Wow, thanks, everyone, for all the wonderful comments and emails about yesterday’s post on dinner in the home of the lovely Bindocci family in Sant’Angelo in Colle (Montalcino, Siena). I thought I’d post a few more photos from the dinner. And thanks, especially, to Stefania and Fabrizio, who so graciously welcomed us into their home. That’s Stefania, above, slicing the chestnut-flour polenta with a string.
The incredible sensual experience of the chestnut-flour polenta is its combination of its sweet, chestnut flavor combined with its inimitable texture. The night we were invited, Fabrizio’s niece was there with her husband. They had just returned from Libya, where they had been living (they’re agricultural engineers and they work to create sustainable farming in the third world). To celebrate their return, Stefania had created this traditional Mt. Amiata menu (she was born in the mountains, while Fabrizio was born on the Orcia River Valley floor).
@BrooklynGuy the delicate but firm-to-the-bite texture of the pork facial glands (almost like candy), which have imparted their flavor to their cooking liquid, combined with the pillowy softness of the polenta was an unforgettable sensorial event in our mouths. The porousness of the polenta proved an ideal receptacle and medium for the rich jus of the offal. The two worked in concert, in a dynamic dialectic that rewarded the senses with its seamless ingenuity.
In another era, the slaughter of a pig was an important event in the familial and societal rhythm of life. While most of the pork was “put up,” as they say here in Texas, in the form of cured thigh and sausage, the offal was consumed in celebration of the good fortune of avere le bestie, as they say in Italian, of having beasts (i.e., livestock) on your estate. One of the coolest things about Il Poggione is that it is a working, integrated farm, where livestock is raised and sent to pasture in fields adjacent to the vineyards and olive groves. The integrated approach, says Fabrizio, is an important element in creating the terroir-driven wines for which their winery is so famous. We paired the 2006 “owner-selection” Rosso di Montalcino with the chesnut-flour polenta and pork facial glands (we served the 07 Rosso di Montalcino by Il Poggione at our wedding reception).
Some of the most memorable meals I’ve had in Tuscany have been centered around pig and boar liver. It’s so important to experience the wines of Montalcino (and Sangiovese in general) in the context of food and pairing. The 2001 Brunello by Il Poggione was such a fantastic wine — a great vintage from a great producer. But the greatest treat was to taste it in the context and flavor “economy” of traditional pairings. The tannin, red fruit, and acidity of Il Poggione’s Brunello, paired with nearly impenetrable richness and deep flavor of the liver, assumed a new ontographical significance, by which, I mean our ability to describe the nature and essence of things.
We ate liver again on the next day of our trip in Bologna… and there was an important reason for that. More on that later…
Please stay tuned and thanks, again, for reading and for the thoughtful comments… :-)