18 September 2006

London Breakaway

It's always nice to get away and have a break so that when you return everything seems new.
Fabrizio and I had a quick trip (3day) ,to London to go to a 5 year anniversary party for Responsible Travel (Holidays that give the world a break). We joined as members last year and have been very pleased with the philosopy, the company, and of course, all the wonderful guests that have come to us via their web site. We hadn't met all of the staff and so it was a great opportunity for us to meet the commited, helpful staff and quite a number of other tour operators that are a dynamic group of people as well. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of the companies offered on the site as they are offering some amazing experiences around the world. Don't just take my word for it, as they have unedited comments and reviews from the guests for many of the trips on the site. The idea is to not only give back to the local community in the way of employment and economic opportunity, but there is a clear commitment to having as little enviromental impact as possible, and often use innovative and new green technology in these ventures. The founder Justin worked with Anita Roddick of "The Body Shop" company before venturing off to establish Responsible Travel with not only her approval but a bit of financial investment as well. The philosophy of Responsible travel matches up well with our commitment to enviromental issues and the need for sharing our part of undiscovered Italy in a way that is beneficial to the local people here, building community and strengthening our economic ties by creating a network of businesses and touristic places of interest.
Then it was off to San Lorenzo's of Beauchamp Place, just behind Harrod's. Fabrizio use to work in the family's Wimbledon restuarant when he lived in London, so we had a lovely lunch with owner Mara Ghigo, who grew up just down the road from us in Villar Perosa. We had barely sat down before the Bagna Cauda arrived and the feasting began. For those of you who have never experienced Bagna Cauda, it is a local Piemontese specialty that you won't find any more authentic than San Lorenzo's version. Bagna Cauda is Piedmont's version of fondue, and it features all sorts of raw and cooked vegetables to dip in a divine creamy walnut/ anchovy/garlic dip. Mara said it was her mother's recipe, and I can tell you it is very similar to Fabrizio's family recipe as well. It's something we feature in our cooking seminars also. Mara is quite a lovely woman and every who came to lunch,(and it was busy) seemed to know her personally and got a hug and kiss like a good Italian Nonna. When she leaned across the table to tell me Liz Hurley was having lunch with her son and boyfriend/husband? I tried not to break my neck turning around to have a look. Then I had the pleasure of following Ms Hurley into the loo with her son while she kept saying "it's a "mommy/ baby day" to her little boy. Funny encounter. It came as no surprise to see Mara getting hugs all round from Liz and her little boy as well. Celebrity spotting in London. But that was just part of the entertainment. The real star after the bagna cauda was, dessert and certainly not needed, but enjoyed all the same!

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