Saturday, July 17, 2010
Itay Trip - Day 14 - Montalcino
We spent our last full day in Tuscany in Montalcino, home of the mighty Brunello wine. We toured the high-walled fortress on the edge of town, and tried wines in the tasting room at the bottom of the castle. The wines were really good, but this place is packed with tourists, and we suspected that the wines were overpriced, based on the prices of Brunellos we had seen in the past week (the suspicion was borne out, as the same wines sold much cheaper down the street!). We only bought one bottle here, which seemed to really disappoint the people who worked there (they were a bit pushy trying to get us to buy a case to ship home). We then spent the rest of the morning exploring the town, which was pretty, but maybe not as quaint or picturesque as Montepulciano.
The restaurant for lunch, Osteria Osticcio, was a recommendation of Francesca at La Bandita. As always, Francesca had called ahead to make sure we got one of the best tables, which was along the back wall of the restaurant with picture windows and a magnificent view to the valley below. The restaurant was part of an enoteca (wine shop), so wines by the glass was a very big thing here. We had 5 glasses of different Brunellos between the two of us, and it was tough to pick a favorite! The food also did not disappoint. We started with a cheese and cured meat plate (we never get tired of the pecorino cheeses in Tuscany!), and then we moved on to fresh torn pasta sheets with an asparagus sauce for me, and pici with tomatoes and bacon for Steve (pictured above). We then walked down the hill toward the entrance of town and stopped in at a cute gelato place. After our daily gelato fix, we went back to relax before our last dinner with the other guests at La Bandita (view from pigsty below).
This night, every room was occupied, and everyone decided to stay for dinner, so there were 16 of us again. We sat next to a fun couple from New York, who were probably in their 50s (we are in our mid to late 30s), and at one point they asked our advice about something, describing us as the only other "adults" at the table. I hadn't noticed before, but she was kind of right. The guests at La Bandita had shifted to a younger group by the end of our stay (I'd say most other guests at this point were in their 20s). When we got there, most of the guests were in their late 30s or 40s. It was a little sad to be considered part of the older crowd! Oh well.
Dinner that night was also fantastic! One of the guests who had eaten with us the night Steve and I did the cooking class loved the scallop dish so much that he'd asked David to add it to the menu again so that he could see how it was made. So we started with that dish, which was just as great as the first time, then moved on to clams with pasta (which was good but messy). For the main course we had salmon, which was expertly cooked and delicious, and for dessert, a lemon tart. We opened the brunello we had bought earlier that day for dinner, which was perfect with the meal, if a little young.