Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Archive for the ‘Dining in’ Category

The Madonna and the Truffle, Monterchi, 21.10.05

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 10, 2006

Tim and Thorolf drove into Arezzo to sort out driver registration so that Tim could legally drive the car, while Tina and I explored Monterchi on foot. We walked down to the local enoteca and bought cheese and prosciutto, biscotti and vino, toted them back up to La Duetta and then set off down the hill to find the supermarket for less interesting necessaries. We bought some postcards, of course, and a cyclamen as a gift for Donatella, but abandoned the search for the supermarket and headed back ‘home’ when the rain came down heavily, just in time to meet up again with the boys.
We had a splendid lunch of prosciutto and salad (walnuts, apples, lettuce & gorgonzola with a white wine and olive oil dressing) and Madonna del Partothen set off to visit the Madonna del Parto (the Pregnant Madonna) by Piero della Francesca in the small local museum. It is just breathtakingly gorgeous – the face is a strong peasant one, but wise and lovely and the colours are beautiful. It was hard not to stand and look at it for ages and ages, but eventually we moved aside to let others have a look too.
From the sublime to the prosaic: off to the supermarket (which was nothing like Coles or Safeway, thank heavens!) to buy all kinds of interesting provisions, and then had a proper macchiato in the cafe. Just like the real thing in Melbourne, oh bliss!
 After that we returned to La Duetta and, in the highlight of our stay in Tuscany, Tim cooked The Truffle. He made some Apero cocktails first (as in Venice) and organised some Truffle Preparation Music, and then he sat down at the table and began.
He shaved the dirt off (as per Donatella’s instructions) and then with great pomp and ceremony divided it into quarters. We made silly jokes about needing to ‘audit’ the sharing. Tina made a brilliant salad of tomato and lettuce with a little basil seasoning and a dressing of white wine and EVO, Thorolf poured the wine and then we sat down while Tim dished up truffle omelettes one by one.
It was divine. So simple, and so delicious. A nice Pinot Grigio to go with it, and Thorolf toasted some bread on the fire and we had Pecorino cheese & toast for afterwards.
A wonderful day! Who cares about the weather?!

Posted in Dining in, Europe 2005, Italy 2005, Monterchi (Tuscany) 2005 | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Monterchi, Tuscany, 19-20.10.05

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 10, 2006

From Venice, we took the train to Arezzo and met up with Tina and Thorolf, friends from Melbourne. They’d had a rough time after being pickpocketed so they were very pleased to see some friendly faces. We had a quick pizza in a forgettable cafe in Arezzo and then collected the car to drive to Monterchi.
We had two ‘homes’in Monterchi, La Duetta for a couple of days, and then La Rocca. Ten days altogether, to give us a bit of a rest from travelling about. We were enchanted with the villa: small and cosy, but well-appointed in the things that matter: big beds, comfy bedding, heating that works even if the cost is ruinous. Cooking facilities were rather rudimentary for a cook like Tim, and there weren’t enough chairs for four people to sit comfortably around the TV but since there was only Italian TV, it hardly mattered. (Italian TV, we were to learn as time went by, is execrable.)
 Donatella, our host, was nice, and generous to a fault. She made us welcome with a bottle of wine and an apricot tart that her mother had made, and was full of advice and suggestions for us to enjoy our stay. We took her advice and had our first meal of pasta and salad at Cafe Enzo’s, a friendly little trattoria (down a perilously steep slope for a dame with a crook ankle, but I survived somehow).
Friday turned out to be a splendid day. I loafed in bed and read The Aspern Papers by Henry James, while the others went out for provisions. First attempts were a failure because the shops were closed, but eventually T, T & T came back in triumph: not only had they found pasta and porcini, but also a truffle!  For dinner that night we had truffle sauce with pasta, salad and Chianti, and Donatella called in and explained to Tim how to peel and cook the truffle.
 Tina roasted chestnuts in the fire and Thorolf made some splendid coffee. Then there was story-telling around the fire: the Finding of the Truffle; The Choosing of the Truffle; and the Admiration of the Locals for Tourists who Come All the Way from Australia Just to Buy A Truffle. It poured with rain, and we didn’t care at all…

Posted in Dining in, Dining out, Europe 2005, Italy 2005, Monterchi (Tuscany) 2005 | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »