Fellow food blogger, Stefan (Stefangourmet.wordpress.com), who lives in Holland, wrote the following comment à propos of my post on the Chianina steak: “The steak looks great! I did a post on Fiorentina in January, but couldn’t get any Chianina back then. I recently saw it available online, so I guess I should try it. It was still pretty great with regular beef. When I do get the Chianina, I may try something sacriligeous and cook it sous-vide before searing on a very hot grill“.
I don’t want to bore readers with too many Chianina related facts and figures but I did think it interesting that it can be shipped in vacuum-packed parcels, not just within Italy but also within Europe. I found this out when we went expressly to buy some Chianina for Liz to take home and cook for her husband and family that night (the rest of us were staying on for another day). Liz is an expert wiz with her mobile phone and carried out a search on where to source good Chianina in record time, and in keeping with our timetable of activities for that morning (people might think that all I do is gallavant and gad about all day but, actually, were were in Tuscany on business – it’s just that we make it our business to render our business as enjoyable as possible, and that included seeing a very interesting exhibition on the mannerist artists Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino at the Palazzo Strozzi museum (www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmIsCR2dLaQ).
Anyway, Liz’s search led her to the town of Lastra a Signa and the Butcher Bacci (this last sentence sounds like a tongue twister). This is a family business that goes back all the way to 1890.
Here is the link to their websitewebsite: www.macelleriabacci.it.
It is not a particularly large butchers but it stands proudly, with its show of signposts and red banners. Antler alert … up there on the wall on the right. I liked the “old-fashioned” feel of the shop and the many other products for sale besides the meat.More antlers on the wall … as well as old, framed photographs. Bacci sells all kinds of meat, and not just Chianina steaks. IGP stands for “Indicazione Geografica Protetta” and this means that a certain food or drink has been awarded certification, a special status, on account of its provenance. An IGP Chianina steak MUST come from a designated area/place, and not just from the Chianina breed. In this case, we are talking about the “Vitellone Bianco Appennino Centrale” – the central mountain ridge in Tuscany.
I mistook this gentleman as the owner of the shop. He went about his duty with ease and deliberation, and was quite happy to answer some of our questions. This cut had been aged for 28 days.
I mean — just look at the colour of this meat!
And then the owner, Mr Alberto Bacci, came from out-of-the-blue, a very likeable man who enjoyed talking with us, expertly getting on with his work all the while. This is what I like about shops and dislike in equal measure about supermarkets — no enjoyment of conversation. No personal touch. Liz bought some chicken livers too and Alberto gave her the recipe, which included sage leaves.
Alberto insisted we taste some of his prosciutto … and jolly good it was too. I just fell in love with these pasta shapes that the Bacci have had especially made for them. These are the pasta shapes that go with a meat-based stock (“il brodo”). So first on the left we have the “stortini” – meaning “bent-shaped”. Then we have “campanellini” – little bells. And on the right “occhi di Lupo” – the eyes of a woolf! Quadrucci (little squares) and Grandinina (little hail).Liz bought and her plastic bag with her booty: Chianina steaks and plenty of chicken liver. A very satisfied customer — and a soon-to-be-made very happy family that evening.
P.S. Try as I could, I was unable to remove those “smileys” from the post … I don’t know how they got there in the first place!