Food Field Trip Part 2

After the Biodynamic farm the Friday before last, we took a windy bus ride through the Tuscan hills to a Antica Macelleria Cecchini in the Chianti Classico region outside of Florence. There we met Dario Cecchini, a world famous butcher know for using every part of the animals he carves. He is considered something like a sculptor of meat and he has firm ideals that people should use local products from the earth and they should not waste. He uses his “heart, head, and hands” to make “delicious food from simple, readily accessible ingredients.”

He grew up in a family of butchers and they usually sold all of the well known cuts of beef to customers and had to eat whatever was left for dinner. Because of this, he knows all about the small overlooked muscles to be found on animals and the best way to prepare them. His “meat empire” as his wife (who doubles as his translator) referred to it, includes three restaurants and a butcher shop. Obviously all of these places center around the consumption of meat.

We ate in the restaurant which specializes in several course meals served “family style” at long tables, often filled with strangers. This is part of the Dario’s concept of sharing good food over good conversation. Because our group was so large, we didn’t sit with other people, but the 5 meat courses were plenty of stimulation for me.

We ate a tiny tougher muscle above the cow’s knee, boiled to tenderness and served in a vegetable salad. There was an incredible braised dish with red onions and even raw beef (below) which was really pretty good though I couldn’t eat too too much of it.

After the meal, Peter told Dario that I am “una buona cuoca,” a good cook, and we took a picture together. Peter told me to save the picture because Dario is such a famous man. New York Times write-up and all…

I wrote down a few of the things he said about his ideas and one of my favorites was, “It doesn’t matter if you’re a vegetarian or a carnivore. It only matters that you leave the world a little better.” I think that’s a pretty good motto.

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