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Episode #75
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A private boat ride to Palmaria Island and restaurant Locando Lorena!

Across from Portevenere, Italy in what’s known as Cinque Terra, or the Five Villages, there is a tiny triangle shaped island called Palmaria.

Hopping on to the private motor launch of restaurant Locando Lorena, we were whisked across the harbor with breathtaking views all around us of this ancient Mediterranean village and surrounding area.

Arriving at the dock on Palmaria Island, Giuseppe was there to greet us with a warm wave and hardy handshake, welcoming us to his restaurant and bed and breakfast there.

Perhaps you can imagine why it is that so many famous people, including music and movie stars, athletes and even royalty visit Locando Loreno- because as soon as you step off of the boat on to the dock and enter this open-air restaurant environment, your view is the entire bay behind you with Portevenere across the harbor!

Giuseppe went to work instantly upon our arrival, preparing a fresh seafood grill experience that was beyond description! The open grill area is fired by fresh hard wood from the area that is actually placed behind the grill, with the heat radiating outwards and creating an extremely balanced cooking process that doesn’t burn or char the food.

Of course before we had a chance to enjoy the seafood grill, Giuseppe and his minions of chefs and assistants created an anti-pasta extravaganza that seem to go on for days! We had everything from Fish Dumplings to Mussels Marinara, Calamari and Marinated Salmon…and all of this even before a huge pasta dish was served!

The Pasta included both Pesto and Garlic/Olive Oil with fresh seafood, which was the perfect dish to lead us directly to the seafood grill! Imagine as the sun in setting over the harbor and Palmaria Island, the beautiful crescent moon is rising above the glistening waters of Cinque Terra and being served a seafood grill that includes Lobster, Fresh White Fish, Clams, Shrimp and a whole lot of love!

Grazie Giuseppe, Grazie mile!

PS – to reserve a place at Locando Loreno bed and breakfast requires at least six weeks advance notice and to get a seat at the restaurant at least three weeks (unless of course you’re Mick Jaeger, or Rod Stewart).

 
 
Episode #76
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Trattoria La Grotta, plus Podera la Cappela winery!

Ok, so our guide and co-producer on our trip to Italy Luca explained that today we would travel up into a village on a hill and dine in a restaurant built into a cave!

Well after all we’d been through so far, we thought that this surely must be something to behold, and it certainly was! Driving in to La Sassa village and coming to Trattoria La Grotta we were warmly welcomed by Ivio Paperini the chef and owner, along with his son Tony Paperini and their entire extended family!

Entering La Grotta is something out of this world, as you’re actually entering a restaurant built into an actual cave located on a hill side! The warm lighting and aromas of fresh ingredients and family style cooking made this cave seem more like a womb however.

Into the kitchen with Ivio Paperini as he prepared an incredible Tuscan soup made with beans and fresh bread. Although the story goes that this soup was invented by the poor people of Italy during the rough times, now it’s considered a true delicacy and enjoyed by everyone, including us!

He also prepared a lovely pheasant along with potatoes and vegetables. We were also blessed to have Natasha from Podera la Cappela winery who brought several varietals for our tasting and dining pleasure! Podera la Cappela is a family owned vineyard that specializes in Italian red and white wines that are enchanting!

And for dessert, (or Dolce), we were taken upstairs to learn the special process of their family recipe. A soft of Tiramisu comprised of layers of brandy soaked cookies, topped with fresh cream and butter and topped off with a special coffee drink that had enough kick in it to start a small revolution somewhere!

What a time at La Grotto! Something to plan for on any visit to Tuscany for a once in a life time experience!

 
Episode #77
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Ceralti Vinyard and Michele Satta Winery!

What a magical tour of the wine districts of Tuscany! This is a trip that needs to be savored as delicately as the wines, visiting each vineyard with a clean palate and open mind and heart.

We begin our visit with Ceralti Vinyards. This winery was founded in 1850 and passed down through the generations until coming to it's present owner Dott. Walter Alfeo.
It is located in the commune of Castagneto Carducci, part in the plains and part on the hillsides. The vineyards are on the Bolgheri-Castagneto borders where the soil, microclimate and southern exposure combine to produce unique wine.

Leaving the hot, sunny Tuscan day behind us, we stepped down the long staircase into the Ceralti cask room, where dozens of wooden barrels and casks contain the previous years’ wines. Here in this cool, dry place, shafts of sunlight streak their beams across the top of the ceiling way on high.

Selecting a few of their better known bottles, we return to the tasting area upstairs and outside in the shade of a giant tree that stands magically at the front of their main building

Moving on to Michele Satta Winery in Castagneto Carducci, we were fortunate to visit with Michele Satta himself who gave us a guided tour of their vineyards and subterranean storage facility. Michele Satta founded his winery in 1984 and in 1988 built the most refined machinery for controlling temperature and refrigeration in his cellars. The goal was the maximum of varietal character and aromas from the grapes.

 
Episode #78
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In Italy at the Cowboy’s Guest Ranch, Voghera, Italy.

There’s nothing quite like stepping off the airplane in Milan and driving a couple of hours through the countryside of northwest Italy, only to come upon the Cowboy’s Guest Ranch!

Yes it’s true, in the middle of Italy there is a western style Cowboy Ranch, with stables full of horses, a family amusement park and even a giant rodeo pavilion, mostly used for dressage and performances.

The Cowboy’s Guest Ranch has something very special to offer everyone, including weekend getaways on horseback that are fully catered and include bringing in the cows from pasture!

The cuisine is American as Apple Pie, with a real southwest twist that includes Nachos and Salsa, sizzling fresh plates of Fajitas with Corn or Flour Tortillas, gigantic Steaks and French Fries and desserts that are deliciously tempting to try all of them at once!

Most importantly, your host Carlo Riccardi and his entire family are there to make your stay warm, comfortable and down right laid-back! The guest rooms are all in the style of a western ranch, with antiques, photos and a real sense of being in the wild-west, err, of Italy that is!

So when you’re in Italy, you HAVE to go and stay at the Cowboy’s Guest Ranch! Dust off those jeans, pull down that cowboy hat and tell ‘em The Hippy Gourmet sent ‘ya! Yahoo partner!

 
Episode #79
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Restorante il Lucumone, located in Castello di Populonia!

The promontory of Populonia and the gulf of Baratti are today one of the most characteristic landscapes of the Tuscan coast. Rolling hills, Mediterranean underbrush on steep slopes that drop sheer into the blue sea, history and archaeology, all come together to evoke pictorial images. Here, we encounter traces of ancient populations, starting from the beach of Baratti: an open-air museum shining with iron scoria that testifies to the impressiveness of the Etruscan industrial city of Populonia.
From here, climbing up the past the necropolises of San Cerbone and Le Grotte, we reach the acropolis of the Etruscan city and the medieval village of Populonia, led by archaeological artifacts narrating millennia of history.

Sitting up high above the cliffs over looking the Mediterranean is the hill top village of Populonia and the castle fortifications that surround this ancient town.

Nestled in the heart of the tiny main street is the most incredible restaurant known as Il Lucumone, owned by Giuseppina Grasso (Pinuccia) who is proud to have a two Michelin Star rating (which out of a three star measure, puts this restaurant at the top of the world literally and figuratively).

The chef, Maria Capaccioli invited us into her kitchen and prepared some amazing dishes, including a stuffed Zucchini blossom with Sheep Milk Ricotta, Pureed Pumpkin with Capers, Sword Fish Rolled with Egg, a special Pasta “Trofie” with Longostine and Salt Crust Baked Orata Fish! Plus an array of desserts that just wouldn’t stop coming!

What a wonderful experience to find such a romantic location, eating some of the freshest, most delicious recipes, and having to pinch ourselves that we’re here experiencing all of this at Restorante Il Lucumone!

 
Episode #81
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Miramare, Seaside Resort, Livorno, Italy!

What can be said about Miramare that is otherwise indescribable! Imagine a five-star, seaside resort that has all of the amenities of a luxurious space, only with the most laid-back feeling imaginable! Join owner Roberto Volpi as he takes us on a grand tour!

Miramare is probably the only place in the entire world where families can pull their RV’s right up to the most stunning Mediterranean views! Miramare also offers fantastic, and brand new, fully furnished bungalows that include two bedrooms, bathroom and a full kitchen, along with charming patios for dining and visiting with friends!

At Miramare you can learn to scuba dive, surf, take dancing lessons, or merely just relax in this awe inspiring location, while mingling with relaxed campers from around the world!

In this episode we have a real celebration! Cooking out on an open fire at the poolside, The Hippy Gourmet pairs up with Alessandro the head chef of Miramare, to prepare a Vegan Ratatouille, a Veggie Fried Rice and a wonderful Summer Fruit Compote!

So when you plan to visit Tuscany and Livorno, and you only want the most incredible place to stay, plan on Miramare!

 
Episode #82
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G. Fuso – Gino Carmignani, Montecarlo, Italy!

Tucked into the hills of Tuscany, just outside the hilltop village of Montecarlo, Italy is the vineyard and restaurant of G. Fuso Camignani, who is commonly known as Fuso.

This family has had this property going back seven hundred years, with the three generations (Fuso’s Father, Fuso and his children) running the restaurant and vineyard today.

Behind the main kitchen, draped under a complete umbrella of grape vines is the outside dining area. Here is where famous movie stars and politicians, writers and musicians all come together to enjoy Fuso’s famous Tuscan soup, along with some of the other house specialties, including Tuscan Fried Chicken, Chips and a special Almond Cookie for dipping into Port for dessert.

Going with the mouth watering dishes from the kitchen are Fuso’s fantastic red wines named after the famous band leader Duke Ellington. “For Duke” is a selection of fruit filled red table wines that all dance with the harmony of the music that inspired Fuso to create these wines in the first place.

 
Episode #83
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Up the Mendocino Coast at the Stanford Inn

Driving up to Mendocino there’s just something about the Pacific Ocean, stretching out and across the horizon that makes for such an infinite view across space and time. The rocky formations that protrude along the beaches and coves provide for such a dramatic occurrence of ocean mist that sprays with every crashing wave.

Right before entering the town of Mendocino, tucked quietly beyond their sprawling organic gardens, you’ll find the Stanford Inn. With forty-one guest rooms and all with fireplaces, the Stanford Inn has something for everyone. This B&B resort offers kayaking, canoeing, sailing, horseback riding and also has an indoor swimming pool, gym and access to some of the world’s most perfect hiking and biking trails!

Joan and Jeff Stanford founded the Inn and from its inception decided that it should be 100% pet friendly. Considering that most families include their pets as family members, the Stanford Inn provides special food bowls, daily treats and accommodates special bedding for the furrier in ones family.

The Ravens Restaurant is very much a part of the Stanford Inn, and serves an amazing array of ultra gourmet Vegan and Vegetarian dishes! Chef de Cuisine Gunner Thompson takes us on a wonderful culinary journey through the Stanford Inn gardens to pick some fresh ingredients for today’s special menu.

The first recipe he prepares for us is the Raven’s Warm Fig Salad. Made with freshly picked Beets, Figs and Lettuce, this organic salad is served warm and mixed with Lavender and Honey dressing. Yum!

Then Gunner makes some fresh Sobe with Corn Masa and topped with a special Tomatilla Salsa, with all of the fresh ingredients being picked directly from the Stanford Inn gardens!

Andrew Field is the Pastry Chef at the Stanford Inn and prepares a warm Orange Spice Cake, made with organic ingredients and topped with freshly picked Black Berries!

So whether you’re searching for a perfect place to spend a long weekend, or want to have an extended stay in complete tranquility, the Stanford Inn offers so much warmth and hospitality!

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