Melissa and I spent yesterday in Siena, the hill town approximately 15 miles from Spannocchia. Siena is a medieval hill town surrounded by a huge stone wall. Parking is a total bitch, but it was worth it once we got there. While Melissa was in the state archive researching music, I took some time to do some solo sightseeing. I found some nice stores to steer my wife away from, umpteen museums, beautiful piazzas, and lots of great food.
Margot Martin and Lou Comici, some great customers at Motor Supply, had recommended we try a Sienese restaurant, Le Logge. We had reservations at 1 pm. When we arrived at the restaurant we were very pleased to see that Le Logge, like Motor, presents a handwritten menu daily. They had ample sidewalk seating, but we were placed inside. Here’s a picture of the menu:
I knew Le Logge was going to be stellar just by looking at the chef. I swear, I can tell just by looking at someone if they are a good cook. First and foremost, a scowl is a prerequisite for a good meal. If you walk into a restaurant and the chef is all smiles and hugs, walk swiftly away. But if you see a quiet kitchen, busy cooks with their heads down working, and a cantankerous man or woman steering the ship, it’s highly likely you’ll have a nice meal. And this man had angst written all over his face.
To drink, we selected a bottle of the 2006 Gaja “Magari.” I hadn’t had the “Magari” before, but Gaja is a solid producer of Super Tuscan wines and I’ve had their offerings before. I love a Super Tuscan because those wines break the rules of the stringent Italian DOC. We have a great selection of Super Tuscans at Motor, though we don’t have any Gaja right now because it’s nearly impossible for me to find.
For those who aren’t familiar with Italian cuisine, here’s how it works. A meal begins with one or more antipasti. Antipasti vary greatly, depending on the formality of the restaurant. An antipasti could be as simple as a chicken liver crostini, or as formal as a plated dish such as the ones we had at Le Logge. The primi follows the antipasti and is a pasta, polenta, or risotto course. The secondo is the meat course. Accompanying the meat course are separate contorni, or side dishes to share, though many Italian restaurants are shifting toward a more American style of plating, with the meat and vegetables on the same plate. A salad, or the insalata, is served before cheese and dessert, which has the unexpected effect of making one feel less full.
The highlight of the antipasti we selected was the fiori di zucca faciti di tomino e alici in tempura. To translate, that is a mozzarella-stuffed tempura-fried squash blossom, served over several paper-thin slices of roasted zucchini. Everything about this dish was perfect: a delectable marriage of textures and flavors. We also ordered the polpo in gelatina al limone e salsa verde (tender octopus in lemon gelatin, served over salsa verde). Here‘s a picture of the squash blossom:
We selected only one primi, the ravioli neri farciti. These were squid ink ravioli. They were stuffed with a spring sweet pea puré e, served with a smattering of poached lobster claw and a small amount of diced tomato. The dish was garnished with several tender inner leaves of celery. I was not as enthralled with this dish as with the antipasti, but it was still a nice plate and nothing to turn away.
A delicious start to a wonderful meal. To be continued. . .