Last week in Chianti we were lucky enough to dine in style at Osteria Il Papavero in the hills above Gaiole in Chianti.
We visited Il Papavero with our friends Dani and Olga two years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the food, wine and company and when we discussed a dinner venue this time there was no doubt – it was Il Papavero again.
This is not a restaurant that gets “passing trade” as it is located in the hamlet of Barbischio – high in the hills above Gaiole in Chianti. The views are expansive and on a warm summers night there is seating inside and out.
It helps that Dani and Olga are regular customers so we were greeted like locals. We discovered that following our last visit we had become part of Tuscan legend as one of our party (you know who you are Jean) was the only person who has ever ordered one of Papavero’s steaks “ben cotta” – well done. Two years after that, it was still remembered.
Despite this we were allowed in and enjoyed a great night.
The wonderful thing about Papavero is that their menu is supplemented by as many special dishes again, all produced using local produce that is seasonally available. So last night we had everything from anchovies and pesto through to Calamari shaped pasta with pork and olives. All washed down with fine wine and finished with a local digestivo.
It’s not often that we make a restaurant reservation 4 months in advance. And it’s even less often that they come back and advise that, even with that much advance notice, they cannot confirm a table on the terrace – we … Continue reading →
Half way down the hill on the way to the beach at Positano there is a restaurant called Bruno. It started as a small indoor restaurant and, over the years, developed a great reputation for it’s food. In the last … Continue reading →
Every time Jean and I feel homesick for Italy we make the pilgrimage to MariLuca Ristoro. It is owned and run by a friend, Guiseppie, and stepping through the door feels like stepping back to Italy. It’s all warmth and friendliness and excellent Italian food, all in the heart of Wellington.
Calais is not the greatest place on earth. In fact it’s somewhere that you pass through rather than stay. We stayed for two nights on our trip north from Italy in December because the girls needed to pass a vet check before entering the UK – a worm tablet and a dose of Frontline, €110 for that, merci.
We stayed in the old part of Calais and, as the weather was cold and wet, didn’t venture far from the hotel.
On the first night we asked the hotel receptionist where we could eat. She recommended a bistro down the road so all four of us went out for dinner. A few metres down the road we found Au Vieux Fourneau. A small and quaint bistro exuding French charm and on a cold wet night it looked very welcoming.
The service was that wonderfully aloof French style where you should feel grateful for being served – not a great start. But then there was the food.
It was really good. I mean really good.
To be honest it was not what we were expecting. We ordered from the set menu and received a complimentary “chef’s bite” to begin. Jean had a homemade terrine for her entree while I tried the fish pie. Mains were a Salmon Penne and a deconstructed Shepherds Pie. Desserts were the inevitable Creme Brulee and a very tasty Red Berry Crumble.
None of these bland descriptions come close to doing the dishes justice. This was French cuisine to a very high standard. Washed down with a half bottle of red and half bottle of white, it made for a very pleasant evening.
The girls behaved themselves sitting quietly under the table so all was well with the world. We were so impressed that we returned the next night and sampled more from the menu.
The cost for this three course meal? Look at the pictures and let us know what you think.
Siena is full of restaurants and most of these are either fully or partially outdoor. This is particularly true of those that ring the Campo. In summer outdoor dining makes perfect sense with umbrellas or awnings giving protection from the … Continue reading →
The lovely people who own the property we are staying at have gone out of their way to make us welcome, everything from dropping off fresh fruit collected from some of the fruit trees around the grounds to clearing trees to improve our view of Siena when we were away in Positano.
Last week they recommened a restaurant in Siena that they said served very good, very authentic Tuscan food. The restaurant is called L’Osteria del Bigelli and is siutated in the Campo in Siena.
We were a little sceptical as the standard of food in the Campo, with a limited number of exceptions, is quite poor and aimed more at speedy delivery to tourists so the restaurants can turn tables quickly rather than any real culinery excellence for more discerning customers – or even for us.
Following the rugby on Saturday morning we decided to try it out. The fact that is located next to La Birreria where we watch the Rugby World Cup matches made the decision even easier.
The restaurant consists of about 12 outside tables squeezed under large umbrellas to protect from the sun and 4 tables inside which, given the weather currently, remained empty while we were there.
We were very pleasantly surprised from the start. Jean had ravioli with cherry tomatoes and I had herb encrusted lamb with spinach. The food looked great, smelt great and tasted great. The lamb was so good I was concerned a South Island farmer wearing stubbies and a floppy hat was going to appear beside the table at any moment and say “I’ll take that mate” and walk off into the distance with it.
Washed down with a glass or two of vino the meal was superb. All up lunch cost just over €50 or about $NZ85 which is quite reasonable.
The verdict – a great recommendation, we will visit L’Osteria del Bigelli again soon.
Looking forward to lunch in the Campo at L’Osteria del Bigelli
Last night we caught up with Kate and her family who are spending 2 months travelling around Europe. Kate used to work with Jean at Clemenger but she is currently based in the UK with her partner.
Jean had put Kate in touch with our villa wizard friend Olga when their trip was being planned but made sure to recommended a villa we had stayed at previously. Villa Crognole is a beautiful villa tucked into the Chianti hills with a view down the valley towards Radda.
We called into Crognole yesterday afternoon for a drink or two along with Olga and her husband which meant the afternoon was spent sitting in the sun discussing travel, news from home, and any other subject that wandered into people’s minds, all in a mix of english, italian and kiwi.
We went to dinner with Kate and her family at Le Vigne restaurant just outside Radda. It was dining al fresco with a view over the vineyards that produce some of the great Chianti Classico wines.
Dinner was lovely and all done on Italian time. That simply means that the wine and various courses rolled out through the evening until we finally left the restaurant, just before midnight.
Good people, great company and truly la dolce vita.