Monday, September 7, 2009

Tuscany Day 3: Paradiso

We woke up the next morning thinking, "What were we thinking?" A meat fest four hours before a wedding is usually not a good idea. We re-read the menu, and panicked a little more. See, the menu:

Officina Della Bistecca

Brustico di sushi del Chianti (Beef "sushi" on the grill)
Costata alla Fiorentina (Bone-in Rib eye)
Bistecca Panzanese (Panzanese steak)
Bistecca Fiorentina (T-bone steak)

Pinzimonio di verdure dell'orto (Garden vegetables with olive oil)
Pane rustico e focaccia (Bread and focaccia)
Fagioli all'olio (Tuscan beans and olive oil)
Patate e cipolle al cartoccio (Baked potatoes and baked onions)
Burro del Chianti (Chianti "butter")

Vino Mio (House red wine)
Acqua Liscia o con le bolle (Water with and without bubbles)
Torta all' olio (Olive oil cake)
Caffe alla moka (Coffee)
Digestivi dell' Esercito Italiano (Italian Military Liquers - "the reason why Italy lost all its wars!")

Still, we decided this would probably be the only time in our lives we would have four steaks before a wedding in Tuscany and thought that, at the very least, it would make for a good anecdote. Onward to the good fight!

The meal at Dario's did not disappoint, and honestly, I still wake up after dreaming sweet dreams about it. The Bistecca Fiorentina, in particular, is the best steak I've ever tasted. Ever. (Sorry Peter Luger, you have been dethroned!)

The most wonderful thing about this meal though was its simplicity - no big sauces or purees, and nothing that required more than baking or grilling. The meats were the main star here, to show that all you need is a good butcher, really. Here is a picture of the meat before grilling:

One of the assistant butchers paying homage to the steaks:

The superstar butcher himself, Dario, cutting up the steaks (by the way, before cutting up the steaks, he quoted a few lines of poetry, which suspiciously sounded like a few lines from Dante's Inferno. However, he ended, for our benefit, with a thunderous line in English: "To Beef Or Not To Beef!"):

Chianti "butter" (pork lard - yum! but took only half a teaspoon; I need to lose weight):

And my favorite side dish for this meal, Tuscan beans:

We were in a major food coma, but somehow we made it back to the villa for the wedding, with time enough to spare for a shower and a blow-dry. The wedding was one of the loveliest I've ever been to - the garden, the scenery the weather, the people all came together to make it unforgettable. Here's a faraway shot of the beautiful bride TS, being escorted down the aisle by her father:

The food was superb as well, and believe it or not, I was able to eat two pastas and one more steak that night. I only had one gelato for dessert though.