Lunch at the Royal Pita Maha

lunch 4

The Balinese are the most accommodating people on earth and a group of young men stand at the door to welcome us into the Royal Pita Maha, a spectacular hotel sitting high above a bend in the Ayung River. The four of us walk through the grand open reception area, past statues of Hindu gods and down a lift to start our journey to the river for lunch at their organic restaurant. Michael and Geoffrey are expatriate Australians who have retired to Bali, and to thank them for their generosity my friend and I are taking them for lunch.  Despite two lifts, there are still many flights of uneven stairs, paths that wind around villas flanked by ponds full of large carp and goldfish, which swim along next to us, mouths wide open hoping for food. We walk past a sacred pool, which is not for menstruating women, to reach our pavilion by the river.

The pavilion is set up just for our group and overlooks a set of rapids where a constant caravan of rafting tourists swing around the corner, get pushed onto the rocks and flail around helplessly until their hard working Balinese helmsman gets them off and heads them in the right way. Those that manage the rapids seamlessly often give us a jaunty wave of pride before disappearing around the corner.

Rafting on the Ayung River

The menu is western and the service Balinese. Bali is not an island for wine connoisseurs and the choice always limited. After some toing and froing with the waiter it became clear there was only one lone bottle of white wine and it was a chardonnay and that would be fine, thank you very much. The menu read like a modern western menu – seared tuna, organic greens, pastas and organic chicken. For entree, I ordered a roasted zucchini, lentil and fennel salad. What turned up was a salad with cos lettuce, shredded carrot, beetroot and fennel but it was all freshly prepared and prettily piled up on the plate.

lunch 5

The mains were not so successful. I had a marinated chicken in a sweet chilli sauce on mash, and like much of the local poultry, it was stringy and dry. I managed to separate some meat from the bone and to make a meal from it. Geoffrey’s was less successful. He asked for the lamb rump, medium rare. What came were three hard, little buttons of meat which he quickly pushed away and declared inedible. The concern by our waiter was heartbreaking, but Geoffrey was firm that he did not want another dish and instead he put his energy into coercing the waiter to find another bottle of wine. Again, after more toing and froing, he came back with a bottle of sauvignon blanc, which had the distinct perfume of a men’s urinal. The rest of us declined the privilege to have a glass and  left that particular pleasure to Geoffrey.

Michael, a former chef who had worked in restaurants in Ubud, explained the Balinese relationship with food. ‘The western menu is learnt by rote by the kitchen staff,’ he said. ‘So they cannot accommodate changes or special requests because this is not their food culture’.

‘For the Balinese, food is fuel. The mother cooks a large pot of something in the morning and it sits there all day and the family come and go and eat when they need to. They don’t sit down together to eat’.

Michael explained that what we get from sharing a meal – pleasure, companionship, social connection – they get from the temple. This is where they worship, not at the dinner table. I saw how alien our fetishisation of food must appear to the Balinese. Yet they are so accommodating to visitors. They learn to sear tuna and make organic salads and try and produce bottles of wine and watch us as we ooh and aah at the table and pick our way through course after course.

After lunch, we made our way slowly back up the hill, past the sacred pool and the carp ponds and up the uneven steps into the lift and out to the foyer. At the front door a group of young men, all in traditional sarongs, namasted us with beautiful smiles as if it had been such a pleasure to have our company at the hotel. The pleasure had been all ours.

lunch 6
The sacred pool

Dinner at Nusantara


bali food 1As visitors to Ubud in Bali know, there are two kinds of Ubud. The glossy magazine Ubud with beautiful people sipping cocktails in artfully designed restaurants. And then the everyday Ubud. Broken walkways, open drains, building sites abandoned, their materials spilling onto the road. To Australian eyes, the lack of regulation is mesmerising.

In Ubud and the surrounding villages there are thousands of warungs, cafes and restaurants. The knowledge of what is good and where to go is passed from visitor to visitor like a sacred text. At the top sits Locavore, with its degustation menu and international reputation. Next come tips on the good local restaurants serving Indonesian, western style cafes for the unadventurous, and the local warungs, the street side cafes, which are scattered every few metres along the road.

For our second night in Ubud, we are going high end with a restaurant for Nusantara, the sister restaurant to Locavore, and opened a couple of months ago. It specialises in regional Indonesian dishes and a seat in their stylish restaurant needs to be planned for and booked. The food served is a much more considered version of Indonesian cuisine than you find in the local warung.

The menu is for sharing and we order some small dishes as well as a couple of bigger dishes and they all come together. From Sulawesi, we had the stir fried banana blossom with shallots, chillies and kaffir lime leaves and from Central Java squid cooked in ink with chilli and coconut milk. The squid was intense and rich. The banana flowers had a similar texture to bamboo shoots and were a fresh counterbalance to the other dishes. For the larger plates we ordered a whole smoked snapper baked in banana leaves which had been carefully deboned and put back together in its original shape. The other main was a crispy duck, marinated with turmeric, candle nuts, chilli and lemongrass and came to the table dark, with its sharp little bones poking through the flesh.

Bali food 2

For those used to the light and aromatic cooking of Thailand and Vietnam, many of the flavours at Nusantara were unfamiliar and seemed darker and grittier. The chilli quotient was high, too high for some at the table, and the tomato and chilli sambal which came as a side was impossibly hot for all except the most devoted chilli lover. Yet I found it an intriguing dinner of exploration. The chefs at Nusantara don’t dilute their flavours for the mostly western diners and instead present a master class in sophisticated but true flavours to showcase with pride their country’s cuisine.



Too much cutting edge? Flavour versus fashion.

menu (2)A couple of weeks ago I went to a local cafe for breakfast. I’d walked past it a hundred times but had not heard the siren call. When it popped up in a couple of ‘best of’ lists I was worried I’d missed a local gem. The cafe was in a converted old shop right on the bus stop and was always busy with quick coffees and people fresh from the gym or with dogs who sat outside at the little tables on the street. I found a small table inside in a snug corner and ordered mushrooms with poached eggs and a latte.

The food came out really quickly with everything covered in a thick layer of dukkah (Egyptian). I took the poached eggs off the top and started excavating. Sliced mushrooms sat on kale which was doused in balsamic vinegar (Italian) on top of pesto (Italian) on rye bread (middle European). This assemblage of flavours spoke to no man or woman.

A closer analysis is called for. I really don’t find dukkah a flavour enhancement to eggs and I scraped it off the poached eggs and barely tolerated it on the mushrooms. Balsamic vinegar can be a subtle undercurrent to cooking and a couple of drops will pull up the flavour of vegetables or strawberries. It is not a condiment to be poured over a dish. Pesto is a beautiful thing. Made in the height of summer when the basil bush is about to go to seed, blended with pine nuts, pecorino, some garlic and a good olive oil and tossed through a simple pasta, it will pull you right back to the Ligurian coast. I am not sure when it became a spread for toast.

It is not the cross cultural mash up I object to, but the discordant mismatch of flavours which in no way complement each other. There is nothing wrong with genuine creative cooking and experimentation but the cafe’s combination was driven by a collection of food trends and fads which appear in many combinations in the cafes of Brisbane.

Food has become as much a part of people’s identity as fashion and the technology they buy. If your identity is involved you then want to be seen as hip, creative and cutting edge. This drives cafes and restaurants to amp up unexpected flavour combinations and to create heightened eating experiences. The food must also look good on social media. The photograph is the message. This is all a big call for breakfast.

Before its recent incarnation, the old shop on the bus stop was a cafe and bookshop called Bouquiniste. Old style boho, it was owned by Meredith, with her long red hair looped over her shoulder, she turned out perfect coffee from her hissing espresso machine. Postcards from Paris covered the front of the counter and the window seat made comfortable with embroidered cushions. Colouring books lay around for the kids and bentwood chairs snuggled up to rickety tables. Yet the food was simple and true.

The avocado on toast came with a zesty dressing and some carefully picked greens. The croissants were dropped off by a bespoke bakery every morning and placed on a shelf in eyeballing proximity to where you ordered.  Bouquiniste was the sort of place where you could linger and listen to interesting chats about lost loves or lost plays about to be revived. It was restful and I would have to shake myself off the the cushions and return to the world outside.

Contemporary food has become more assemblage than cooking. A lot of flavours and textures and vogue ingredients are assembled on a plate, which too often ends up as a discordant mismatch where no elements talk to each other. Yet there is so much potential in experimenting with spices and flavours from different cultures. Yotam Ottolenghi built a food empire from such experimentation. However, at the moment we often see the prioritisation of cutting edge over other food attributes and this is what leads to the overcrowding of plates with the latest ingredient du jour.

Assemblage is really just one way of putting a meal together and I am missing the alchemical magic of cooking where the whole is greater than the sum of its ingredients. Some ingredients form the base note, the spices a complementary flavour and the protein transformed and on your plate a meal. Balanced and palatable, it doesn’t have to be old fashioned or stodgy. Surprising elements can go together but they play off and transform each other in the cooking process. Not everything is enhanced by being deconstructed and I always feel disappointed when the dessert I ordered comes out in its parts. The smear of lemon to signify the lemonyness of the original dessert. Sometimes a lemon meringue pie should just be a lemon meringue pie.

Yet despite these trends, there are many strengths with contemporary cooking. Neglected techniques, such as smoking and fermenting, have been revived. There is a passion for provenance. But with innovation and experimentation given primacy, you end up cooking for the kitchen, not the diner. If more could put down the camera and pick up the tasting spoon, we could all enjoy food which is fresh, creative, sustainable and satisfying.

Three Cookbooks

My brother dropped off a copy of Mrs Beeton’s Every Day Cookery and Housekeeping Book for me to have a look at. Originally published in 1893, Mrs Beeton was once the bible for the new housewife but is now a curiosity. The book was full of strictures for running a house, from which day of the week to clean the drawing room to plain family dinners for every month of the year. For her, a plain family dinner for instance on a Friday in December, was Soles souche, roast loin of pork, green, potatoes and a Cabinet pudding (a kind of bread and butter pudding made with sponge cake).

Mrs Beeton saw cooking as a sub sector of housekeeping and was concerned about meeting standards of what was right and proper. She was as concerned with the right table decoration as she was with what was cooked for the table. To her credit though, she lists the ingredients in season accompanied by recipes to make at that time. Mrs Beeton includes a wealth of technical information about cuts of meat and food preparation and her expectation of the skill of the every day housewife were high.

If you want to know how to set a table...
If you want to know how to set a table…

The reach of Mrs Beeton lasted for a long time and was evident in the first cookbook I ever owned, a present from my grandmother for my tenth birthday. The Illustrated Teach Yourself Cookery was aimed at young girls who liked to help Mother in the kitchen. Like Mrs Beeton, Teach Yourself Cookery was also keen on table setting and how to wash your dishes properly. I quickly skipped those parts and turned to the Baking for Tea section whose grubby pages still tell the tale. Despite the constant supply of cakes and biscuits being pulled out of the oven by my mother, my greedy little sweet tooth wanted more. I soon mastered cup cakes, Monte Carlo biscuits and chocolate cake.

Childhood favourites
Childhood favourites

With recipes for such family favourites as boiled salted meat, stewed mince and steamed meat pudding, they should be forever grateful I stuck to the sweetie section of the book.

The strictures on table setting are absent from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. The Ottolenghi empire rolls on with his emphasis on mixing vegetables with interesting textures and flavours into new dishes. Unlike the formality of meeting standards of earlier cookbooks, Ottolenghi encourages experimentation and creative mixing of flavours. He is a compiler of flavours and his recipes can be used as a guide rather than strictly adhering to what is laid out. Using his philosophy, I swap around the ingredients with what I have to hand. No toasted almonds? Then swap for walnuts and change the spice/herb mixture accordingly. For Ottolenghi, cooking is a creative exercise and he happily plays around with flavours and ingredients.

The evolution of cookbooks from the early emphasis on meeting standards and doing things right to being playful and creative in the kitchen mirrors the march of modernity. We have thrown off the conformity of Mrs Beeton, to all toss together pomegranate and tomato salads with Ottolenghi. Though a bit more Baking for Tea wouldn’t go astray.

New Farm Deli

At 6am the day’s choreography starts at the New Farm Deli. People in Brisbane rise early in summer and wait for the doors to open for the first coffee of the day. Vince and Maria own and run the Deli and it is Vince who conducts the floor. In the morning he either works the coffee machine orchestrating, the flow of drinks, or is nearby chatting with customers and chivvying the young staff along. Even when chatting, he is casting around the floor, checking the ebb and flow of service and quickly pointing to cups piling up or glasses to be stacked.

Breakfast at the Deli
Breakfast at the Deli

The Deli is loud and crowded. Tables are tucked close together and laughter bounces off the marble floors and the glass windows. The left side of the space is the actual deli with shelves of imported pasta, olive oil and vinegar and the large serving counter next to the fridges full of aged prosciutto, parmegiana reggiano, sopressa and mozzarella. With the Christmas stock in, hundreds of panettone hang from the ceiling and boxes of sweets and chocolate are piled up near the shelves.

Christmas panettone
Christmas panettone

I often join the morning crowd for my one coffee of the day. Going to the Deli is the space between leaving home and going to work. It gives me a chance to read the Murdoch papers which I no longer pay for, but occasionally need to flick through to maintain my level of outrage at their strange and nasty campaigns. Amongst the clatter of cups and plates, I can turn half an ear to the men in crisp business suits at the next table talking property development and watch the retirees sitting over their coffee with the morning paper. Later in the morning, shoppers come in for a break and men speaking Italian wander by to chiack with Vince and down a short macchiato.

Gearing up for the lunch trade starts early and reserved signs are progressively placed on the tables by late morning. People queue to order lunch at the counter, while the floor staff allocate tables as you wait, squeezing people in to what already looks like a full café. Waiters walk by with big bowls of pasta, heavy with prawns, and generous deli salads from the kitchen, while the foccaccias, flat and salty are quickly put together at the counter. After lunch, kids are brought in after school for a cool drink and the expresso laden business meetings carry through the rest of the day.

Deli goods
Deli goods

The Deli works hard all day. There is always a small queue waiting for sliced mortadella or a scoop of olives. And the floor of the café is never quiet with the dance between customer and staff continues until the doors are finally closed on stragglers some time after 6.00 pm. Then the floors are cleaned, and chairs stacked, ready for tomorrow’s performance.

New Farm Deli
900 Brunswick Street, New Farm
07 33582634
Open 7 days for breakfast and lunch

Jim Clark and the Little Larder

Jim Clark
Jim Clark

Jim crosses the street to the Little Larder every day to drink a short macchiato and read the paper. Sometimes his walk is barely a shuffle and one day I watched him cross back, stopping every couple of feet to clutch his head shot with neuralgia. Jim is the father of friends of mine and washed back into Brisbane five years ago knowing he needed care.

Jim tracked the changes to the Little Larder from his fourth floor window across the road. He told me that when the old shop there closed all sorts of stories went round. Mainly that it was going to be a cafe. Who would use a cafe in this area, he wondered? Gradually the builders came in and they started to turn it into what he thought looked like an interesting place. The show windows, the polished concrete. And then the refrigerated cabinet came in. Then the timber boxes appeared. Dozens of them. Eventually he saw they were seats and then, blow me down, they put them up on the wall and the boxes became the display cabinets for the delicatessen goods.

Jim strikes me as urbane. He is the one drinking the short macchiato while I am on a weak latte. “I don’t make coffee at home,” he said. “I have a morning coffee. Sometimes I have two. It depends on how well the coffee is made. They are pretty good at making it here but sometimes you get a sour or gritty one. I insist my cup is heated with hot water.”

Jim’s world closed in a couple of years ago. He was pretty independent – shopping and cooking and going down to the Chinese Club in the Valley for Saturday lunch. Then he had a couple of stays in hospital and the Council cancelled the little local bus which took him down to the shops and to the Valley. The demise of the dirty old shop across the road and the opening of the Little Larder was a godsend.

His daughter Liddy often left money there and Kylie and Nick run a tab for him. They look out for Jim and were worried when he suddenly disappeared a couple of months ago. Liddy told them he was in hospital where he was having more tests than usual. He has a lot wrong with him and though he is old he is still sharp. All I notice is a determination to get all of the facts of a story he is telling right and in shipshape order. He will not let them slip off into a little hole in his brain and pulls them back before they find that void.

Jim has stopped policing the papers for Nick and Kylie. They have a stack for sale each morning and Jim would make sure that the yuppies who took them to read with their breakfast paid for them. Then Kylie told him not to worry about it, because they didn’t pay for the ones not sold anyway.

Wesley James Clark, father of Stephen, Liddy and Kaye. 1923 – 2014.

W J Clark esq

Letter from Rome

Justin Livingston, elegant retiree (see 10 Food Question) is spending a month living in the Vittoria area in Rome.  Here is his Roman food story.


Justin Livingston
Justin Livingston

I am staying in the Vittoria area, north of the Vatican and near Piazza Mazzini. This was a working class area, but is becoming trendy, but as yet untouristy.

Street in Vittoria area

The large covered Trionfale Market is about a 15 minute walk  from my apartment and was recommend by my Roman landlord. There is a fantastic availability of fresh food – vegetables, fruit, cheese, bread and pasta. I buy the half green tomatoes which are so full of sunny flavour, as well as the reddest strawberries I have ever seen.


Fresh fruit at the Trionfale market


Because I don’t have an oven in the flat, I make dishes which I can saute on hotplates as well as salads. There is a fantastic array of fresh food, so this is not a problem. I have braised fennel, cooked delicious Italian sausages and made fiori di zuccha (stuffed zucchini flowers).

Buying cheese at the market
Buying cheese at the market

If not eating at home, I go to my local pizzeria/hostaria the Giacomelli. This is a family restaurant and absolutely full of locals. It is atmospheric, not expensive and not haute cuisine, but perfect if you are eating alone as a traveller.
Pizzeria Giacomelli

I ate there last night and had a lovely pizza with peas, artichoke, suasage and mozzerella. There is a huge range of pizzas, as well as the usual beef, veal and chicken dishes. The Padrona and her daughter are front of house, with Signora Giacomelli taking the money as people leave and her daughter Cristiana greeting customers, most of whom she knows, as they arrive.

Signora Giacomelli
Signora Giacomelli

The restaurant has been there since 1945 and is always busy with good service and a lively atmosphere. It’s just the sort of experience I wanted to have by staying here for a few weeks, longer than I have ever done before.
My shopping from the market
My shopping from the market

Easter in the ‘nongs

The Dandenongs are always about 4 or 5 degrees colder than Melbourne, which means about 15 degrees colder than Brisbane over Easter. It was great. Scarves and boots worn with long neglected coats pulled out of the back of the wardrobe. My friends David and Janet have a couple of acres near the toy town of Olinda, which, like other towns in the area, is large on twee Tudor style tea shops and lolly stores.

Autumn flowers
Autumn flowers

Winter hasn’t a grip on the Dandenongs yet. At Brambledene, the gardens are still green with many flowers having survived the onset of the cold. The big winds up there have blown the chestnuts onto the ground, but as yet, there is only a scattering of autumn colours on the trees.


On Easter Monday, we left the hills for a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula. The Peninsula is about 80 km south of Melbourne, As well as bay and ocean beaches, the Peninsula is a well known wine district, specialising in cold climate styles. At Paringa Estate we tasted the pinot noir and shiraz. The pinots were a bit thin, suffering from a couple of dry summers, so we bought a bottle of the shiraz for dinner.
Entrance to Port Phillip Estate
Entrance to Port Phillip Estate

Port Philip Estate at Red Hill is spectacular. The cellar door and dining room sit within a curved building, designed by Wood/Marsh Architecture, with views to the coast. Again the recent pinots were a bit thin, but described as ‘elegant’ by the woman doing the pouring. She didn’t convince the visiting French man next to us who much preferred the softer wines from home.

View from Port Philip Estate
View from Port Philip Estate

Back in the Dandenongs, the wind had come up and it was getting cold. For dinner, David cooked a pea, pumpkin and shitake mushroom risotto, with a side of sugar peas and lightly dressed avocado.
Cold weather risotto
Cold weather risotto

We finished with a plum tart recipe from last Saturday’s Weekend Australian and the shiraz from Paringa Estate. The next day, it was back to Brisbane to put the scarf and boots away until that one day in August when it might drop below 20 degrees.

Plum and almond tart
Plum and almond tart
Good morning from Lotte the Labrador
Good morning from Lotte the Labrador

What to eat?

Like many people, I don’t know what to eat anymore. Having decided to renovate my diet at the start of the new year, I now go around in circles before every meal. Do I eat too many carbs? Should I give up sugar? More protein? Less protein? Gluten Free? Are oats gluten? Is quinoa a carb? Should I go paleo? At least I had the good sense to not even consider intermittent fasting. There is no way I can go on short rations two days a week.

To consolidate the change I went to the Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in the Tallebudgera Valley for four days. Their food ethos is based around fresh, organic produce with low levels of human intervention. The eggs and most of the vegetables are grown on the site and the chef produced food was the highlight of the stay. Breakfast started with two big bowls on the table, one with porridge and one with stewed fruits. The porridge was different every morning with versions with millet, polenta and quinoa. Then some protein appeared. Usually poached eggs, frittata or baked beans.

Fish curry Gwinganna style
Fish curry Gwinganna style

Lunch was the main meal of the day with choices such as a chicken or fish Thai style curry, with a big bowl of salad and one of vegetables to share. Dinner was smaller with a tasting plate for entree, soup and vegetables. The idea was to have your main meal in the middle of the day and a smaller meal at night when you needed the energy less.

This is a great way to eat if you have a team of chefs in your kitchen to start the prep work for lunch right after breakfast service. I did buy the cookbook and have expanded my repertoire to include some of their dishes, accompanied beforehand to a visit to the health food shop for organic vegetables.

Old food wisdom
Old food wisdom

For further research, I headed down to Primal Pantry, a paleo cafe in Florence Street, Newstead, for some breakfast. The breakfast menu seemed familiar but filled with dishes which were artfully contrived to remove all grains, sugar, dairy and legumes. So the pancakes were made from cauliflower and the paleo toast I ordered tasted of coconut and hazelnut meal. There are more exotic choices like Nasi Goreng Style Sweet Sticky Pork ($21.50) but I had the more traditional poached eggs with avocado ($16.50). Paleo eating seems to involve a lot of work to recreate dishes that are recognisable to all of us carb lovers, but this becomes an expensive way to eat. $20 for some poached eggs and coffee seems a tad excessive, and really, it is hard to believe lentils aren’t good for you.

Primal Pantry poached eggs
Primal Pantry poached eggs

So back home in my kitchen, what have I learned? From Gwinganna, I have kept up the warm breakfasts, such as the poached fruit and porridge and moved away from muesli and yoghurt. I have put more attention into lunch and try and make sure I have some protein in the middle of the day and pretty much cut out pasta and other carbfests for dinner. The ritual I particularly liked at Gwinganna was after dinner when pots of digestive tea were put on the table. These simple teas are made from fresh herbs and fruit. For instance a slice of lime with some lemon myrtle, or ginger and mint. Very soothing after dinner.

I still don’t know what to eat but at least I now have a long hard think about it before I put it in my mouth. What are you eating?

Home-made pumpkin and buckwheat muffins
Home-made pumpkin and buckwheat muffins

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat
192 Syndicate Road
Tallebudgera Valley
Ph: 07 5589 5000

Primal Pantry
Cnr Florence and Macquarie Sts
Ph: 07 3252 5960
Open Monday to Sunday 7am – 3pm

Bologna Cooking School

The cuisine of Bologna is vey specific and revolves around cooking a few dishes very well and with the best ingredients. The specialities of the region is tagliatelle with ragu (the ubiquitous bolognese sauce), tortollini either in broth or with butter and sage and lasagne. A day at the Bologna Cooking School will get you up to scratch with a couple of these dishes.

The lesson starts with a visit to the markets. Carlo picks you up from the hotels and then plunging down the side streets takes you on a market tour. The group of five shop for the ingredients for the cooking class. We are only to buy the best of the best. To non-Bolognese eyes it is difficult to pick out from all the hanging hams which is the best proscuitto or how to find the right parmigiana. To improve our palette we tasted proscuitto aged for 24 months. It was smooth and silky and not too salty.

From the fruit market we picked up some small, purple artichokes, which don’t need to be cooked, some fresh peas and a rockmelon. The most care was taken wih the selection of the beef for the Bolognese ragu. The cut of beef is from the diaphragm and we watched while it was cut and minced.

The cooking lesson takes place at Carlo’s apartment. Luciana takes the pasta lesson and we undertake the long process of making, resting and rolling out the fresh pasta. It is by difficult to roll out the large, fresh sheets by hand and to reach the uniform thickness as required by Luciana. From the fresh pasta we made garganelle, little round pasta tubes, spinach and ricotta tortellini and tagliatelle cut to the perfect size.

At the same time the bolognese ragu was put on. Unlike our usual sauce, the meat dominates the sauce and only very little tomato is added. After an hour of simmering, a cup of milk is added at the end.


After about fours hours of marketing and cooking, it was time to eat the lunch, accompanied by lots of prosecco and chianti. The antipasti included the quality produce picked up from the market, followed by the artichoke simply sliced and dressed with lemon. Next was the tortellini filled with spinach and ricotta and finished off with the sage and butter sauce. Next the garganelle with some ragu and the fresh peas. Finally the tagliatelle with the bolognese ragu. There is no rest at the Bolognese table so straight on to strawberries soaked in prosecco and then a tiramisu semi freddo cake made by one of our fellow students who had just finished a week at the Gelato University. By this stage, Carlo produced his home made limoncello and for those still conscious a quick espresso to finish.


I can now cook tagliatelle ragu and tortellini and have the certificate from the Bologna Cooking School to prove it.