Friday, April 15, 2016

Food and Wine

Satisfying canellini bean starter with fried proscuitto came gratis.
Served with soft bread soaked in olive oil.
Don't you love the little yin yang bowls?


We all know that the Italians take their food and wine very seriously. An Italian started the Slow Food movement in 1986 outside a McDonald's in Rome hoping to stem the tide of "faux food", protecting the rights of farmers and consumers to real food grown by real people, then officially signed the manifest in Paris in 1989. Well, we seem to have dropped into the thick of it here at Querceto in Tuscany. So today I will write about food and wine. Two of my favorite things!

At our arrival we were told that there is a nice restaurant "in the village" which means on the castle property. In fact it is across a "street" from us - maybe 100 feet. We heard a bit on the expensive side, and heavily Tuscan, meaning heavy in game and meat. On Wednesday morning, while having our cappuccino on the terrace we watched the delivery of fresh vegetables and a young slim man taking the wooden box of them into the restaurant. This looked promising, we thought.

Locanda Del Sole


At 2:00 we realized we had eaten nothing but Taralli, those cute little round things tasting rather like a delicious breadstick. And even better with olive oil poured over them. I had eaten no less than handfuls. We had taken a three mile hike up the mountain to another farm (agriturismo property) and was hungry as a Tuscan boar.

We took a seat outside and a lovely young woman who spoke very little English (why should she?) set a beautiful white cloth and napkins on the table and handed us a well-edited menu (always my preference.) It was entirely in Italian, and even though I can generally get buy, I don't know all the foods in Italian. There was only one other man dining and the waitress employed him to serve as translator for us. As much of the menu was serving the local taste for wild meat, I snatched the first thing on the menu that had something fish-like in it! A fettucine with vegetables and anchovy. But our translator said if we liked a beef carpaccio, theirs was the best around and very very fresh and local. Well, you would want that with your raw beef right? So I said, speaking for us, in my very best Italian. We'll have the Vermentino wine and the carpaccio to start. Lee then pointed to the ravioli with wild hare and I played it safe with the pasta.

Shortly thereafter, the waitress arrived with a bottle of Vermentino, the white wine produced by the family who owns the castle. Now Lee doesn't really drink wine. I meant a couple of glasses of it, one each, but when the bottle arrived, it was clear we would be drinking for lunch. It was so fresh and light and perfect with the white beans and proscuitto which we inhaled, a gift from the chef. Then the carpaccio came. Once again, she brought us EACH an order instead of the one I imagined sharing. The site of a patty of raw beef on my plate made me want to crank up my Bertazzoni range and slap the patty on a griddle for cooking, but as the presentation was so lovely and the praise for the dish so heightened, I decided to dig in. It was very very good. My veggie daughter Isabelle would have left the table. We found the quality and freshness to be the best we've had.
Beef Carpaccio with Homemade Mayonnaise, Red Onion and Local Olive

Lee's roasted deer. We were quite adventurous here for our meals.

We didn't know much about Locanda Del Sole, the restaurant in the village of Querceto (really, it's just the castle itself and whatever buildings are tied to that.)  But after 3 meals there in 2 days, we've learned a great deal more....about how and why this high quality, beautifully presented food with about 2-3 tables of guests per night even exists here at Querceto. Will write about that tomorrow!

On to the topic of vino...
In the late 1990s the Ginori Lisci family began to grow grapes and olive trees and produce wine and oil. In 2013, they switched to organic farming and currently recycle even the plant materials in the process. We met with Fabiola yesterday for a wine tasting at 6:00, stumbling there after a late afternoon nap.

Wine tasting at Querceto - Ginori Lisci wines -
count'em five glasses each!
We were alone in the "dispensa" with Fabiola who introduced tastings of the five Ginori-Lisci wines, from the white Vermentino to the deepest red Castello. For someone who has consumed massive amounts of red wine over the years, I know surprisingly little about it! I'm just a "If its red, I'll drink it" kind of gal. Well, now I know how much work it is to produce wine. They LOVE wine. They LOVE their grapes and their farmers and their plants and the soil and the land and the climate. And they are worried about the changing climate. Winter was very mild and spring is very early this year. What to make of that? All of this can change the quality of the wine.

It was such a treat to have this little class on Italian wine....have to share this photo. Lee thinks it pretty much says it all about me and wine.

 
Vineyard up the hill from Querceto is our daily 5K walk.




Tomorrow I'll tell you the connect between Locanda Del Sole at Querceto and this photo of the sea.









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