|Chianina in central Italy (photo from Wikipedia Commons)|
|Giovanni's arm is a twig next to this steak|
We needed nothing else. We were happy.
But, then, we began to hear the unmistakable sound of a meat cleaver in the kitchen, followed by the glimpse and trailing aroma of huge pieces of succulent grilled beef passing us by, going to other people at other tables. Where had we been? Why hadn't we realized?
Last week we decided to make a break with habit and ordered the bistecca alla fiorentina, a 1-1.5 kg (2.2 - 3.3 lb) T-bone, usually served to two or more people. We heard those familiar sounds emanating from the kitchen and we knew those noises were for us.
|Giovanni slices our fiorentina|
As we waited for our steak, other hungry people began to pour into the ristorante. All of them, it seemed, came for the fiorentina. We tried to look nonchalant, chatting and sipping Montefalco Rosso, as if this weren't our first time. In truth, we were ravenous and, every few seconds, Piero cut his eyes toward the kitchen door. Finally, the gate to heaven opened and Giovanni emerged carrying a steaming platter of grilled meat. Alas! He passed us by and took it to the next table. How was it that for all these years we ate our pasta peacefully and never noticed that everyone else was digging into a significant portion of a side of beef?
Our turn came at last and the fiorentina was placed before us. While we had been sitting there in anticipation, we'd observed that protocol was to wait patiently for Giovanni to come to the table, slice the meat and personally serve us from the platter. We watched reverently as he sharpened his knife and began his surgeon's cut, juices spilling gloriously from the steak. If waiting had been difficult the first time; it was almost impossible after we had tasted this tenderest of meats and wanted a second serving. What a brutta figura it would have been if we had helped ourselves.
We are already planning a dinner in November when our olive picking friends are here. We think three bistecche alla fiorentina might be enough for twelve people, but, then again, we may have to order four. Plus, the pasta con melanzane. Fortunately, it is only February and we have the time and the will to investigate. This may take repeated visits to La Vecchia Cucina.
Copyright Sharri Whiting 2011