September 4th is a very special day for Michael and me.  We celebrate two anniversaries on that day:  The day we began our relationship with each other, September 4, 1981, and the day we got married, September 4, 1992.  Because we don’t believe there is anything significant to distinguish one event from the other, we simply view the date as our anniversary, singular.

However, we do view our relationship as extremely significant and we wanted to find a suitable way to celebrate our many (many) years together.  Being in Italy offered many excellent possibilities.  We finally settled on, you got it, a food related theme:  Bistecca Fiorentina.

Bistecca Fiorentina

For those of you who don’t know, bistecca Fiorentina (Florentine beefsteak) is a hugely thick (3 to 4 inches) t-bone or porterhouse steak.  It is cooked over coals to a seared outside and rare inside.  It is yum, yum, yummy!!!

Originally, we had hoped to take a class called “bistecca 101” from Faith Willinger in Florence.  A friend and I had taken one of Faith’s “Market to Table” classes in 2002 and had thoroughly enjoyed it.  Learning to cook this king of steaks in Faith’s kitchen seemed a perfect way to celebrate an anniversary.  Alas, the requisite minimum of four people did not sign up for the class.  Faith offered an alternative:  Dine at one of Dario Ceccheni’s restaurants in Panzano in Chianti.

Faith describes Dario as either the best butcher in Italy or maybe it is the world.  Either way very high praise and we decided to follow her suggestion.  Dario has three different restaurants and each features different cuts of meat.  We wanted steak, therefore, Officina della Bistecca was the one for us.  Having made reservations for Tuesday night, we also made reservations at a B&B his sister runs in nearby Lamole.  It’s an hour and half drive from Buonconvento to Panzano and doing that after a night of food and wine didn’t seem the wise choice.

Our drive to Panzano took us through a chunk of the Chianti region,

Chianti on the vine

which Michael and I have never seen.  Don’t know why not, we just haven’t.  It was gorgeous even in the showers that accompanied us.  We stopped at one vineyard, Castello di Brolie, and, after touring the castle, tasted the wine . . . and then bought the wine.

When we made the reservations for the B&B we were under the impression that it was close to Panzano . . . as in “about ten kilometers away.”  Well, it was lots more than that and over unbelievably windy roads.  We were thinking, “holy cow,”  you can tell we had meat on our minds, “this is going to have to be a no wine night for the driver no matter how ‘close’ it is to Panzano.”  Therefore, we were very happy that, when we finally arrived at La Casa al Prato, our hostess, Marina, told us there was a much shorter way into Panzano . . . the back way.  First, she asked, “are you driving a rental car?”  When we replied that we were, she said, “okay, then the back road is good for you.”  And it was, although Natalie, our Garmin navigatrix, really didn’t want to let us go that way.  Apparently, she has something against one lane, dirt backroads.  Go figure.

The back road was shorter and more interesting and got us to our destination (and back again) without any problems whatsoever as my next post will illustrate.

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