As much as I love hanging out in Lucca, I was thrilled when Heather from Sapori e Saperi invited me to tag along with her friends on an afternoon excursion to Il Vecchio Mulino for lunch. Located in the town of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana this eatery has been on my “must visit” list for some time.
The osteria is a showcase for the food of the Garfagnana area of Tuscany. Your host, Andrea Bertucci, is passionate about introducing you to the food of the region and you will be treated to samplings of his choice. There’s no need to worry about the fact that you won’t be handed a menu-everything he sends out is delectable.
One word of advice-pace yourself. I barely made it to the end and had no room for dessert. We started with two cold dishes to share-a farro salad with mushrooms and a panzanella. There was a basket filled with bread and focaccia which I found hard to resist. Next up were slices of vegetable tarts and I think my favorite was on that was filled with potato. This was followed with a platter of sliced bread topped with smoked trout and another with “Garfagnana pesto” (a tomato and anchovy spread, I think). If you take a look a the first photo you will see a sign in the window for funghi porcini freschi (fresh porcini mushrooms) and simply roasted they were prefect.
Then came a board with an assortment of local cured meats followed by a variety of cheeses. Oh-I missed a course and I’ll have to rely on Heather to describe it for me. I believe it was a type of “farinata”-this one being a baked vegetable dish. My head was spinning trying to catch what was being said (in Italian) and it’s no secret that there was a fair amount of the conversation that escaped me!
A big thank you to Andrea for doing what you do, to Heather for including me in your day and especially to Nada and Romeo (the talented weavers) for treating me to my experience at Il Vecchio Mulino. Grazie!
By the way, that’s Andrea and Romeo next to the huge mortadella and Heather and Nada seated at the table.
October 21, 2013 at 1:11 am
Delicious post. I’m hungry again!
October 23, 2013 at 2:52 pm
Gil-it was an afternoon full of great food. WIsh I had some of it right now.
October 21, 2013 at 1:33 am
Wow! That must have been wonderful – thanks for sharing!
October 23, 2013 at 2:53 pm
Adri-it was a special day for me even if I didn’t understand quite everything that was being said!
October 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm
What a treat! Italians always have a way of making you feel special – and it’s usually with food 🙂 LOL! Looks like you were VERY special 😉
October 23, 2013 at 2:54 pm
Tesoro Treasures-I just live the way that every meal is an event!
October 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm
Was the missing course a platter of various cheeses, fresh and aged, some drizzled with jam or balsamic vinegar or honey? Or were we too full when the time came? I think there was pinzimonio (crudité) but I can’t remember what else. It’s always so much fun going there because you never know what Andrea’s latest finds will be. The salsa rossa of the Garfagnana is olive oil infused overnight with bay leaves, capers, garlic and (optional anchovies) and then whisked into tomato concentrate (Cirio is best).
October 23, 2013 at 2:55 pm
Heather-thanks for the info on the salsa rossa-I couldn’t remember what the ingredients were. I didn’t forget a course, I just couldn’t remember if that one baked dish was called “farinata” or something else.
October 28, 2013 at 5:13 pm
Totally taken up with the salumi course until now. I can’t remember now what the baked dish was you’re describing. I guess something made with the local formenton otto file (8-row corn) polenta flour, but usually Andrea serves it as a crostino with a topping.
October 24, 2013 at 8:18 pm
Definitely put this one on the ever growing “To Do List”….so many meals, so little time…!
October 24, 2013 at 10:23 pm
Our Kitchen Inventions-you should take the time and drive up there in November.
November 5, 2013 at 9:47 pm
o grazie ,grazie, per i vostri commenti siete troppo gentili.complimenti alla signora paninigirl..arrivederci,vi aspetto tutti per un meetting ,naturalmente siete miei ospiti ,
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