Olivigna brings Tuscany to Warrandyte: La Sala

I’m one of those Melbourne obsessives who thinks that Melbourne is the best city in the world to live in.  But one of the things I do miss about my time in London is the easy access to Europe for quick getaways.  Australia can feel very isolated sometimes.  But luckily for me about 15 years ago husband and wife team Anna Gallo and John Di Pietro started planting olive trees in Warrandyte on the outskirts of Melbourne.  Six months ago they opened Olivigna and La Sala restaurant set over eight hectares.  It’s a little piece of Tuscany right here in Melbourne.


Olivigna feels like a real discovery, down a one lane dirt road you drive into Olivigna’s gates to see olive groves dotting the hills and cypress trees.  Not exactly what you expect in Warrandyte.  I was invited to go there attend one of the regular artisian pasta making classes.   The class started with a coffee and a chat with the lovely Piera Benini who teaches the class.  Piera is from Bologna, pretty much my favourite city in the world and the home of pasta in Italy, so what she doesn’t know about pasta is not worth knowing.  

Piera explains the art of pasta making

Piera explains the art of pasta making

Then it was sleeves rolled up as everyone in the small class of ten rolls up their sleeves to have a go at making pasta.  I’ll share Piera’s pasta recipe in another post.  Just when it was starting to feel a little like hard work (kneading the pasta dough by hand is tough)  it was time to sit back and eat the fruits of our labour in a pasta feast in La Sala’s atmospheric cellar-like private dining room. 

Pasta feast at Olivigna

Pasta feast at Olivigna

Olivigna’s chefs had cooked up our pasta with simple but delicious sauces.  There was amatriciana with the fresh long pasta ribbons doused in a tomato and garlic heavy sauce garnished with pancetta and a little chilli.  The highlight was the frutti di mare teaming the silky pasta with spankingly fresh  clams, mussels and prawns.  It was served with Olivigna’s own bread, wine and of course olive oil.  Just like you would expect in Italy.  

Folds of prosciutto and Olivignas own olives

Folds of prosciutto and Olivignas own olives

A class at Olivigna is a fantastic way to spend a morning but I am sure a long lunch there would also be the perfect antidote to any Italian cravings.   

Gourmet Chick was invited to review Olivigna. 

The view from Olivigna's kitchen garden

The view from Olivigna’s kitchen garden

Details: Artisian Pasta Making Class, Olivigna, 54–56 Brumbys Road, South Warrandyte (Ph 03 9844 4676) 
Damage: Pricey. $130 for the class, lunch and a glass of wine.  But on this occasion I did not pay. 
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Posted by: on August 20th, 2014     1 Comment »

Category: Cooking class, Dinner, Italian, Lunch Tags: , , , ,
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Pub grub reinvented at The Rose Upstairs

When I was at uni I lived in a share house in Napier street Fitzroy.  The only toilet was outdoors (not great in a Melbourne Winter) but on the upside the rent was affordable and we had The Rose as our local pub.  The Rose is a brilliant little backstreet pub.  It’s as unpretentious as you can get in Fitzroy with the footy always playing on the TV, a trivia night which we used to attend weekly and pretty forgettable food.

The Rose

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Posted by: on August 18th, 2014     1 Comment »

Category: Date night, Dinner, Drinks, Fitzroy Tags: , ,
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Sponsored post: Mexican grilled corn on Ziegler & Brown

One of my philosophies in life is that ice-cream is not just for Summer.  It’s so good you need to eat it all year.  I feel the same way about BBQs.  It’s such a great way of cooking food and a fun social experience that it’s a shame to leave BBQs to the Summer months.  So while it may be pretty cold at the moment I had no hesitation in heading out doors to test a recipe for Ziegler & Brown.

Ziegler and Brown

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Posted by: on August 15th, 2014     1 Comment »

Category: Recipe - BBQ Tags:
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Dinner in the Dark with Lime & Tonic

Ever tried eating dinner blindfolded? It’s a pretty messy process and food can taste very different indeed when you can’t see it.  But it’s certainly an experience.  Lime & Tonic organises regular “dinner in the dark” events at secret locations in Melbourne and I was invited along to try it out.  


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Posted by: on August 13th, 2014     3 Comments »

Category: City, Gourmet Event Tags: ,
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Renting a villa in Puglia: Gourmet Chick in Italy

Puglia is olive producing country and ancient olive trees grow everywhere on the rocky land.  Dotted amongst these olive groves you can find some masseria – old farm houses surrounded by high stone walls.  To stay in one is about as Puglian as you can get (unless you want to live in a trulli!) so we decided to hire one out with a group of friends.

Pure Puglia

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Posted by: on August 11th, 2014     3 Comments »

Category: Travel - Italy Tags:
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