Thursday, March 19, 2009

Good Food in Town and Great Food in Siena

Wednesday night I had a decent meal at a local Tratorria. I ordered off the Tuscan menu. I started with pasta with mushrooms, followed by veal scaloppini in a basil tomato sauce, and ended with panna cotta with a chocolate sauce. The food was fresh, hot, and tasty.

DSCF3320 This morning I got up at 6:30, had breakfast and caught the 8:10 bus to Siena. I choose Siena because JP, D., and J. had all recommended this town as a fun day trip.

While Florence is more fluid feeling, Siena is more concrete. At least that is how I would sum it up. It is also a Unesco World Heritage Site.

I planned to mainly wander around the winding streets, looking at the beautiful gothic architecture and enjoying a less intense type day. I am feeling a bit over stimulated by all the paintings and sculptures I have been seeing.

I visited El Cambino, the city center, where the square looks like a huge basin. I also visited the Duomo. The catherdral is considered one of Italy’s greatest Gothic churches, they began building it, in the 12th century and have continued to add to as recently as the last century. Most of the outside sculptures are replicas, the originals have moved moved to protect them from acid rain.

It was a worthwhile visit as I was awed by the marble floors. There are also beautiful sculptures of saints, frescos, and other incredible cravings to feast one’s eyes on.

I have been puzzled by the what looks like a strong “oriental” influence on the outside architecture of the some of the churches I am seeing. They look a bit like mosques from the outside. I overheard an explanation about this today. Just as Church’s iconography has depicted, the Virgin Mary, the apostles, and Jesus in likenesses and situations that resemble the indigenous cultures, the churches were designed to be inviting to the faithful from Arab countries, as the Church was extending its influence in that area of the world.

I skipped the rest of the museums and decided to go back and eat at a restaurant that was a bit over my budget, but looked interesting. On the way there I passed a street fair, where I bought olives and freshly made candy to eat later.

What Can I Say About Lunch?

Now I know what it is like to be among the rich and famous. I was the only one in the restaurant for lunch. Apparently they do the majority of their business at dinner time.

Rather than choose myself, I let the chef choose what I should eat> Despite being the only customer, the service was outstanding. American restaurants could learn from these Europeans ones. I dinned for almost two hours and I never made made to feel I had to hurry.

The name of the restaurant was Tre Cristi I started with an amuse bouche of octopus and shrimp on a deconstructed costini, toasted crumbs of bread, bathed in olive oil with fresh tomatoes. My first course was a melt in your mouth, shell in all, whole shrimp on a sweet potato puree. The second course was grouper, homemade black squid ink pasta. cheese, and a basil tomato sauce. Which was a sensational melody of tastes, but to much food by the end. I accompanied all this with a sparkling Pinot Noir. Dessert was a simple apple, with orange undertones sorbet. Of course no meal is complete without the finale a cup of espresso. This restaurant was more of an example of then Mediterranean style of cooking then Tuscan.

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