Posts in Travel
Postcard from Ortigia

Located on the eastern coast of Sicily, the Greek colony Siracusa or as we know it Syracuse, was founded in 734 BC. The 1st settlement was on the island of Oritgia, just off shore from “mainland” Siracusa. Named for the ancient Greek word for quail, the Corinthians thought the island resembled the shape of a bird. Because of its’ key geographic location surrounded by water, it was “visited” by ancient Romans, Spanish, Arab & Germanic civilizations. Each represented in the architecture, Baroque monuments, authentic traditions and of course food.

It’s hard not to become smitten with Ortigia; a daily cadence of morning coffee & late afternoon aperitivi, the surrounding Tyrrhenian sea, the daily golden hour with a brilliant descending sunlight. Add exploring the narrow streets & discovering a hidden courtyard treasure and the gracious hospitality of the locals. Then there’s the food; lunch, dinner & even breakfast were fresh, delicious and truly embodied Ortigia’s rich culinary traditions.

We were fortunate to tour the local Ortigia food market on Via Trento. A feast for the senses is an understatement; pungent aromas of wild oregano, the fishmonger’s sing-song local dialect, proudly displayed deep red tomato estratto, fresh field greens with a bite, local almonds, figs, pistachios & prickly pear worth the work to open & savor.Our culinary lesson included fresh caught fried fish, local cheeses & cured meats, an astounding array of amari liquors, capers, olives & spices, ricotta salata, classic spaghetti alla Norma & the local granita specialty.

Less than a mile long and only 657 yards across, the compact island of Ortigia is rich with +2,700 years of edible education, we can’t wait to go back for more lessons.

TravelAmy WrightComment
Did You Know? Bologna, Italy

Did You Know Bologna is considered the food capital of Italy? Located in the northern region of Emilia Romagna, this medieval town of endless arcades & porticos has a historic tradition of local cuisine that still thrives today. The daily usage of meat, pasta & rice remains part of the city’s gastronomic universe which dates back to the early Middle Ages. Still a food lover’s paradise, one can discover a bakery, bar, café, delicatessen, food shop, open air market, restaurant, pub & osteria (tavern) every day & never finish! From mid-morning coffee, to early evening aperitivo, in Bologna it’s always a good time to think about eating & drinking!

At The Table In Modena

Located in the heart of the Emilia Romagna region, Modena is home to the famous Ferrari, Maserati, Pagani & Stanguellini racing cars. Rich with architectural treasures (designated Unesco World Heritage sites), the area is also known for its gracious hospitality & rich culinary traditions that continue to thrive. We recently had the good fortune to visit a local kitchen where we observed talented farm to table chefs create a delicious Modenese meal complete with house made fresh pastas, braised wild boar, accompanied by a refreshing glass of their own artisan Lambrusco sparking red wine. We can’t wait to return!  

Bountiful Bologna

Famous for its 12th century towers, 24 miles of ancient porticos & home to the oldest university in Europe (founded in 1088), Bologna is also a food lover’s paradise.  Thanks to gramigna, mortadella, mostarda, tagliatelle, lasagne verde, tortellini, friggione, bollitto misto, culatello cured meat, ragú & much more, the city is known for its’ vibrant food culture.  We recently were lucky to spend a Spring morning discovering this remarkable medieval city where culinary specialties were in abundance!  

Spring in Montespertoli!

Spring comes into full swing at the end of March, beginning of April in Montespertoli, Tuscany where the grape vines begin to sprout, olive trees are pruned, pots of lemon trees move outdoors & lilies flower. Even when overcast, the countryside's gentle hills form a patchwork quilt of grassy hues, mossy shades & deep forest green.  As the days get longer, the hills transform to a lush carpet of vegetation right up to the September vendemmia (harvest). We had the recent pleasure of spending time in Montespertoli with our talented partners Luca & Paolo tasting Villa Graziella organic varietals, looking over the cover crops planted between the vines & strolling along the olive groves. 

Villa Gabriella in Hong Kong!

A summer celebration with family, friends & Villa Gabriella Organic in Hong Kong!

Guests recently enjoyed a taste of summer at a Mediterranean style dinner paired Villa Gabriella certified organic, Italian wines at the Deep Water Bay Golf Club.

Chef Caesar Chan used Villa Gabriella certified organic aged balsamic vinegar di Modena & Villa Gabriella organic, artisan extra virgin olive oil with fresh, seasonal ingredients to create healthy & delicious dishes.

Villa Gabriella single estate wines from Tuscany complimented the Mediterranean menu of an Antipasto Wellness Salad, Primo piatto of Linguine con Vongole, Secondo of Branzino al forno con sale-Spanish Sea Bass baked in sea salt or whole roasted lamb. Dolce-dessert concluded the evening with the natural sweetness of fresh strawberries, vanilla ice cream & drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar di Modena.

 

 

Events, TravelAmy WrightComment
Modena, Italy - A Culinary Capital

The north-central Emilia Romagna region of Italy is home to the legendary Ducati motorcycle, world renown Ferrari & Lamborghini automobiles. The area also gave us the incredibly gifted film maker Federico Fellini & the famous opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti. 

Emilia Romagna is best known for its strong culinary tradition & gastronomic delights; aged balsamic vinegar, mortadella sausage, Parmesan cheese & Parma ham hail from this land of plenty. Not to forget the plethora of pastas; cappelletti, garganelli, gramigne, lasagne, ravioli, tagliarini, tagliatelle & tortellini!  As one of Italy’s most prosperous areas the deliciously rich cuisine is comfort food at its best! Romagnoli-those from the region, are known for their energetic zest for life, this includes eating where a genuine love & respect for food makes every meal a feast.

We recently traveled to Emilia Romagna & enjoyed a memorable meal in the ancient town of Modena. Lunch was a delicious event created with authentic, fresh ingredients at the family run Ristorante Da Enzo. The breads, pastas & desserts were homemade that very day & served with a local organic Barbera Emilia red house wine. One of our most enjoyable experiences, we look forward to returning to Modena & discovering more delicious specialties.    

The Heart & Hands of an Artisan

We recently had the privilege of meeting the lovely & talented Signora Sabrina at her family’s organic farm in the outskirts of Modena. As a 4th generation artisan, Sabrina continues the family tradition with passion, patience & pride to craft wonderfully delicious, certified organic, IGP quality, aged balsamic vinegar. Their vinegar starts with hand harvested organic Lambrusco & Trebbiano grapes, native to the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. To qualify as certified organic, the family hand tends their single estate, sustainable vineyard without the use of any synthetic herbicides or chemical pesticides.

During our visit we learned that authentic balsamic vinegar di Modena is made from pressed grape juice. The fresh juice is slowly simmered to avoid caramelization or burning of the juice’s natural sugars. The result is a dense syrup like reduction or “mosto cotto” which then slowly ages or “rests” in a series of wooden casks of progressively smaller sizes over several years. From the must the aged vinegar is then blended & produced.

20-60 liter casks some as old as 100 years are used, each is hand made from the local trees of the surrounding hills; acacia, cherry, chestnut, juniper & oak.  Each container “seasons” the vinegar with its’ own unique characteristics & flavors. Sabrina explained a quality Balsamico should reflect the right balance between the wood aging & the blending of the mosto cotto. Indeed small batches take longer, but ensure more evaporation & closer contact with the individual cask’s distinctive aromas & fragrant essences. The result; an exceptional balsamic vinegar, a deep rich chocolate color, natural sweet & sour notes, balanced with the subtle hints of wood. We look forward to offering you Signora Sabrina’s 8 year aged balsamic vinegar di Modena soon. Stay tuned!

Sol&Agrifood at Vinitaly

Sol&Agrifood at Vinitaly hosted a food forum highlighting the best of the healthy Mediterranean diet & its focus on fresh, seasonal & simple ingredients prepared at home instead of pre-packaged or processed foods. Italian tasting tours included artisan chocolates, craft beers, a cheese pairing experience, extra virgin & flavored olive oil from various Italian provinces along with healthy pastry & confectionary alternatives. We enjoyed Spaghetti all’Amatriciana & dessert from 2 of Rome’s most esteemed organic restaurants followed by a delicious cup of coffee.  Buon Appetito!

 

Vinitaly - Another Love Story in Verona

We recently attended the 49th edition of Vinitaly in Verona, Italy & experienced yet again Italy’s diverse & unique role as a true “wine & food nation”. Over 300+ wine appellations, 400+ grape varieties were available for tasting by 4,000+ exhibitors from Italy’s 21 regions.  Obviously wine is big business for the country as the industry registered 14 billion Euros in revenue in 2014 alone.  

Vinitaly was the perfect showcase for newbie’s like us; it was well designed, organized & professional. Over 2 days, we navigated from 1 region to the next; from Piemonte to Puglia with stops in Emilia Romagna, Toscana & Sardegna.  Our adventure included seminars on artisanal wines, agronomic practices & sustainability, tastings of aged cheeses, hand crafted chocolates & organic olive oils.  

As important as business, sales & net shipments are for the exhibitors, the winemakers & producers we met with were eager to share their individual stories; their unique history, their viticulture & innovation in viniculture techniques. What impressed us most was not only genuine passion & pride, but a sincere respect for their vineyard & a true love of their land-expressed in every glass of wine we tasted.  We can’t wait to go back next April!