DiVino owner and chef, Luca Radaelli, said farewell to the beautiful lakeside village of Como in the Genova region of northern Italy and made his way to the Yarra Valley via the USA and Thailand more than eight years ago. He says the secret to a good aperitivo is starting with a great sparkling wine and, at his stunning glass walled restaurant DiVino, Mandala Wine's sparkling is the perfect base for a famous Italian cocktail or pre-dinner drink.
The Aperol Spritz is a popular crowd pleaser at the moment, closely followed by a Negroni and a Campari Spritz. While wine is enjoyed during the meal, an aperitivo is the only way to start a meal and is a fabulous accompaniment to stuzzichini – or canapes.
Italians love the sociability of pre-dinner drinks and nibbles so much that it's not unusual for them to continue in this mode all night. Good conversation is essential and the 'stand up' nature of stuzzichini (or bite sized, platter food) invites people to mingle and share their day.
At the DiVino evening, there will be an abundance of stuzzichini, piazzola – woodfired pizza fresh from the DiVino oven – arrancini, giardini and more – all handmade in Luca's cucina, which features all-Italian appliances and kitchenware. Luca will also bring out his pride and joy – an imported Italian meat slicer – and will serve his house-cured salami for people as they wander the garden, relax in the rotunda and enjoy. Luca's salami is a real treat and, the opportunity to taste as it is sliced, is a rare gift.
After a meal, Italians 'take' a 'digestivo' – a bitter, herbal liqueur that aids digestion. Popular choices include Amaro, Montenegro and Averna. These are usually enjoyed neat, served with a citrus wedge but they can also be served on ice, or lengthened out with a little tonic or soda water. Digestivos have a long history from the early monastery days, and from the pharmacy tradition. They are made with citrus peels, flowers, bark, herbs and roots macerated in a spirit or wine before being aged in the bottle or cask.
Luca named his restaurant DiVino because it means two things – 'divine' and 'in wine'. "I love the idea of being 'in the wine' it says so much about savouring the good things in life. We are lucky we can eat well, drink well and enjoy life! That's all that matters," he says.
More information on this event.