Thursday, November 2, 2023

Il Molino


Every once in a while you come across a place that awakens your tastebuds, and your soul.  For years we have come to the town of Spello and eaten at our favorite enoteca, Enoteca Properzio, and enjoyed their hospitality and community.  Next door was a restaurant called Il Molino.  This was a restaurant that people from all over Italy would come to for its fine food and atmosphere in this tiny hill town. For years it was tired and then closed due to Covid.   It was eventually sold and is now under new local management, with a new chef, a wine list curated by Enoteca Properzio, and a beautiful traditional renovation, keeping the integrity of the old mill.

Many of these hill towns were once mill towns, here in Spello there is an aqueduct at the top of the hill that supplied the water for the mills, and Il Molino still has the millstone outside its door.  Inside the renovation is spectacular, with beautiful tables, a wine vault that is a jewel box, and lovely lighting.  

A small menu of local favorites with a twist awaits diners here.  I am a huge fan of the souffles that the Italians make, so I opted for the potato souffle.

                        A bottle of local Rosso from Montefalco accompanied our lunch.  

                        Our main courses were steak, and lamb chops, which were excellent.  


Beef Tartar

Roasted potatoes--no one does them better than the Italians

Pacchiere with white ragu

Pasta, pesto, burrata, tomatoes

Lamb Chops

And, there is always room for dessert! We opted for the pistachio creme brulee, tiramisu lollipops and chocolate souffle which were delicious! 
Tiramisu Lollipops

Chocolate souffle

Pistachio Creme Brulee

Our Chef Valeria

I always tell people there are 3 reasons to come to Spello: one is Enoteca Properzio the top wine bar in Umbria, and one of the top 3 in Italy; the Roman villa mosaics in the museum at the bottom of the hill, and the Pinturicchio frescoes in the cathedral.  Now there is a fourth reason to come:  Il Molino offers a delicious slice of Umbria in a beautiful setting.  Put it on your list.  Ciao for now. 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Alberobello and Poglignano del Mare

Alberobello is a UNESCO world heritage site.  It is the only place in Italy where these unique homes with conical roofs exist.  They are called Trullo with the plural being Trulli.  The town is small, with lots of souvenir shops, as you would expect, but the homes are interesting and it's a lovely place to spend an hour or two walking through these unusual homes.  The homes date from around the 14th century and the house could be easily dismantled enabling the owner to avoid paying taxes on the home.  Tax evasion in Italy is an art form.  Some trulli have white-washed markings on the roof to ward off evil spirits, so the legend goes.  

Street performer

After our walk-about it was time to go to the seaside.  

Polignano del Mare is the victim of numerous Instagram and Pinterest posts, so it is crowded, even in October on a gray day.  We did another walkabout here, and of course, you cannot end the day without gelato.  Each tour guide that we met, had to take us to their favorite gelateria, which of course had the best gelato on the planet!  

Even in October, the Italians love the seaside

Always caffe for me!

Ciao for now.

Olive Oil , Grape Juice, Curds and Whey

60% of the olive oil in Italy comes from Puglia.  This is a typical tree---look at the trunk, it's been here a while!  A visit to this beautiful olive oil producer was definitely an education, including an olive oil tasting.

We arrived just in time to see the oil being pressed from these olives

the original wheels

Into the more modern press

filling the stainless steel containers

Sadly, the olive trees here in Puglia have been infected by a bacteria, that is killing many of the trees.  European Union regulations require strict controls on what is used to combat disease in trees.  To date, there is no effective treatment and many of the trees are dying.  

Our next stop is a winery to taste the local wines of the region.  

Primitivo Rose

a lovely white 

We moved on from the olive groves to this vineyard and did a wine tasting.  Puglia is most famous for its Primitivo, or Zinfandel.  Its whites can be Verdeca, Bombino Bianco, or Greco Bianco.  Whites are quite minerally but definitely refreshing.  Other reds would be Negroamaro or Nero di Troia.  Certainly, there will be other grape varieties, but many producers have limited production, and the greater number of export bottles you will see in your local wine shops will be either Primitive and Verdeca.  With climate change rearing its ugly head, many vintners are turning to other grapes that can better tolerate the heat and the salty climate here. Next up, we headed to watch mozzarella being made, old school style.  

We were fortunate enough to watch a master at work, and you can tell from the video that he loves what he does.  He's making the mozzarella into a cute little mouse, or topolino.  We were served a few types of cheese, fresh, and aged, all delicious.  The only ingredients are milk, sometimes a bit of salt, and rennet.  Can't get any more fresh than that.  

After this repast, we were off to lunch.  There is always food!  Ciao for now.