THE PERFECT TUSCAN BARBECUE
The perfect Tuscan (we were in Maremma) barbecue takes time, let me point out. Your whole day is addressed toward the culminating evening experience. But what else are vacations for? At least Italian vacations. The pursuit of pleasure. In its many forms.
Maremma’s Simposio, the last of my slow travel cookbooks, is out, and you can read the first part HERE. And no, I don’t want your email or anything; you can just click and read. If you like what you read, see, and cook, you’ll buy your copy. If not, well, I spread my voice beyond the Alps!
I: IN THE MORNING
First of all, you must start your day nourishing both your body and soul with cornetti savored sitting on a log on the beach.
II: TAKE A WALK
Then, to burn a few of the calories you’ll ingurgitate that day, you must have a long, slow, relaxing walk on the still deserted seashore.
III: GROCERY SHOPPING
Despite your sandy feet and flip-flops, you must visit your trusted fishmonger – or butcher; we’re in Maremma, so you are spoiled for choice -, greengrocer, bakery, and wine shop. To gather all the ingredients for the special night.
Don’t forget to buy something easy and light for lunch. Like a sweet cantaloupe to peel and slice and wrap in salty prosciutto.
IV: FORAGING AND SETTING THE TABLE
Immediately store the wine in the refrigerator so it’ll be perfectly chilled.
Spend the afternoon foraging the garden and the surroundings for flowers – and related – for the tablescape. Setting the table, so you won’t have to think of it later – don’t forget candles or lights that will contribute to a cozy atmosphere. Selecting or creating the perfect playlist. And preparing anything you can in advance: dice the tomatoes (and season them) for the bruschetta; slice the veggies you’ll grill and the bread you’ll toast; clean the fish if needed; place everything in handy bowls or platters.
An energetic playlist would be the perfect soundtrack for these tasks.
Take a shower and restore your energy levels with a nap or reading a good book.
VI: INITIATE THE FIRE
When the time comes, initiate the fire. Take your time, no rush, no anxiety. Sooner or later, the coals will catch fire.
VII: LET THE PARTY BEGIN
When they finally do, and while the flames do their job, put on your music, light the candles, go get the wine, uncork it, pour it into the nicest glasses around, close your eyes, and savor that first, unique sip. First kisses are – usually – unforgettable, and so is the first sip you take of a real good wine. Let’s say both the person and the wine must have been carefully selected.
First kisses are – usually – unforgettable, and so is the first sip you take of a real good wine. Let’s say both the person and the wine must have been carefully selected.
Toast the bread and make express bruschettas with the previously prepared tomatoes or the delicious Crostino Toscano (liver pate) you prudently added to your grocery list. Savor the crusty bread and the full-flavored toppings while grilling everything else.
Pour more wine.
When anything is ready, transfer it to a plate, replace it on the grill with something else, and go sit. Enjoy each bite, alternating them with lascivious wine sips, wistful sights at the panorama, concentrating on the words of that fabulous song, or chatting with your table companions.
Repeat. And repeat. And repeat.
When the table is a mess, the night has become really dark, and the stars frame your scenery, it’s time to take from the freezer either a Limoncello, a craft Amaro, or the Vin Santo (not this one, this goes at room temperature) – because, yes, you also bought the Cantucci to dip in this last.
Giggles will come, tears of commotion might too. All that caring, all that preparation, all that goodness directed to yourself will explode in chills down your spine, a cloudy mind, and an unusual state: happiness.
The first yawns will warn you it’s time to go to bed. One more sip, one more song, another sensation you’ll try to verbally express will hold you back for a bit more. Then you’ll have to surrender. You’ll sleep like a kid. And probably wake up with a very adult hangover. But worth it all.
You’ll sleep like a kid. And probably wake up with a very adult hangover.