Left Dijon early and and got through the Mont Blanc/Monte Bianco tunnel in time for lunch. An alpine-style chalet restaurant appeared in the snowy landscape and as Toutou needed a stretch we couldn’t resist a lunch snack in Courmayeur. A simple plate of pasta in tomato sauce for Jamie and an antipasto plate for me, followed by a shared creme caramel and coffee. Quite a restrained meal compared to our French excesses. Daisy had a good romp in the snow, which she really enjoyed; the last time she saw snow was 2009 in the snowy winter in Nailsea.
By evening we were in the outskirts of Milan and catching up with our dearest friends O and P who served us a delicious meal accompanied by glasses of champagne, while we chatted about old times. We have known them since we were all in Japan together more than 30 years ago. Haven’t seen them for a few years so it was great to catch up – we found out that they know Citta della Pieve because they have friends who live in nearby Chiusi.
We stayed in the very nice, family-run Hotel Poli – Daisy got her own “Welcome Kit” with a food bowl and blanket [what, no squeaky toy?] and so she felt very at home.
This morning we visited my aunt who has been poorly and, in true Italian aunt fashion, we were not allowed to visit without taking something, which in this case was three jars of homemade tuna mayonnaise. This was created in front of our very eyes with eggs, olive oil, capers, anchovies, small can of albacore tuna and a drop of wine vinegar. I watched carefully but nothing was measured; all done by eye, backed by years of experience. Three jars of mayonnaise were soon joined by a jar of apricots in grappa and a jar of olives. God bless Italian aunts.
Just off the motorway, outside of Bologna, Jamie found a family-run restaurant, called Ristorante Titì, that has a long gastronomic heritage as it was started by the current owner’s great-grandfather. Speciality of the day, and the region, was my hand-made spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce, scampi, enormous clams and a sprinkling of fresh parsley. Jamie had ‘pasta e fagioli’ which translates as a thick soup of roughly chopped strips of pasta in a savoury broth made of borlotti beans and a generous slurp of olive oil.
I asked about having a lemon sorbet to finish but that would have been too simple. Instead we opted to try the tasting menu of sorbets: a mojito style lime and mint sorbet with a drop of rum; a bitter dark chocolate chilli sorbet with a drop of whiskey; a fresh pomegranate sorbet with a drop of cognac and, finally, a pink grapefruit sorbet with a drop of Campari. Brilliant ideas for summer desserts when I bring over my ice cream machine. We would like to re- assure our readers that the alcohol content was negligible in the portion size of one scoop. [You aren’t going to say anything about the carafe of wine with the meal then? Ed.] After a couple of espressos, we were off again.
Finally at 6pm we arrived at Citta, unpacked the car, switched on the central heating and adjourned to the bar to catch up with the blog. Quite exhausted now but looking forward to crusty bread, boiled eggs and a jar of tuna mayonnaise!