Meat-lovin’ Tuscan fanciers should be booking their Alitalia flights now, after S. Irene Virbila’s Los Angeles Times ode to a five-course, all-meat dinner she recently enjoyed in the heart of Chianti. We picked up the story from Shuna on Eggbeater, who, while salivating herself, gave a cautionary shout-out to the sensitive dispositions of her Bay Area readers, warning that the article was “for meat-eating audiences only.”
And how. Virbila’s meal is served up by Dario Cecchini, the gruff, opinionated butcher made famous in Bill Buford’s book Heat. In Buford’s quest to become (or at least emulate) SuperMario, the New Yorker writer turned Babbo apprentice is subjected to maestro Cecchini’s operatic declarations about everything from the superiority of true Tuscan Chianina beef to the right—and only—way to hold a knife, butcher a steer, and grind sausage. Cecchini is no less dogmatic in his dealings with Virbila and the rest of the diners at Solociccio, the family-style restaurant attached to his butcher shop, Antica Macelleria Cecchini.
His rules? Five courses of meat, no choices, plus two vegetables. Bring your own wine. No turning up your nose at the dicey bits, like cow’s knee and pig’s trotters. Respect the animal.
While Virbila’s piece does rely rather heavily on the joyful-Italian cliche—you get the impression that a rousing, roomwide Puccini chorus was just a third glass of grappa away—the cooking does sound dreamy, from the burro di Chianti (lardo, or fresh pork fat, mixed with garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper) to brasato al midollo, a boned beef shank braised for hours with shallots and beef marrow.