Friend and cheesemaker Christian Nobel, writes about his family’s recent trip from Australia to visit relatives in Switzerland.
The mountain path
We start at the valley bottom very early in the morning. The weather forecast is great and although there is no indication yet of the rising sun, the mountains are starting to appear as the darkness disappears. After a strenuous passage through a dense pine forest, we continue up a rocky path that has never seen a car or truck before.
These alpine trails are only for hikers or one or two wild alpine farmers riding motor bikes, which have been specifically adjusted for crazy and steep paths. Up in these high alpine areas, one either walks, or if available, transports goods by aerial ropeway or even by helicopter.
Kuta Beach Club Hotel, Bali, 1975
Kuta has an obvious village atmosphere. Bare-chested old men in sarongs sit on platforms and groom their fighting cocks. In and around the thatched buildings, scabrous dogs, chickens and swayback pigs root around, wistful-eyed cows graze in nearby coconut groves.
Traditionally dressed women place little woven trays of flowers, rice, and incense, as offerings to the gods at shrines and strategic sites. Soldiers with guns walk around the market stalls. Hippies and Bali Boys ride motor bikes along the beach waterline.
For the last two weeks we have been traveling through Sardinia and central Italy. Our trip began with an overnight stop at the Relais San Damiàn, in the countryside behind Imperia, a very beautiful small agriturismo (farm hotel) with ample spacious rooms and a small pool nestled in an olive grove. The stop was needed because we had planned a dinner in Imperia, with friends from the alt.food.wine newsgroup: Nils from Sweden, Dale from New York, Luk and Fil from Liguria, and consorts.
Imperia is one of those places that one would normally skip as a tourist, yet it is interesting and in many ways charming. Imperia was an invention of a certain past leader of Italy, the one with the large chin that made the trains run on time but set Italy on the wrong path; the city is actually the artificial fusion of the very large fishing ports of Oneglia and San Maurizio. Agrodolce is situated in Oneglia right on the quays, in a curious mélange of residential palaces and industry, so it is normal, while sitting at a table under the arcades, to get the occasional whiff of olive oil, fish and pasta from the nearby plants. The chef of Agrodolce is Andrea Sarri, and with his wife Alessandra he runs what I consider to be one of the best fish restaurants. Photos of some of the dishes are interspersed throughout this article.