Posts Tagged ‘Pavia’

Deep in the rolling hills of Oltrepo Pavese every year an extraordinary tournament takes place. Sponsored by Cantina Travaglino, Calvignano cheese rollers from all over Italy meet here to er…roll a cheese up a hill.

Cantina Travaglino

You start from the bottom and throw your cheese rolling it off a belt-type thing to give it extra spin. The cheese has to roll in between certain marks and go higher than everyone else’s cheese, marks are set and you keep moving further up the hill.

The ‘Cantina’ is pretty old and their wine rather good so the event attracts as many people to watch the cheese rollers as it does general wine lovers on a day out.

Young they are not: like cheese, for cheese rolling you apparently need to age a bit before you get really good..

The precious cheese…

Some of these rounds of cheese are cherished for a year before they are taken out to compete. Sadly they all meet the same end and are eaten after the match.

Getting ready to roll…


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As promised after Beer Food at the Castello Visconteo in Pavia, we couldn’t miss out on Pavia Wine the following sunday.

It was boiling hot, not the organiser’s fault although let’s face it May would have probably provided better weather for tasting full bodied reds. Unlike Beer Food the event took place in covered first floor of the castle beautiful, but not very breezy.

Also unlike Beer Food there was absolutely nothing to eat! Now I know that if you are a proper wine connoisseur you are very likely to do that spitting into a bucket thing instead of drinking the wine, but this was not the tone of the event. Even the sommerlier seemed rather (very) drunk. Every 15 minutes some salame from Varzi was brought out only to disappear within seconds as the ravenous crowds swept in.

Most of the local wine producers were there, with some new names we didn’t know although the usual favourites are Giorgi, La Versa and Mazzolino. A lighter Buttafuoco was a nice surprise.

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It’s not every week that something is going on in Pavia, but now it almost is with Beer Food just gone and Pavia Wine coming up on Sunday 3rd June (www.paviawine.it)

Beer Food felt had the festival feeling nailed-it even rained! Admittedly we managed to stave off the downpour and only get a few drops, but it just added to the grungy barbecue feeling of it all.

So, Beer Food was set up by an association called ‘Amici della Birra’ to promote specialty beers. They managed to nab a top venue- the inner court of the castle at Pavia and charging only 3EUR for entry they had it packed pretty soon.

Various stands offered barbecued meat, sandwhiches and chips as well as focaccia, farinata (ligurian focaccia made with chickpea flour) and a whole load of highly caloric comfort food.

Assortments of cold meats

Classic festival food 

A find: Il Giusto Gusto, a sandwhich chain present in various places including Piacenza

‘Plin’ special ravioli from the Langhe area in Piedmont

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Although Trattoria Ferrari has been around forever in Pavia, just opposite Santa Maria di Betlemme in Borgo Ticino, because it is the ‘other’ side of the river  to the town we’d never really considered it.

Its interiors a typical high-end trattoria style with relics from country life such as the odd rusty yoke and copper dishes decorating each room. We actually sat under the stuffed head of a wild boar which was, I suppose, better than sitting right in front of it for the whole meal.

If you are a fetishist of this sort of ambience then you’ll love it, personally I’m not a big fan as it reminds me of old ladies’ houses and rising damp. However each area has its traditions and this is a typical trattoria interior if that is what you are looking for.

(Pic from website)

The menu is very long, traditional and delicious although they have a tendency to favour colourful pasta (black ravioli, purple gnocchi).

Menu: http://www.anticatrattoriaferrari.it/template.php?pag=35525

I can vouch for the prawn ravioli served with basil and ‘pachino’ baby tomato. They are blackened with ‘nero di seppia’ and absolutely mouth-watering.

Below is one of these large ravioli split in half to show  you its creamy interior. Forgive the photo quality but they really deserved more than just a mention!

After this Mr Towers and I shared a plate of frogs’ legs. These are served fried with lemon here in Pavia and are a bit like eating chips. Although it was nice to have this typically ‘pavese’ dish after at least 5 years since I last tasted it, I rather regretted eating a fried dish just before pudding.

Fortunately the Baci di Dama I chose were individually wrapped in aluminium so I was able to take some home for breakfast the next day.

The baci di dama, a round nutty biscuit with a layer of hazelnut cream in the middle were just as they should be: moist and nutty and clearly freshly made.

Atmosphere: Oldy-worldy

Food: Couldn’t find fault with it if I wanted to

Price: Dinner for two with wine c.a.60 EUR

Would we go back? Slightly put off by the interior (not my style) but drawn by the tantalising menu so yes

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Funnily enough the inaugural entry to this blog marks the first wedding anniversary between me and hubby. And in virtue of these many celebrations we’ve treated ourselves to a few culinary delights. First and foremost a romantic dinner for two at Le Carceri inPavia, little town sunk in the sweaty Pianura Padana.


After watching my alma mater get miserablt thrashed by the ‘Pavesi’ on the waters of their own Ticino and drowning my sorrows in a Spritz (rapidly becoming the ‘it’ drink in northern Italy this summer), we strolled to the restaurant.


A word for the wise- booking is strictly necessary here as we watched half a dozen couples (not bus loads) get turned away at the door.


The restaurant is provencal in desing, and although you can see a lot of care has gone into its décor, it remains unpretentious.


There are two dining floors so I would suggest you are picky when you call and ask to be put upstairs away from the kitchen, the stairs and the loos.


The menu was a little too on the long side and the wine list was huge. We settled for a Sauvignonnaise (derived from tocai grapes) but then were talked into a very run of the mill Sauvignon which brought back terrible memories of cheap Sainsbury’s Sauvignon so not a good idea.


Anyway the menu was delicious. I chose the spaghetti with tuna roe. The dish was delightfully perfumed with chives, lime and chilli. Hubby went for a complicated risotto with fava beans and ricotta served withParmaham and parmesan- more of a feast for the eyes than the palate to be honest.


Surprisingly snails were serves already out of their shells which took away half  my fun.


Highlight of the evening: the owner popping a cork into the plate of the table in front (fortunately empty at the time).

Low light: A ‘zuppa inglese’ (be trifle) that was more like a tiramisu.

So to sum up: 


Osteria Alle Carceri Pavia

 Atmosphere: Unpretentious but smart

Food: Excellent but watch out for anything that sounds too showy

Price: Dinner for two with wine c.a.70 EUR

Would we go back? Certainly!

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