La dolce vita: Italian influences at RACV Club Melbourne

From Aperitivo Hour at Healesville to a Kenneth Park lecture on the Italian Lakes, come and discover the Italian influences around RACV Club

Aperitivo comes from the Latin word aperire, meaning “to open”, and refers to an alcoholic drink consumed before dinner to stimulate the appetite.

In keeping with its Italian origins, the Aperitivo Hour at Healesville Country Club & Resort from 5pm to 6pm is all about slowing down, socialising and, ultimately, eating.

The complimentary service for Members staying in booked accommodation at Healesville embodies la dolce vita and the different canapes served each day showcase local produce. There is also a similar service for Members staying on The Retreat level at City Club.


Italian Lakes lecture

If you want to feel like you’re in Italy, Kenneth Park’s lecture on Italy’s lake region will take you on a tour of beautiful lakeshore villages. As you view the dramatic landscapes, you’ll learn more about the fascinating history of this part of Italy. The August 19 lecture at City Club coincides with a focus on Italian cuisine in Bistro from August 17-19, 6pm-9pm. Look out for updates about these August events on our What’s On page.

Pasta al dente

City Club Executive Chef Jason Camillo says there are many Italian influences around the Club, from the antipasto in Sojourn to the Pappardelle with the braised lamb in Bistro and Salsiccia e Funghi Pizza at Bourke Street Green.

Hailing from a family with Italian heritage, Jason says he’s inherited that simple, fresh approach to cooking. “It is the basis of everything I do,” he says. “That influence comes through with a lot of the dishes,” he says.

He says there is usually a pasta dish on the menu. This month, it’s Pappardelle with the braised lamb in Bistro and a bucatini pasta.

“When I was growing up, I pretty much ate pasta every day. I love it because there is no limit to its variations. Pasta is designed to carry the sauce, or it is made for the sauce to stick to the pasta itself. That is why you get all these wonderful shapes.” You’ll also find Jason’s Nonna’s Gnocchi and Ragu recipe online.

Best salami and cured meats

The cured meats chosen for the antipasto in Sojourn and similar dishes in other Club dining venues are of the highest quality.

"There’s usually a prosciutto, a nice salami, whether it’s a sopressa or cacciatore and some air-dried wagyu, which is cured wagyu beef that melts in your mouth,” Jason says.

For the uninitiated, these are three main types of prosciutto - each named after Italian regions - Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto di San Daniele and Prosciutto Toscano.

Jason says he’s prefers San Daniele prosciutto because it’s more delicate in flavour than the Parma prosciutto, which is cured for longer. “I’m also fond of it because it comes from the region where my uncle still lives,” he says.

Decadent dessert

In the Members’ Dining Room, you’ll find Tiramisu Tart on the menu. Although it’s a French-style tart, the filling reflects its Italian origins.

“The tart has these beautiful flavours inside that you will recognise straight away as soon as you bite into it,” Jason says. “Tiramisu means ‘pick me up’ and you have the beautiful flavours of the mascarpone, and the espresso. Mascarpone is basically a creamy cheese, and we make the espresso with high-quality beans. You need high-quality ingredients to make things taste fantastic.”

Italian-influenced wines

RACV Club Sommelier Christian Maier says Italy is one of the major players in the wine world and has always competed against the French for dominance in Australia. Look out for Italian varietals on the wine lists around the Club.

“I am particularly excited with the latest Italian white varietal development such as vermentino from Box Grove central Victoria and Friulano from Quealy on the Mornington Peninsula, which make a number of different versions, some vinified in amphora with skin contact,” Christian says.

“But it is hard to be distracted from the classics such as the superb Sangiovese and Nebbiolo produced in the King Valley and other cool spots in Victoria.

“My go-to is Vinea Marson, which produces a complex and elegant sangiovese from Heathcote, rivalling some of the better Chianti.”

The good oil

You can even take the taste of Italy home. The City Club Lobby Shop sells Mount Zero olives and olive oil. “The oil is a frantoio, a single Italian varietal,” says Jason. “Some olive oil producers will blend a number of different olives. I prefer a single variety like a frantoio, which is nice and fruity and great for salads. Some olive oils have a more grassy, stronger flavour, which is good for dipping bread in.”

Jason says he avoids cooking with olive oil because it has a lower burning or smoking point.

“It smokes quickly and that will make your food taste a bit bitter. I prefer to use olive oil for salads or dressings, and I like to finish off a lot of the dishes with just a drizzle of olive oil.”

Plan and book now

Whether you are looking for an overnight stay, a weekend away, a short break or a longer holiday, the City Club in Melbourne’s CBD has a range of accommodation options to suit your needs. There are 134 large and spacious rooms including suites, family suites, double and twin, disability friendly rooms and interconnecting rooms for families. For bookings and enquiries, please contact Reservations on (03) 9944 8888 or book online.

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