Jairo, Matteo, Silvio and Marco

I fell in love with the butcher yesterday.  It’s a relationship that wouldn’t work if he crossed the counter, but love can be unavoidable. He is completely reliable, brilliant at what he does, as sure as an oak tree, and always happy to see you.  It was a great pork roast.  Each rib was beautifully cleaned, and still attached at the base to the loin to form a perfect pocket for a paste of fresh breadcrumbs, lemon zest, parsely, sage, rosemary and garlic bound by olive oil.   Another pocket was sliced along the bone at the bottom, and after the whole loin was seared, drizzled with Chianti, and roasted in a patient oven with a tray of tomatoes below, we devoured it.  On the side were string beans braised with shallot, and garlic.  While we were waiting, we had spinach and ricotta dumplings in a sage, garlic and butter sauce, showered with Parmesan, and afterwards a tart filled with roasted, sugared apples, smashed into a puree and topped with paper thin slices of the same.   We slouched in our chairs from the weight of happiness. 

Jairo came at three and drove us along the road to Florence, exiting just before, at Montevarchi, to find Matteo who led us through the olive oil press on the season’s first day of operation.  We inhaled the heavy and heavenly perfume of the smashing of olives, and trod into the  mud outside to study the trees the olives came from. 

In the dark it is always harder to find even the familiar and I am sure that we passed the same roundabout at least four times, before the right road showed itself, taking us to the Bonci Bakery, creamy hot chocolates and cappucini, and then onto lessons with the great master himself in the mesmerizing art of kneading two loaves at once.  For a finale he painted layers of puff pastry with creamy royal icing and strands of apricot jam that bloomed into layers of lightness and sweetness and butter that shatter with each bite. 

There was no time to go home, so I slept on the couch in the house of lovely ladies, and in the morning made them coffee, served them pastries and sent them on their way to Perugia, to meet Marco…

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