Tag Archives: Cheese

Cervinia

3rd September 2013

I spent two and a half weeks of August in Cervinia, which is in the Italian Alps.  O is doing his first ski instructor levels out there, so I hopped on a plane (and then a train.  And then in a car) to go and visit him.

I took a LOT of photos, so after plenty of sorting, I have managed to choose my favourites.  I think I’ll let the pictures do most of the describing in this post…

If you’re interested in mountains, waterfalls, and of course, Alpine food – then read on!  (Not surprisingly – there’s quite a bit of cheese involved)

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The view from the glacier above Cervinia where you can ski all year round.  This is looking back down towards the town.  During the summer, you take three lifts up to get to the slopes…

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Matching in mint green (so hot right now)

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Predictably, being Italy and all, the pizzas are amazing.  This one had Fontina cheese, Speck ham and mozzarella.

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A morning on skis

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And the afternoon at a glacial pool

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Heading down through the clouds for Raclette, potatoes and pudding…

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(Before)

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(After)

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One night we took a trip to the next town down the mountain, where we stayed at Locanda Quattro which is a little chalet hotel with only four rooms.  Each room has a special feature – a Turkish bath, a steam room… and ours had… a jacuzzi of course (what else).

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We’d done the Raclette, so it was time for la Pierre-chaud…

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Back up at Cervinia, one of the walks we took was to a massive dam above the town.  In the winter, it’s in the middle of the pistes.

The water is unbelievably blue.

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When we reached the dam, we went for a closer look…

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Playing train on an old railway track

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All that walking builds up an appetite I can tell you!

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And the best thing about being in the mountains?  Drinking as much hot chocolate as you can.

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O’s parents came to Cervinia for a couple of days while I was there and we had some lovely meals with them.  I tragically forgot to photograph the best cheese fondue I’ve ever had – was too busy drowning myself in Mont D’Or.  

But at the beautiful Saint Hubertus I had honey duck breast with roasted potato chips and courgettes – see below.  The chips were roast potatoes in disguise – get it?  One on my ‘to make’ list.

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Rabbit and burrata ravioli with vegetable cubetti (wow)

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Lemon sorbet

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When not hiking, skiing or sleeping, we mainly spent our time dog watching (Cervinia has the most beautiful assortment of dogs of all shapes and sizes I have ever seen) and playing cards.  Hey, it’s not a party town!

Check out this guy

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The biggest walk we did was up to a refuge on the snow line.  On the way we passed some incredible waterfalls.  The valley Cervinia sits in has several, and they make the setting completely stunning – especially with the Matterhorn in the background.

We had some fortifying milkshakes, and set off.

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It was getting pretty hot so Mowgli decided to take a dip…

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Suitably refreshed, we carried on up the mountain.  Up, up, up – legs were burning by this point!

You could see the dam all the way on the other side of the valley.

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Finally, we reached the refuge.  It was incredibly satisfying sitting down to some meat, cheese and bread.

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Although before too long, we had to make our way back down – we hadn’t brought sleeping bags to stay overnight.  

There’s a great restaurant in Cervinia called La Copa Pan where we ate a couple of times.  It has a basement bar and is beautifully furnished – a combination of modern colours, brass fittings and traditional mountain décor. 

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Olive oil, balsamic vinegar & rosemary

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Fondue bourguignonne

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There was also a delectable amuse-bouche of goats cheese, béchamel, fig chutney and rosemary.

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Which pretty much brings us to the end of my trip!  Maybe this post was a little too long, but I couldn’t resist – sorry.  I left Italy feeling refreshed and rested, with lungs full of mountain air.

Hopefully I’ll be able to return to Cervinia in the winter one day as I’d love to do the ski all the way into town from the top of Plateau Rosa.  

O will be home soon, and I can’t wait to see him.

The Vanilla Pod

9th July 2013

At the end of June my little sister A turned 21.  These days we seem to be all over the place, so getting the whole family around a table for a meal can be a challenge.

Between university, jobs and trips abroad we found an evening when everyone could be at home to celebrate.  

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We smartened up, toasted A with champagne, and then headed out for dinner.

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The restaurant is called The Vanilla Pod, and it’s in Marlow, tucked up against the River Thames.  It’s located in a refurbished town house, which used to be the home of T. S. Eliot.  The Vanilla Pod has been listed in the top 100 independent restaurants by the Good Food Guide 2013 and by the Sunday Times.

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There were eleven of us, so we fitted snugly into the upstairs dining room.  Wine was ordered, and we started on the warm bread that was brought to the table.  We each chose from a set menu that my parents had selected earlier in the week.

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An amuse-bouche of sweet potato soup arrived, which was seasoned with nutmeg.

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And then the real fun began…

I had Seared Lobster with Tomato Chutney to start.

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Those who didn’t have the lobster went for Smoked Duck Breast Salad with Portobello Mushroom Vinaigrette (no takers for Risotto of Ceps). 

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Which was exquisitely presented and tasted incredible.

In fact, all the starters disappeared rather quickly… luckily there was lots more on the way.  In honour of the summer, I went surf and turf – for my main course I chose Fillet Mignon of Beef with Oyster Mushrooms and Coffee Infused Celeriac. 

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Writing this out now is making my mouth water!

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The birthday girl had Gilt Head Sea Bream with Broken New Potatoes, Olive Sauce and Chorizo Sausage (I think she was probably making room for lots of cake later).

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And the prize for  ‘the dish I would have ordered if I could have had two mains’ is awarded to: Fillet of Lamb with Brioche and Orange Crumbs & Madeira Jus.

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That lamb is seriously beautiful.

To round off such wonderful food, the obvious choice was – cheese.  5 cheeses, to be more specific.  I’m sorry to say I can’t remember what they all were, except that one was from Crete and it was delicious. (Or was it Croatia…?  Note to self: less wine, more cheese note taking).

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L went for the Caramelized Vanilla Cream with Blackberry.

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Dragging myself away from the cheese, I did manage to get a picture of the Chocolate Taste, but only after D had started to battle it (to be fair, he is 9, and it was too good to be true).  Grandad’s had already completely gone.

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If you happen to find yourself in Marlow, do visit The Vanilla Pod – prices are more special occasion than everyday, but the food really is fantastic.

The website is here.

Happy Birthday A – I miss you!  (Try not to get too tanned).

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