Sunday, May 1, 2011

Montalto - Red Hill Morington Peninsula

This would be one of the few restaurant/wineries I have been to where I really did feel like I was in another country. Montalto is a massive estate combining open outdoor eating, alfresco, wine tasting, indoor fine dining and an extensive sculpture park. Once I sat at our out door table, amongst the vegetables and herbs we were about to be served, I just had this over-whelming feeling I was in the south of France or Tuscany region Italy.

We secured a table early (11am) by putting coats on the table (there is no booking, be early) and ventured into the tasting room. There was many whites and reds ready to sacrifice themselves on your pallet. And try all five of the olive oils and olives. I settled on a Sav blanc and my wife a Pinot. Back to the tables for lunch.

You need your imagination to picture sitting "in" a veggie and herb garden of glorious colours and smells. There is no other word for it. You "smell" curry sage and fresh green, healthy looking veggies in very much a provincial French setting. You are in another country and you are looking across many acres of rolling vines of green and brown coloured from autumn's icy touch.
Your vista vanishes into the rolling hills beyond the valley. Mist veils the vines and the hills themselves are capped. Big white brollies provide some shade from the odd sprinkle of rain or hot sun.

Pizza is very much the selection for the outdoor diner. And though the pizzas were satisfactory they are not mind shattering. The selection of olives
we had prior to the pizza were delicious. You must try the olives. Once fed and watered take the walk through the sculpture park. The trek is steep and stony. Take a pair of walkers for the culture tour. Don't miss the art, some is excellent.

As a complete package Montalto is hard to beat. My wife and I have been to France and Italy and the Montalto experience is as close as you will get to country Europe. If you sit indoors you will miss the smells, the cent and sense that you are somewhere else. In the herb garden your body may be an hour from home but your heart and mind will be in another land. Travel there.

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