this, you can always book a table at Perugino Restaurant in West Perth. It’s one of the best Italian restaurants in the city, getting the mix of food, service and ambience right.
Perugino on Urbanspoon

If you have a function, then Event Style are the caterers that will ensure every guest is impressed and left feeling satisfied.

Coffee experiment

This morning, I experimented to see which method would make the best coffee. Using WA’s Yahava coffee, I prepared it three ways:

1. The Vietnamese way using a drip cup I bought from Vietnam recently

2. Plunger

3. Italian cafeteria, electric model

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To ensure that my bias didn’t play a role in determining the outcome, Zorba participated in a blind tasting.

The one I thought would come up on top, the Italian cafeteria, was in fact our least favourite. The coffee was watery, lacked robustness and generally would only be the sort of coffee I’d drink if there was nothing else but instant.

The plunger did a nice job, although there was a bit of sediment at the bottom of the cup that wasn’t overly pleasant.

The Vietnamese drip cup made the best brew. The coffee was robust, slightly thick, and tasted rounded. Perhaps is was because the coffee is steamed first?  The way it works is that you load two teaspoons of ground coffee inside the cup. Up turn the lid and place a little boiling water in the lid and sit the loaded up drip cup on top for two minutes. This steams the coffee. According to one Vietnamese chef, this step is crucial to making good coffee.  After the coffee has steamed (you won’t notice any difference to the coffee – looks just the same), sit the drip cup over a mug, fill it with boiling water, put on the lid on and wait.  It takes about four minutes for the luscious coffee to all drip through.

Vietnamese drip cup over a mug

Vietnamese drip cup over a mug

I was surprised, I didn’t expect this little drip cup that cost me $0.50 (yes, 50 cents) to work so well.  I should’ve bought a truck load of them!

Vietnam is the world’s second largest producer of coffee. That was news to me until I travelled there. I guess they know a thing or two about making good coffee, and once you go there and witness the coffee culture for yourself, you won’t be surprised either.

Verdict:  Vietnames drip cup makes the best coffee.

p.s. sorry that the full post wasn’t on display initially – had a glitch in the system.

Sardinian bread – carta di musica

When shopping at Leederville IGA a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to see traditional bread from Sardinia (Italy) for sale (about $12).  Strictly speaking, it’s more of a thin cracker than a bread.

It’s called ‘carta di musica’ which translates to sheet music or paper of music (literal), because the wafer come cracker is fine like paper.  I love it and ate bucket loads of it during both of my trips to Sardinia a few years ago.

It comes in a box and it is very delicate. Between five and eight thin crispy wafer-like sheets are stacked on top of each other.  To serve it, you drizzle some good olive oil on each sheet, sprinkle it with rock salt or salt flakes and fresh rosemary. Pile the sheets up on top of each other and put it in the oven until it starts to go brown on the edges.

Carta di musica

Carta di musica

When you bring it to the table, the aroma of the rosemary will make your mouth water.

The crispy sheets are delicious and just melt on your tongue.  Be warned, it is nearly impossible to stop once you start eating Sardinian bread.

It’s too fine and crispy to use with a dip.  A dip would spoil the taste of the bread anyway.

Buon apetito!

 

Learning from the masters: Italian Cooking Lessons

I recently went to the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA’s cooking demonstration with Burswood’s Modo Mio head chef Gianpaolo Maffini.  It was held in the beautiful Scavolini kitchen showroom in Claremont.

Gianpaolo generously shared his tips for cooking a lovely three course meal.

Entree was Involtini de melanzane reieni di ricotta e pomodorini essicati con salsa did basilico, Eggplant rolls filled with ricotta cheese and sun dried tomato in basil sauce.

Eggplant rolls stuffed with ricotta. OMG YUM!

Gianpaolo sliced the eggplant in 1cm thick slices, explained salting the eggplant and let it sit for an hour or so, then he lightly fry it in olive oil until it was partially cooked and still firm.

The ricotta was drained and mixed to a smooth paste with the addition of egg, grated parmesan cheese, and seasoning.  Using a disposable piping bag, he piped the ricotta mix on one end of the eggplant slice, added sun dried tomatoes, and rocket.

Gianpaolo with the thermometer checking the temperature to make sure the lamb is perfectly cooked

He rolled them into logs, placed them in a tray and into a moderate / hot oven for 5 -10 mins.  They were served stacked on a bed of basic Italian tomato sauce, topped with rocket, parmesan, and sun dried tomatoes.

It was really delicious and way too much for an entree! I loved this dish.

For main course, Gianpaolo demonstrated sous vide method of cooking meat with aromatics in a sealed plastic bag in a water bath. For commercial catering, this works really well.  At home, most people don’t have a water bath, so we would cook meat on the stove or in the oven. The dish he demonstrated was Rack of lamb with a macadamia crust.

When the lamb was almost done in the water bath, Gianpaolo checked the temperature of it, brushed the lamb with Dijon mustard and pressed on the macadamia nut crumb (macadamias, thyme, breadcrumbs and hazelnut oil).  The lamb was finished off in the oven until it reached the right temperature, about 10 minutes.

The lamb was served with brocolini, mashed potatoes and a beautiful veal jus sauce.

We were taught that when lamb is cooked to medium, the internal thermometer reading is 55 degrees, 45 degrees is for medium rare, 65 degrees for medium well, and 70 degrees or more is  well done or cardboard.  To me, meat tastes best at medium rare and lamb should be pink.

The lamb was really tender and tasty.  It was quite pink which a few people around the room commented about. I wasn’t complaining, I enjoyed it.

Dessert was vanilla panna cotta with strawberries. This is where I get excited. I love desserts and panna cotta is one of my all time favourites.

The trick to making panna cotta is to soak the gelatine sheets in iced water. If you soak them in tepid or warm water, the gelatine dissolves and you end up with less grams of gelatine than you need to set the ricotta. Gianpaolo explained that it was a science.

Gianpaolo did two things that I’ve never seen or heard of before; he added a sprinkling of crushed fresh green peppercorns and some baby basil leaves. It sounds unusual, but let me tell you, it was a heavenly combination with the panna cotta and the strawberries.

The panna cotta was silky and soft – just perfect.  Despite feeling like I was busting at the seams after the first two courses, I ate it all. The panna cotta was too good to resist.

It was a fantastic night where we learned a few new culinary tricks of the trade, mingled with like minded food lovers, and enjoyed a delicious meal.  Oh, and there was an endless supply of San Pelligrino sparking water and wine.  Not bad for $90, about the same price as eating out in Perth.

The Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA organised a series of six cooking demonstrations by chefs that have been certified with the Ospitalita Italiana by the Italian Government.  It plans to organise some more cooking demonstrations in the future.

FACT FILE

Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Facebook
Visit the links above and sign up for their newsletter to keep up to date with all events.

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L’Arco dei Cappuccini – restaurant review Taormina

Hurrah, finally we had a meal at a restaurant I had been trying to get into for days, L’Arco dei Cappuccini on via Cappuccini, a small street tucked around the corner from the city gate of Taormina, Sicily.

It was my sister Susie’s actual birthday and due to a series of events mostly surrounding my three year old nephew Sam’s bad behaviour, Mum, Dad, Zorba, Susie and I went out for dinner.  Ben took a hit for the team and stayed home with the kids :(.

The restaurant was set in a small outdoor courtyard with its high walls covered in climbing vines. Carmelo was one of our friendly waiters and when he explained to Dad that there weren’t any beers large bottles of beer, much to Dad’s verbalised disappointment, Carmelo responded in Italian, “It’s not the end of the world, just drink two small ones!”  I thought that was brilliant!

For antipasti, Susie and I both had Tuna Tartar, raw tuna with lemon juice.  It was fresh, meaty yet tender and amazing.

Tuna tartare

Zorba had the white bait which consisted of hundreds of tiny fish formed into fish cakes and fried crispy on the outside. They were crisp, salty in a moorish way, and sensational.

Mum and Dad both had marinated anchovies and they were so delicate and so, so delicious.  Before you screw your face up, the marinated anchovies are little slivers of white fish marinated in a olive oil, lemon juice and a touch of vinegar. They are seriously good and do not resemble anything like the ‘hairy fish’ on pizza that we think of in Australia when anchovies are mentioned.

Marninated anchovies

For main course, our friendly and funny waiter Carmelo showed us the fresh fish that was available.  The sea bass looked so fresh and when he described that it would be cooked with a Sicilian sauce of tomatoes, capers and olives, I was sold. No one else wanted any, so I pretty much had the whole fish to myself.  It was a bit too much for me to finish – but never fear, the Greek was near!  Zorba enjoyed helping me finish it off.  Yum yum yum!!

Zorba had home made fresh pasta with tuna and he thoroughly enjoyed it.  So much so that he wolfed it down fast and I didn’t even get a taste!

Susie, Mum and Dad all had linguine alla vongole – linguine with a clam / pippis.  They ooh and ahhed with every mouthful.

We can thank Antonia our land lady for the restaurant recommendation.  Zorba and I tried to get in on Tuesday night but the restaurant was fully booked. On Wednesday we went back to make a reservation, but it was closed.  While we were trying to figure out if the restaurant was indeed closed or if we were too early, we met a couple of Scandanavian boys who were also trying to make a reservation.  They said that they had eaten there once before and the food was phenomenal and there were no tourists in the place, only Italians. This only made me more determined to experience a meal there and I’m so glad we did. It was fantastically fabulous.  From the friendly chatty service, the intimate garden courtyard setting, to the unforgettable food, it is worthy of its Bortoletto holiday title of ‘The meal of Sicily’.

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FACT FILE

L’Arco dei Cappuccini‪
Via Cappuccini, 1, 98039 Taormina, Sicily, Italy
Tel: +39 0942 24893

Tiramisu for Susie’s Birthday

Sister Susie preferred to go out on Thursday night, the night before her actual birthday for a celebration dinner.

Zorba and I had tried to book into L’Arco Del Cappuccini – allegedly one of the best restaurants in Taormina – without success.  So we booked into the restaurant next door, Tiramisui, where we had enjoyed a beautiful meal a couple of days before.

The whole family came out to dinner – Master Sam 3, Miss Indi 5, Susie, my bro in law Ben, Mum Gina, Dad Walter, and husband Zorba.

A grumpy niece with her pasta and tomato sauce

Dad with his hot mussels

We did what we always do when having dinner with the kids in Italy, order for them first.  Sam wanted pizza and Indi wanted her standard, pasta with tomato sauce.  Both kids did well and had very simply yet tasty dinners.

To be fair, the kids were really good going out to dinner most of the time and they were good this night for the first 90 minutes.  Then they got bored and fidgety.  That’s when the kid-rescuer gets fired up, the portable DVD player featuring this week’s favourite animated feature, Robin Hood.  Man, those kids must have watched Robin Hood 17 times in two weeks!

Zorba and I had talked up our lovely dinner at Tiramisu somewhat, so everyone’s expectations were high.  Nonetheless, we all had lovely antipasti and mains.  I opted for marinated scampi followed by fresh pasta with porcini mushrooms.  Both were beautiful, but the scampi was particularly light, fresh and delicate.  I didn’t want to share it because it was so good…but I did!

Marinated scampi

Zorba loved his starter of octopus cooked in balsamic.  His main of linguine with sea urchin was not to my liking – sea urchin has a very fishy seaweedy almost flavour to me, but Zorba loved it.

Ben opted for the traditional Sicilian pasta dish of tagliatelle norma – with eggplant and breadcrumbs, followed by a mixed seafood grill.

Mum’s bruschetta with eggplant was really delicious. For mains, she just had a plate of grilled vegetables and shared Dad’s pizza of grilled vegetables and balsamic (no cheese!).  Dad has hot mussels to start and he loved those!

Bruschetta with melanzane – eggplant

We were all feeling pretty full, however, it was Susie’s birthday dinner so when she slipped away to the ladies room, I asked the waiter if he had a piece of cake that he could bring out for her and passed him a packed of birthday candles.  The waiter recommended some tiramisu – I concurred. That sounded good!

When Susie returned to the table and started talking about finding a gelato for dessert, along came her birthday cake tiramisu – and wow – it was HUGE!  It fed all eight of us!

Happy Birthday Susie!

The tiramisu was so gorgeously light and unbelievably tasty. The tiramisu I make is also delicious, but it is a lot heavier than this one.  I could have kept eating that until I burst. It was gorgeous!

Nephew Sam even liked it!  I spoon fed it to him while he was on automatic pilot watching Robin Hood on the portable DVD player.  Watching Sam go through a caffeine high on the way home from the restaurant was something else. It was the kid was charged with super duper everready batteries. He kept running and jumping and running and jumping. This did not calm down when we got home either.  Running in the villa, jumping on couches, up and down stairs!  Not surprising really.  It took him about an hour to wind down and get to sleep.

It was a lovely family dinner out.  Happy Birthday Susie!

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FACT FILE

Tiramisu Restaurant
Via Cappuccini 1, Taormina
Tel: +39 (0)942 24803

 

 

Castelmola – another hard hike

Castelmola is a hilltop town 5km from Taormina, uphill the whole way.   Some crazy person suggested that it might be a good idea to walk there and have a look at the town (hint – Walter).

The plan was for Mum, Dad, Zorba and I to meet at 8.30am, walk 10 minutes from our villa to the funicular, catch the cable car up the hill to Taormina, have a decent coffee, walk to the Greek amphitheatre to check it out and then walk up to Castelmola.

So we left at 9am…a little later than we would have liked, but that’s life when on holidays.

Taormina itself is ancient and dates back to 3 BC.  The Greek amphitheatre is said to have been complete in 2 AD.  It cost 8 euro each to enter and it was worth it, quite impressive. The awesome views from the amphitheatre are worthy of the entry fee on their own.

The Greek Amphitheatre, Taormina

There were heaps of roadies at the amphitheatre setting up staging and lights for a series of concerts that are going to be held over the next few days.

The Greek Amphitheatre, Taormina

It would be a gorgeous setting for a concert – we were hoping to be able to see something there whilst in Taormina.  As it turned out, the music concert on that night was sold out, and the only other show during our time there were two Italian comedians. My Italian language skills can impress some that don’t speak a word of another language, but they are no where near good enough to understand the jokes of a couple of fast slang talking comedians.  Che peccata! What a shame!

From the amphitheatre, we went to the tourist information point in Taormina to enquire about the walk to Castelmola.  Dad asked the questions and I entered the conversation as the lady behind the counter was giving her answer.  “Yes, it’s just a 20-minute walk, up many steps, but slowly slowly, you will get there – just 20 minutes.”

That sounded pretty good to me.  Although, I learned later that the 20-minute walk was to the old ruined castle on top of another nearby hill that Walter was keen to check out, not Castelmola. Sigh.

I think I can, I think I can…

It’s safe to say that the five kilometre uphill (more like up-mountain) walk to Castelmola was difficult.  A never-ending staircase took us about half way up, and the steep road interspersed with steps, took us up the other half.  It was a blistering hot day – must have been close to 40 degrees – and whenever we found a spot of shade, we stopped to catch our breath.  I was coping, but finding it difficult, Zorba was a Greek mountain goat (yet again – see Hiking in Cinque Terre) trotting up and then waiting for us to catch up and Mum and Dad were both feeling the heat.

After a solid hour of uphill climbing and profuse sweating, we reached Castelmola.

So happy to have reached the top!

Yippeee!  W all felt the great sense of achievement of conquering the mountain!  And what a quaint cute little hilltop town it is.  Simply gorgeous!  The views go forever and ever over hills, over other towns, Taormina, and of course the blue Mediterranean Sea.  Che bella!

Castelmola is a tourist friendly town with tourism officers at the entrance of the town waiting to greet visitors. Walter asked them about the bus that goes back down the hill to Taormina and he was told that it leaves 15 minutes past every hour.  Great!

We walked through the agreeable little town, had a taste of the speciality of the town, Vino alla Mandorla – an almond wine that I thought it was quite nice. It was like a marzipan liqueur. Walter didn’t like it, but Zorba and I did.  We made a mental note to buy a bottle on our way out (which we conveniently forgot to do).

Looking down on the world from way up here

Mum and I were looking at the few shops that were in the town when we lost Zorba and Dad.  Hmm, I bet they have gone up to the top of the castle I say.  The last thing we felt like was climbing more stairs, but Gina and I soldiered on.  Once at the top, the view was lovely, just as lovely as from the town just below. The ruined wall that was once a castle isn’t worth mentioning (and I was too knackered to appreciate it), and Walter and Zorba were nowhere to be seen. Thank God there were a few trees up there providing some shade. It was really baking hot.  Back down to town, and down the stairs we trudged, step after step.

Back into Castelmola, we found the boys sitting in a bar at an outside table under a tree enjoying a large ice cold beer. Aaah, two more thanks!  Beautiful cold beer, a well deserved too.

Tuna steak cooked in Sicilian sauce of tomatoes, capers, and olives. Delicious!

For lunch we chose a restaurant called La Taverna dell’Etna for no particular reason except it looked good, was covered and protected from the baking sun, and had a nice view.  It proved to be a good choice as lunch was scrumptious!

Mum and I both had tuna steak cooked Sicilian style in a sauce with red onion, cherry tomatoes, olives and capers; simple yet delicious. I could eat that every day and not get sick of it.

The boys had scallopine con funghi – veal with mushrooms.  It too was very tasty, but I think Mum and I chose dish of the day.  All side salads were fresh and crunchy.  Absolutely delightful.

Veal with mushroom sauce

We rushed to leave because we wanted to catch the 2.15pm bus back to Taormina. We all agreed that the walk up was sufficient torture for the day and we wouldn’t be walking down.  My knees were whimpering at the mere thought of the steep descent!

Dad quickly paid the bill (thanks Dad!) and off we scurried, out of town, down the hill, down the stairs into the blazing sun to the bus stop.  Uh-o.  Un problemo.  The bus timetable at the bus stop stated that there was a bus at 13.15 and the next one at 15.15.  Bugger!!!  Even the buses have siestas!  Poo poo poo!  Zorba and I contemplated walking back down for about 20 seconds.  In the end, the decision to walk back up the hill into town, find a place to have a beer and wait for the next bus at 15.15 was a far more appealing option.

When we reached the entrance to the town of Castelmola, there was a lovely shiny taxi just waiting there, seemingly for us.  For 15 euro, he drove us 20 minutes down the steep windy road back to Taormina, however dropping us off at the other end of town, the far end.  Sigh.  Have I mentioned the stinking hot blazing sun already?  I felt my skin frying as we walked through town – thank the Lord for air-conditioned gelaterias.   Everyone enjoyed a gelati, except me, I had a coffee granita instead. The icy cold coffee was the perfect pick me up.

Oh hurry up and get me home!  What a mission to get home: A walk through Taormina looking at closed shop after closed shop, a walk down the hill to the funicular, a wait at the funicular, and then the never ending walk back to Villa Il Suk, our home for the week.

I collapsed on the bed for about 10 minutes, tired, hot, and a bit cranky then mustered up the energy to get changed into swimmers and jump into the Hollywood pool.  Aaaah, that’s what I needed!!

The Hollywood pool

 

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FACT FILE

La Taverna dell’Etna
Via A, De Gasperi, 29, Castelmola (ME)
Tel: +39 (0)942 28868

Tiramisu Restaurant and Pizzeria, Taormina

Our Sicilian landlady Antonia and the trusty Lonely Planet, both recommended Tiramisu restaurant in Toarmina so Zorba and I were keen to check it out. 

We arrived about 8:45pm for dinner and the waiter looked doubtful when we said we didn’t have a reservation.  Nonetheless, we were seated at a table for two near the stairs.  The setting was lovely and I immediately noticed that there were stacks of Italians in there and not that many tourists.  The area had tree-size leafy plants in large pots scattered around the restaurant, a partially covered terrace, fine cloth napery, and lovely big wine glasses.  Oh a little bit of posh I do like!

As Zorba and I had grazed with the family earlier at another restaurant that they went to with the kids (Indi 5 and Sam 3 years old), we weren’t totally famished.  We decided just to dive straight into mains.  The linguine alla scoglio with scampi, prawns, mussels and calamari (for two) sounded beautiful.  And it tasted beautiful too.  I love the way Italians can cook pasta properly – al dente.  The sauce was seafood delicate and the sauce had a lovely depth of flavour to it.  It was just so tasty!  Really, really good.

Linguine alla scoglio – delicious seafood linguine

We didn’t follow normal dining protocol and washed it down with a bottle of red rather than the text book white that is said to go with seafood, a Sicilian Nero D’Avola, which was also very good.

Well, the second bottle was good. The first bottle I ordered came to the table and it wasn’t the one I ordered. A Nero D’Avola it was, but it was from a different winery. When I quizzed the waiter about it as he was opening the bottle, he said that it was the same grape variety and that the other one I had chosen was finished.  Hmmm, I didn’t like that. He should have alerted that to me first before just going ahead to open the bottle, don’t you think?  I enquired about the price and he assured me it was the same, 16 euro per bottle.  Va bene.

The nice Nero D’Avola

When I tasted the wine however, it wasn’t nice. It was sharp, acidic, and didn’t taste like it could open up and be a lovely smooth easy drinking vino after some time airing. In fact, there was nothing at all pleasant about it.  I passed my taste remains to Zorba who concurred. I told the waiter that it wasn’t good and invited him to pour himself a taste in a clean glass to see for himself. He did just that and took the glass as far up as his nose and put it down again without tasting the wine.  He promptly apologised and brought another bottle – a Sicilian Nero D’Avola from a different winery.  A lovely one.  Hurrah!

Despite the wine mishap, the service was professional and efficient, the prices were reasonable, the setting was lovely, and our meal was delicious!

FACT FILE

Tiramisu Restaurant
Via Cappuccini 1, Taormina
Tel: +39 (0)942 24803