It was my birthday and I flew to Milan to share a few special days with my friends in Fidenza, small town just north of Parma. When I arrived a driver, Veronica France was waiting for me. Veronica can be booked on her web site, firstname.lastname@example.org or +393402436094, she drives a beautiful black Mercedes with plenty of room.
With my girl friends in charge they booked us at the most wonderful 1star restaurant on the outskirts of Parma. INKIOSTRO, Via San Leonardo 124, chef Terry Giacomello and owner Francesca Poli were there to make sure every detail was taken care of. if you are in the area has an upscale hotel next door. Every course was beautiful to look at and so delicious. The little micro greens topped small courses on exquisite plates. My main course was rabbit tenderloin with little mushrooms.
The next day we wandered the outlet mall next to the Fidenza exit then lunch at KM90 right off exit Casello from A1. KM90 makes their own pasta and offer large trays of local sliced Parma ham, cheese and culatello. After lunch we just wandered around the little village of Fidenza had a coffee and followed by a short nap before we headed out to the long awaited dinner with the seasonal white truffles. Our dinner was at a simple local restaurant in Salsomaggiore, OSTRERIA BELLARIA, know for its mushrooms of every kind.
The next morning I took the local train to Bologna and caught the speed train to Rome. Every time I have a chance to wander the streets in Rome I am amazed how diverse each area is and how many new neighborhood restaurants I find. I checked into Inn at the Spanish Steps, this hotel is at the base of the Spanish Steps with several out buildings each with one and two bedroom suites and a new 3 bedroom suite. Great prices and perfect location, breakfast is served in the main building every morning and late afternoon happy hour on the deck on the 4th floor.
We tried a few new small restaurants that were on the radar. First night we walked to Cacio e Pepe, Via G Auezzana 11. This little local restaurant is famous for its pasta and they lived up to their reputation. The next day after walking along the many streets and shopping we ended up on Via Veneto and lunch at Baccanale. Sitting outside on the sidewalk I loved the carpaccio and lovely glass of wine. Great place to watch the well dressed shoppers walk by.
That evening we ventured out to try a new small restaurant called TRATTORIA SANTO PALATO. The chef is a 30 year old woman and she is getting rave reviews for her simple Italian cuisine with interesting new twist. The restaurant is about 30 minutes from the steps so not sure if you only have a few days to dine in Rome this is where you would head. However, with that being said the next day we went to one of my favorite places for lunch, The Du Russe Hotel. Be sure to make reservations for the patio and experience the wonderful buffet and don’t forget to ask to see their wine list.
Our last night before heading to Sicily we had a great dinner at NUMERI PRIMI, Via del Polliteama 8, at Plaza Trillussa a hopping place. NUMERI PRIMI is a fish restaurant and every plate was better than the next. Love the ceviche, and pasta with scallops but the menu changes often.
OFF TO SICILY TO COOK WITH FRIENDS AND CHEF JOANNE WEIR. Joanne organizes cooking adventures, JOANNE WEIR CULINARY TOURS.COM, all over the world and this was one to remember. We flew into Catania and our driver picked us up for our ride to the house Joanne had reserved.
LIMO SERVICE “NCC” email@example.com, Giuseppe and team, drive Mercedes cars and vans so you travel in style.
We arrived at our amazing villa, ROCCA Della TRE CONTRATE, Joanne greeted all of us and gave us our recipes and talked about all the planned adventures for the week.The first evening were prepared dinner with the in-house chef Dora and Joanne’s recipes. We had a chance to do both hands on cooking and demo classes where we watched and then shared our dishes at dinner. The house is large with plenty of room to spread out and relax when we were not out exploring or eating and drinking local wines.
The next morning we headed out to Catania for a walking tour and lunch and wine tasting in the seafood market. More fish that you will ever see in any local market. We had lunch at MM1, via Pardo, 34 right off Piazza Del Duomo. They prepare great fish bought right outside their front door and many different pasta dishes with local wines.
Back to the villa to cook and share our lovely dishes after a local wine exporter explained the types of grapes and style of local wines.
No visit to Sicily is complete without a hike on Mt. Etna. Joanne had made arrangements for several local guides and Etna experts to guide us up the lower part of the volcano. Etna, at 10,900 feet, looms large in the distance no matter where you are in Sicily. There was a dusting of snow on the top the day we did our hike. The temperature is cold so be sure to bring a heavy coat for your hike if you are lucky enough to go. Our hike took most of the morning so lunch was a welcome site at BENANTI WINERY.We learned about the grapes used in local wines. The red grape is (Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio) the white grape is (Carricante) you can go to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about this beautiful winery. Back to the house to prepare our dinner with the help of chef Dora and Joanne.
Next day we were up early for a trip to Siracusa, we had a great guide, Marco Sanzaro, email@example.com. Marco explained the history of this seaside town and we had a great walking tour. We could have spent the whole day wandering, but lunch and wine tasting was next. We went into BARGO SANTO SPIRITO, great wine store and local meats and cheeses for lunch.
Every minute of your week with Joanne’s trips are filled with surprises. One evening at a small local winery we had a 5 course dinner and local musicians preformed while we watched on.
Back at the villa the next day after one more great breakfast of local fruit and fresh baked lemon scones we planned for a trip to Taormina, this hill side town is steeped in history, great restaurants and plenty of shopping. We enjoyed lunch at VICO TEOFANE CERAMEO 2, amazing view, large fresh salads and perfect pizzas. I do not think you can go wrong with any of the restaurants that line the hill side. If you have a chance take the tram down to ISOLA BELLA, the Greco Theater.
The last evening we were treated to dinner created by Chef Dora, pasta Alla Norma made using local eggplant and tomatoes was so perfect. We realize after this week that Americans always tend to overlook their pasta and never add enough salt to the water. We all dressed in white and enjoyed every bite of food created by Joanne, Dora and the team of friends that had gathered together for a week of memories. We left with great recipes that we all look forward to creating when we return home.