Tag Archives: Verona

Zenato Wine Tasting

The main reason we decided to stay in Verona in the first place during our recent trip to Italy, was to visit the vineyard of our favourite wine label, Zenato.

Trebbiano grapes with the Italian Alps in the background

Zenato have two vineyards. One in the Valpolicella region, to the east of Lake Garda, where they grow Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes to make their wonderful red wines, like amarone, and one in the Peschiera Del Garda, at the south east tip of Lake Garda. Here they grow Trebbiano grapes to make white wines like their Lugana.

Zenato also grow their own olives to make their olive oil

Our friendly guide, Anna, walked us through the wine making process, where we found out what a truly complex art it can be. The flavour of each wine is so reliant on seemingly endless factors from nature, from the soil composition and weather to the types of plants that grow near the grapes – all encapsulated in the terroir that gives each crop their unique qualities.

Grapes drying to make amarone

While all of this was fascinating to me, we also had the benefit of being able to take in the spectacular scenery of the Italian Alps in the background, as well as seeing the grapes to make amarone being air-dried in crates before being pressed. The end result is an sweet, intensely flavoured wine that we just love.

No swans were harmed in the making of this photograph ! The awesome Lake Garda

Getting dropped off at Lake Garda on a stupendously gloriously sunny day after going through tasting eight of their wines made a slightly tipsy D and I a little emotional at just how good life can be.  La dolce vita !

Zenato Azienda Vitivinicola
Via San Benedetto, 8
37019 Peschiera Del Garda (Verona) Italy
Email: info@zenato.it


24 Apostles

Amarone risotto

Well, the second time we went to the 12 Apostles, actually. We had had such a fun and delicious experience there a few nights earlier, and there was so many dishes that went unordered, we felt we simply had to go again.

D and I were intent on trying dishes that we would not normally order. This time around, again on recommendation, an amarone risotto, a gorgeous dish of saffron shrimp au gratin and my first taste of monkfish.

The amarone risotto tasted exactly as you would expect a risotto that was made with a heady, heavy, sweet red wine instead of stock. With no other ingredients or accompaniments, the flavour was a little strong for my liking – not sure if it’s habit or preference, but the flavour of risotto for me is usually quite delicate. Still, I’m glad I tried a speciality of the region – presumably because they have a large supply of amarone (so jealous). And the risotto was cooked perfectly – with a good amount of bite and lots of gorgeous starch from the grains.

Saffron shrimp au gratin

The shrimp came on a bed of wilted spinach, smothered in cheese and then oven-baked so that the cheese melted over the shrimp. Oh. My. Goodness. Heaven on a plate. I never think of combining shrimp with cheese but that sweet and savoury mix worked beautifully together.

Pan-roasted monkfish with frutti di mare

Monkfish was my main course.  It isn’t commonly found in Asia or Australia, and we’d seen it in the Venice Fish Markets – not really sure why it seems to be filleted so that it looks like it’s exploded like some alien, but assume because the only edible part of the fish is the tail (and it’s liver) – and looking at pictures of the whole fish, it’s a pretty ugly looking thing. Which is ironic because it tastes absolutely delicious. The texture of it is dense and sweet, similar to lobster-meat but not quite as heavy and is beautifully flaky. This came simply pan fried with a simple stock reduction and seafood with vegetables. I have to say, that in the whole of our trip, the Italians seem to really overseason and overcook their vegetables. Still, the fish was wonderful and I’m glad to have finally tasted this fish I hear so much about from watching travel/cooking programs.

Vanilla ice-cream with amaretti pastry and crushed hazelnuts

Of course we couldn’t skip dessert. Only this time we were more restrained and just ordered one – essentially a round ice-cream sandwich, with vanilla ice-cream in the centre, flaky amaretti pastry on top and bottom, and with the ice-cream dusted in crushed sugar and hazelnuts. The dish was warmed in a hot oven for literally 30 seconds before serving, melting the sugar and hazelnut mixture and providing you with incentive to eat it before all the ice-cream melted. I think it wasn’t on our table for much longer than it was in the oven.

I would recommend Verona to anyone who asks, and also this restaurant. Your dinner is sure to give you a true taste of Veronese food and wine, as well as its culture and history.

12 Apostoli
Corticela S. Marco 3,
37121, Verona, Italy
Tel: +39 045 596999
Email: dodiciapostoli@tiscali.it

Closed Sunday and Monday evenings

Dal Pescatore

The cosy entrance to Dal Pescatore

I had this very romantic, relaxed idea of us hiring a car while we were in Verona and taking day trips out, enjoying driving through the Italian countryside – you know the visual, wind through our hair, laughing when we got lost but easily making it to our destination.

How different the actual experience actually was.

As a start, I forgot my drivers license (smart). Then D had to adjust to driving on the right hand side of the road – kept hitting his left hand on the door each time he tried to change gear, both of us terrified with each left turn or encountered a roundabout. Then I couldn’t figure out how the “never lost” GPS system in the car worked. When I finally did, it calculated the fastest route to our destination, which was always always the tollways. Not exactly scenic.

Having said all that, it was fun to drive out in the classic Italian cinquecento, and our first destination was Dal Pescatore in Mantova. All the dramas in the car was worth the trip to a real treat of an experience.

This three Michelin star restaurant is nestled at the back of a small road, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. But once you enter the house, you are warmly greeted by Valentina Santini, the sister, daughter and granddaughter of the three cooks of the restaurant.

She and her father and owner Antonio are always present in the room – either walking you through the amazing menu, explaining each dish as they arrive, or just chatting to guests – some of whom are clearly local regulars.

Mantovan salami with polenta

Dal Pescatore has been serving simple, traditional Mantovan cuisine since 1926, when Antonio’s grandfather bought a fisherman’s hut by a lake and opened a small osteria with his wife. From those humble beginnings, the restaurant now attracts chefs from all over the world who want to train there, while the wine cellar is reputed to be one of the best in Italy.

Our amuse-bouche was a pumpkin soup – silky, warming and with an intense sweetness from the pumpkin of which Mantova is famous for.

Thinly shaved culatello 

It was our first (and certainly not the last) taste of culatello – (the king of all prosciutto that is made from a smaller part of the traditional prosciutto cut of meat, and only in Basse Parmense in Italy). The taste is sweeter than prosciutto and almost creamy in texture and was served with traditional salami of Mantova, with small cubes of polenta and a teeny tiny quenelle of pork fat mixed with parsley.

Agnoli in broth with lambrusco

We also had agnoli served in broth. The agnoli were little parcels of a mixture of braised raw and cured meats that were served in a clear broth, to which a splash of lambrusco was added at the table. This is the first time I’ve ever had pasta in a broth. I think the warmth of the broth made the agnoli even more tender and the overall flavour was so delicate and light.

Tortellini di zucca 

For mains we ordered more pasta – the tortellini di zucca – the house speciality of pumpkin filled pasta with Amaretto, mustard and Parmigianna Reggianno. How they manage to balance all those strong flavours to end up with a parcel that is not too heavy in flavour or texture is beyond me.

Duck ravioli with asparagus, fennel and black truffles

My pasta was ravioli with duck, cream of asparagus, crunchy fennel and black truffles. Again, a masterpiece with all the flavours and textures working in harmony with each other.

I wish we could have had the time to sample some of the fish and meat dishes but we had reached our capacity and we were also worried about getting too sozzled to drive…

The whole experience was effortlessly perfect. So glad we battled all our driving and navigational demons to dine at this exquisite restaurant on a gorgeously sunny October afternoon.

Dal Pescatore 
Località Runate 15
46013 – Canneto sull”Oglio
Mantova – Italia
Tel:  +39 0376 723001

12 Apostles

Prosciutto with black truffles and parmesan with confit red peppers

On this trip, we fell in love with Verona. Forget all the Romeo and Juliet stuff – it’s fictional after all, and all a bit tacky for me – Verona is charming and just very very pretty.

We managed to eat at so many places this trip and this restaurant is the only one where we went back twice it was that good.

Just around the corner from our our hotel (the wonderful Gabbia D’Oro), 12 Apostoli got its name from the 12 tradesmen who used to meet every day after work back in the 1700s when it was an inn. In was only in the early 1900s that it became a restaurant but still serves simple food, stunningly prepared.

I have to say that it was a bit more formal than I expected, but the staff there were so cheeky in a totally professional way that it lured us back a second time. On recommendation, we started with shaved prosciutto with black truffles and parmesan on a bed of rocket, with red pepper confit. I don’t really need to say any more, do I 🙂

shaved salami on grilled polenta

We also had a traditional Veronese dish, shaved salami on top of grilled polenta. The Italians don’t seem to season their polenta at all but the saltiness of the salami took care of that.

Mains we both stuck to pasta – D had the beef tortellini tossed in butter and sage and I had the papaline (which amusingly is translated to “skullcaps”) filled with marscapone and olives.

Dessert was a total revelation for me. I’m familiar with dessert carts, but not three. It was such a thrill being surrounded by so much sugar ! And we usually had eaten so much that we had no space for dessert but that night, we had three between the two of us. And there were two winners which I would never have dreamed I would even order let alone love.

Traditional Sicilian cassata

The first was a cassata. Now my knowledge of cassata is vanilla ice-cream with dried candied fruit that you can order in Italian takeaways back in Australia – not all that appetising. Apparently that is a type of cassata but the version that we were served that night was the traditional Sicilian version – sponge cake moistened with liquer, layered with ricotta cheese and covered with a shell of marzipan and topped with candied fruit and peel. It was absolutely gorgeous. Light, with no overpowering flavour of marzipan (which I don’t really like the taste of), just delicate and somehow worked beautifully.

Sliced orange with candied orange peel

The second dish was “an orange”. I mean, that makes it sound so .. dull, but essentially it was peeled sliced orange with candied orange peel. That was pretty much it. But the zing of flavour in that orange made all the tastebuds in your mouth sing. Honest.

We had to almost roll ourselves out of 12 Apostles that night but not before we made a reservation for dinner on our last night in Verona. Perfect way to start a visit to this lovely city.

12 Apostoli
Corticela S. Marco 3,
37121, Verona, Italy
Tel: +39 045 596999
Email: dodiciapostoli@tiscali.it

Closed Sunday and Monday evenings