One of our dear friends is Rossano, who used to own the sports bar where we go. After we left, he sold the bar and is semi-retired. Rossano gave us a very hard to find book on WWII in the Anghiari area when we lived here. We loved to look at this book in his bar and he tried to find us a copy and couldn’t, so our last night here he gave us his copy. He said it was his honor to give it to us. He’s a great guy.
We ran into him a few days ago and had a great time catching up. He told us that Monday was his birthday and his brother was having a birthday dinner for him and he wanted us to come. How could we say no? He gave us directions and we said we’d love to. We had no idea what to expect from this. I told Steve it was one of those things that could either be wonderful or painful. It was wonderful.
His brother lives in Tavernelle, which is about a five minute drive from Anghiari. He told us to be there at 8:00 and we arrived at 8:00 on the dot. There were probably about 35 people there when we got there. Tavernelle makes Anghiari look like Manhattan. It’s very tiny with really not much there at all. His brother lives just off the main road, which means it is in the country. Beautiful house in a very pastoral setting. The party was in the garage/man cave/auxiliary kitchen/event space. They had a big table set up in the middle and a fireplace off in a corner with big pots and pans of wonderful things warming on the hearth. A little stove to cook the pasta. The table was a thing of beauty. Different tables pushed end to end and long, thick planks spanning the distance between chairs. And every couple of places was an open bottle of wine. And it flowed all night.
This was one of those nights that you close your eyes and hope you can remember every detail of forever. We recognized a few people and even knew a couple of people pretty well. We met new people, including a Canadian couple who spend a few months here every year. Lorraine and Peter. Peter came over to talk to me and said, “I hear you’re Americans, but you’re also nice.” I said he was correct on both counts. Nice the reputation we Americans have across the world, even to our Northern neighbors. This is what they gave Rossano for his birthday.
The chef, Sergio, is one of the owners of one our favorite restaurants in Anghiari, La Nena. The menu consisted mostly of meat that Rossano’s brother had hunted. Wild boar and lamb. Well, I guess he didn’t hunt the lamb, but it was all very local and quite fresh. First up was a pasta with wild boar ragu, and I must say that it was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had. Cooking for that many people can be tough, but I guess if you own a restaurant, you know what you’re doing. Perfectly cooked pasta and a sauce that was slow cooked and incredible. Next was a kind of stew of wild boar pieces. It, too, was wonderful – but a lot of bones. Then the lamb. He roasted legs of lamb and hacked them into little pieces. To go along he made onions cooked in red wine vinegar and roasted potatoes. Oh, and on the table to begin with was the best salumi I’ve ever had. Wild boar and pork. I could have eaten a whole plate of it. I’ve run out of adjectives.
Great way to spend the second to last night we were in Anghiari. Happy Birthday, Rossano – we love you!!