Tag Archives: Regional Cuisine

Portugal: Surf & Quad in Alentejo

Portugal-Alentejo-Comporta-Praia-do-Carvalhal-Surf-with-Carvalhal-Surf-School-1-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Surf Lesson in Comporta

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Praia do Carvalhal

I’ve told you about Comporta for years (lol!). This time, I discover the beautiful Carvalhal beach for a surf lesson with Ana, the smiling surfer and owner of the Carvalhal Surf School et Surfincomporta. On the black and white picture above, Ana shows us how to carry our surfboards.

I dread to enter the icy water, even with this thick wetsuit. Before: a short warm-up, we runs, jump and stretch in the sand. This morning, the beach is empty and the sun begins to hit. If it could warm the Ocean. Ana, assisted by another instructor, take each one of us apart to show us the basic moves. And we repeat several times on the board in the sand. And then … well let’s go (lololol)!

M, if you read me you must laugh (my surf coach in another life!), you know I have absolutely no balance on a surfboard! I plunge in the water: banzai! Small waves are finally enough powerful. Wash machine and I am ready to go.

For more than an hour (or two, I do not know) the game is to try to get up on the board: bad start, bad foot, in short always something (lol)! But as I like to be active in the water, it was a pleasure. My arms are dead! Ana is great, always attentive, determinated and patient. Everyone goes at their own pace. And when we come out of the water, we all look happy … and pretty tired too (yes!).

Portugal-Alentejo-Comporta-Praia-do-Carvalhal-Surf-with-Carvalhal-Surf-School-3-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Portugal-Alentejo-Comporta-Praia-do-Carvalhal-Surf-with-Carvalhal-Surf-School-4-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Portugal-Alentejo-Comporta-Praia-do-Carvalhal-Surf-with-Carvalhal-Surf-School-5A-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le KPortugal-Alentejo-Comporta-Praia-do-Carvalhal-Surf-with-Carvalhal-Surf-School-6B-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Lunch of Regional Cuisine

After surfing, a little cold shower in the dressing rooms of the Parque Desportivo, where we laughed a lot. Then we head to the famous Restaurante A Escola (the chef and owner on the left picture below).

The food is delicious: very good wild rabbit meatloaf with orange slices. I, who never eat rabbit (the first left picture below)! Many different dishes and desserts.

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Quad Near Beja

Portugal-Alentejo-Albernoa-Quad-Tour-at-Vila-Galé-Clube-de-Campo-1-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

My First Time Riding a Quad

Same team. At the end of the day on quads in the beautiful property of the Vila Galé Clube de Campo hotel. I like motor sports: this winter, I had my first driving on ice. And teenager, I had a scooter. But I had never tried the quad.

I was a bit worried when I read the form to fill and sign in case of accident! Before following the instructor in nature, a drive lesson in the hotel car park. You have to slowly zigzag between the small signaling items. It’s fun.

The ride lasts 1-1h30 and when it was my turn, I really enjoy riding. You can’t see in the photos, some muddy parts of the trail (I managed to save my all white sneakers when rafting, but not here!). If you can, try! Especially in such a setting!

Portugal-Alentejo-Albernoa-Quad-Tour-at-Vila-Galé-Clube-de-Campo-2-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Portugal-Alentejo-Albernoa-Quad-Tour-at-Vila-Galé-Clube-de-Campo-3-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K  Portugal-Alentejo-Albernoa-Quad-Tour-at-Vila-Galé-Clube-de-Campo-4-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le KPortugal-Alentejo-Albernoa-Quad-Tour-at-Vila-Galé-Clube-de-Campo-5-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Portugal-Alentejo-Albernoa-Quad-Tour-at-Vila-Galé-Clube-de-Campo-6-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le KPortugal-Alentejo-Albernoa-Quad-Tour-at-Vila-Galé-Clube-de-Campo-8-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Portugal-Alentejo-Albernoa-Quad-Tour-at-Vila-Galé-Clube-de-Campo-10-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le KPortugal-Alentejo-Albernoa-Quad-Tour-at-Vila-Galé-Clube-de-Campo-9-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le KPortugal-Alentejo-Albernoa-Quad-Tour-at-Vila-Galé-Clube-de-Campo-11-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Portugal-Alentejo-Albernoa-Quad-Tour-at-Vila-Galé-Clube-de-Campo-12-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Photos : © Mademoiselle Le K – Tous droits réservés.


Visit AlentejoVisit Portugal & Surfincomporta


Many thanks to Visit Alentejo and Visit Portugal to this beautiful invitation. Thanks to Ana for the great surf lesson. As always, these are my opinions.

Umbria, Italy: Castelluccio di Norcia Stunning Mountains

Umbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-1-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

The Road To Castelluccio di Norcia

Umbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-2-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Lost in The Middle of Nowhere

Surreal scene: first there is the huge plain in the middle of mountains covered with a velvet cloak … Stunning beauty, the soul rises! Then the road cuts the plain in two equal sides (photo 1) and leads to the famous village Castelluccio di Norcia (around fifty inhabitants all year).

We are in the Parco Nazionale Monti Sibillini, a natural reserve located in the regions of Umbria and Marche.

Getting out the car, I have the impression of entering in a film, a road movie of Wim Wenders. I think of the steppes to Central Asia where I’ve never been. I feel so far away, dazzled by the beauty of the landscape. Finally I feel the journey begins.

Umbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-3-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K


Umbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-8-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

So Unique For Me!

I did not grow up surrounded by animals and initially had some misgivings … Honestly, I’ve never imagined myself riding on a donkey (lol)! I did a horse ride in a Baja California desert years ago! Basta!

Kids love! I start the ride in a light rain with easy going Geronimo, a donkey or mule (I still haven’t understood the difference between the two) on the photo 1 (above photo montage). Unlike Zorro much more nervous (on the black and white photo)! A saddle as a portent …

Thanks to Roberto Canali of La Mulattiera for guiding my donkey, so I was able to really appreciate these beautiful landscapes (with big laugh every acceleration of Geronimo!). Roberto, a Rome native, perfectly knows these mountains!

Traditionally for centuries in this poor region of central Italy, they have used mules (muli) for transportation and agriculture and donkeys (asini) for transportation. 

Umbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-5-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le KUmbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-7-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Lunch at Il Fienile

Umbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-Lunch-Agroturismo-Antica-Cascina-Brandimarte-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

The Weekend in a Remote Village

After our donkey-trekking stopped by heavy rain, a late lunch on the heights of the village. I am pleased to relax a bit in the agriturismo restaurant Il Fienile managed by Tiziano and Giovanni Coccia brothers.

Mountain menu. I really liked the extra lean local fresh ricotta, made with sheep milk (yummy!) and lenticchie di Castelluccio IGP, the tasty lentils grown without chemical pesticides. The IGP is a protected appellation meaning “Protected Geographical Indication”.

For norcineria lovers: the prosciutto di Norcia, coppa, cojone di Mulo and Norcino. On the first photo of the photo montage above: the roveja, this local specialty is a kind of wild peas with the taste of chickpeas.

And if you want to extend the experience … In winter, the road to Castelluccio di Norcia is often impracticable. With a little luck and lots of snow, you might get stuck a few more days. The Antica Cascina Brandimarte has comfortable rooms with lovely views over the plateau and mountains.

Umbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-6-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Photos : © Mademoiselle Le K – Tous droits réservés


Regione Umbria and Alitalia


Many thanks for this beautiful invitation to Regione Umbria et Alitalia. As always these opinions are my own.

Umbria, Italia: To Stroll In Spello, Truffle Hunting In Norcia

Umbria-Italy-Arrival-To-Perugia-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Perugia via Rome

Umbria-Italy-Flights-To-Perugia-1-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

The Trip Is Pretty Long

because there is a change of plane in Rome, where I – in fact we have – almost missed our connection as we were taken by our chat (no comment, lol!). It’s always a pleasure to return to Italy and speaking Italian again!

On the above photo montage, 1. the eternal city, Rome viewed from the sky and 2. first impressions of Umbria, whose capital is Perugia. I am very curious, this is my first time in this region of the center of Italy!

A Walk In Spello

Umbria-Italy-Spello-Dinner-1-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Getting Lost And Wander

Few time to freshen up and then we arrive in Spello. From the ramparts of the medieval town, great views of the Umbrian plain dotted with cypress trees. Light breeze, night falls softly. Languidly strolling in flowery empty narrow streets and discovering a Roman triumphal arch …

Each year between May and June for the Flower Festival of Corpus Christi (Infiorante), Spello streets turn into a huge carpet of flowers and sacred art paintings made of flower petals are used as decorations. Spello is then renamed “Flower Capital”.

We stop for dinner at Locanda del Postiglione, a restaurant of local specialties with gargantuan proportions! From the second course, I couldn’t eat more. On the menu: chicken liver accompanied by toasts with olive oil, gnocchi with red wine and gorgonzola sauce, Umbria meats, guanciale (crispy bacon) with green salad and balsamic, porchetta (pork). Not to forget the dessert!

Umbria-Italy-Spello-Dinner-2-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Truffle Hunting in Norcia

Umbria-Italy-Norcia-Truffle-Hunting-With-Nicola-Berardi-1-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Lovely Meeting

The next day, early morning departure to Norcia and truffle hunting! I am so excited, like a child who goes hunting for treasure! Umbria is the largest provider of truffles in Italy. The truffle, both tuber and trace grows underground in symbiosis with trees (without being a parasite).

There are 7 types of truffles: 5 black and 2 white. The most famous and tasty are: the winter black truffle (Tuber melanosporum), the price varies between € 400-600 per kilo. And the white winter truffle (Tuber magnatum Pico. Depending on the rarity and size, its price is between €2,000-6,000 per kilo.

Nicola Berardi is a truffle hunter (photo montage above). He proudly shows me his official permit issued by the municipality (photo below). A deep complicity links Nicola to his dogs, Nina (the brown hair dean) and Lulu (the fiery youngster with black hair).  

As we move ahead on a small dirt road, Nicola explains that from the age of three months, any hunting dog can be trained to hunt truffles. And female dogs are better than male dogs. This is a game for the dogs that are rewarded when they find a truffle. It’s also a way to prevent them from eating.

Lulu repeatedly sinks in coppices, digs and returns victorious, a truffle stuck between her teeth. Unlike pigs, dogs learn to bring back truffles to the master and their bite doesn’t damage the truffle. The best places to find truffles are around the trees (mostly oaks), abandoned vineyards and riverbanks.    

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Truffle Dinner in Norcia

Umbria-Italy-Norcia-Dinner-With-Truffles-Ristorante-Granaro-del-Monte-1-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

The downpour stopped our inland truffle hunting. Back to Norcia, where I discovered my vast room in the elegant Palazzo Seneca before dinner (photo montage below, 3. the entrance of the Palazzo Seneca).

Norcia is a quiet charming little town of about 5,000 inhabitants which takes its name from Nortia (Latin: Nursia), the Etruscan goddess of time, fate, destiny and chance. First colony founded by the Sabines in the fifth century BC, Norcia was conquered by the Romans in the third century BC (and then had 60,000 inhabitants), followed by the Goths and the Lombards in the sixth century who integrated the city in the Spoleto Ducat (Ducato Longobardo di Spoleto). After a period of decline, Norcia became one of five regions of the Papal States.

Photo montage above: 1 and 6. on the main square, Piazza San Benedetto, the statue of Benedict of Nursia, San Benedetto, the “inventor” of monastic life and founder of the Benedictine order who was born in Norcia at fifth century.

2 et 4. The black truffle and prosciutto are specialties of Norcia. Very good dinner with fresh truffles at the Ristorante Granaro del Monte, with Vincenzo Bianconi, one of the owners of the restaurant and Palazzo Seneca.  

Umbria-Italy-Norcia-Dinner-With-Truffles-Ristorante-Granaro-del-Monte-2-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Photos : © Mademoiselle Le K – Tous droits réservés


Regione Umbria and Alitalia


Many thanks for this beautiful invitation to Regione Umbria et Alitalia. Thanks to Nicola Berardi and Vincenzo Bianconi too. As always these opinions are my own.