Thursday, April 27, 2017

Vegan In Castiglione del Lago



  I'm always looking for somewhere new to enjoy lunch in our area of Umbria. We are so fortunate to have wonderful places in our village, of course, but I like the hunt for a new dining experience.
  This past week, we were told by two people in one day about a new vegan/vegetarian restaurant in nearby Castiglione del Lago.
  I was intrigued, to say the least. Vegan? So close by? Hmmmmm.

  So, off we went, on the hunt.

  Located outside the historical center,  Bianco Rosso e Verdure isn't hard to find. You just need to look for this sign, on the right, as you head towards Pozzuolo:


The restaurant is connected to a lovely resort/spa.





































  We parked on the street, but only because we didn't know there was a parking area inside the gates.
  You enter into a beautifully maintained drive, which leads to parking, and the spa.






Rooftop bar. Hotel rooms to the right.

  Maybe someday, I'll check out the spa. Every once in a blue moon, I wish for a good massage while I'm over here. As if just being here wasn't enough....
  Anyway, we arrived sort of late for lunch, so we were the only diners this day.
  We did see a few groups checking into the hotel for the long weekend, though.



The dining room. There is a pool just outside on the right.


  We were greeted, and asked to sit. The chef came out and told us about the daily three course lunch, but we just weren't that hungry. We were wanting something lighter, so we asked for the menu.
  We ended up ordering two of the same appetizers, because they were a combo and sounded so good. Also, a couple of glasses of wine, while we waited...






  This day's vegetarian appetizer sample was amazingly good. They had me at 'tempura', because I was ready for a different flavor sensation.
  Also included, two small bites of bruschetta, both versions flavor forward, and a small falafel on the creamiest, yummy hummus (that's a lot of mmmms).

  Every bite was great. The tempura was hot, crispy and not oily. The veggies inside were raw, which added another level of crunchy texture, in a very good way. The falafel, though small, packed a massive punch flavor from spices and a touch of agave, which gave it a nice sweetness. The hummus could have had a touch more garlic, but I really can't complain. It was just fine.
  The bruschetta with tomato was good, but the zucchini and leek, with some kind of wonderful sauce swiped on the toast...perfection.


I would love to eat this plate again. Right this minute.


  We could have stopped here, but we did order one 'primi', or pasta dish.
  This was also really good. Layers of thin pasta sheet covered in a black truffle sauce. The crunchy brown bits....well, we sort of fought over that part.






Yes. Please.


  Though we were now quite satisfied, we did try their version of tiramisu, vegan style.
  It's good! Not anything like any tiramisu I've had before, but still a nice way to end the meal.
  Satisfyingly 'chocolat-y', creamy, and not too sweet.





  Now.
  All this raving aside, I would be hesitant to recommend this place to everyone. The flavors are out-of-this-world good. Yes. The service was fantastic and friendly. The space is beautiful.
  So what's the 'but'....? The portions are very small (though so damn good, it didn't matter to us), and the price is higher than most local places in this area.
  This being said, we were thrilled with the find, left feeling full and satisfied, and would go back today. And tomorrow.
  This is a labor of love, and you can taste it in every bite.

  Be prepared to spend some hard earned euros, go with an open mind, and ENJOY!

  Bianco Rosso & Verdure

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

An Umbrian Garden



  There are many things to love about our time spent in Umbria every year, but one of our favorite things to do is visit one of our friend's lovely garden.
  Just down the hill from town, this small bit of heaven exists by way of many hours of hard work, year after year. Satisfying work, no doubt. We always look forward to stopping by once or twice, both to help with a small chore if we can, and/or to share a sip or a bite of something wonderful.
  Today we had a couple of small chores to help with, after some good espresso with biscotti, followed by a small glass of vino.
  Perfection.

  As I must always do, I took some photos of the amazing beauty to be found in this special garden...in the middle of Umbria...in the center of Italy.....





The entry arbor.

At this moment, it's all about the iris and the roses.







these make me swoon....



Outstanding color combination.



Roses just coming on.







So fragrant!






Very cool sculpture.




We call it 'snow in summer',,,



Getting the job done.



I can't get enough of these iris!




Layers and layers of beauty.



In another corner....


From above.

  We both feel so blessed to be friends of this garden, and it's lovely owner.
  We've spent many hours here, over the years...laughing, sharing stories, eating well, drinking well...puttering about...Johnny has painted in this garden, as well. It holds a very special place in our hearts, and we will think of the time spent here over and over when we are back in California.
  Just another afternoon in Umbria, yes...but also so much more.




Grazie, dear one.


Friday, April 14, 2017

We Love Our Sfuso


  Sfuso. It's a pretty cool thing. It's a great way to have very decent 'house wine' without spending a bunch of euros.
  Imagine having wine in the bulk department of your local favorite market. Sfuso is bulk wine for the average consumer. As you will see here, there are sfuso shops all over, in many shapes and sizes, offering a range of wines, or just the wine from the vineyard you are visiting. This is what we do.
  There are three or four great little family owned places in the area we like to visit, and one of our favorites is also one of the closest to where we stay.






 'Il Poggio', owned and operated by the kind and lovely Anna Gattobigio, offers both red and white sfuso, as well as pricier bottles by the vintage.
  You follow the old and rusty yellow signs from Macchie, a village close by, and soon you are on a dirt 'white road' out in the fields. Once there, we always pull into the back area to load up on vino...


The front of Il Poggio....but we pull down the driveway to the back.





  Once we are parked, it only takes a minute or two for someone, usually Anna, to come over from the house and open up for our business. There will be some small talk, weather, family, business, etc...then it's time to choose.



White, red, or a bottle of something special?



Johnny always picks up some flyer or another. Where ever we go.



  On one table, you will see all the vintage wines that are available, and the 'bag in box' sfuso. That's what we get. If we are invited to a dinner at someone's home, we'll splurge on something else, but for our 'house wine', sfuso is just perfect.


Everything from Proseco to Vin Santo, to bag in box sfuso.


That's a whole lotta 'vino bianco' love in there.




All we need to know, on one small piece of scratch paper.


  Once we make our choice, it's easy-peasy. Very much like having your gas tank filled, only wine-y-er. And in Italian



Fill 'er up, per favore.




The bag.



Now in the box. Just pour yourself a glass, or fill a bottle.


  We return with the box, so we can save an extra euro, and create less waste. All in all, a fun way to purchase good wine at a fair price. And we are supporting a local business, to boot.
  Buying a five liter bag in box of the local white ends up costing about nine euros...more than a glass of wine at most places in our town back home.
  And have I mentioned...it's good!
  Thanks, Sfuso suppliers!
 
 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

What I Do



  So...this is often what I do when Johnny is painting.
  Basically, I revert to my eleven year old tom-boy self.
  I like it.









Friday, March 31, 2017

The Garden Center



  When it comes to garden centers, either here in Italy, or back in California, I've never met one I didn't want to poke around in.
  I love checking out all the 'stuff'-plants, pots, fertilizers, weird accessories for the outdoor living room, etc.
  There is this one garden center about thirty minutes away that we have driven past a bunch of times, and on this particular day, decided to stop and check out. We didn't need to be anywhere at any certain time, the weather was great, and spring has sprung hereabouts. Perfect.

  The very first thing to catch my eye was this gorgeous viburnum in a large nursery can...it had blooms that were softest shade of pink, with a fragrance that made me sigh. I love the fragrant viburnums, and hadn't seen this one before. I have something similar in my garden, but the blooms are snow white.





The color is so beautiful.

  Once inside, we were blown away..it went on and on with different greenhouses and gift areas...


This area had succulents and cactus.




Lots of tables with annual color



Lots of varieties of herbs.


Fun pots.


Ummmmm...everything from hedgehogs to chimpanzees....



Just in time for Easter.




And last, but not least...statuary.


  We had fun, bought a couple of things(no, not the hedgehogs or the statue of David), jumped back in the car and continued our adventure for the day.
  Big fun!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Day Or Two

  
  We are getting out and about while the weather is nice. Looks like rain may be on the way in a few days. Hey, we'll take it. It's just so nice to be here.

  Over the weekend, between bouts of Johnny painting here and there, we took our walks in the morning, as always, after coffee in bed.
  (An aside-I think we may be the only visitors who rarely have coffee at the bar. We wake up super early, like at home, and have our coffee in bed while we read, or check emails...it's our ritual. People are shocked if they see us at the bar in the morning.
  That being said, they would be even more shocked if they didn't see us there with wine in the evening)

   We always try to get out early for our walk.

A walk up to the old church.


 
Especially pretty in the early morning sunshine.


  Taking the road out of town to buy some art supplies, we pass one of my very favorite views.
  This year, the scene is even prettier with the white blooming shrubs.




   The weather has been fantastic. Great for photos.









 I came across this lovely villa on a walk while Mr. J painted. Could not get closer, unfortunately, but still intrigued.






  I have bought two pairs of boots this year, and I wore these for the first time over the weekend. Like slippers, only squishier. Light as a feather, too.








 
I just want to beam this entire scene to my California garden.

  
   Sunday, we enjoyed a birthday party with friends in the morning, Johnny painted for awhile, then we headed to the lake in the late afternoon.

  There is so much to love about spending an hour or two at the lake. Sundays, everyone comes out to play. All the generations show up. And they all talk to one another, play cards, walk along arm in arm, laugh...
  Sigh.


  From one side of the lake....










  

...to the other side of the lake. We are equal opportunity lovers of this beautiful lake.







  Here is a little sight and sound video of a typical weekend afternoon, lakeside-
  Enjoy.





  Check out Ciao Trasimeno to find your own piece of heaven.