"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity" - Dorothy Parker
Published June 23rd 2018
Piazza pizza with a dash of sculpture culture
A visit to Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove, in Red Hill South, wasn't intended to be the highlight of my day-long date with my hubby. However, after spending the morning battling for space in the pools at the busy Hot Springs nearby, our time at the Montalto estate felt like a breath of fresh air.
Wine and olives aside, Montalto has managed to distinguish itself from other notable vineyards in the area by virtue of the sculpture trail established in its grounds. The estate has a permanent collection of 30 pieces of sculpture, currently interspersed with 22 temporary works, all finalists in its (annual) prize competition.
Montalto's restaurant was closed on the day of our visit but the more informal, outdoor-ish Piazza cafe is open every day of the week. Booking is not necessary unless you're a party of ten or more.
On arrival, my OH and I practically threw ourselves at a vacant table affording huge, beautiful views of the vineyard, scarcely believing our luck. Within minutes, however, we felt forced to flee the brain-sizzling heat radiating from the piazza's ceiling heaters, to seek refuge in the adjacent outdoor courtyard. Knee rugs are supplied for such occasions, when blue skies and sunshine tempt you outside but a winter chill is in the air.
We decided to go halves on a Napoli, mozzarella and basil pizza and a salad of pumpkin, stracciatella and raisins. They may not have been the most adventurous items on the menu, but the two dishes turned out to be a good match for each other...in both taste and colour.
Plate-sharing left us with room for coffees and dessert. I have to admit that the visual appeal of the yoghurt pannacotta, combined with its bang-for-your-buck portion size, is what made me plump for this pud over the others. Topped with a fig and apricot confiture, the pannacotta - to its credit - didn't taste very yoghurty. It probably isn't as virtuous as it looks but then, who is..?
Lunch over, my OH and I strode eagerly across the lawn to commence the sculpture walk. The low sun never managed to banish the nip in the air, discouraging lingering. The collection is diverse and dispersed: without the help of the trail map, some are easy to overlook, as they blend comfortably into their surroundings. I took photos until my mobile's battery was drained and my frozen toes had lost all feeling.