I'm eating at an enoteca tonight, La Corte dei Vini, in Lucca, for a few antipasti and some good wine, as I am still full from my huge lunch. A glass of vermentino is starting me off. I'm flattered as I was offered the menu in Italian, while the others have the English and French versions. I arrived early, just after the shops had closed, the hour of the tourist. I have ordered crostini misti and carpaccio, again, as I was let down earlier. There promises to be lardo and pate on the crostini. I knew I could not leave without more lardo! I just took a break for a few days.
The food on the other tables looks good. Simply plated and reasonably sized . They had six kinds of carpaccio, including tuna, swordfish and baccala, but my heart was set on beef. And I know I want red wine.
As per usual, a huge basket of bread arrives, but it looks good. It appears to have a nice crumb and wonders of all wonders, it has salt! Not sure if I have mentioned the Tuscan bread previously, but it does not have salt, it's very dense and tastes like my shoe. (And not like my new boots, both of which are fabulous, by the way.) Apparently, the traditional Tuscan food is very flavorful and salty, and the bread is a nice counterbalance. Its great for scooping food onto one's fork, however. But this bread is tasty on it's own.
The crostini arrive on a wooden paddle. There are five. I'm carbin' out, but it's Italy and my last night. They are terrific, it's tough to chose my favorite. I immediately dig into the lardo, as I know it's the most fragile. It melts in my mouth. The chicken liver pate is rustic, rich and tasty. For centuries, it has been smeared on stale bread, and rightly so. The tartufo puree is fabulous and decadent - who doesn't like truffles with wine? The pomodoro, the chopped tomatoes, surprises me with its simplicity, but it's the fettunta that nearly steals the show. It's grilled bread 'happy with a great olive oil'.
I alternate bites, trying for the right combo, but it's all good. My white wine is gone and it's time to move on to red. I consider the list but know I won't be happy until I have the Brunello. It's a bit tight, but so good with the crostini. I now have a new project of taste combinations. The toughest decision is trying to decide what bite to have last. I keep cutting the truffle and pate crostini smaller and smaller, trying for the best last bite. I end up with both at the same time. Ahhh... with Brunello, how can I go wrong?!
The carpaccio is beautiful and huge. The meat is thin, tender and so flavorful. The Grana Padano is thinly sliced but has enough bite and granular texture to coat my mouth. And there is enough arugula, even for me. I dig in but I'm getting full. I think I filled up on the bread. But I ordered another glass of Brunello anyway. They short pour here in Italy.
Carpaccio di Manzo
What a terrific last meal!! I'm completely full and out of wine and it's only quarter of ten. What shall I do? I'm seriously considering a gelato. It's been two weeks, how have I gotten through all of this without gelato? Two words - formaggi and lardo.
I asked the owner of the enoteca for a gelato recommendation, and it happens to be the one on the same piazza as my hotel. I chose creme fiori di ricotta di pecorino- sheep milk ricotta gelato. It's crisp and light. I balanced it with a deep, rich chocolate. I think this is what I have been missing these last two weeks. The gelato is so luscious, I'm trying to figure out if the gelateria will be open early enough so I can have some for breakfast There are at least six more flavors I want to try. For now, I will suffer through my 'four finger pour' of Frenet. It's not even close to a short pour.
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