Damn, I’ve so wanted to get something new up here since Friday, but…
It’s now Sunday, well, actually, Monday at 12:39am It’ly time, and I’m zonked. I’m hung over from lunch, and hung over from dinner, and I’m tired, totally worn out. But I have to get a short note in here now because it’s too funny.
One of the places I visited on my last trip in 2007 was an interesting restaurant that is more ongoing social and artistic experience than an actual restaurant, but the food happens to be spectacular. And it happens to be ALL MEAT. And that is the name of the place, Solociccia. It’s located about 20 miles or so south of Florence in the beautiful Chianti countryside. Did I say beautiful?
Solociccia is the brainchild of a guy purported to be the most famous butcher in the world, Dario Cecchini. And I now believe that claim. He’s known to all sorts of celebrities around the globe, has been featured on TV in the states many times, was one of the subjects of the NY bestselling book Heat, and has been featured in newspaper and magazine articles everywhere.
His butcher shop is across the street from the restaurant and it is sort of social center for residents and tourists in Panzano…he gives out generous samples of his meats, as well as bottomless glasses of his family’s wine. The restaurant is a relatively new development and features two seatings for dinner with a prix fixe meal/menu on three nights, and again for lunch on Sunday. It is a grand, merry affair in which Dario shows off his butchering skills with six courses of meat dishs…a few token vegetable dishes are thrown in for some weird reason! It’s all delicious.
Before the lunch we hung out in the butcher shop, like almost everyone else in Panzano, and had lots of free wine, some great nibbles, and plenty of laughs from Dario, who likes to play opera and jazz at loud volume in his shop which has been in his family for generations, well over one hundred years.
At some point we start talking to him and Cos tells him about his connection to the boot makers or yesteryear. Dario flips.
As we lingered around the table digesting and taking our coffees, Dario’s gal is ushering Henry Winkler around the restaurant, letting him interact with the people around the tables–each table occupies the entire room in which it is placed–so they were going from room to room.
He came into ours, the American ghetto, and began asking folks where they are from. He’s obviously a ham and trying to interact with everyone. Of course we all yelled out “Texas!”
A bit into his schtick, I decided to have some fun.
I said something along the lines of, “Excuse me, but I honestly don’t know who the f-ck you are!” That cracked up the room, including Winkler. I said, “Are you Woody Allen or something?” And he replied, “In spite of what Texans think, not all Jews from New York are Woody Allen!!!” More laughs all around! Then he said, “Whether you know who I am or not, I mostly want you to remember that I’ve written some great children’s books. You might really enjoy getting some for your grandchildren.” Since we had a urologist at the table and we’d been talking about vasectomies and reversals and so on, I said, “Darn, I gave my son a vasectomy for his birthday, so we won’t be having any grandchildren!” More laughs.
I can’t remember now where else the conversation went, but he seemed to enjoy the teasing. And he was more than accommodating for all photo requests and many of the people at the table had pictures taken with him. He is clearly a decent, nice guy.
He was there because it is his wife’s favorite restaurant in the area…he’d been in Rome doing what he does: acting. Oh, and he didn’t hesitate promoting an upcoming show in Liverpool to the British guy at the table…it felt a bit like he was on the couch of the Tonight Show, promoting books and upcoming performances.
It was a great way to end a totally amazing meal.