Every Thursday the International Wine Examiner hangs out with Chef Aurelio Barattini of the L’Antico Locanda di Sesto near Lucca, Italy. In this five part series the chef discusses Tuscan cuisine, wine and life as well as shares four of his traditional Tuscan recipes. Italian wine parings provided by the author.
Lucca, Italy — In 1980 legendary Italian food critic and bon vivant Indro Montanelli said of the nation’s fresh produce and ingredients: “With these great materials [that] we have, we would only destroy them if we didn’t cook them with respect.” One can almost hear between these words the music of some Italian love aria. His words, however, are truly less bombast than one might think and more just a guy being overly earnest because he, like many Italians who make food & wine, believe this.
Chef Aurelio Barattini is a local kid. Born and raised in the Lucca area he is a dyed in the wool Tuscan. He says Tuscan things like, “People who love Cinta Sensei love fat.” In translation this means people who enjoy the locally raised pigs from Siena, prized for their layer of fat, are his kind of people. “The fat,” he says, “is better than the meat.” He’s right. Studies prove it, too. The rendered fat of the Cinta Senesi pig has the identical chemical composition of olive oil.
He also says, “A Tuscan cook needs to cook Tuscan food. If I went to Mexico I could not cook good Mexican cuisine. Yes, I am a chef, but I cannot do Mexican well because I didn’t grow with the tastes, the land, the foods.”
And real Tuscan cooking needs real Tuscan wine — though in this instance, given the bitter olive flavors paring is a little tricky. For his dish of Rosticciana in Umido con Olive, two very different wines are suggested: 2008 Montraponi Chianti Classico, straight-forward, hand-crafted Sangiovese from one of the region’s up-and-coming winemakers Michele Braganti. The 2005 Strozzi “Guidoriccio” Monteregio di Massa Marittima DOC. This wine is from north of Lucca and works great with pork, wild boar and other hearty dishes from the area where Tuscany gives way to Liguria.
Part One of the series
Part Two of the series
Pork Ribs With Bitter Olives “Rosticciana in Umido con Olive”
Ingredients for 4
One rack pork ribs cut into single pieces
black bitter olives
one can tomato sauce or equal amount fresh tomatoes,
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Chopped garlic, rosemary & sage
Lightly fry the herbs and garlic in olive oil. Add and brown pork on a high flame and salt. Add tomatoes and paste. Add a full glass of water and cook for 45 minutes over medium-low heat. Add olives and cook another 15 minutes
Substitute black bitter olives with Kalamata olives
For more Tuscan wine, food and culture visit the natioanally acclaimed website Native Food & Wine
Read the review of Native Food & Wine by Providence Wine Examiner Lisa Magnuson.
Visit Atlanta Wine Exmainer Jacqueline Chambliss’ site The European Wine Table. Prose and educational entires from the producer of wine gelee. Her products are avaiable for purchase.
Other Tuscan Wineries profiled in this series:
Badia a Coltibuono Monteraponi
Il Cole Poggio Antico Poderi Boscarelli
Biondi-Santi Gianni Brunelli Soldera
Avignonesi Contucci Fattoria San Donato
Tenuta Guicciardini Strozzi Pietrafitta Tenuta Niccolai Palagetto
More wineries to come including Falchini, Le Macchialo, Orenellaia and many more…