Saturday, March 16, 2019

Seafood Diner in Monterosso al Mar at Trattoria Da Oscar

One of the curious things about travel by train and, choosing a hotel just out of town; up a steep hillside with an impressive view - of the beautiful bays of Cinque Terre. Is you do manage to meet and converse with your fellow guests; chatting away as you shuttle up and down the switchbacks of the hillside in the courtesy mini bus. The little van that takes you down to the beach or back up to that glorious view. It was on one of these return trips to the hotel that David and Margaret, who just so happened to be from Sydney too.. kindly recommended to us a seafood restaurant called Oscars, that they had tried the night before and thought was just fabulous! So Vivienne and I decided to give it a shot the very next evening. The mini bus drops us at the start of the beach on Via Fegina opposite, Ristorante Miky, but that's another culinary story yet to be told. continues below..
Umbrellas folded for the night, Monterosso al Mar, Cinque Terre,  Italy. Photo by Kent Johnson
Now as compact as Monterosso is, there is the new town (not that new) and there is the medieval old town on the other side of the rocky promontory. A distance of perhaps a kilometre and half of pleasant beach front promenade. Trattoria Da Oscar is in the old town, through the tunnel under the hill, of rock. Past the fishing boats, across the square skirting churches in bold marble stripes, watched over by a Madonna, by a peloton of bicycles and up a bendy narrow street. Yes there were some wrong turns and directions asked, but at last we found Oscars!
A small Madonna in a wall niche, old town, Monterosso al Mar, Cinque Terre,  Italy. Photo by Kent Johnson
a peloton of bicycles, old town, Monterosso al Mare. Photograph by Kent Johnson
Looking in from the street at  Trattoria de Oscar, Monterosso, Cinque Terre. Photograph by Kent Johnson
And we found it reassuringly busy, all the tables taken outside, though still with room for the two of us inside, away from the chatter of the American accents.. The next night we had a booking for a multi course extravaganza at Ristorante Miky. So for diner at Oscar's we decided on a simple menu. We would start with fried sardines followed by the dish of the day, scampi gnocchi. All accompanied by a bottle of Prosecco, why not!
Chef at work - Trattoria de Oscar Monterosso al Mare. Photograph by Kent Johnson
How was it? We loved our sardines, fresh and tasty and they didn't last long. Next came our scampi gnocchi, which we had discovered was to be the last serving of the special that day. The sauce was a rich, intense tomato driven infusion with a hint of spice, a little chilli? Garlic and olive oil. And it was divine, easily coating the light fluffy gnocchi and the all important scampi! We polished it all off as you can see below, leaving just the pan, and the spoon. I not only relished our shared meal, I really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere. The immediacy of the experience and the quality of food and service. It was an authentic food and travel experience to remember. I hope you enjoy my black and white pictures of our meal. (I actually turned to camera to B&W to take them) Why black and white? because I feel it lends itself to the immediacy, the directness of flavors the meal, the clarity of it all which sometimes colour diffuses. More at the end - and click on the pictures to view them large.
A serving of sardines at Trattoria Da Oscar.  Photograph by Kent Johnson
Sardines on the plate, knife and fork, at Trattoria Da Oscar.  Photograph by Kent Johnson
The ancient arched stone roof at Oscar's.  Photograph by Kent Johnson
Serving from our pan of scampi gnocchi at Trattoria Da Oscar Monterosso al Mar. Photo by Kent Johnson
Scampi gnocchi at Trattoria Da Oscar Monterosso al Mar. Photo by Kent Johnson
Just the shells remain, scampi gnocchi at Trattoria Da Oscar Monterosso al Mar. Photo by Kent Johnson
The empty pan, all gone!  Scampi gnocchi at Trattoria Da Oscar Monterosso al Mar. Photo by Kent Johnson
Oscar and a mural of Oscar! Trattoria Da Oscar Monterosso al Mar. Photo by Kent Johnson
The boat harbour at twilight, Monterosso al Mar, Cinque Terre,  Italy. Photo by Kent Johnson
After that, it was another pleasurable stole back along the waterfront to the new town and a short wait for the mini bus to deliver us back up the hill to our hotel. Diner at Trattoria Da Oscar; highly recommended.

Special thanks to White Caviar Life for making this story possible.

Telling Stories in Pictures all over..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863

Friday, March 1, 2019

Book Launch - WILDERNESS: Celebrating Australia's Protected Places..

Well thank goodness someone - many someones have been, for decades trying to and succeeding at, saving Australian wilderness areas. Not that its been a straight line of success, a graph pointing only up. Even today, I think many business people and politicians hold onto the dangerous and outmoded idea that nature is only of value - once you cut it down! So the work of the Society is a hard slog, the path rocky at best, but the rewards great, when they win. And not just a win for the Wilderness Society; but for society as a whole. As I think people are beginning to realise in the face of global warming, or whatever you want to call the great climate change disaster sweeping across everyone's doorstep.
Sydney Book Launch - WILDERNESS: Celebrating Australia's Protected Places..
I was fortunate enough to be invited to this event by the host, photographer Sarah Ducker who's own art works are marvellous pictures made in fragile environments. Sarah was kind enough to open her home in Sydney which overlooks the South Pacific Ocean for the book launch. A view with a significance that would come to bear in Sarah's speech. But first the book. The book is stunning a collection of beautiful pictures of Australian wilderness. Wilderness that we still have in large part thanks to the work of the Wilderness Society and their supporters. This is a beautiful book of photography which you have probably heard nothing about.. you can check it out and buy a copy here it's just fantastic. 'The book celebrates the places Wilderness Society has campaigned to protect for over 40 years, including Kakadu, the Daintree rainforest, the Kimberley and of course, the mighty Franklin river.' I think the reason you probably haven't heard about this volume until now is the society are just too busy dealing with the day to day of saving these vast resources - resources just as they are, from the tyranny of progress - to make selling the book a priority. Which I guess is where I come in to do my bit.
Speeches at the Sydney Book Launch - WILDERNESS: Celebrating Australia's Protected Places..
Now launches mean speeches; but I'm not going to go into any great detail other than two points from two of the speakers. Tim Gartrell, (Campaign Director for the successful 'yes' vote in favour of marriage equality at the 2017 Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey). Tim dropped this stunning piece of information; that it takes about 1.5 million dollars to lobby successfully to change legislation. Which is a bit more than an email or phone call to your local member - though that is very important too! And the current legislation is not iron clad; 'protected' wilderness areas are not as safe as one would have hoped. And some are still under development threat. So there is more lobbying to be done, and that means more money so - buy the book - it will help and you get a great book..Listening to the speeches at the Sydney Book Launch - WILDERNESS: Celebrating Australia's Protected Places..
The other speech was an incredibly heartfelt one by Sarah. The most poignant point for me was her observation of the vast ocean, seen daily from her vantage point on the cliff - how the ocean, the atmosphere, how that great vastness, over the past decade has really changed. To paraphrase incredibly poorly; the ocean has gone from a classic seascape to a constant boiling pot, a watery miasma. Which I took as a portent of things to come. So there's work to be done; these guys, the Wilderness Society have been at the forefront of environmental protection for a long time. You can donate, or buy the book using the direct links to their website. You can also help by sharing this blog post using the buttons on the side bar.Sarah Ducker speaking at the Sydney Book Launch - WILDERNESS: Celebrating Australia's Protected Places..
Sarah Ducker receives a copy of the book and a hug - WILDERNESS: Celebrating Australia's Protected Places..
 https://shop.wilderness.org.au/products/wilderness-celebrating-australia-s-protected-places
Full disclosure - I enjoyed the catering on the day and a glass of wine or a beer like everyone else. The links are affiliate free - no money or product has changed hands. Don't forget to SHARE THIS BLOG POST!

Telling Stories in Pictures all over..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863