Al Vecchio Fontanile

For our last night in Italy, I had found a B&B situated in the rural outskirts of Rome, only a half hour drive to the airport. We had a few issues with the GPS, it seemed some of the road names were different to the directions we had been given. After a few trips up and down the same stretch of road, we eventually arrived at Al Vecchio Fontanile. The stone farmhouse was only a few years old

1.the farmhouse

and was surrounded by fruit trees and olive trees.

2.the orchard

The younger family members were very welcoming and well behaved.

Our room was comfortable and beautifully finished, it felt like we were in a much older house.

5.our room

I love the detail in the curtains.

9.curtains

The quality and style continued in the bathroom.

10.bathroom

After relaxing with a restorative beverage or two, we drove to a nearby ristorante, Il Sogna and enjoyed delicious ravioli, gnocchi and panna cotta. We were bestowed with complimentary biscotti and homemade grappa before wending our way back, without the help of the GPS. The breakfast spread the next morning was sensational.

11.breakfast

Served in a lovely sunny room it was the perfect way to start the day.

15.breakfast

Hay Shed Hill

After a morning exploring the beautiful Margaret River region coastline, we had worked up an appetite. In the heart of the Wilyabrup Valley, Rústico at Hay Shed Hill vineyard was the perfect destination.

1.Hay Shed Hill

The setting was serene

2.Hay Shed Hill

surrounded by vines

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and the 6 course degustation menu was irresistible.

4.6 course degustation

If you’re not into food porn, look away now. We started with Esperance Scallops: West Australian scallops in the shell, chorizo, pear purée, candied jamón.

Fried Goats Cheese with orange blossom honey followed.

8.Fried Goats Cheese

Salmon Bresaola: dill aioli, pickled ginger & cucumber was a fabulous third course.

9.Salmon Bresaola

After the Free Range Linley Valley Pork Belly with apple purée & sticky Pedro Ximinez,

10.Pork Belly

I wandered around the garden, admiring the rustic artworks

while the boys discussed the fine art of cigar box guitar making.

21.Hay Shed Hill

I returned in time for the Margaret River Black Angus Petit Mignons: beef fillet wrapped in bacon, sweet potato, asparagus, green peppercorn jus.

22.Petit Mignons

We decided to forego the dessert tasting plate in favour of the European cheese board with muscatels, honeycomb & house breads.

23.Cheese Board

Obviously, there was wine involved in this fantastic experience, I just can’t remember which one. Thank you, Dave, for a wonderful afternoon.

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Bolsena

On a hot, sunny day we reluctantly said arrivederci to Il Castagno and set off toward Rome for our final night in Italy. I had looked at the map and chosen a place to stop for lunch on the way, Bolsena. The town was beautiful, the old buildings merged perfectly with the new.

1.Bolsena2.Bolsena3.Bolsena4.Bolsena

7.Bolsena

We parked the car and walked the plane tree-lined avenue toward the lake.

8.Bolsena

Some of the homes were absolutely stunning.

9.Bolsena10.Bolsena

As we neared the lake,

11.Bolsena

we knew exactly where we were having lunch. Trattoria del Moro, perched right over the water, had spectacular views of Lake Bolsena.

12.Trattoria del Moro13.Trattoria del Moro

The largest volcanic lake in Europe has, fortunately, been dormant since 104BC.

14.Lake Bolsena

19.Lake Bolsena

We dined al fresco, the fish was excellent and with the vino and the sunshine, we could have lingered for hours.

24.fish and chips

Instead, we slowly made our way back to the car,

25.The Castle of Bolsena26.Bolsena27.Bolsena

31.Bolsena

trying not to think about the imminent end to our wonderful trip. I think Michael would fit in well in Italy.

32.Michael

We will be returning to Italy next year and will make sure a trip to Bolsena and lunch by the lake is on the agenda.

The Old Coast Road

After a bitterly cold, overcast weekend recently, we were greeted on Monday by a perfect autumn day. I don’t work on Mondays and so, we decided to drive along the old coast road to Ulverstone for lunch. With the top down, Cooper took us on a magnificent journey, reminding us of the natural beauty we have so close to home. We turned off the highway at Sulphur Creek, apparently named because of the perceived smell of sulphur in the area when first explored by Europeans.

1.Sulphur Creek

Sulphur is associated with volcanic activity, which has determined the landscape of northwest Tasmania. There is no longer evidence of the offending aroma, just a stunning, sandy beach.

2.Sulphur Creek3.Cooper at Sulphur Creek

There used to be a fabulous restaurant at Preservation Bay, hopefully one day there will be another to make the most of this wonderful vista.

4.Preservation Bay5.Cooper at Preservation Bay

Soon, we were in the gorgeous town of Penguin.

6.Penguin7.Penguin8.Ocean Road

As we travelled the narrow, winding road, I was boggled by the reflections of the sun on the glassy water.

9.Ocean Road10.Ocean Road11.Ocean Road12.Ocean Road13.Ocean Road

There is a house along this road that fills me with more than a little envy.

14.house15.house

The Three Sisters are a group of three small islands (the third is almost hidden behind the headland at the right of the pic)

16.Three Sisters17.2 of the 3 sisters

and, along with Goat Island, they form the 37 hectare Three Sisters – Goat Island Nature Reserve.

18.Goat Island

Goat Island is a granite island and houses a breeding colony of little penguins.

19.Goat Island

It can be walked to at low tide, a lovely spot for a picnic.

20.Goat Island

As we reached Ulverstone,

21.Ulverstone

we spied Pedro’s across the river.

22.Pedro's23.Pedro's

The restaurant has a lovely, relaxed ambience

24.Pedro's

and we were shown to a table on the enclosed balcony, warmed by the autumn sun.

28.Pedro's

The Derwent Estate Pinot Gris came highly recommended. A delicious shade of pink, I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

29.pinot gris

The salt & pepper calamari and crumbed scallops were exquisite, the real flavor of fresh seafood.

Outside, the gulls were enjoying a bathe in the shallows of the river’s edge, soon the tide would be high and their chance would be missed.

33.gulls

The Leven River glistened

34.Leven River

as we left Pedro’s

35.Pedro's

and retraced our journey.

36.old ocean road37.old ocean road

Table Cape emerged in the distance

38.Table Cape

before disappearing behind the next headland.

39.old ocean road

We were surprised to see the masts of a tall ship in the bay, not a common sight in these waters. I read the next day, poor weather conditions had forced the UK ship, Tenacious, to stop in Burnie for a couple of days on its way from Melbourne to New Zealand. Tenacious is the world’s largest operative wooden hulled tall ship and offers opportunities for people with a disability to experience a sailing voyage.

40.Tenacious

What a marvelous way to end our day.

Hallam’s Waterfront

We recently had cause to travel to Launceston and so, seized the opportunity to meet friends for lunch. They suggested Hallam’s Waterfront and we weren’t disappointed.

1.Hallam's Waterfront

Established in 1996, this award-winning seafood restaurant sources only the highest quality, line caught sustainable fresh seafood from the pristine waters around Tasmania.

2.Hallam's Waterfront

There is a peaceful ambience,

complemented by an assortment of nautical-themed artefacts.

The views over the Tamar yacht basin are beautiful.

10.Tamar basin11.Tamar basin12.dry dock

The extensive menu offered plenty of scope to share and compare. Entrée of tea smoked spareribs with ginger & soy glaze;

13.tea smoked spareribs with ginger & soy glaze

tempura prawns with sweet chilli

14.tempura prawns with sweet chilli

and oysters Kilpatrick (I wasn’t quick enough – I missed one).

15.oysters kilpatrick

Main course of grilled harissa southern calamari & banana prawns with rustic guacamole, grilled summer vegetables, coriander & paprika oil;

16.grilled harissa southern calamari & banana prawns with rustic guacamole, grilled summer vegetables, coriander & paprika oil

Cape Grim porterhouse with potato galette, Yorktown organic leaves, goat cheese, pine nuts & sticky balsamic with green peppercorn jus;

17.Cape Grim porterhouse with potato galette, yorktown organic leaves, goat cheese, pine nuts + sticky balsamic with green peppercorn jus copy

tempura market fish & chips, green salad with lemon & garlic dressing;

18.tempura market fish & chips, green salad with lemon & garlic dressing

and yellow curry with white fish & mussels were all stunningly delectable.

19.yellow curry with white fish & mussels

Of course, we managed to find room for dessert, I was very happy with my vanilla bean crème brûlée with lavender sugar, pistachio cake & rosewater syrup.

20.vanilla bean crème brûlée with lavender sugar, pistachio cake & rosewater syrup

The lemon & lime curd, tamarind chantilly, five spice coconut crumble & smashed raspberry meringue was a colourful offering;

21.lemon & lime curd, tamarind chantilly, five spice coconut crumble, smashed raspberry meringue

while basil panna cotta, white peach foam, quinoa crisp & fresh berries was a little more subtle.

22.basil panna cotta, white peach foam, quinoa crisp & fresh berries

We lingered outside long enough to admire the gorgeous surroundings

23.Tamar basin24.Tamar basin

before heading back to the northwest. We will certainly return to Hallam’s Waterfront.

25.Tamar River