Blog

Food and Recipes

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 (5 apartments and a large villa) and their organic olive oil. Is it owned by close friends of Hedonistic Hiking, Simon and Verity.

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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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From field to fork: Fico Eataly World

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 5 Dec 2017

November 2017 saw the launch of Fico Eataly World which is the largest agricultural and food park in the world, covering 100,000 square meters and situated about 20 minutes from the centre of Bologna.

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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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Quince - Queen of Tarts

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 19 Apr 2016

In past centuries, the quince was much used in the Italian kitchen and today it is still available in markets during the autumn months. In Australia the fruit ripens from late March through to May and quinces look a little like small apples and pears, although cannot be eaten raw. On our last hiking weekend in Victoria we enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Casa Luna, in the tiny hamlet of Myrrhee close to the King Valley, and Gwenda made the most spectacular quince tart with quince icecream.  She very kindly shared her culinary secrets with us.

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Italy's Spring Larder

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 5 Apr 2016

There are certain fruits and vegetables which truly herald the start of the warmer seasons and the markets from April onwards on are piled high with beautiful asparagus, globe artichokes, apricots and cherries.

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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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Smooth Talking

Submitted by admin on 2 Dec 2014

Thinking you might over-induldge at Christmas and worried that your normal exercise regime might go to pot over the holiday period?  Instead of reaching for that extra beer or glass of wine why not quench your thirst every now and again with one of these fabulously healthy and refreshing smoothies.  They are really simple to make in an ordinary blender (you don't need a fancy juicing machine) and the ingredients are easy to get hold of. They'll help to keep you match-fit for your next hike in 2015 and have you bursting with energy!!!

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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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Books for Cooks

Submitted by admin on 25 Jan 2014

I have some long-standing favourite recipe books when it comes to Italian cooking but recently I've been reading about three newly published collections of fabulous Italian recipes from three different writers, all of whom live outside of Italy.  Two have Italian heritage but all share an over-riding passion for Italy's food and its flavours.  Reading about their books is leading me into temptation ...

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Festive Feasting

Submitted by admin on 27 Dec 2013

Panettone is one of the great Italian Christmas culinary traditions and there could be few Italian households not indulging in this festive cake at this time of year.  But what if you wanted to do something a little different with it? We loved this recipe by Philippa Sibley which was published in the December 2013 edition of Gourmet Traveller.

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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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The Chestnut Season

Submitted by admin on 26 Oct 2012

It's the time of year when the woods around our home in Tuscany are full of locals foraging for chestnuts, and the village of Pievescola nearby has just celebrated its annual chestnut festival.  A great favourite with the Italian people, the humble sweet chestnut was first introduced into Europe from Asia Minor and the fruit has been a staple food in southern Europe for millennia. Where cereal crops would not grow well in mountainous Mediterranean areas the Romans

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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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