This Wednesday I wont’ tell you a Tuscan recipe and I wont’ loose myself into my Grandma’s memories, this Wednesday I’m going to take you all in my car and bring you with me for a ride in the Chiantishire, living again the amazing trip I had on Sunday with some friends, foodbloggers and twitterers.
This Wednesday we’re going to Panzano in Chianti, famous not for a particular kind of wine, but for a man who has magic in his hands, a huge heart and a mind full of ideas, recites Dante by heart and has an amazing knowledge of meat, in all its shapes and cuts: we’re going to meet Dario Cecchini in Panzano on the very Sunday when there is a market – Aprilante -, like every first Sunday of each month, with artisans and manufacturers.
Driving on Chianti winding roads it’s breathtaking, whatever the season: on Sunday I found a day of dazzling sunshine, biting cold and crystal clear, the landscape was defined and bright. Castellina in Chianti, Greve in Chianti, Radda in Chianti … and Panzano? Panzano in Chianti is a small village which lies on a hill shortly after Castellina on the road to Florence. Until a few years ago it was only a village on the way, but recently, thanks to the efforts of Dario Cecchini and his ideas and passion, it has become a destination for meat lovers and connoisseurs, who come from all over Italy to shop at Antica Macelleria Cecchini, not a simple butcher’s shop, but the temple of good meat.
When you enter the butcher, the meat counter is there, majestically, in a blaze of opulence and wealth, precious and famous cuts alongside pieces less noble but no less tasty. Nearby, you can find products already made by Dario, like fennel scamerite (pork steaks) or Cosimini (3), a Florentine meat-loaf made with minced beef, salt, black pepper, thyme, onion, garlic and egg. In front of the counter, a small selection of appetizers, ranging from beans (1) to porchetta – roast pork (5 and 6), Chianti butter, that is lard treated with some Tuscan spices. Wherever, there are hanging pieces of meat and sausages, as the guanciale (4). The refrigerator is there (2), just have a look inside!
In all this, there is magic. Just look at Dario while cutting the meat and dealing with it with enormous respect, and you will be aware of this subtle spell that surrounds not only the Old Butcher Cecchini, but the entire village of Panzano. In order to describe Dario Cecchini, I will use his own words, taken from his site, www.dariocecchini.com:
For the last 35 years I have been a butcher, seeking to better myself in my art, and to discover the best cutting and cooking methods for each piece of meat. My goal is to respect the animal by using every part in the best way possible. I am an artisan who seeks and offers “Quality”. I select my cuts of meat with a view to offering the best to my customers and to putting my work in the finest light. Trust in what I suggest, or at any rate, I ask that you consider my research and passion for meat outside of the usual parameters.
Letting passion guide you means looking for the best good. Join me in my choices as you see fit. Just maybe thirty years in the butchershop have taught me a thing or two.
From the butcher Cecchini, you can reach the Officina della Bistecca, just climb a few steps and you’ll find a bright space with a few seats just above the butcher shop (photo 5 Judy with two chefs from the Officina) where you can taste a 50€ menu with Bone-in Rib eye or Strip steak, T-bone or Porterhouse steak and Panzanese steak (a cut rediscovered by Cecchini, but once famous during Renaissance banquets, a monumental slice from the heart of a beef leg).
Around Panzano, during the Sunday Market, you can enjoy a flea market and stands with local producers of honey, jams, cheeses from all places (3 and 4) and Chianti pecorino as well, made by Giovanni ( 2). Pay also a visit to a very good osteria in the central square of Panzano, Enoteca Baldi, where you can taste wines, typical dishes, olive oil and pasta, with two very nice owners (1).
And finally, at one o’clock, we reach Solociccia for lunch, a restaurant that is the home of a butcher. A full menu for 30 €, we ate a lot and what an extraordinary experience.. the only problem is to be able to stand up after lunch! Let’s have a look at the menu …
- Spicy meat ragu on toast (6) a meat sauce let cook for all the time it needs!
- Batter fried meats and vegetables, (3) one of my favourite, with delicious and soft meat balls, with an hint of lemon peel
- Fresh, raw garden vegetables (2)
- Homemade focaccia della Simonetta (1) made with lard
- Bread from Panzano
- Garbanzo and white beans (4) to season with profumo del Chianti (5), a salt that is the essence of Tuscany, sun bleached salt and aromatic herbs!
- Sautéed, marinated beef (1), Chianti style sushi, a kind of tartarre meat seasoned with olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, red pepper, garlic, parsley and lemon juice and slipped on a sprig of rosemary
- A roasted dish (2), so soft
- Boiled beef and vegetable salad (3), my favorite ever, pieces of warm meat with a salad of carrots, celery and onion, seasoned with vinegar
- A braised dish
- Red wine (a quarter liter), water with and without bubbles
- Coffee, olive oil cake (4), sweet and soft, fragrant, a delicious dessert!
- Italian Military liqueurs
I really want to thank Judy -Tuscan Diva, for this wonderful day!