I felt visiting such a beautiful country with its famous gastronomic tradition (and being a food lover) it was only right that I gave “what we ate” its own tasty little post! I have missed the delicious fresh foods of Italy and I think for Ethan and Megs, aside from swimming everyday the extensive flow of fresh pasta, pizza , olives and ice cream really was the highlight of their holiday and an adventure in itself, and unfortunately since being home my motivation to cook has dwindled some what!
I am very much a need to plan kind of person and so prior to going away I trawled through the internet to find some things we could do, or things we needed to look out for, taste etc…I just really like to know we are making the most of wherever we are and partaking of local delicacies, I see no point in going to another country unless you are really going to sample and appreciate all it has to offer.
During my research I came across a great website called Emiliadelizia.com that mentioned several things that I found to be useful – the first was an obvious of sampling fresh pizza and Pasta, next something I never considered but so glad I read was about fresh fish (of course, so obvious when your next to a lake, but not to me) and finally the most useful was about the olive oil and a museum on the lake. This was the most interesting thing and exciting to check out, as the kids LOVE olives and we all love museums and we thought it would be an educational afternoon out and informative for us all. So armed with information and inspiration from this helpful little site, I was confident we would be experiencing some tasty cuisine!
Olives / Olive Oil – The Olive oil museum was only about 20 minutes from where we were staying and something we did early on in our stay as I was so intrigued after reading about it. The kids absolutely love Olives and so were excited to go and see about how olives are turned into the oil we so freely use back home every day. It was a small place, yet even with 2 kids we had about 1.5hrs there. I learnt so much about the amount of olives harvested, the religious symbolism of the trees, oil and olives themselves, the health benefits and that even a battle was won from the use of olive oil on the skin of soldiers – AMAZING! The kids loved seeing the water wheel which powered the press and looking at the collection of oil bottles.
They especially loved the freebies/samples in the shop. It was so novel to go to a museum and then enjoy FREE SAMPLES, and it was at this point we realised the quality difference in the Olives and Oil available from the source compared to the stuff we have here. It was so much richer and tastier and this was a great afternoon of eating and sampling breads and oils, olives, pestos and other delicacies. . I so wished we didn’t have limits on how much liquid you can take on the plane because the raspberry balsamic glaze, lemon oil & chilli oil were absolutely gorgeous! I could have quite easily bought them all plus gifts for family. We said for days after what a fab little place it was and how we were pleased I had found out about it
Pizza and Pasta – Pizza and Pasta are both huge family favourites for us all and so we were super excited to have some authentically made dishes. Like fish & chips here its very competitive and so wherever you go there will be restaurants or take out style eateries offering these dishes to cater for all budgets. Being self catering in a caravan meant that a lot of our meals were prepared “at home” and it as great to find that Lidl (and other supermarkets) are scattered all over which made buying breakfast, lunch and some dinners and snacks VERY easy and cheap.
Other days we treated ourselves. I remember that towards the end of the trip we sat outside on the street in Peschiera and enjoyed a gorgeous meal in the evening sun; Ethan and Megs had Spag bol, Nath a Calazone and myself a delicious Fetuccini with Lake garda fish – it was all so fresh and so delicious. I don’t think I would have consciously chosen a fish dish but after reading about it, it was obviously etched in my mind and im glad it was because it was 10/10 for tastiness – don’t you love it when you listen to advice and it pays off!
My favourite meal was the evening we returned from a day out in Verona. We decided to go across the lake a little to a gorgeous town called Sirmione. I had read about it on the above site and the “romantic sunsets” intrigued me. Ideally we would have ate in a beautiful restaurant but having 2 crazy kids we instead found this little snack bar a couple of meters from the edge of the lake, it wasn’t expensive or glam but it was tasty and evident that there is something for every budget. All I had read was true, it was the most beautiful place we ate and as we did we watched the sun set over the lake and stared out at the water, it was lovely.
MARKET FOOD – I love markets , especially in other countries as you really get a feel for local life and there are always opportunities to sample some delicacies. Everyday there are open markets up and down lake Garda and so on the Saturday we visited one in valeggio sul mincio which was only 6km from our camp site. We went fairly early (9am) and so it wasn’t too busy. Nath was excited to buy some local grapes, which we did for 1 euro 50 & which were far sweeter and juicer than we have here in the UK. and as they weren’t seeded he didn’t share many with the kids!
I loved the fish stalls and the variety of both fresh and cooked seafood you could buy. It was great. Fish is available throughout the restaurants at lake Garda but this is a fantastic opportunity to sample lots at a cheap price… As the kids aren’t super adventurous we just had calamari, prawns and fish bites. We considered crabs legs too but figured they would be too messy. They loved them but couldn’t get over the fact you could buy a whole octopus! It was all super tasty and only 3 euros!
ICE CREAM – Italy is well known for its Gellato ice cream, I don’t know how one tells what is good gellato and what is bad but we ate from various places almost every day and each one was just as delicious and creamy. Gellato is widely available around the lake and cities.
Obviously wine is a massive party of the Italian culture and I noticed the site I found offered vineyard tours – we don’t drink and having kids in tow it wouldn’t have been appropriate for us this time but I was intrigued and thought id share it in case you are reading this and fancy it!
I surprisingly gained absolutely nothing weight wise, but my taste buds thoroughly enjoyed every morsel. Whilst we ate well before and enjoyed fresh colourful food, since our trip to Italy we have definitely incorporated a lot more med influence into our diet for a yummy life! I only wish we had smuggled some of that olive oil!!!