I first went to Italy and the region of Montalcino four years ago. One of my best friends Dan, had worked for a wine distributor who had Italian labels. He introduced me to a wine called Brunello. Little did I know but he specifically wanted to introduce me to this gem. My first brunello was from Caparzo, it was delicious to me. So when I went to Italy 4 years ago I convinced my family to stay in Montalcino for a couple of days.

One evening we chose a small restaurant near the center of the town at the top of the hill. I was already trying to perfect my risotto recipes and happened to see a risotto recipe made from Brunello. I thought to myself, a red wine risotto, hell yeah!

I ate it and thought I was in heaven. I told the server I loved it and he said, “I will get momma for you”. Out walks momma from the kitchen and really doesn’t speak english. I told her thank you and ever since then a memory was born.

So when Kristi and I went back to Montalcino I told Kristi we are gonna eat at momma’s. My only fear was that I would not recall where momma was. I had mentioned to Kristi that I recall two restaurants in a row with seating outside near a plaza.

As we arrive in town we walk down near the center and the light bulb went on. I turned to the right and outside cleaning tables was her son, the server for our dinner four years ago. 🙂

I walked to him and asked, “is momma cooking in the back?”, and he says in his masculine voice, “of course”. I smile and walk towards Kristi who is looking at the menu. Her finger on guess what, Risotto a Barolo!!! My eyes light up and we wait an hour until they open for dinner.

We sit outside and its a great evening for dining outside with the exception of flies. He greets us and I tell him I want a glass of wine and did he have a recommendation. He asks me if I want a nice glass because on their list were only a few wines. I say yes and he says, “Brunello”, and the rest is history. He arrives back at the table with a nice stem and a bottle of brunello. He pours me a glass and I take a sip and I feel like I am at home.

Momma has invested in a few outdoor tables but other than that, it all looks the same.

I didn’t scan the menu much because I was going to order the risotto. However when he arrives, he looks at me and asks what I want and for some reason I ask for his recommendation. He says his favorite is the boar sauce with one of the home made pastas. I then think about how the risotto is probably not home made. I look at the 4 pastas of the day and immediately choose parpadelle.

When it arrives it looks like your basic pasta with red sauce. Then the aroma reminds you of a stew she has been cooking for hours with some simple herbs and with a hint of wine in the sauce. It smells yummy and tastes even better. This dish really grew on me. Next time I would like it with a heartier pasta like rigatoni or pici. The boar resembles shredded chicken to the eyes but the taste is very unique. Though the consistency reminds me of well shredded chicken from a great mexican restaurant there is a hint of game and is meatier than chicken but not meaty like steak. This sauce loves brunello! It sings with red wine. I can see how pastas love and pair perfectly with italian wine. The earthy, spiced undertones, and meaty nuances of Italian wine are a perfect match.

This pasta dish ranks in the top 5 of the trip! Momma came out and said hello again and I am bummed I didn’t get a picture with her. I guess there is always another trip to be planned. :).

Al Baccanale in Montalcino close to the Center of town. (B+++)

2 responses to this post.

  1. This post made me become very nostalgic! It’s interesting that you were insightful enough to point out one of my favorite aspects about Italy: the fact that nothing seems to change and, even when you visit a place after four, six, or 10 years, chances are that you will still run into the same little shops and restaurants, owned and run by the same people, who will greet you with a warm smile, as though you had never left. 🙂


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