Food and Recipes

Bologna: Italy's culinary capital

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 14 May 2024

Bologna may lag slightly behind Florence and Rome when it comes to art treasures, but if we're talking food, the city is in a class of its own, rapidly gaining ground as the country’s gastronomic capital.

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Nine gastronomic reasons to visit Italy

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 12 Jan 2024

Jackie's latest guest article for US online magazine Sixty & Me explores nine gastronomic reasons to holiday in Italy. From cured meats to gelato, discovering Italy's food culture will be a huge part of your trip, and it can be as educational as it is delicious! 

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Do Italians love honey?

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 9 Jan 2024

The Italians have not historically been huge consumers of honey, "miele" in Italian, but it was widely used as a remedy. Whether you like the classic millefiori, acacia, chestnut, eucalyptus, lavender or honeydew, Italy is nowadays making quality honey with special characteristics.

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Making the perfect Italian picnic

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 8 Nov 2023

We are lucky to work in Italy when it comes to rustling up picnic lunches because the selection of ingredients is extensive, high quality and delicious. Anyone who has hiked with us will remember the joy of coming to a pretty spot along the trail to find a table laden with lunchtime goodies and a couple of bottles of local wine to wash it all down.

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Cooking with Pumpkins

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 16 Oct 2023

Autumn is the season when we start to see pumpkins appearing in Italy's shops and markets. They are loved here for being a fabulously versatile ingredient which can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes.

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Delicious Easter Doves

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 9 Mar 2023

There is one very special artisanal cake which signals the coming of spring in Italy and is particularly associated with Easter.  It is known as La Colomba di Pasqua, or the “Easter Dove" and is as popular across Italy as the Panettone is at Christmas time.

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In Praise of Pecorino

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 31 Jan 2023

Pecorino is the generic name for all 100% ewe's milk cheeses in Italy. They are largely made in the central and southern parts of the country, as well as the Mediterranean islands, and are named after the word for a sheep which is una pecora.

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A Love Letter to Victoria

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 14 Jan 2023

Bar Midland is a bar and restaurant in Castlemaine, Victoria, which we visit on our Highlights of the Goldfields Track tour.  It was founded by locals Loudon Cooper and Alexander Marano and they have just received their first Chef Hat award. Eating here is a true highlight of our week.

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Gastronomic adventures in Italy

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 7 Dec 2022

Jackie's latest guest article for Sixty & Me looks at some the best gastronomic adventures you can have in Italy and highlights some of her personal favourites.  Whether it's joining locals at a seasonal food festival, taking a cooking class or dining in a celebrated starred restaurant, all travel experiences are enhanced by our connections to the country's food.

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A 2 Star Dining Experience

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 11 Oct 2022

On the final evening of our Tuscan Harvest tour we dine in one of very few restaurants in Italy to have 2 Michelin stars. The restaurant is called Arnolfo and is in the centre of Colle di Val d'Elsa.

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Chocolate and Hazelnuts

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 8 Aug 2022

One of Italy's most popular confections is known as Gianduia and is a mouth-watering blend of chocolate and hazelnuts. Turin is a centre of chocolate production and August and September in Piedmont herald the start of the hazelnut harvest ...

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Celebrate Semifreddo!

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 11 May 2022

As the summer in Italy beckons, restaurant menus everywhere will start to list the ever popular "Semifreddo" dessert.  This light, textured, frozen mousse is popular right across the country.

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Italy's oldest cheese

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 1 Apr 2022

This amazing cheese comes from a small alpine area in the northern part of Lombardy, known as the Valtellina valley, close to the border with Switzerland, and its name is Bitto Storico.

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A Triumph for Truffles

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 4 Mar 2022

The art of truffle hunting and extraction in Italy has been recently added to UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list, which aims to celebrate and preserve important cultural practices.

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Visit Eataly to Eat Italian!

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 6 Jan 2022

A recent trip to London enabled us to visit the first Eataly store in the UK,  situated in Broadgate just close to Liverpool Street Station, which opened in April last year.

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Cheese Bites

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 10 Oct 2021

A number of our walking holidays in Italy bring us into contact with food and wine producers and these visits often make truly memorable moments from each of our trips.  Here we have a look at Italy's fabulous formaggio and some of our best cheesy experiences!  

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Breads of Heaven

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 9 Sep 2021

Living in Italy as we normally do for much of each year we take for granted how easily available delicious food is at any time of the day, from the local panificio to street-stalls, bars to pizzerias, gelaterias to pasticcerias. In an attempt to feed our hunger for a taste of Italy, we have shared recipes for three of our favourite street snacks...

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Pasta Perfection

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 9 Aug 2021

Most people of course associate the Italian kitchen with pasta but what you learn as you travel around Italy is that each region has a very different approach, making the most of traditionally available ingredients and keeping to time-honoured recipes handed down through the generations.  There are myriad variations of flours, techniques and sauces which reflect the unique character of the individual landscapes.

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More Books for Cooks

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 16 Jun 2021

Two recently-published cook books caught our eye in the last couple of weeks so we thought we'd share them with our Hedonistic Hiking readers - one on Australian food and the other on Italian Delis.

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Dining out on delicious memories III

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 11 Mar 2021

As we continue to miss Italy and won't this year have the chance to catch up with so many of our favourite chefs and restaurateurs, we have re-visited this month three more truly fabulous dining experiences from our tours in La Bella Italia.  From the highly sophisticated cuisine of Piedmont in the north to the flavoursome rustic dishes of the wild Abruzzo mountains, all these menus are prepared with love and a real passion for seasonal local ingredients.

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Italy's favourite Easter dish

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 9 Mar 2021

Torta Pasqualina has become a tradition at Easter time across the whole of Italy, although it is believed to have originated in the coastal region of Liguria. The inclusion of the eggs symbolises life and rebirth and it makes a delicious savoury tart for picnics or light lunches.

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Dining out on delicious memories II

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 4 Feb 2021

Last month's Blog about some of our favourite dining experiences in Italy seemed to attract so much attention that we have decided to share some more culinary highlights this month too!  We've ventured a little further afield this time - to Austria and Slovenia -  as well as down to the foot of Italy.

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Dining out on delicious memories

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 8 Jan 2021

The start of the new year has us looking forward to dining again in Italy, which we hope will be possible in the second part of 2021. For this Blog we've taken three unforgettable dining experiences from our tours and shared them again, to whet all our appetites for travelling to La Bella Italia as soon as we are able.

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Championing Chestnuts

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 4 Nov 2020

It's the time of year when the woods around our home in Tuscany would be full of locals foraging for chestnuts and, in normal times, many of the surrounding villages would be celebrating annual chestnut festivals.

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Italy's first food writer

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 12 Oct 2020

2020 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of Italy's pioneers of food writing, Pellegrino Artusi, the first author to include recipes from all the different regions of Italy in a single cookbook.

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Spice up your lockdown diet!

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 7 Jul 2020

Jackie's latest Blog for the US magazine Sixty and Me looks at spicing up your lockdown menus by recreating dishes from your favourite travels.  With a little imagination we can all revisit favourite food memories that transport us to happy times and places and, if you can source a local wine to go with the dish, even better!

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Supporting our Italian friends

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 17 Mar 2020

One small thing we can do to help our Italian friends at this difficult time is support businesses involved in the procurement of Italian food and wine.

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Seven of Italy's sweetest Christmas treats

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 6 Dec 2019

You can be sure of great food in Italy at any time of year but visit at Christmas and the offering becomes decidedly sweeter. As in other parts of the world, dried fruit and spices feature in many of the sweet treats, with nuts, honey and the addition of chocolate in some.

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Chocolate Paradise in Piedmont

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 5 Jun 2019

Looking for your next chocolate fix? While your inner sweet tooth may instinctively point you in the direction of Switzerland and Belgium, head a little further south and you’ll find yourself in the gloriously chocolatey region of Piedmont!

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Olive Oil - Tuscany's Liquid Gold

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 9 Dec 2018

Podere Patrignone is an ‘agriturismo’ in the heart of Chianti Classico country – a mix of holiday rental villas and their organic olive oil. Is it owned by close friends of Hedonistic Hiking, Simon Zimbler and Verity Jones.

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Italy's Finest Food Trails

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 13 Sep 2018

Discover some of the best food and wine in Italy as you embark on food trails that traverse vineyards and olive groves, mountain pastures, woodland tracks and coastal paths. Read on to learn more about five of our favourite food trails and culinary tours in Italy.

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Food for Thought

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 12 Jun 2018

This month I finally had the chance to visit FICO Eataly World just outside the city of Bologna. Billed as "The World's Largest Agri-Food Park" the site has 22 hectares of fields and stables, 40 farming factories, 45 restaurants or eating stations and a market space.

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Mick's Guide to Perfect Risotto

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 16 Jan 2018

The real secret to a good risotto is the stock and I recommend making your own, depending on the flavour of the risotto you have chosen.

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Gnocchi with mushrooms

Autumn flavours: Gnocchi with Mushrooms

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 29 Nov 2017

Entertaining over the festive period and looking for a little inspiration? This easy but satisfying recipe for gnocchi with mushrooms is a dish we learnt how to make with our wonderful Italian friend and cook Orietta and it really brings to life the flavours of autumn in Italy.

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Piedmont's prized truffle

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 9 Nov 2017

If you have not travelled in Piedmont, in north west Italy, you might not be aware of one of its greatest culinary treasures: the prized white truffle of Alba.

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The Art of the Aperitivo

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 11 Apr 2017

The people of Italy, along with many of their European neighbours, have long enjoyed a pre-dinner drink known as the "aperitivo". Typically these drinks are low in alcohol and more often than not have a dry and bitter or spicy flavour.

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More Books for Cooks

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 16 Jan 2017

It seems that the world cannot have too many cookery books and our fascination with the Italian kitchen and Italy's bounty of delicious fresh ingredients continues apace.  More and more books on the subject of food are published each year and here are three that have recently caught our eye ...

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Ravioli del Plin

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 10 Jul 2016

These tiny pasta parcels are a traditional dish from Piemonte and something which we learnt to make in our cooking class in Cuneo, as part of our brand new France & Italy tour. Cuneo is a wonderfully elegant city lying to the south of Turin and here we met up with the Fontanta sisters who run a fabulous cookery school above their beautiful kitchen shop in Via Roma.

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Spaghetti alla Chitarra

Submitted by admin on 10 Oct 2015

Whenever we are hiking on our Abruzzo tour, we spend an evening with the chef from the wonderful Locanda Sotto Gli Archi in the Sextantio hotel to learn how to make traditional Abruzzese dishes.

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Mmmm - Mozzarella!

Submitted by admin on 3 Sep 2015

The first stop on our new Southern Italy tour is a visit to the Barlotti cheesemaker, famous for producing buffalo mozzarella in the shadow of the ancient Greek temple at Paestum.  It is well known that the most highly prized artisanal buffalo mozzarella is still found south of Naples, near Battipaglia and Caserta, where small factories continue the centuries-old tradition of making fresh buffalo mozzarella every day for their local customers.

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Champions of Chutney

Submitted by admin on 3 Jan 2015

We love chutney as an accompaniment to our picnic lunches on the hikes, as they go so well with the cheeses, crusty bread and cold meats we find along the way and are a great way to use up a glut of fruits or veggies.  Here are three of our favourites.

In all cases, the chutneys must be preserved in sterilised jars. To sterilise the jars, wash them thoroughly in very hot soapy water, rinse them in very hot water and then put on a baking sheet in a 140C/fan 120C/gas 1 oven until completely dry.

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Celebrating local produce

Submitted by admin on 1 Mar 2014

The last weekend in February was party time for Hedonistic Hiking as we hosted our annual long lazy Italian-style lunch in the historic village of Wandiligong, and enjoyed some of the very best ingredients that north east Victoria has to offer.

Mick was at the helm, ably assisted by old friend Brad Wolter, and the menu was a journey through some of our favourite Italian dishes but using ingredients sourced entirely from suppliers close to Bright.

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Cracking the Coffee Code

Submitted by admin on 26 Nov 2013

The Australian passion for coffee must be almost equal to the Italian, but we often notice on our tours that the differences in terminology can catch a visitor out, and lots of great coffee-drinking moments are getting lost in translation!  We have designed this simple guide to ordering, to ensure you get what you came for!

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Three favourite risottos

Submitted by admin on 26 Oct 2013

Risotto is one of the most versatile dishes as it can be made with an unlimited selection of fresh vegetables and herbs, funghi and truffles, nuts, meat, seafood and cheeses and you need hardly ever make the same risotto twice. Ready in just 20 minutes with a little stirring, this is fast food but wholly delicious and nutritious.

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Lazy Lunch in Lamole

Submitted by admin on 28 Sep 2013

This week we went with our group on the Tuscan Harvest tour to one of our very favourite restaurants in the heart of Chianti Classico. 

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The Hungry Hiker

Submitted by admin on 29 Aug 2013

I've just been staying with my friend Caroline on the stunning coastline of East Lothian, to the east of Edinburgh, on the Firth of Forth.  It is a really beautiful and unspoilt part of the UK with some great walking on the fabulous wild and empty beaches.  Caroline is a professional food writer and, as we were walking, we dreamt up and then created the perfect trail bar - a delicious mix of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and honey to keep even the hungriest hikers satisified.   Here's how we did it:

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Brilliant Basil

Submitted by admin on 29 Jul 2013

If there is any fresh herb which transports me in an instant to high summer in Italy then it is basil. The word comes from the Greek basilikos, meaning royal, and the herb is grown throughout the Italian peninsula, although its associations are perhaps strongest with the coastal region of Liguria, where the world-famous pesto alla genovese originated.

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Fine Dining in Piedmont

Submitted by admin on 25 Jun 2013

One of the highlights of our stay in Saluzzo on our Jewels of Piedmont tour is dining at the fabulous Il Sigillo restaurant next to the famous Abbey of Staffarda. The Abbey, a cistercian monastery founded in 1135, remains one of the most complete medieval complexes in the Piedmont region.

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Sweet Sulmona

Submitted by admin on 11 May 2013

Nestled in the stunning peaks of the Majella National Park is the charming town of Sulmona, one of the prettiest in all of Abruzzo.  Framed by dramatic mountain scenery Sulmona has a population of around 25,000 but has a reputation across all of Italy and beyond for the production of the country's finest sugared almonds, known in Italian as "confetti".

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Three Favourite Soups

Submitted by admin on 7 Apr 2013

Fancy something nutritious and filling, but simple to make?  Our three soups this month are full of flavour and very easy to prepare - and there's something for everyone, whether you're leaving behind the winter or the summer. All recipes serve 4. 

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Pino's Dolce Vita

Submitted by admin on 28 Feb 2013

We've just been on a flying visit to Sydney to meet up with Tuscan winemaker Renzo Marinai, newly arrived from Italy, who is here for our special dinner in the King Valley this weekend with the Dal Zotto family.

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Salad Days

Submitted by admin on 9 Jan 2013

Christmas is behind us and after all the over-indulgence most of us are trying to return to a spot of healthy eating.   Here are three favourite salad ideas - as seen by many of you on our walking holidays in Italy and Australia  - which might offer a little inspiration for New Year eating. They are recipes which will work well whether you are reading this in the northern or southern hemisphere.

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A Bite of the Cherry

Submitted by admin on 4 Jul 2012

On the final day of our Slovenian tour in June we walked through the land between the Italian and Slovenian borders which is known as Brda. The region is an agricultural paradise and many fruit trees prosper in these fertile hills. But the most highly-prized of all is the Brda cherry, famous across all of Slovenia and beyond. In early spring cherry blossoms cover the hills and then in May mature into delicious juicy ruby-red fruits. Later in the season peaches, figs, apples, pears and plums also grow abundantly in this area.

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Eating in Eataly

Submitted by admin on 3 May 2012

As if we hadn't eaten enough delicious food on our Culinary Tour of Northern Italy, we stopped on the way home to Siena on the edge of Turin to visit Eataly, a "supermarket" which celebrates the highest quality produce from all over Italy and champions small artisanal producers who still follow traditional methods.

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Spring Planting

Submitted by admin on 20 Apr 2012

One of the first things we do when we get back to Italy in April is to plant our salad and vegetables so that we, and our Hedonistic Hikers, can enjoy our own fresh produce over the summer.  On many of our tours later in the season we use our home-grown salads and veg.  Our home in Tuscany is part of a larger working farm and we are able to use a small plot of land behind the main villa.

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