Chef David DiBari of The Cookery at Salcheto in Toscana

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[From Liz: Chef David DiBari of the Cookery in Dobbs Ferry is on a wine trip to Italy. He’s blogging along the way. Here’s his latest report.]

Tuscany.

The Region of Toscana is known primarily for its use of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Mammolo. Wines that stood out the most and will hopefully find their way to The Cookery were the Vino Nobile Montepulciano DOCG made from 100 percent sangiovese and selected from their best vineyards.  The Rosso di Montepulciano DOC made from 85 percent prugnolo gentile, 15 percent canaiolo and merlot was also a winner.

It was here at Salchetto that I had one of my more memorable evenings not only due to the food, wine and country side but because of a surprising connection to me back home.

The sun was just going down as we entered an enclosed patio looking over the hills of Tuscany. To my surprise there were two acoustic guitarists playing U2. What a way to set the mood especially for me because I love music and try painfully hard to play guitar on the few hours a week available to me.

It turns out that the wine makers are musicians and were introducing their new labels, which have artistic renditions of Dave Kroll from Foo Fighters amongst others. I thought it was brilliant — and highly marketable in America. Supposedly the production of the wine was partially funded by some of these musicians. Here you have people who are using their passions to produce a product representative of themselves and the grape varietals of the region.

First course was classic Tuscany. A terracotta pot filled with a decadent Ribolita a re-boiled soup made with escarole, beans and bread and a touch of tomato. The soup was rich, thick and earthy with a touch of acid from tomatoes. It was a perfect start to a cold rainy night in the hills of Tuscany.

Next was the Vitello Tonnato. Roasted veal loin cooked medium scented with rosemary and sliced paper thin. Lacquered over the veal was a sauce made from cooked tuna, olive oil and eggs. The sauce was like a light airy aioli or mayonnaise. The combination of flavors and textures was beautifully done and left a fresh taste in my mouth and anticipating the next course.

My anticipation was of what I was about to eat was not nearly close to the reality. Picture this….  In front of me sits a bowl of hot creamy tripe laden with a light tomato sauce accented by the heat of chili and rounded by the grating of Parmigiano reggiano. It was executed perfectly and I couldn’t get enough.

The tripe was so tender rich and creamy it almost made me cry. There were a few sticks-in-the-mud at the tables adjacent to me who didn’t do tripe, but I took care of that for them. So as if the brilliantly cooked cow stomach, amazingly well rounded fruit and tannins my rosso di montelecino and the company of liberal Italian wine makers wasn’t enough, I begin to here the first three chords from the next song the guitarist  is about to play….

Could it possibly be Black, one of my favorite songs by my favorite band, Pearl Jam. Why yes it was. I couldn’t believe what was actually happening right now. It was like The Cookery and I found compatible energy with the wine makers of salchetto. The moment triggered and immediate connection to the restaurant while being thousands of miles away.

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