My parents travelled a lot during the 1970s when I was little. They would return with stories of magical places and (most importantly to me I have to confess) little gifts - a knitted poncho from Peru, a cotton Chinese doll from Hong Kong, a little English shop from London.
They even travelled to Libya once (on business but that's another story).
But to me the most exciting place they ever travelled to was to Sardinia to stay at the Cala Di Volpe (translates as Vixen Cove).
My geography lessons had taught me all about the Mediterranean Sea and its islands, and this hotel, sitting squat on the glittering harbour with its adobe style structures and jewell colours evoked pure 1970s disco fun to me and my fertile imagination.
To this day I still want to visit, and stay here in this room:
And eat at this little restaurant:
In Melbourne there is a Sardinian restaurant in South Yarra called Da Noi. My exhaustive 30 second Google search tells me that there are no other Sardinian restaurants in Australia.
There are many things to love about this restaurant:
1. The owner\chef's name (Pietro Porcu)
2. The lack of a menu (well there is a menu but rarely used. You largely just eat what is brought to you)
3. The lack of a website (anyone who sensibly flies in the face of technology should be applauded).
4. This business card (a tawny misty morning shot of three fabulous Italian boar shooters)
On a recent visit we ate pork cheek terrine, eggplant and tomato salad, marinated octopus, oysters, a salty caper, saffron, olive and white fish risotto and lamp shank with smoked potato mash.
Dessert was a tasting plate of mandarin pannacotta, a tiny square of tiramisu, honey and yougurt cake, some kind of fennelly icecream and little pink square of watermelon.
And I especially loved the cannellini mush we had as part of our appetisers.
This is very easy, and healthy (beans are healthy aren't they?).
Drain and rinse a can of Italian cannellini beans.
PIck over and finely chop a sprig of rosemary
Finely chop a large clove of garlic.
Warm a good slosh of olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and once its scent rises add the beans and rosemary. Cook slowly for 10 - 20 minutes. Add more oil if needs be. Some of the beans will break down. They are ready when they become a bit creamy. Add lots of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Perfect on toasted sourdough or just in greedy spoonfuls.
PS a less overtly lazy search has now revealed at least two other Sardinian restaurants - Cose in Brisbane and Pilu in Sydney. There may be many more, indeed.
(Images (1)-(4) Caladivolpe.com)