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.
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.
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.
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.
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.