Porcini porn: how Tuscan men eat

Lunch today with the Bindocci men at Trattoria il Pozzo (Sant’Angelo in Colle)… Keep in mind they are approaching “piena vendemmia” (nearly the peak of harvest) here in Tuscany and this was a quick, working lunch… a 45 minute affair… giusto, giusto so that we could “break bread” together…

Raw porcini salad.

Pici al ragù (di manzo, beef ragù). Normally I’d have the wild boar ragù but I didn’t want to get carried away (literally).

The 2004 Brunello Riserva Paganelli (cru) by Il Poggione was INSANE! Such bright acidity, such chewy red fruit, equine tannins, indomitable but delicious nonetheless!

Normally we’d have the bistecca alla fiorentina but today it was a mere beef filet (blood rare, of course) topped with a grilled mushroom cap.

Just in case, we also had a roast mushroom cap.

Wherever I lay my hat these days, I am reminded that Texas is my home (for MELVIN CROAKER).

Italy meal 1: Trattoria il Pozzo, Sant’Angelo in Colle (Montalcino)

Just like people, restaurants have “good days” and “bad days.” The night we went to Trattoria il Pozzo in Sant’Angelo in Colle (Montalcino), it was one of those off-the-charts good days (and not every meal we had in Italy was worth writing home about, believe me). I’ve been going there since 1989 when I first began to “frequent” Montalcino (the fons origo of my passion for Italian wine). Paola (in the kitchen) and Franca (front of the house) Binarelli have owned and run Trattoria il Pozzo since 2001 and honestly, the food there has never been better. It was just one of those magical culinary nights, when everything came together just perfectly. I’ll let Tracie P’s superb photos do the talking…

tuscan cuisine

Salt-less bread crostini topped with liver and spleen (the chestnut-colored spread, classic Tuscan), chopped mushrooms, and tomato (not so traditional but now part of the pan-Italian culinary lexicon).

tuscan cuisine

Salt-less bread soup, drizzled (rigorously) with extra-virgin olive oil by Il Poggione (more on Il Poggione later).

tuscan cuisine

Pici (long, hand-rolled noodles) with sausage, mushroom, and tomato (this was UNBELIEVABLY good).

tuscan cuisine

Pici with wild boar ragù (the boar meat was so tender and flavorful and the combination of textures and flavors was sublime).

tuscan cuisine

We had to sneak a peak in the kitchen since they were still rolling out the pici that evening.

tuscan cuisine

One of the sine qua non elements of the bistecca fiorentina is that it must be charred on top — to heat the meat on the bone without cooking it through.

tuscan cuisine

Need I say more? To look at the meat you’d think it was over cooked. But the secret is that the beast is slaughtered young. Older than a calf but still relatively young and so the meat has a pink rather than blood-red color.

tuscan cuisine

Fried artichokes. Franca told me that Italian celebrity chef Gianfranco Vissani once complained that they had served these with lemon wedges. So no more lemon wedges!

tuscan cuisine

The chicory was at once bitter like Tuscan dirt and sweet like Tuscan heaven.

gianni brunelli

The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino by the dearly departed Gianni Brunelli, one of the great Tuscan restaurateurs of our lifetime. Beautiful acidity, gorgeous fruit, and man, the combination of the red fruit flavors of the wine and its acidity against the fat and flesh of the steak was better than… well, actually, it wasn’t better than… it was our honeymoon after all! ;-)

Ristorante Il Pozzo
53024 Montalcino (SI) – Piazza Del Pozzo, 2
tel: 0577 844015

closed Tuesdays

You shall learn how salt is the taste/of another man’s bread… Cacciaguida to Dante, Paradiso 17, 58-9.

Italy day 1: Trattoria Il Pozzo, one of my all-time favs

Above: twilight in the Val d’Orcia (Orcia River Valley) is stunning. The sun was setting as my friend Ben and I arrived yesterday evening.

Whenever I come to Montalcino, Trattoria Il Pozzo in Sant’Angelo in Colle is at the top of my list. It’s one of the few classic trattorie that has remained unchanged since I first came here nearly twenty years ago. The cuisine is traditional Val d’Orcia fare, no frills and no fuss. And while the arista di maiale (the roast rack of pork loin) is excellent at Il Pozzo, one of the highlights of any trip to Montalcino is always the restaurant’s fiorentina, the Tuscan porterhouse (made from gigantic Chianina cows slaughtered young).

My dinner at Il Pozzo always begins with an assortment of crostini: chicken liver and spleen, tomato, and caramelized onions.

Pinci or pici are traditional hand-rolled long noodles, made with just flour, salt, and water. I like mine with ragù.

Ben had his with mushrooms. Also very good…

We had our choice of steaks: I would have liked to order the large one with the tenderloin, but in my book it’s the striploin that counts (more flavorful) and I didn’t want to overdo it on my first night in Montalcino.

Now that’s one MEAN PIECE OF STEAK!!! I’ve been to Il Pozzo with winemakers in the past and the ladies who own and run it are always cool about bringing your own wine. But last night we just did a simple old-school, food-friendly “locally produced” Sangiovese.

Trattoria Il Pozzo
Piazza del pozzo, 2
Sant’Angelo in Colle
53024 – Montalcino (SI) Italia
Tel. 0577.844015
closed Tuesdays


I am currently blogging from Le Logge, a classic Montalcino mainstay, and the ONLY place I can find to get online in this town!

I can’t find a listing on Google for Le Logge (man, this place is old school, but how cool is that, that they have free wifi? Some German girl at an enoteca down the road overheard me asking about internet and hipped me to it. There’s no sign or anything.).

So I’m just reading the address from the street: 1 Via Giacomo Matteotti.

That’s 2005 Canalicchio di Sopra in my glass. I think that Canalicchio may have declassified some of its Brunello in 05 (a warm vintage) and this wine is drinking really well right now.