G: Is there a place you would recommend for dinner?
After heading out from Florence to visit Pisa and roaming through Siena, we finally arrived at our evening's rest stop in Gaiole Chianti. This area of Chianti was known for being the marketplace of Chianti, and it was also home of the Chini butchers. Lorenzo is of a family history of butchers dating back to the 1600s. What a lineage!
As we drove to dinner, Lorenzo navigated us through a dark forest that he assured us was "just like Blair Witch Project." Just what we wanted to hear- four young ladies in a foreign country being driven to dinner to a stranger's home. But once we got to "Mama's kitchen, we knew we had hit a "genuino" experience.
Get ready to hear me say, "the best...ever in my life" ten times, as I dare say it not sound too cliche.
Dinner started with an antipasti of salami and prosciutto, "the best I've ever had in my life," and pâté made with duck liver and beef something-ello. That was then followed with the primo piatto of tortellini made bolognese style. That was the finest pasta I have ever had my entire life. It was absolutely divine. Then for the third course we had arrosto girato- literally a rotisserie behind my dining table seat. I will probably never be able to eat pork ribs ever again, as it will probably taste like crap in comparison to the savory joy that overcame me as I bit into the juicy rack of meat. Vincenzo then insisted that I take a piece of the steak since my plate only had salsiccia, chicken wing, and pork liver on it, surely not enough! Hands down "the best steak I have ever had in my life." (Sorry Mom, Vincenzo outdid you on this one...) As "Mama" poured the greenest olive oil I have ever seen on to the steak, she casually mentions that this came from their backyard. No surprise considering the "table wine" was from their winery as well- "the best f'n table wine in my life."
After the third course, we made it to dessert. The dessert of the season included biscotti and another fried sweet cracker that is eaten up until Carnival Ash Wednesday. We had this with the Holy Wine that we drank was also made in their backyard.
As we finished dessert, "Mama" showed us pictures of Vincenzo and his pig in various cookbooks and magazines. The family truly knew what it was doing with cooking. (When my head hit the pillow, I fell asleep straightaway and slept the best I have since being in Italy.)
The next day, Lorenzo handed me a roll of salami and fared us goodbye. Such hospitality- "the best ever in my life."
We took a risk, and it was certainly well worth it.
Photo courtesy: Michelle Reiter