A Little Greek / Yogurt in Paestum

If you tell a Roman that you are going Paestum for the weekend, invariably he or she will tell you: “Make sure you pick up some mozzarella di bufala.”

Paestum is a sight to see without the culinary pit stop. A city known as “Poseidonia” when it was part of Magna Grecia, Paestum is home to three extraordinarily preserved Greek (Doric) temples that date from 600 to 450BC. The two temples to Hera and the temple to Athena sit on a wide, grassy plot of land that is much easier to navigate than the not-too-distant Pompeii, the more famous ruins an hour north of here. Continue reading A Little Greek / Yogurt in Paestum

Culinary Tour of Ravenna

Here is a fabulous video from The Guardian, which has been doing a video series called “My City.” This installment, starring cooking school teacher Angela Schiavina, offers an intimate look at her home town of Ravenna, a city in the region Emilia Romagna, the gastronomic heart of Italy. Join this affable host as she takes you on a ten-minute tour of Ravenna’s markets and culinary shops then shows you how to make a typical Romagnole (of the region of Emilia-Romagna) dinner. The Guardian also provides a companion map of Ms. Schiavina’s Ravenna tour.

Hotel Award: Best Culinary Experience

Virtuoso Life, a magazine tailored to luxury living and travel, has just released the winners of its Best of the Best Awards for 2009. Not surprisingly, the worldwide winner for the best culinary experience was in Italy.

Rosellinis, a 2-star Michelin restaurant in the Palazzo Sasso hotel in Ravello, received the top prize for a hotel restaurant among 800 properties surveyed. I took a look at the restaurant online and found these items on the  sample tasting menu: Giant squid ravioli filled with crab & courgettes, creamed potatoes sauce and ricotta dumpling; Cod fillet crusted with Gaetas black olives, Sorrento beef tomatoes and anchovies sauce; and Lamb filet wrapped in rose crust & rose liquor with white asparagus tip, mirror potatoes and anchovies sun dried tomatoes sauce. YUM!

I’ve no doubt these dishes are lovingly prepared with the best ingredients. Rosellinis and its star chef Pino Lavarra have earned 2 stars from Michelin, too – not an easy feat. Then again, this award is for the best culinary “experience” so I’m guessing the setting – in a palace on the Amalfi Coast, with terraces “looking down on the fishing boats 1,000 feet below” – had a lot to do with the decision.

Either way, if you’re interested in dining at Rosellinis, book far in advance. Also note that the restaurant is closed from November through March.

Click here for more information about the Virtuoso Best of the Best Awards.

Photo from the Palazzo Sasso website

Comprehensive Guide to Cooking Schools in Italy

Staying on the subject of food today, here is a wonderfully comprehensive guide to cooking schools throughout Italy (not just Tuscany) for anyone thinking of taking a culinary vacation. Thanks for all your research, Jessica!

Cooking Schools in Italy | Italy Travel Guide.

Wine Routes in Tuscany

Sharing a carafe of Chianti while the autumnal Tuscan air swirls around you is one of life’s great pleasures. Of course, there’s more to Tuscan wine than the everyday Chianti, and fall is the perfect time to explore the region and its many vineyards.

Did you know that there are 14 wine routes in Tuscany, also known as Le Strade del Vino? By clicking on the image to the left, you can visit the Tuscan Wine Trails website, where, ostensibly, you can devise your own vineyard driving tour. (A note to technically-minded Italophiles: on my wishlist is a Google Maps mashup of these trails.)

The 14 wine routes are as follows. Thanks to waytuscany.net for sorting these out by province.

Province of Arezzo: Strada del Vino Terre di Arezzo
Province of Florence: Strada del Vino Chianti Colli Fiorentini, Strada del Vino di Montespertoli, Strada dei Vini Chianti Rufina e Pomino
Province of Grosseto: Strada del Vino Monteregio di Massa Marittima, Strada del Vino Colli di Maremma, Strada del Vino di Montecucco
Province of Livorno: Strada del Vino Costa degli Etruschi
Province of Lucca: Strada del Vino Colline Lucchesi e Montecarlo
Province of  Massa Carrara: Strada del Vino Colli di Candia e di Lunigiana
Province of Prato: Strada Medicea dei Vini di Carmignano
Province of Pisa: Strada del Vino delle Colline Pisane
Province of Siena: Strada del Vino Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Strada del Vino di Montepulciano

Happy sipping!

Photo © N1ck P Harris