So the reigns of writing have been passed on to me (Roberto) for the next instalment of our family adventure blog….. Big boots to fill!
So the last month or so has been filled with….. ummmm…. Lots of food and eating, and a few other great experiences which we used to space out our foos and eating. First to rate a mention, in the end of November was a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, hosted by our good friend Alan (Emilio) Manly.
He is a big, scruffy American, with a heart of gold, amazing wine knowledge, and has been such an indispensible help to us over the entire time we have been in Italy. So Alan invited around 20 people to his girlfriend’s parent’s house in Alba, and threw a Thanksgiving feast. The centerpiece was ‘una bestia’ of a turkey. Unfortunately the iPhone does not have a wideangle lens, so I was unable to capture the bird in all it’s glory. Suffice to say, the evening was fuelled with lots of good food, good wine and good people, which all added up to a great night.
Then on the 1st of December, we decided to head up to ‘our local’ ski resort, Prato Nevoso, which is only about 1 hr from home, and which had had regular snow falls since the middle of October. It was an interesting day where the fog (although seeing as we were on the mountain, I guess it could be the cloud) was so thick, that the visibility was only 15 or so meters. Lilly was so excited to see the snow that as soon as she had her gear on, she jumped straight into the nearest pile of snow, which was the bank of snow on the side of the carpark. This was also the first time that we didn’t have to force Daniella to put her gloves on, and cable tie them in place. She was more than happy to keep them on all day long. We had a great day playing on the sled, eating over priced focaccia, and enquiring about ski and snowboard lessons.
kids first day on snow..very hard for daniella to fall asleep on the sled with big sister dropping snow bombs!
Obviously, with the onset of this colder weather, I have had to put up with working outside in the vineyard in these cooler conditions. I can assure you, that this little Aussie is definitly a warm blooded mammal, as I really did struggle with working in the early mornings and evenings, when the mercury started to head 3, 4, 5 and 6 degrees below 0. The first morning I went into the vineyard and saw this frozen puddle, I thought it was great. Now….. it’s not so awesome
Bryanne, Kellie’s mum, also arrived at the beginning of December. After a nice acclimatization period to get over her jetlag (about 24hrs), we whisked her off the Valle d’Aosta for the weekend. The forecast was pretty chilly, particularly for the evening times when we were planning on hitting up the Aosta Christmas market, which is meant to be one of the best in Italy.
So we booked the same apartment we stayed in previously (Lilly was stoked as she got to sleep in the bunk bed again). The first morning, Lilly was up bright and early and giving Nanna Italian lessons in bed and she wasn’t letting her get away with any mis-pronounciation. Then it was story time with Daniella.
I got to leave the girls to play in the snow and head to one of Valle d’Aosta’s best wineries for a tasting later in the morning. Les Cretes makes some fantastic wines, and although I am sure it is not the only one, it was the first winery where I have tasting a great Chardonnay so far in Italy.
After another ice-skating lesson with our International Ice-skating Coach friends from Aosta, we headed to town to check out the Christmas markets. They were located in the heart of the old town area, and accessed through a narrow, fairy-light lit alleyway. Some of the definiate highlights were the wooden sculptures and carvings, vin bruel (mulled wine), and novelty shaped salamis.
After bedding down the girls and Nanna, Kel and I headed back into Aosta for a bit more of a look around. But as it was so cold, we pretty much just bar-hopped through town. I rediscovered a love of fine rum, we found a great little hole-in-the-wall wine bar, and ended up at a bar/club type place at the end of the night. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but kel is wearing about 5 layers on top, a couple down low, (fake) fur-lined winter boots, scarf, two beanies, gloves, and was still feeling the cold.
We had a blast the following day when we visited our friends again for lunch and we all got to have play around in the park which was now snow covered. This is the same park as is in the last blog, but now looks wuite different. We sledded, built a snowman, snow-swinging, and generally had a blast in the snow.
The following week, Kel and Bryanne were to head off to Barcelona for the weekend, so I decided to drop them in Milan, and keep heading North to Valtellina and visit Ornella and Elio again. It so happened that on the night before, and morning that we left, Monforte D’Alba had it’s first snowfall.
We were snowed on all the way to Malpensa airport, with regular texts saying to expect delays. But Kel got away ok, with only about an hour delay, and the girls and I eventually got up to Albosaggia. We had about 30cm of fresh snow overnight which pretty much closed down Albosaggia and Sondrio for the first half of the day. So the girls and I went sledding on the road out front of Ornellas, built a snow man, and basically spent the weekend eating and playing and catching up. The place certainly looks different being covered in snow and not all green , which is the only colour I have ever seen it having only visited in summer.
As we couldn’t have our usual pre-christmas Garden/Pizza/Lilly’s birthday party, we threw Lilly her very own little party in the apartment. With fairybread, homemade sausage rolls, plenty of other junk food, games, balloons, music etc. The stage was set for a real Australian style kids birthday party. And then, only two of her friends from school turned up. Fortunately one of them brought her older brother, so there were three kids). So we all pitched in and danced, passed parcels, pinned tails on donkeys, ate fairybread and then helped devour Kel’s best birthday cake creation yet.
For Christmas, we had an apartment full of people, which was great fun, if a little cosy. Our friends from Swizterland (Jen, Fabrice, Zoe and Livier, and Lou Lou the bulldog) came down for a few days. We also had Kel’s mum, and Michelle (Kel’s best mate) over from Australia. For Christmas day, a couple of other stray Australians in Piemonte (Dave, Elle and Gigi fFetcher) came for lunch as well. We spent the morning opening presents, with the kids (particularly Lilly) going bananas over Santas gifts. After a quick coffee and skype session in town, it was back to get lunch ready. Kel and I had planned a special roast, with the idea coming from the Turducken (deboned chicken inside a duck inside a turkey), but rooted in Piemonte. When I described the idea to Bruno, our local butcher, he said I was crazy. So we started with a Filleto di Vitello (veal fillet) stuffed with Noccioli (hazelnuts) and 100% cocao chocolate. Around this was a a deboned local rabbit and layer of rosmary and bread stuffing. Around this was a deboned local chicken with a layer of liver, thyme and sage stuffing. The plan was to put a layer of pork belly around this, but once I got to the chicken layer and did a check on the webber-q (as we don’t have an oven!!), I realized that with an extra layer of pork belly, the roast was not going to fit. This was roasted for a few hours with regular basting using Baladin beer. What can I say, it was a delicious success.
We kicked lunch off with another novelty shaped salami made by Bruno, which he did for fun, but kel talked him into selling it to her.
Thanks to Michelle, we were able to finish on an Australian bought Plum Pudding. Again the point was proven that good food, good wine, good beer, good friends equals good times.
Post Christmas, we have been able to hit the slopes a bit. One day, Bryanne and Jen looked after the kids, so a group of us went to Prato Nevoso sans-children. WooHoo! We had a blast, but there were some sore butts, elbows, knees and prides coming home in the car that evening.
With raging hangovers (again) we also had some more subdued celebrations for Daniella’s 2nd birthday. We headed to the pizzeria in La Morra (one of the best ones around) for a birthday dinner.
Well to finish up here are some more random pics taken over the past two months…enjoy and hope you all had a fantastic festive season too!!