Category: la palta

This is what it sounds like when doves…die.

I think it’s a bad sign when, last night, the three of us girls were walking toward our door after a long night and, in the tree next to our door, we hear a squabble between two birds. Something drops from the tree. A dove. A dove fell to the ground and died in front of us. A bird of peace died in front of us. This is a BAD sign. It is also an apt summary of the drama of the kitchen I am working in and my feelings for it.

Moments with Zucca

I am pretty down about being here. Truthfully, I am not enjoying most of the days of the week. Monday is the best day, Sunday night, in the lead-up to Monday, is also partially enjoyable. In an effort to be more positive, I thought I should list both the best and worst moments of the day.

Best Moment:

This evening, when cutting zucca (pumpkin) into brunoise, little five year old Camilla came up and watched me. We practiced her english colours, and she ran around the kitchen naming colours as I brava’d her all the way. Sweet little girl. She always makes me smile.

Worst Moment:

When trying to look busy so I don’t get in trouble, I sliced my index finger. On something I didnt even need to do. Chef hates two things: when we stand around, even if there is nothing to do…and that I look tired. No comment on the last one, I commented enough last night, thankyouverymuch. &*%^$%&!

Where in the world is Leslie?

The Region – Emilia Romagna

Italy’s wealthiest wheat and dairy producing region (or so says my travel book). On the Po River, it is known for its culinary traditions, having in its borders…Parma (of the famed parmigiano and prosciutto), Bologna (of the famed Bolognese and Mortadella) and Modena (of the famed balsamic vinegar).

The Province & the Big City –
Piacenza – Population 95,132
The Province I live in, it takes me 1 hour by bus and a 45 minute walk to get here, to my only internet connection. It was one of the 1st Roman colonies and was the longtime headquarters for Julias Caesar. The city is quite pretty, with a moderate amount of shopping, that is only open arbitrarily. The region of Piacenza is known for its cured meats (coppa, salame, pancetta), pasta (anolini, pisarei e faso, gnocchi, panzerotti and tortelli con la coda) and its main courses of duck, guinea fowl, and cavallo (horse!). The province is known as the Province of Castles, but I have yet to see one.
The Commune (Municipality)
Borgonova Val Tidone – Population 7,483
The town closest to where I live. I can bike here in 15 minutes, or walk in 45minutes. There is one main street with a small piazza, Piazza Garibaldi, and a town hall. It is very small. The stores, also sporadically open, are few. Great gelato though, thank god for small miracles. The best thing about Borgonova is the bus stop that takes me to Piacenza for £3.50.
The Frazione – (Hamlet)
Bilegno – Population 70, with 15 children, and 1 Canadian
The village I live in. Or, the street. The centre of Bilegno is La Palta. They sell caffe, cigarettes and gelato in the coffee bar, and have an osteria for casual lunch in the basement during the week, while the ristorante is upstairs and caters to people from away more than Bilegno locals. Random dogs, cats and children run around. There is a church (under repair), as well. The towns around here are in the valley so the views of the hills (I would call them mountains…) are very pretty. We went to pick up cheese for the restaurant a few weeks ago up in the hills and I got very carsick, it was like driving to Whistler, but much much much worse and dare I say, more beautiful.


A surprise trip into the city of Piacenza today has allowed me to use the internet for one precious hour. Moments like this shant be wasted. The pure bliss of an internet connection. Huzzah.
Tuesdays seem to be a bit slow at the restaurant. We use the afternoon, it seems, to make filled pastas. For hours. Today, was anolini filled with grana padano and donkey. Yes, donkey. Turns out donkey is very tasty. We made thousands of anolini for at least four hours. My hands have blisters, I feel I could make them in my sleep. And I may dream of them tonight. It wouldn’t be the first time I have dreamed of stuffed pastas. Did you know the annual average in pasta consumption per person in Italy is 59 pounds a year? I believe it…I have had 2 meals in the past three weeks that didn’t involve pasta of some sort.
Anolini are popular in the region of Piacenza, one of their typical dishes. The other stuffed pasta they are known for, and the one dearest to my heart is Tortelli. Bella tortelli. These little suckers are much more time consuming to make because they are self sealing, closed by almost braiding the pasta. Bella! The first time I did them I didnt think it would be possible to learn, but after three times I am getting pretty efficient at making them. They are filled with spinach and fresh ricotta, nutmeg and grana padano.
I can’t wait to get back to Toronto and teach my friends how to make tortelli.
Tortelli Piacentini
Anolini Piacentini
(again, not my photos – no computer= no photos)

Life in Bilegno

I wake up in the morning to the sound of cows and my roomates alarm clock. I have two roomates, both Sarah. We live in a tiny apartment next door to the restaurant. One bedroom. Two Sarahs. One Leslie.

I get to work at 9am. I make mini panna cotta’s with an herb called melissa that looks frustratingly like mint when I have to pick it from the garden. I make almond tuilles and candied nocciola, grapefruit and ginger. Then, pronto caffe, time for espresso. I then help with the bread, or prep for lunch service. And…pronto pranzo. Lunchtime, we sit down and eat a proper meal, vegetables, pasta, meat, bread. I am always tired afterwards during lunch service. Lunch service is a mix of the fine-dining ristorante of La Palta, and the osteria they run downstairs for the locals. We clean up and have a break from 3:30pm – 6:30pm. In the evening we have another meal together and get ready for the dinner service, which is all fine-dining. I work on the appetizer station with the sous-chef and I am responsible for makin sure all those treats I made in the morning get out to every table – pre-dessert before the magnificent deserts reach their tables. We clean-up and finish between 11pm and 12:30am. This is my day. 6 times a week.

(photo from

La Palta!

We got our placements!

I am going to La Palta, a modern restaurant that uses traditional ingredients in Borgonova val Tidone, a town outside of Piacenza, which is in the Northern tip of Emilia Romagna. I will be about 1 hour from Milan and 2 hours from Turin and Bologna. eep!

The restaurant looks amazing! My Chef said that he ate there last year and thought, in his opinion, it was one of the best restaurants in Italy. She (yes…SHE..Isa Mazzocchi) seems really great. I found a video online of her…copper pots in the cucina. Gorgeous food. I am so excited.

found these photos on an Italian restaurant review site: