A Travellerspoint blog

A wine & local food festival in Monterado,

Wines Olive Oils, and and lunch in the Olive Groves

Our stay at Castello di Monterado in Ancona coincides with a wine and food tasting in the historic cellars of the castle. A perfect opportunity to taste the best the of the regional produce. We see the wonderful folk from Terre di San Ginesio , who produce the delicious Sapa , made purely from grapes and continuous boiling of the must to produce a sweet viscous drop that can be used to dress cheese, fruits, icecream, or salads. Quite different, and seriously delicious, and available through Benfatti in Brisbane. They also make a great range of wines, all tasted tonight. If we get back we will definitely visit the family Baleani.
The evening is spent tasting Salami's, local beers ( with hops from the USA ?? strange ), wines, truffles, truffles and chocolate, olive oils, more wines, honey,and learning just how much amazing product comes from Le Marche.

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We were then invited by the producers to join them for dinner at a nearby Trattoria , and a fantastic evening was had by all, making new friends, planning next visits, and consuming copious quantities of wonderful wines.

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Then a quick stroll back to a castle on the hill , some research on the local Olive Oil industry as tomorrow we attend an Olive Oil workshop. Sounds serious, and looking forward to it , starts after breakfast so a chance to try the freshly baked pies they make each morning.

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Posted by Bruco 06:37 Archived in Italy Tagged castles italy marche wine le oil olive Comments (0)

Truffles - Honey - Caves & Oil

traveling from Ascoli Piceno to Monterado

After the incredible day of the Truffle we gather in the main Piazza in Ascoli for dinner at possibly the most famous Cafe Meletti, hosted by the Staffolani family.

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Its another festive night with entertainment provided by local musicians. Just some light platters of delicious food and a selection of local wines including a local Prosecco. Cafe Moletti sits on one corner of the main piazza in the old town,Piazza Del Popolo a beautiful setting, its a bar and cafe downstairs, with a great wine list, all local, some interesting beers, and a very good menu. Definitely worth a visit, day or night, very traditional, great for people watching.
A good walk after dinner as the night cools down. Early night before an early start.

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We are up and away after 30 minutes delay to extricate the cars from a packed car park.We head north down to the coast and back inland to visit the famous caves of Frasassi Le Marche. 30 klms of majestic caves only discovered some 50 years ago.

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After two hours with a guide through the caves we are back on board and heading to meet Giorgio Poeta, at Punto Vendita, who makes honey aged in Barrels.
We are hosted a memorable lunch in his new headquarters which featured dishes finished with honey, cheese with honey meade , both dry & sweet, the ricotta drizzled with honey was amazing .

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Another hour heading north again, this time to our own castle accommodation in Monterado, Castello Monterado.
Located 20 minutes inland from Senigallia the castle dominates the landscape in the hilltop village of Monterado. Outstanding property. It has recently been opened to the public with the main Castle offering about 7 rooms, massive in size, as well as 6 beautiful houses in the town centre right beside the castle
Taken from their website http://www.castellodimonterado.it/ This ancient residence is perched on top of one of the many hills characterizin the Marche, it is surrounded by an Italian-style garden and a vast wood. The views are truly charming, they extend over the Cesano valley, stretching from the Appennines to the Adriatic sea. We are delighted to invite you into our lavish halls and suites, adorned by the exquisite nineteenth century frescoes of Corrado Corradi, one of the most renowned artists of our region.
Here, in this noble castle, Prince Maximilian de Beauharnais, nephew of Napoleon the first, chose to spend his honeymoon after the celebration of his marriage to the daughter of Czar Alexander of Russia.
The inside of the palace was decorated, upon his order, for the important occasion.
The former cellars, built within the bastions of the castle, consisting of spacious galleries with vaulted ceilings, open up to the garden. These refined and impressive surroundings have been restored to bring them back to their ancient beauty.

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We have a couple of hours to explore the village and the Castle its self, not enough time but tonight we will be in the cellars where 20 + local producers are coming in for a Wine & Food festival , held once a year, and guess what , we are invited. Cant wait.

Posted by Bruco 05:26 Archived in Italy Tagged food and of italy marche wine le oil olive monterado Comments (0)

Truffle heaven in Ascoli Piceno

a day with the Staffolani family Bosco D'Oro , truffles, wine, food.

We had arrived right on dark into yet another beautiful town, Ascoli Piceno, and although we had a light dinner planned at a local trattoria we had time for a good early evening walk around the old walled city. Its cool but thee city streets glisten after an earlier shower, its a wonderful place to explore.
Ascoli Piceno is a town and comune in the Marche region of Italy, capital of the province of the same name. Its population is around 51,000 but the urban area of the city has more than 105,000.
The town lies at the confluence of the Tronto River and the small river Castellano and is surrounded on three sides by mountains. Two natural parks border the town, one on the northwestern flank (Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini) and the other on the southern (Parco Nazionale dei Monti della Laga) Ascoli has good rail connections to the Adriatic coast and the city of San Benedetto del Tronto, by highway to Porto d'Ascoli and by the Italian National Road 4 Salaria to Rome.

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Our hotel , The Palazzo Guiderrocchi, is right in the heart of the old city, you could not want for a better location, but parking is interesting, or better still getting your car out from the compacted carpark is interesting. Plan ahead if your want an on-time departure. The hotel will help you with the parking. Located close to Piazza del Popolo, the Albergo Piceno, Ascoli Piceno hotel is a historic building opposite the Church of San Venancio. It offers spacious rooms with period-style d├ęcor and free internet access in the lobby. The Albergo Piceno is located in the heart of Ascoli Piceno. Some rooms are located in a building nearby. The area offers free public parking and a private garage nearby offers discounted rates for hotel guests. The restaurant of this hotel in Ascoli Piceno in-house La Rua de Notari serves creative versions of traditional and regional dishes, as well as a sophisticated international cuisine. The wine cellar offers a wide selection of quality wines.

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We meet back at the hotel to do the Italian la passeggiata, or wander round , discuss the world, and head to dinner at a trattoria called Ristorante Mangiafuogo. Great little spot just off the main Piazza Del Popolo. A few dishes here were in the E12 -18 range but most of the Prima Plates were well priced, between 8-10 euro. Everyone is pretty exhausted and anxious for an early night in readiness for the day of the truffle

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Its the day i have been looking forward to on a trip of many special days, but there is something about the farming of truffles that really excites the senses. The Staffolani family have one of the most successful Truffle businesses in the region and we are guided by Pierpaolo Staffolani from our hotel to their "laboratory" to meet the family and see the production plant. All members of the extended family play a part in this paddock to plate business.

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The introduction goes something like this " Set among the Sybilline Mountains not to far from Ascoli Piceno there is a surface mine, where a wise man patriarch of Truffles, Gilberto, works with his son Pierpaulo, who learns the art , and exports it to the world............ his wife Paula & his daughter in law Daniela who develop their kitchen secrets ........ "
Entering the building in Ascoli the amazing aroma of truffles is quite incredible. We meet some more of the family, before being taken on a thorough inspection, and see how their range of truffle products are prepared. This is just a teaser , and forerunner for what we are going to be tasting later in the day. BUT ....... we have to see where it all starts under the oaks in a fortified and secure hillside grove.
We are taken in convoy out into the foothills to spend the day being educated, in every form , about the noble truffle. We go from Paddock to plate literally.

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We are greeted by Gilberto, the main man, who will be showing us through the grove , and giving a thorough run down on how these tubers grow. how they diverted a roman stream to get the right water into the dam that serves the irrigation to the trees. how the ground shows when the tubers are there, and how dogs are used to ferret the tubers out. There is the Precious Black Truffle , the Summer Black, then the White truffle that we will taste from the ground today- bring it on --

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After an hour in the fields we work our way round to the trees that will be fossicked by the cutest little dog, and the build up has everyone salivating.

This little critter homed in on a couple of trees and bingo, we had our truffles for lunch !!!

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Congratulations all round, then cleaning these little golden nuggets, before focussing on a lunch that is to last 4 hours with truffle to be consumed in every dish.

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A long table is prepared with all the family pitching in to prepare this feast for us, I hope the pictures show just how much truffle was used, in some cases you couldn't see the meat for the truffle. Wines were a part of the meal, many of them, but I must say the star , the focus, the entertainer was the truffle. This was a celebration and the proof of just how amazing this little tuber is. Its no wonder that there is armed security round these farms during the season, people go to extraordinary lengths to steal the ugly little tubers under the cover of darkness.

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There was a dish that didn't include truffle and as we celebrated with the family who run Bosco D'Oro, www.boscodoro.com a tirimisu was served, Gilberto and his son in Law ramped up the Karaoke , and the dancing began, well, for some of us. If this is life on a typical day in Italy, I'm there. It was 5.40pm when we thanked our hosts for the most incredible day, one I will remember for a long time. Very special, very memorable.

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Posted by Bruco 03:04 Archived in Italy Tagged food cuisine wine italian truffles ascoli piceno. Comments (0)

Rome to Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche

travelling via Terni , and on to Norcia for lunch

The crew meet us at Rome airport and we are now 2 vehicles for the ten of us, and one luggage vehicle .Beauatiful drive up through the valleys , motorway for the first 2 hours, with little villages teasing the imagination to spend some time in any one of these beautiful settings. However we are on a mission to make Norcia for lunch , we are promised another special occasion and as usual we are up for it. There is something about travelling to places as yet undiscovered, how will it compare,will we have enough time to explore.
We climb into the hills , now off the motorways and finally into the valley in Perugia where the walled city of Norcia stands
The area is known for its air and scenery, and is a base for mountaineering and hiking. It is also widely known for hunting, especially of the wild boar, and for sausages and ham made from wild boar and pork. Such products have been named after Norcia; in Italian, they are called norcineria.Norcia, traditionally known in English by its Latin name of Nursia, is a town and commune in the province of Perugia (Italy) in southeastern Umbria. Unlike many ancient towns, it is located in a wide plain abutting the Monti Sibillini, a subrange of the Apennines with some of its highest peaks, near the Sordo River, a small stream that eventually flows into the Nera. The town is popularly associated with the Valnerina (the valley of that river).
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We are heading up on to the edge of the valley to Il Casale Degli Amici www.ilcasaledegliamici.it an Agritourisimo of special proportions ( bit like our stomachs are becoming) . Incredible views down over Norcia , but first another meal of local specialities, in particular the white lasagna with truffle and boar, amazing flavour, delicate, and very more-was followed by a big salada , 3 meat dishes, goat, lamb, and veal, and accompanied by local wines. The main grape varieties are Grechetto & Trebbiano in the whites and two main red varieties, obviously Sangiovese and a variety indigenous to Umbria called Sagrantino. We were to sample some of the better wines from this region in the next day or so and my reviews will be featured in the Monterado chapter. Today we were drinking the fresh reds straight from the barrel and a passito .

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Cheeses and local salami were served then , as if we needed it, a tirimisu with Ricotta which could not be refused!! Delicious, have I used that word before ? get used to it , there is lots more to come.
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After a leisurely lunch and a wander round this Agritourisimo its time to walk off some of the lunch and explore the streets of Norcia before an interesting , to say the least, trip accross Mt Sibbillini .
If you are spending time in this region make a booking for lunch at Il Casale, as its about 2 kl out of Norcia but well worth it, the menu attached will indicate the price range but there is nothing over 11E on the Prima Piatti & Secondi piatti is the same. Amazing value but typical of these regional areas. Once you get out of the capital cities the prices come right down. Same with wines, the best of the local wine in a bottle shop in Norcia without going into the Noble range was 7 to 15 E.
Back in the vehicles we hit the road------------ and the mountains .
Our fearless guide, Andreas had suggested a short cut we needed to see , that would take us over the top of the Sibillini's and get us to Ascoli Piceno in time for dinner.
We travelled up , and up, through valleys of sheep and stark snow affected terrain. eventually arriving at the top, or near the top at a town called Castellucio
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The village overlooks a huge foodbowl with all sorts of crops growing here. A tiny village, we explore for 20 minutes before heading to the peak and the fog. At times we are driving blind with only the GPS & the taillights of Andreas' car to get us through.
Finally we are over the top of the Sibillini's and heading down toward Ascoli Piceno, and after a long day it will be a quiet Trattoria dinner and an early night.
The Ascoli adventure comes next.

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Posted by Bruco 18:26 Archived in Italy Tagged food wine perugia norcia Comments (0)

The final Sardinian dinner .

a traditional Sardinian Wining, dining & dancing night.

Our wonderful hostess Angela meets us all at 8 pm for a dinner that caps off all we have tasted and learnt since arriving in Sardinia 4 days ago we start with another amazing anti pasta, followed by a regional ravioli with Pecorino and pine nuts that was to die for, then 2 lamb dishes , one slow cooked and melt off the bone, delicious. For desserts we tasted the little that are made for celebratory occasions , and of course the obligatoryi cheese platter with a range of young to old pecorino's. Angela made sure all dishes were accompanied by local oils and the Sardinian Flavours saffron was used in the preparation of the paste , Zafferano.

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all the wines were from the region, and again the Vermintino was exceptional. with the 2 red varietals, Cannonau and a Carignano, pictured, both stand outs.

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We were then entertained by traditional dancers from the region, some of us get involved, but noone can copy the dancers with the drinks atop of their heads, why waste a good drop, and from somewhere, more lemoncello appeared !!

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Thank you to Angela and all our hosts from our stay in this wonderful country, having the opportunity to share some amazing experiences has whet my appetite to come back and try the north of Sardinia, and return to discover more of the secrets of this region of Sardinia.

Tomorrow we head for Ascoli Piceno in La Marche. Its going to be hard to top the experiences to date, but lets see what unfolds.

Posted by Bruco 07:39 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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