When I was a little girl, all I wanted to do was be in the kitchen. I was in fact, obsessed. I knew I could never be a chef, as each chef holds an innate quality to be quite technical, which I am not, and this I blame my Italian background for. But what I did have was a passion for food, both to cook with and to of course eat. I remember picking the fresh figs off Nonna’s tree, and together helping tend the tomatoes and broad beans, all essential ingredients to Italian cuisine. And on Sundays, we would make a family trip to our favourite Woodfired Bread supplier hidden away on a little farm past Greenvale, and on our return home, we’d swing by Alba cheese, saucepan in hand, to collect our hot, fresh Ricotta.
I knew that if I was never going to be cooking in a commercial kitchen, I had to at least dedicate myself to owning one. I was desperate to share the simple pleasures of good food, as my parents and extended family did throughout my childhood.
In order to embrace my heritage, as well as conduct what I called “research”, I purchased my one way ticket to Italy, and before you knew it I was adding a few extra stamps to the passport.
This was what I would call a trip of a lifetime. From learning Italian at IstitutoItaliano (of which our window overlooked the Duomo) and subsequently meeting some fantastic individuals from across the Globe, to getting my hands dirty in Authentic Italian cooking. I’d use every opportunity on my days off to drive out to the infamous wineries located in the heart of Tuscany and explore the differing tastes of red wines, of which I will delve into further down the track.
My trip ended in Milan, where I filled my bags with clothes, literally, and took part in the Host Pasticceria and Hospitality Fiera. And what an experience that was. Their ideas were so far advanced, that I was inspired and drawn to the idea of incorporating those concepts back home, here in Melbourne.
I returned home late last year with a greater appreciation for food, wine, culture and family. Even though it was my fourth trip to Italy, it was on this trip that I started to appreciate just how rich my cultural heritage was. I had always been proud of my background, but this was my first connection with the land itself and I completely fell in love. With a fresh outlook on life and some exciting new concepts, I started to create 5 Lire. Almost 12 months later, and only four weeks in (since we opened) I sit here at the table my Father built out of his old Scaffolding planks, reminiscing of my journey to Italy and focused on what is yet to come for this little Italian venture of mine.
The stories, the recipes and the photos that I am yet to post are just a brief snapshot of the reasons as to why 5 Lire exists, and I am so excited to share these stories with each and every single one of you.