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.