Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Italy: Flavors of Italia

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photos, Dan & Diane 

Ahh, the flavors of Italy... We got a bit adventurous at lunch yesterday, indulging in classic Tuscan dishes such as beef carpaccio (thinly sliced raw beef from the local chianina cows) and wild boar ragu with pappardelle. Both were outstanding! Before that, we ate a spectacular crostini with melted brie (I know, French, not Italian, right?) with a generous drizzle of truffle honey, which was so good that I bought a small jar of the honey right then and there from the restaurant. Not cheap, about 25 US dollars for a very small jar, but how could I possibly resist?

Postscript: By the end of the trip (between the four of us) we sampled an obscene amount of wine, shameful amounts of various pizzas, a few other wild boar ragu dishes, langoustines (baby lobster), octopus and several pasta con vongole (clam) and mixed seafood dishes, a spicy wild hare cacciatore, a duck in a gorgeous sauce, veal saltimbocca, fettuccini in a mushroom sauce, porchetta and cipollini sandwiches, gorgonzola mashed potatoes, gnocchi, lasagnas, and various filled cannellonis, and finally, the dolce (sweets)—ricotta filled cannolis, thin olive oil raisin bread, biscotti, ultra thin anise flavored wafers (the flavor of a biscotti, but almost as thin as a potato chip), a few cold and refreshing gelatos (though regretfully, not nearly enough; we met a couple who had two cones each every day!)... and... and... I am sure I am leaving something out. Hungry yet? It was all simply molto delizioso!

We toured the Monte Rinaldi vineyard in Rhaddi in Chianti and sampled their offerings of chianti wines. The last wine we sipped was an incredible vin santo dessert wine—wine of the saints. The grapes for this wine are dried for 6 months, concentrating the sugars, before starting the wine making process. Sweet and not for everyone's taste, I am sure, this particular vin santo wine was amber in color, thick and syrupy, but not too cloying in sweetness. It was very similar to my favorite 20 year old tawny port—nutty with a drop of butterscotch flavor—and I was wishing that I had some gorgonzola, toasted walnuts and a juicy pear to enjoy with it.

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