Grillin, Italian-style

A little over a year ago, I ventured to lovely Tuscany with my hubby and my friends Lisa and Chris. We saw amazing castles and cathedrals. We drank gallons of delicious Italian wine. And we ate some pretty fine food. But, perhaps our most memorable meal was one we cooked ourselves. It all began, dear reader, with a day trip that ended in the lovely Chianti town of Panzano…

After spending the day trooping through some of the smaller hill towns near our base of operations, we rolled into Panzano dusty and hot and in need of some gelato. Luckily, gelato is never far away in Italy so were soon refreshed and ready to explore. We had read and heard about the famous Chianti beef and, as Texans, we felt it was our duty to buy some steaks, cook ‘em up, and judge for ourselves. We said something like, “Show us to the nearest butcher!” and the gelato guy pointed us around the corner and up the street. We stopped at the place with the sign…

We were barely two feet into the shop when a young woman appeared with wine and glass tumblers and poured us some red. Immediately, this place felt like home. The bad news was that she thought we were there to make a dinner reservation since the butcher shop had already closed for the day. When we explained that we really, really wanted some beef to take back to our villa and grill, she looked to the butcher. He considered us for a moment…

And then he told her in Italian to go fetch us something from the fridge. (That was my rough translation based on what next transpired, anyway.) She came back with a monstrous hunk of beef that cost a LOT of euros. It was already vacuum-packed and could not be cut. The message was (very nicely), “Take it or leave it.” After a brief powwow and some quick currency conversions, we reached the consensus that “what the hell, you only buy steak in Chianti once” and we pulled out our wallets. The butcher lit up, produced some seasoning, and issued rapid-fire grilling instructions – which were greatly appreciated as we were more than a little intimidated. We were so exhilarated by our purchase that I decided to commemorate the moment with a quick photo:

Months  later, I was glad I did because it turns out that we were in the presence of The Tuscan Butcher, Dario Cecchini, who is kind of a super big deal in the foodie world. All of which I would have remained oblivious to if I hadn’t stumbled across an episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain comes off like an enamored school girl when he meets Dario.

So, off we went to cook our Flinstone-like steak. Smartly, Lisa and I put the boys in charge of the grillin so we could sip wine, dish up some primi, and take these pictures of the process…

We don’t remember what cut this was — any guesses? That is a large platter it is sitting on, not a plate.

Grill Man

This might give you some additional perspective

At some point, an old Italian gentlemen walked by, peered in at the grill, and proclaimed, “Perfecto!”

We found a scenic little spot once it was done…

And dug in… just a drizzle of olive oil on top.

And then we all lived happily after…

The End (Fine)

Was it good? My friends, it was mighty fine beef. Mighty fine.

Next post: experiments with Beer Can Chicken!

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Categories: Travel Grub | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Grillin, Italian-style

  1. Excellent tale, my friend…. and great pictures too! I think the size of our steak gave away the fact we were from Texas though… maybe it was how funny we talked 🙂 Either way, it was a night of delicious food and drink and great friends.

  2. Pingback: Insalata dell’Orso « Zen of BBQ

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