Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fagioli alla Salvia ed Aglio (Tuscan White Beans with Sage and Garlic)

This was one of the side dishes that we prepared during a February 2009 cooking class at Cavallo Point led by Judy Witts Francini. Judy has a description of this dish, and the use of beans in general in Tuscan cuisine, on her Divina Cucina website. Here is an extract:

"Florentines are known in Italy as bean eaters. Beans are an important part of their diet, forming a perfect protein with spelt or farro, an ancient wheat
grain used by the Egyptians and Romans. Beans form the base of quite a few well-known dishes--Tonno e fagioli (tuna and bean salad), Minestrone (vegetable soup), Fagoli all'uccelleto (beans in tomato and sage sauce), Zuppa di gran farro (bean and spelt soup), Fettunta bianca (toasted garlic
bread with beans, new oil and pepper) and Zuppa Lombarda (beans and their broth served with garlic toast)."
The dish we made at the class was was really tasty and I had been wanting to try it for some time. Finally tonight I gave it a try based on the recipe copied furthest below that Judy gave us at our class.

For the beans I used some dried “Italian Butter Beans” that I had purchased from the folks from Iacopi Farms (Half Moon Bay-based farmers) at the Sunday San Rafael Farmers Market (one pound for $5). I soaked the full one pound of beans overnight, which resulted in 6 ½ cups of soaked beans.

I then followed Judy’s below Cavallo Point recipe almost to the letter, using six cups of water and a full head of garlic, plus two additional crushed cloves. I ended up cooking the beans in the oven just under 2 ½ hours, adding some water along the way. You just have to taste them along the way to see if they are ready.

I served drained, drizzled with some olive oil and with a bit of fresh black pepper. If you like garlic (as I do!), as Judy indicates below the softened cloves from the head of garlic are great squeezed out and spread on toast – in effect the Zuppa Lombarda dish Judy mentions in the above extract.

The dish really turned out well and was a great accompaniment to some roast chicken Nancy prepared. The quantity would easily have been sufficient for 8 servings, and probably closer to 10 (some left for tomorrow - I'm going to try some bruschetta with cavolo nero and the beans). Although we ended up discarding the broth, as Judy indicates below it would be great as a starting point for a soup.


The following recipe (click to enlarge) was provided by Judy Witts Francini at her cooking class at Cavallo Point – 21 February 2009

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Another Cavolo Nero Dish

Last night Patrick and I cooked dinner. Pat made the main course - a Pasta alla Trapanese that we had learned from our cooking classes at Mezzo Mezzo - and I made a couple of side dishes, a roast cauliflower, and another dish using the same Cavolo Nero (black kale) that I had used in the Tuscan soup described in my previous post. Everything turned our really well, with the meal enhanced by Alex' announcement of his engagement to Cassie!

Here's the recipe I used for the dish - Cavolo Nero with Raisins, Pine Nuts and Pancetta - which served six of us as a side dish:


~ 2 bunches (a bit over a pound) cavolo nero
~ 2 tablespoons raisins
~ 2 tablespoons pine nuts
~ Extra virgin olive oil
~ 2 cloves garlic, minced
~ Pinch of hot red chili flakes
~ 1/3 lb. pancetta - cubed
~ Sea salt
~ Pepper


Destem the kale. Chop roughly (1/2 inch strips). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the chopped kale and boil until it is just tender, about 5-6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking. Drain.

Put the raisins in a small bowl and cover with warm water. Set aside to plump for 30 minutes, then drain.

Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan and let cool.

Slice the pancetta. Saute until crisp - remove from pan and set aside.

Add the garlic and chili flakes to the pan with the pancetta fat - saute briefly until the garlic is translucent. Add the cooked kale, pancetta, drained raisins, toasted pine nuts, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, until all the ingredients are well distributed and the greens are warmed throughout.

Mashed anchovies would also have been an alternative to the pancetta. There are a number of recipes out there employing cavolo nero (including one I saw using it instead of basil in quasi-pesto sauce) and I am looking forward to trying a number of them while it is in season.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Oh Waiter – There’s a Black Horse in My Soup!!

Angelino Restaurant, looking out on the Bay in the center of Sausalito, has for many years been one of our favorite Italian restaurants. However, we have almost always just gone there just for dinner.

Recently I went there for lunch on a beautiful afternoon with some friends visiting from out of town and was struck with what a great place it is to be during the day when you can really see the view. Since then I have become a regular for a lunch on the weekend.

Remember the 1987 movie “Moonstruck” set in New York and starring Cher and Nicholas Cage? The Castorini family had a favorite Italian restaurant in their Brooklyn neighborhood – Grand Ticino - that they went to frequently, and where they were always warmly greeted and waited on by the solicitous waiter, Bobo.

That feeling of genuine hospitality and welcome from the Ancona family and their staff is what one finds at Angelino. Recently, Angelino was reviewed by Leslie Harbib in the MarinScope, and I thought her review hit the mark. As she noted there, apart from the food, one of the factors that adds immeasurably to the overall experience and authenticity at Angelino is that in addition to Pasquale Ancona, the owner who comes from Napoli, two of the waiters, Danilo and Giancarlo, are also from Italy.

When I go to Angelino for lunch I love to sit at the bar, which is tended by either Sal or Ted, and which commands a nice view of the room and the Bay beyond. In addition, if they have some time, either Pasquale or his wife, Donna, will stop by for a chat.

My favorite dish at Angelino is their Linguine alla Pescatore, which is served with a wonderful spicy tomato and fish sauce including shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, squid and chunks of fish. The pasta is also cooked perfectly al dente, which adds a great deal to the dish. A glass of the Vermentino from Sardegna is the perfect accompaniment for the dish.

The other day when I was at Angelino for lunch I was a bit hungrier than usual and decided to also have a bowl of their soup of the day, which turned out to be a Tuscan soup made with kale, beans and farro. It was absolutely fantastic – both great flavor and a very interesting texture provided by the slightly chewy farro, a grain I had never had before. I asked Pasquale about the ingredients, which unexpectedly led him to burst out laughing. It turns out I had confused the Italian for Lacinato kale (cavolo nero) with that for a black horse (cavallo nero). Something to watch out for in the future.

When I got home that day I was able to find a recipe online for Farro Soup with Kale. A few days later I used that recipe as a starting point for my own attempt at the dish as follows:

INGREDIENTS (serves 8):

~ 6 ounces whole grain farro (Note: I used a brand called Bartolini from Umbria, which was “semipearled” (i.e. perlato), a term which apparently indicates that the hull has been removed from the grain. I read in one place that if the hull has been removed, there is no need to pre-soak the grain before using it. However, I did soak it overnight..

~ 1/2 pound borlotti beans (Note: Borlotti beans, also known as roman beans or romano beans, are a variety of cranberry bean bred in Italy to have a thicker skin. Borlotti/ cranberry beans originated in Colombia where they were known as cargamanto. The bean is a medium large tan bean, splashed with red/black to magenta streaks. I used a brand of dried beans called Riso Carena from Pavia in Lombardia))

~ 1 can (28 oz.) whole, peeled tomatoes, including the juice (I used La Primavera brand from Napoli imported by AG Ferrari)

~ 1/3 lb pancetta, coarsely minced

~ 2 cloves garlic, minced

~ 1 medium onion, minced

~ 1 carrot, minced

~ 1 8-inch rib of celery, minced

~ 2 bunches (about a pound) of Cavolo Nero kale (also called Lacinato Kale, Tuscan Kale, Black Kale or Dinosaur Kale), stems removed and coarsely shredded

~ 1 qt. chicken stock (I used Pacific Natural Foods brand)

~ Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

~ Olive oil

~ Salt & pepper to taste


The night before you are doing the cooking soak the farro and, assuming you are using dried beans, the beans.

Before starting the preparation of the soup, cook the soaked beans until close to being done. I put them in a pot with water to cover by about 2 inches, brought it to a boil, and then simmered the beans for about 2 hours.When the beans are ready, blend about 2/3 of them in a blender. Put the blended beans, the remaining whole beans, the water the beans were cooked in, and the soaked farro (drained), into a soup pot.

Sauté the minced pancetta in a large frying pan over a medium flame. When done, remove to a dish and hold.

Sauté the garlic in the pancetta fat over a low flame (you may need to add a bit of olive oil). When just translucent (but not browned), remove it to the same plate as the pancetta.

Sauté the onion, celery and carrot (i.e. to make a basic soffritto) in 1/3 cup olive oil over a low flame. Once the onions are translucent, stir in the tomatoes (including the juice from the can), add back the pancetta and garlic that was set aside, and simmer for a couple of minutes more. Transfer the onion/ celery/ carrot/ garlic/ pancetta/ tomato mixture to the soup pot, and add the kale and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours, stirring frequently. Should the soup become too thick add water. Check the seasoning towards the end of the cooking time.

Serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.


The soup was very good the first time I made it – here it is:

The one major deficiency I found my soup had by comparison to the Angelino version was that the farro in my soup was too soft. The farro in the Angelino soup had a definite chewiness to it which mine lacked. It may be that it should not be soaked as long, or perhaps I should try to use unhulled farro (i.e. not “perlato”).

Also, although it was not bad, the broth in my version had more of a tomato flavor and red color to it than the Angelino version. The next time I plan to omit the juice from the canned tomatoes. Obviously using fresh tomatoes would be best, although this is a winter dish.

I think the soup would also be enhanced by being served with some garlic-rubbed bruschetta (toast, ideally made with ciabatta bread) on the side.

The overall preparation/cooking time (from the time I started the pre-cooking of the beans to the time the soup was served) was about 4 ½ hours. The actual ingredient preparation – primarily the mincing and chopping of ingredients – took about an hour.

I definitely plan to make this again.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Year's Worth of Dawns

It has been just about a year now since our son, Andrew, created this blog for me as a 60th birthday present, and it has been a lot of fun learning how to use it (still an ongoing process!). Andrew, thanks again!

Whenever I can, I commute from our home in Sausalito to my office in San Francisco by ferry, which has to be one of the most enjoyable commutes in the world. It is about a mile from our house to the ferry dock in downtown Sausalito -- an easy downhill stroll in the morning; a bit more of a workout in the evening. Then, after traveling past Angel Island and Alcatraz en route, on the San Francisco side it is only about 4 blocks from the Ferry Building to our office.

Since I try to take the early ferry, I almost always get to enjoy the sun rising over the Bay and no two sunrises are the same. I have included above and below some shots I have taken over the course of the past year which provide a sample of the variety I have been fortunate to enjoy. I have to say that the last photo below -- taken at 6:54AM on September 10, is my personal favorite since I took it just a minute after I learned that Catherine Childs ("Cece") Moyle, our first grandchild, had been born in New York City.

I hope you will enjoy the pictures. Happy holidays, and for my friends from Japan, rainen mo yoroshiku!

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Lot to be Thankful For

We certainly had a nice Thanksgiving. Andrew, Connie and Alex were able to join Nancy and me, and we had a great time over the entire long weekend, enhanced by some fabulous weather.

The kids all came home on Wednesday night and on Thursday morning we set the table and gathered around for a group shot.

While Nancy worked on the finishing touches of our meal with a just a bit of assistance...

... the rest of us broke out Wii Resort and generally entertained ourselves.

To improve our appetites we took a hike up the Morning Sun Trail into the Marin Headlands. Although it was a nice day, it was a bit hazy and the views from the top of the trail were not great as can be seen from this video and the below photo of Connie looking out over Mt. Tam.

Back home we broke out some cheese (Brillat Savarin, Abbey de Belloc, Comtè and Cabot Clothbound Cheddar) from our favorite cheese store, Cheese Plus, which we enjoyed while we watched some football, and then moved on to our Thanksgiving dinner which was great. Nancy’s brined turkey turned out exceptionally well and after a few years of experimentation, I think I finally have perfected a stuffing recipe I like. We also had a couple of wines that went very well with the meal. Pumpkin and chocolate/coffee pecan pies rounded out the day.

On Friday, after an emergency run to Best Buy for a replacement TV (our former set having suddenly taken on a decidedly greenish hue), we went to see “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”, then were off for dinner at Sociale in San Francisco where we were well cared for by our friends Cornelia and Melissa (fabulous braised pork shank!).

On Saturday we hopped on a ferry in Tiburon for the short trip across Raccoon Straits to Angel Island where we hiked around the island and enjoyed the panoramic views of the bay.

On our way home we stopped by the Farley Bar in the Cavallo Point Resort at Fort Baker, happily early enough to catch dusk falling over the Golden Gate.

It was a wonderful holiday.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

More Friendship from Chile

Earlier today I stopped by the Sausalito's Civic Center to say hello to Mike Langford, the head of our Parks & Recreation Department who is taking the lead to look into the revitalization of our sister city relationship with Viña del Mar in Chile. As I was leaving his office, Mike asked me if I had seen the Hermandad statue in Gabrielson Park in downtown Sausalito that had been donated several years ago by Sergio Castillo Mandiola, a Chilean sculptor. I had to admit that I had not, but after leaving the meeting I drove down to take a look.

In 1968 Sr. Castillo was a visiting professor at UC Berkeley. Learning of the sister city relationship between Sausalito and Viña del Mar, he kindly offered to create a steel sculpture as a gift to Sausalito to reflect the goodwill between the cities. He gave the sculpture the title of "Hermandad" -- "sisterhood.”

At the time of the sculpture’s dedication in 1969, the sculpture was located in an open area in Sausalito near the Bay and the city’s Viña del Mar Plaza.

Soon thereafter, small trees were planted around the sculpture to provide some landscaping. However, as the trees grew to full size over the years, they gradually crowded in on Hermandad and largely obscured the work from public view.

In 1989 the Loma Prieta earthquake toppled Hermandad from its base. An initial effort was made to reattach and strenghten it, but elements of the sculpture were lost as a result and the integrity of the original work was compromised.

Finally, in September 2008, on the 40th anniversary of its original dedication, as a result of several years of efforts led by the Sausalito Arts Commission and with the support and guidance of Sr. Castillo and the work of local artist, Archie Held, the restored Hermandad was erected on a elevated pedestal at the entrance to Gabrielson Park in downtown Sausalito. It sits there today, just next to the ferry terminal where it once again welcomes visitors to the city.

I am sure Sr. Castillo would approve.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sausalito and Viña del Mar - Dos Ciudades Hermanas

Our family has lived in Sausalito for over 30 years, but I am sorry to say that it was only recently that I looked into our sister city relationship with the Chilean city of Viña del Mar ("Vineyard of the Sea"), just north of the port of Valparíaso on the Pacific Coast and about one and a half hours by car from Santiago.

The sister city relationship was established in 1960, but apart from being remembered by our Viña del Mar Plaza in downtown Sausalito next to the ferry pier, it does not seem that it has been active in the recent past. I recently had a chance to meet Chile’s new Consul General in San Francisco, Alex Geiger-Soffia, who hopes to organize an event to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the relationship. That sounds like a wonderful idea, especially given the long-term, special relationship that exists between California and Chile as reflected by our Chile-California Partnership (see the links here and here).

Although I have never been to Chile, I have become very interested in the country and would like to learn more about the background of the sister city relationship. There are some obvious similarities between the cities - for example, both are seaside tourist destinations close to important ports and both, as the following photo collages reflect, are blessed by considerable natural beauty.

Both cities are also close to important wine production areas, including, in the case of Viña del Mar, Casablanca Valley (through which one passes on the drive to the coast from Santiago) which is itself a sister city of Napa, California, less than an hour north of Sausalito. Viña del Mar is considerably larger than Sausalito - its population of around 300,000 (compared to around 8,000 for Sausalito) makes it the fourth largest city in Chile. It also hosts two important annual festivals – a music festival, now in its 50th year, each February (“Festival Internacional de la Canción de Viña del Mar”), and a film festival, now in its 21st year, each November ("Festival Internacional de Cine de Viña del Mar”).

Viña del Mar also has a top division soccer team named CD Everton (nicknamed the "Ruleteros" (“the roulette players”), a reference to the city’s status as a gambling resort). The team plays at a 18,000 seat stadium named Estadio Sausalito.

The stadium was named after the small lake – Laguna Sausalito – next to which it is located.

I am not sure if the Lagoon was named in honor of the sister city relationship or if that may just be a coincidence due to the possible presence of the same willow trees after which Sausalito (“"small willow grove” in Spanish) was originally named.

Returning to California, as can be seen by this video, the Viña del Mar Plaza has always been a peaceful oasis in downtown Sausalito.

The elephant statues, which flank the entrance to the park, and the fountain in the middle of the park, are the key decorative elements.

The statues have plaques – one in English and one in Spanish - affixed to their bases which reflect the sister city relationship.

The elephant sculptures and fountain were originally designed for the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco by Sausalito architect William Faville.

After the Exposition, Faville acquired the elephants and the fountain and in 1916 they were placed in their current location in Sausalito, then known as Depot Park, where residents dubbed them Jumbo and Pee Wee. The original statues eroded over time, so castings were made of Pee Wee so that concrete replacements could be placed in to the Park. In 1960 the name of the Park was changed to commemorate the new sister city relationship with Viña del Mar.


"I have been a lucky man. To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvelous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses – that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things."

Pablo Neruda, Chile’s Nobel Prize-winning poet who maintained a home, “La Sebastiana,” in Valparíaso, near Viña del Mar.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Dinner for Abruzzo

Abruzzo is an Italian region on the Adriatic coast in the center of the country with its western border less than 50 miles east of Rome.

The Apennines mountain range runs through the region and, as a result, Abruzzo is one of the most mountainous regions in all of Italy.
Its spectacular peaks include the Corno Grande, part of the Gran Sasso massif and the highest summit in the Apennines, and La Majella ("Maiella" in Italian), part of Italy’s Majella National Park, both pictured below.
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Monday, October 26, 2009

Il Macellaio di Panzano Comes to Cavallo Point

Thursday, April 6, 2006, turned out to be a wonderful day. Nancy and I had been staying in Bologna with Bark and Kim and were about to depart on an adventure that would take us through Toscana and Umbria before returning to Emilia-Romagna. Plus it would be my first opportunity to drive in Italy.

Bark took us to the Bologna airport early that morning to pick up our rental car, and then waved goodbye with a cheerful “in bocca al lupo” - “good luck” – although the idiomatic meaning - “in the wolf’s mouth” – somehow seemed more appropriate as I acquainted myself with our compact Renault Modus. So we were off heading south from Bologna on the A1 autostrada first climbing through the Apennines mountain range and then descending into Toscana.

It was raining in the Apennines but by the time we neared Firenze we could see patches of blue sky. We skirted the city and continued south through the Chianti region on S222, our goal the small town of Panzano in Chianti and a butcher shop I had read about, the Antica Macelleria Cecchini.

I do not recall how I first heard of Dario Cecchini, the 5th generation proprietor of the shop, but it was probably on Faith Willinger’s website, or that of Judy Witts Francini (Divina Cucina/Over a Tuscan Stove), since both of them have done a good deal to bring Dario to the attention of the world. Later that year Bill Buford would do even more, first with his New Yorker piece “Carnal Knowledge - How I Became a Tuscan Butcher,” and then with the publication of the book from which that New Yorker piece was taken, “Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany.” At that time it seemed that Dario was most associated with the famous “bistecca Fiorentina,” a massive, 3-inch thick bone-in steak that was traditionally taken from the Chianina breed of cattle that had been raised in Toscana in the past.

What I had read about the Antica Macelleria Cecchini suggested that we should be prepared for an establishment overrun by tourists clambering for raw meat, but when we arrived in Panzano – which is in fact a very small town - and walked up the hill to the small shop we found we were the only ones there.

We had a brief chat with Dario (my Italian at that point being even more rudimentary than it is today), made a few purchases (I remember most vividly the Finocchiona salami), bought some bread at a nearby bakery, and then headed a bit further south to Castellina in Chianti where we enjoyed an memorable al fresco lunch under sunny skies seated on a wall overlooking the beautiful Tuscan countryside.

Fast forward 3+ years to early last month when I was having a drink with Jayne Reichert from the Cavallo Point cooking school in Sausalito talking about her upcoming trip to Italy. Jayne mentioned that Marin Organic was organizing an event at Cavallo Point the following month to celebrate the publication of Doug Gayeton’s new book, “Slow Life in a Tuscan Town,” which featured photos that Doug had taken during the period he lived in Toscana (he now lives in Petaluma). I had first seen Doug Gayeton’s work handing on the wall at Della Fattoria in Petaluma and had done a post on it in January. However, even more exciting for me was the news that part of the celebration would be a cooking class featuring Dario Cecchini, a picture of whom appeared in Doug’s book (with the appropriate Tuscan saying: “Meglio spendere soldi dal macellaio che dal farmacista” – “Better to spend your money at the butcher shop than at the pharmacy”).

We were able to sign up for the class, and yesterday afternoon Alex, Cass and I made the 5-minute drive from our house over to Cavallo Point. It was a beautiful day so we went a bit early so we could grab a drink at Farley’s Bar (in the same building as the cooking school) and enjoy the view from the second floor veranda.

Just after 3:30 they let us into the cooking school’s classroom room where the ingredients were out and ready to go.

We had a chance to meet Dario and his wife, Kim, an American who grew up in the East Bay. Dario spoke only in Italian during the class and Kim did all the translating. I learned that this was only Dario’s second visit to Northern California, the first having been in August 2001 on the occasion of a massive lunch in Berkeley celebrating the 30th anniversary of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse (at which time Dario was described in an article in the New York Times as “an exuberant Tuscan butcher in Technicolor-striped shirt and trousers and (no kidding) purple cowboy boots who recited Canto 5 of Dante's ''Inferno,'' from memory, between courses.”).

After some brief introductions by Helge Hellberg, the Executive Director of Marin Organic, and Kelsey Kerr of the Cavallo Point Cooking School, Dario got started with the food. The official menu for the afternoon consisted of:

~ Burro del Chianti (“Chianti Butter” - a mixture of fresh pork lardo, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary spread on crostini);

~ Cosimino (a traditional Florentine meatloaf named in honor of Cosimo di Medici, including beef chuck, pork shoulder, garlic, onion, thyme and eggs, formed in a ball and covered with bread crumbs – you can see it in the above picture taken by Doug Gayeton at Dario’s shop – the cannon ball shaped items);

~ Spalla del Agnello al Rosmarino e Pecorino (a deboned lamb shoulder topped with slices of aged Pecorino cheese and minced rosemary); and

~ Sushi del Chianti (a coarsely cut steak tartare with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, chile pepper, garlic, parsley and lemon juice)

However, since he was apparently concerned that might not be sufficient, Dario also prepared for us:

~ A thick beef steak in the style of the classic “bistecca Fiorentina” – seared on the outside and raw at the center;

~ ”Salmon di Chianti” (a butterflied loin of pork seared in a griddle); and

~ Grilled thick cut slices of pork belly.

Almost all of the ingredients were procured from Marin County organic producers, including the pork that was provided by Mark Pasternak from Devils Gulch Ranch who was also at the event.

Dario worked hard throughout the program (as did Kim with the translating!), in particular as both the Burro del Chianti and the Cosimino required a good deal of kneading and the application of much “olio di gomito” (“elbow grease”!).

The results were spectacular!

In addition to the excitement of the food, we enjoyed a brief interlude when smoke from the grilling set off the building’s fire alarm and we all exited to the field in front of the building to await a visit from the Sausalito Fire Department before heading back in to the class room.

The food for our class was paired with some wonderful wines from Sean Thackrey from Bolinas – “Aquila” (produced from Sangiovese grapes), “Orion” (a red blend) and "Andromeda" (a Pinot Noir).

As noted by the New York Times article cited above, Dario is well known for quoting poetry while he works, especially selections from Dante’s Inferno. At the end of the evening I asked him if he was planning to share anything with us. He said that unfortunately we did not have time, and that with the visit by the fire department we had probably been as close to Hell that day as we wanted to go.

This was the second class for Alex, Cass and me at Cavallo Point (our first having been with
Judy Witts Francini in January) and we again had a great time.

As before, this event was very well organized and a credit to Kelsey, Jayne and the rest of the Cavallo Point staff who worked hard behind the scenes to keep everything moving smoothly (even with the break for the fire alarm!).

I should confess that prior to the class I had been concerned that Dario may have become something of a caricature pandering to foreign tourists and adversely affected by his popularity. However, our experience at Cavallo Point showed me that he is a very genuine person with a great deal of passion and charisma. It was a tremendous fun to spend a few hours with him and Kim.

For any who may visit Toscana and have time to stop in Panzano, you should know that Dario has now expanded his operation beyond the original butcher shop. In addition, he now offers meals and three different establishments immediately next to the butcher shop - SoloCiccia (“only meat”), which features a six-course fixed menu focusing on less common cuts of beef, MacDario , Dario’s refined version of a burger joint, and the Officina della Bistecca, a steak only restaurant. Here are a couple of articles featuring SoloCiccia (here and here), here is a video from Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” series featuring a visit to Panzano, and here is a wonderful video taken at the Officina della Bistecca which for me captures Dario’s enthusiasm for his work and the energy level he somehow managed to maintain during the entire program at Cavallo Point. Perhaps there is something to his breakfast of Burro del Chianti and vino rosso!

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