I was meant to make one thing, but I made another. I find it difficult to pass up the idea of singed edges on bits of sweet pumpkin that have roasted in an olive oil made gentle by the passing of a year, stirred into a risotto with all the attention that a heart and soul have to offer. And for afterwards, when we are all sitting content and quiet, just happy to be feeling whatever it is, flooding our veins, looking out at the slope of a hill against a sky lit with an Autumn torch–a chicken. A fat, smooth, succulent, seared, then stuffed with the grey green leaves of fresh sage, thyme, and rosemary, and a yellow apple, a chunk of onion, a small red head of garlic all dressed with salt from a sea not so far away, and olive oil from even closer. Before it goes in the oven, we overlap slices of pancetta from the butcher Trabalza across the breast, and give the whole thing a pour Vin Santo. And then again at least two more times before it comes out. By then it only needs a spoon of the sauce it has made itself, scooped from the bottom and dripped from the top.
We can hardly move at the end, after apple tarts and tiny cups of deep, dark coffee, but we push on. It didn’t take us nearly as long to get to Lesson 2 in the heart of Montevarchi at Pasticceria Bonci, and maybe it was the Chianti chocolates that we were served before dinner, but it took us an awfully long time to get home. No bother at all though–it was a winding road I hadn’t seen for years, and the fun of trying to recognize the slightly familiar in the dark. We were great at the Christmas carols and slept deep into the next morning. For breakfast we had butterfly wings, made by Signore Silvio Bonci himself.