My early April travels in Italy, which originated in Piemonte and continued with a brief stop north of Parma in Fontanelle di Roccabianca, next took me to the small town of Pelago in the foothills about 30 minutes east of Florence. That's where a friend has a place and five of us met for a few days of too much eating and drinking, for which (five weeks later) I'm still doing penance. The saving grace--both the food we ate and the wine we drank were very good and very satisfying, the restaurants we visited each had much to recommend in addition to their kitchen and their cellar, and we had a lot of fun. It's not hard to see how this could become habit forming!
After a first nite "at home" dining on delicious home made lasagna accompanied by an impressive 2010 Poggio di Sotto Rosso di Montalcino, we left early the next morning on the "road trip" which would take us first to Montalcino, then onto Siena and finally the Maremma, before returning to home base late the next day. We passed that first day tasting mostly 2008 and 2009 Brunellos and 2009 Rossos at Biondi Santi, Poggio di Sotto and Stella di Campalto, all first rate producers. For what it's worth, the 09s were showing better than the 08s. With all that hard work behind us we loaded into our van and headed to Siena for dinner at Osteria Le Logge.
First the bottom line--this is a terrific place which I'd recommend unequivocally for its food, wine, ambience and service. A total of eight of us (we were joined for the occasion by a couple of guys from Ristoro di Lamole at which we'd eventually be dining, as well as our driver) had a large table by the windows on the ground floor. The room itself is charming, simple and radiates a feeling of comfortable informality. The restaurant was full and, in truth, our group was a "challenge", but service was both friendly and professional throughout our lengthy stay. I had been advised by friends that the wine list was outstanding, but it still managed to surprise on the upside. We ended up drinking 07 and 08 Dauvissat Chablis Les Clos (turns out the restaurant owners are the importers for the area) with our starters, and the 89 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Gallina and the 90 Gaja Barolo Sperss with our primis and mains. On this night the 07 bested the 08 Chablis, showing richer and rounder (but still within the context of Chablis), while the more complex Giacosa--despite being somewhat advanced, probably due to heat somewhere along the chain of its ownership--was preferred over the "one note" (granted, it was a powerful note) Gaja. As for the food, I'd sum up by saying everything was as you'd hope it to be. A simple plate of lightly marinated Anchovies to start, which worked beautifully with the White Burgundies. Then Tagliolini with Black Truffles, delicious and perfect with the Nebbiolos. Finally Roasted Lamb, deep and satisfying. The night eventually ended with a tour of the restaurant's multilevel wine cellar (a block away) nearby the Synagogue in the former Jewish Ghetto. The owner explained that in excavating the cellar they had come across underground passages likely employed by the Jews of Sienna during those unfortunately not infrequent periods when such tunnels may have been useful. A thought provoking end to the evening.
Speaking of ends, I'm afraid that for now I'll have to take a break from posting and attend to other demands. Next stop--Ristorante La Pineta. I'll be back.