Showing posts with label pesto sauce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pesto sauce. Show all posts

Cinqueterre – Mediterranean nirvana

We got up early had a quick breakfast and dragged our bags to Milan Central Station; bought our ticket for next destination “Cinqueterre” - refers to five small villages (Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore and Vernazza) - cling to the rugged mountains along Mediterranean coastline with breath taking view.

cinque_terre

This UNSECO heritage site is not on the main train line or motor-way that connects Milan to Rome. To get there, we have to cross the mountain to reach the western side of Italy. Need to change train at Genoa- known for its pesto sauce and native place of Columbus. It is said that as the western side of the Liguria hills gets the best sun light which is perfect for tomato and basil. As we had to change train from main line to local line we could only get glimpse from train.

There are special trains from Levanto to La Spezia which stops in these five villages. As I write down about different trains lines I am sure you got an idea how remote these little villages are ; yes they are really small villages. Tourist attraction has not yet turned them into mini town.

hotel-levanto

Cost of hotels in those five small villages were enormous so we booked hotel at Levanto, north of Cinqueterre a small village with sandy beach, bustling day-time markets. Later, while exchanging travel notes with friends we found Levanto was a better choice in terms of food, spacious room and most importantly price and service.

After checking into the hotel in afternoon we rushed back to the rail-station to head towards the south most station Riomaggiore. We got one day “Cinque Terre Card” that allowed us to hike and ride public transport in Cinqueterre. This small amount helps to maintain this National Park.

The best way to explore Cinqueterre is to hike the trails between the 5 villages; there are other numerous trail which connects vineyards and sea. Of course, there are public transport or ferry to hop between villages.

 Hiking at cinque terre

We planned to hike south to north in one go; the distance between Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare is 12kms, a lot of the trail is steep and rocky. The hike started with steep stairs leading to famous Via dell’Amore, (which needs no translation I hope - Path of love). The walk from Riomaggiore to Manarola is the easiest which takes about 15-20 minutes depending on how long you stop to gaze at the view! It is paved all the way and fairly flat.

The next section of the walk is from Manarola to Corniglia ( 3km long and takes about 1 hour). Parts of this trail are pretty easy, but it is steeper at times, the ground is sometimes uneven. The most exhausting part of this section is at the end. As you arrive at Corniglia train station there are also signs to reach secluded or public beach along the way. That means you need to hike down to the sea. The station is located by the sea side, while the town of Corniglia is on top of the hill which is connected by long flight of stairs!!!

The section between Corniglia and Vernazza is most scenic part passing through vineyards, fragrant herb bushes and rocky outcrops with spectacular views. It took about 1.5 hours to complete, though we stopped quite a bit to admire the views and took some breathe.

Cinque Terre

Toughest section is between Vernazza and Monterosso with lots of ups and downs and steep stairs. It is a real bridle path which unwinds itself by the seaside.

From here, we returned back to Levanto by train full of sun-burned tourists.

TIP: Need good pair of shoes to avoid weary legs and hiking pole will save your knees. We hiked this part in late afternoon as we were crunched with time but will advice to start in the morning so that you take more frequent stops to admire the beauty and give rest to your legs and lungs.

At the end, we almost had to run as we were not prepared for hiking in dark and it was only us on that trail. You can spend few days in these villages to unwind and explore churches and other historic buildings if those interest you. </p

Italian aroma…

"Daney Daney Pey likha hain khaney waley kaa naam"- which colloquially means each grain has the name of the person who will eat it (it is the fortune of the person to have certain meal or not). Well the same with more of spice in Hindi movies "goli goli pey likha hain marney waley kaa naam" which means in each bullets it is written the name of the person who will die.
Before I take you along this blog I will try my best to keep the suspense why the introduction to a culinary adventure got its inspiration from Hindi muhavra & bollywood film.
Today we tried to prepare a Pasta dish bit different from our normal standard. Initially, Pamela did not showed much of interest maybe due to bit long procedure... must have thought to leave on me. But at the end, she seems to have willy-nilly enrolled in Italian cuisine and did all the steps to prepare this awesome dish - recipe to die for without killing for.
Spinach and Ricotta Conchiglie - Conchiglie which means large pasta conch (a kind of shell) designed to hold delicious stuffing in our case it was mixture of chopped spinach and ricotta cheese. Having concave shapes they are one of the most useful shapes as they trap any sauce. Till far we have prepared-long pasta like spaghetti, spiral shaped fusilli, butterfly shaped farfalle, stuffed ravioli either with fresh crème sauce, tomato sauce or pesto sauce. Even we have tried flat pasta lasagna designed to be baked between layers of sauce.
Pasta is one of the staple food of every authentic Italian meal & most versatile food too. It is considered to be low-fat food and rich in complex carbohydrate. But, it is important to take care while choosing sauce as overloading it with cheese or cream sauce will change pasta into high-fat food and of course the number one rule of great Italian cuisine is fresh is best.
Actually, prima facie on the colorful picture of the recipe in the book on Vegetarian by Nicolas Graimes, drew my attention and I thought why not to try it. Well, with out going to reveal the secret of this recipe here are the pictures as the cooking progressed. In other words, let me try to limn an entire procedure through photos taken by me. Hope silence speaks the volume in that way I will not be infringing coyright as Pamela did in previous post.
Finally, the suspense-what made me wrote “Daney Daney Pey .... naam” - is actually I invited one French friend (person who taught us to prepare any pasta ) for dinner and due to some miscommunications he did not showed up. So, it was two of us who had our mouth-watering irresistable pasta, supple in texture and deliciously sauced and stuffed (bit of boasting on my part may-be). But truly, it came out so good that we two were left licking and relishing every morsel. It would have been our pleasure to share a meal with our friend :( but surely next time :)
Ready with all the PasteAll set with ingredients Draining the cooked pastaStuffing with Spinach and RicottaTopped with ParmeseanAll set to serveBon Appetite