Mike Britten, manager and most familiar face of Ottolenghi, Belgravia, is back from Italy with a very visual travel log:
Another year, another trip to my wonderful friends Neil and Richie and their home in the hills of the Piemonte region of Italy, an area abundant in naturally grown produce that is converted into some of the best quality cheeses, wines, salamis and meats I have tasted.
This trip was full of (mainly) foodie excitements:
A ten course fish supper at the Sardinian owned Trattoria Fabiana perched on the edge of a beautiful valley.
The wafer thin shaved octopus, sea bass fillet on crushed peas with hazelnut sauce and an octopus lollipop croquette were particular highlights of this girth expanding supper.
A trip to the beautiful and historic Turin.
A very tiny cheese and wine festival in Murrazzano, where we met an organic farmer who invited us to his kitchen canteen and farm for supper (more of this later).
The obligatory trip to Alba for Prosecco in the central Piazza, followed by a drive through the wine lands of Barolo and a little stop off in this medieval town perched on top of a hill. Sadly, being in Italy and it being a Monday everything was closed (Next time – wine tasting doesn’t escape me that easily!)
Finally, back to our organic farm invite. At the end of a tiny gravel lane, down a valley we find, Finnochiona Verde Farm. Literally translated as - Green Fennel Farm, locally known as The Green Gay!
Amusing but lost in translation. The beautiful food made and served here using mainly produce from this farm, worked much better than the local humour.
After watching the livestock milking, we ate peppery salami, extremely ‘hoofy’ goat’s and sheep’s cheese, super-fresh raw broad beans, excellently flavoured carne cruda (something I can never normally get my head around) followed by simple pasta and a rabbit stew.
The piece de resistance however, was the wild strawberry, Moscato and mint jelly dessert. Quite simply - stunning! The wild strawberries are everywhere across the valleys at this time of year.
The Finnochiona Verde is affiliated with W.O.O.F, an organisation that allows volunteers from all over the world to come along and learn about organic farming. No better way to get your hands dirty.
Next up for me: Biennial Bra International Cheese Festival in September - another reason, should one be needed to take a trip to Piemonte.