24 Nov 2015

Savouring Alba Truffles and Barolo Wines in Piedmont, Italy

"Just follow your nose", my guide Sara had said to me, and sure enough, soon I was standing in front of the massive marquee proclaiming 'International White Truffle Fair'. 

The 85th edition of the fair has recently concluded in the tiny town of Alba, in Piedmont, Italy. And I found myself reminiscing about my trip there last year. 

Towards the final leg of our month-long trip around Italy, the husband and I arrived in Turin for a few days. Since it was autumn, and high truffle season, I was keen on heading to Alba for the truffle fair.

We had already been on a fun truffle hunt in Acqualagna, Le Marche, and I couldn't get enough of its heady scent! 

So one Sunday I found myself on a train from Turin to Asti, where Sara from Wonderful Piemonte was to pick me up and take me on a guided tour around Alba and the Langhe area. 

We drove from Asti, past rolling hills, vineyards and the odd town or two, and arrived in Alba, just as the Sunday farmers' market was being set up. We browsed around the stalls, heaving with various varieties (and shapes) of squash, local salame and cheese. 

10 Nov 2015

Exploring Sicily - Piazza Armerina & Villa Romana del Casale

Wrapping up this short Sicily series with Piazza Armerina. If you have missed the previous posts, you can catch up here.

After exploring Palermo in the northwest and Ortigia in the southeast, we headed to the province of Enna in the centre of Sicily.

The medieval town of Piazza Armerina developed around the 11th century, during the Norman conquest of Sicily. However, the city of Piazza (as it was called till the mid-19th century) has a history that goes back to the Roman times, as is evidenced by the impressive Villa Romana del Casale. 

We arrived by bus from Ortigia. (A note about travelling around Sicily - unlike the northern and central parts of Italy, where trains are the best mode of getting around, in the south they are not so reliable or well-connected. Buses are the best way of travelling within Sicily, unless of course you rent a car.)

4 Nov 2015

Ortigia, Sicily - Where Italy Met Greece

Have you thought about where you will retire? Perhaps in Goa or maybe escape to the mountains...

My ideal place would be Ortigia (Ortygia), a tiny island off Siracusa (Syracuse) in Italy. 

Sleepy alleys...

... pretty houses with pastel-coloured walls peeling plaster... 

28 Oct 2015

Wandering around Palermo, Sicily - A Photo-essay

And anyone who has once known this land can never be quite free from the nostalgia for it.

D H Lawrence was right. Sicily does have that effect on you. It's been a year since I was in the largest of all the islands in the Mediterranean Sea. And I miss the charm of Palermo, the laid-back vibe of Ortigia and the medieval feel of Piazza Armerina. 

Sicily may be a part of Italy, but it seems like a whole different world. More chaotic, more colourful, more voluble, more generous...

... for Sicily is the clue to everything said Goethe. It is certainly a clue to living la dolce vita to the fullest, for in Sicily you find the true meaning of that phrase. 

19 Oct 2015

Tasting Sicily - Go on a Street Food Tour in Palermo

I recently came across this New York Times article where the writer and his son travel through Sicily, tasting its many seafood delights. Only the son is not a big fan of the gems from the sea - tuna, anchovies, sardines, squid ink pasta, calamari and more.

The article reminded me of my travel through Sicily last autumn - Italy's southernmost region, and the largest island in the Mediterranean - and the place where I had the best food I have had in Italy. Like these cannoli in Palermo, for instance. 

Or this plateful of pasta with sardine pesto I had in Ortigia, which is the stuff that dreams are made of... well, at least my dreams ;) 

Apart from delectable seafood, Sicily has a thriving street food culture. I got a glimpse of it on a food tour with StrEat Palermo. I wrote about my experience for Mint Lounge earlier this year. Here's the unedited version of the feature.