Thursday, May 28, 2009

Under the Toscolano sun

I spent this past weekend as a guest in the warm hospitality of the Russonello family, at their retreat, tucked away in the verdant rolling hillsides of central Umbria. When we weren't watching the godfather trilogy in their very spacious and welcoming open-plan livingroom, dining room, kitchen space, we went on driving tours of the small [very very small] hilltop villages of the area. In the summer, many of these villages have festivals, one of which featured a black sabbath cover band. Out of all the delicious food, drink, and gelato, I gotta say the one that stayed with me was the cinghiale, which is wild-boar in Dante's language, and flavorful on a different level.

The dish itself was of a soupy consistency with large chunks of wildboar crowding throughout. I don't think I could describe all the tastes that went on in that dish, but i'll try. Most prominently there was lemon which gave the meat broth a unique bite that i'll have to experiment with, the rinds that were left over were soft and delectable as well [i do so love lemons], then there was the juniper leaves, there was a hint of it in the broth, but when you suddenly had a chunk of boar with juniper on it, the flavor punched your face, in the face, with gin-tinged delight. Next was the olives, small black olives with flesh barely covering its enormous pit [which often threatend to break my teeth] and they hid in the soup like little landmines, but the saltiness was definitely a neccessary compliment to the pork. I had to tell the waiter to aspetta for a few minutes while i mopped up the last bits of sauce with some saltless umbrian bread. We washed this down with a bottle of Montefalco, which had a very abrasive taste, but seemed different after each glass. I'd contend that it tasted really sweet when directly following a bite of cinghiale. I'm not going to feign a comprehensive knowledge of wine, but i do know that a san giovese can be bought cheap and never lets you down.

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