Sunday, May 24, 2009

Drawn by Lamb Necks - A Dinner at Sociale

At my “Butchery for Adults” class at Avedano’s last week, the instructor, Tia Harrison, who is also the chef at Sociale, mentioned that she was going to be adding braised lamb necks to the Sociale menu the very next day. I really enjoy a good lamb’s neck and it was not too hard to convince Nancy, Alex and Cass to join me for a dinner at Sociale last night.

Our friend, Cornelia, works at Sociale on the weekends and happily we were seated in her section on Saturday night. In addition to the things the four of us ordered, both Cornelia and Tia gave us a few additional things to sample (marked with a "#" below – which was a good thing since they ended up being some of our favorite dishes of the evening.


~ Olives, stuffed with Fontina cheese, breaded and fried #
~ Lamb meatballs with pancetta #


~ Ravioli stuffed with wild boar and cinnamon braised in brown sage butter
~ Papparedelle with braised duck, peas and porcini mushrooms with truffle oil
~ Pici with pork, veal and venison Bolognese ragú #


~ Nancy: Pan-seared petrale sole with creamed corn and wilted spinach
~ Alex & Cass: Pan-roasted Berkshire pork chop with apple and endive
~ Mike: Braised lamb neck with Anson Mills polenta and oyster mushrooms
~ Arugula with pine nuts and lemon


~ Goat cheese cheesecake with lemon curd
~ Mini-beignets with chocolate sauce #


~ Prosecco Col Vetoraz #
~ Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva – Fanetti - 2001
~ Moscato d’Asti “La Caudrina” – Dogliotti

My lamb neck was fantastic. I found a blog with a recipe for braised lamb necks which I hope to try sometime, especially since Tia allocated me the lamb neck (not to mention the pig's head) at our class at Avedano's (I think she has me figured out!).

However, in my view the most outstanding dish of the evening was the pici with the bolognese sauce. Pici are a rolled pasta which Nancy and I had last enjoyed during our trip to Italy in 2006 when we had them for the first and last time at a wonderful dinner at a small restaurant named Osteria La Porta in the small town of Monticchiello in central Toscana, between Montepulciano and Montalcino. We had been staying at Pamela Sheldon-Brown's Poggio Etrusco just outside of Montepulciano and she had highly recommended the restaurant.

Pici is a pasta similar to a fat spaghetti which is formed by rolling long strips of pasta dough. In the hand-rolled version the pasta is not uniform in size and has variations of thickness along its length which is part of its charm.

At our dinner at Osteria La Porta, Daria Cappelli, the owner, told us that an older woman came in to the restaurant every morning to make the pici for the day. I am not sure whether or not the pici we had at Sociale on Saturday night were hand-rolled, but they were certainly tasty and well cooked - just the right degree of chewy al dente-ness.

However, it was the sugo bolognese which was the real star of the dish at Sociale. It had a wonderful flavor as well as an excellent texture and maintained the integrity of each ingredient.

It was a great meal in a cozy spot with good company and surrounded by friends. We are already looking forward to our next visit.


Pamela Sheldon said...

Hello! A google alert for my agriturismo Poggio Etrusco brought me to your wonderful blog!! Great job!!
When are you coming back??

Pamela Sheldon Johns

gastronomichael said...

Hi Pamela. Thanks very much for your note. We still remember our wonderful stay with you at Poggio Etrusco - I hope you noted we had a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano with our meal on Saturday! We would certainly love to get back to Toscana, but there are so many places in Italy we have not yet been. Let us know should you get back here to the Bay Area. Mike