Forget about the stories of screaming chefs throwing pots and pans in a hot kitchen to get their point across. Today, I'd like to think it’s more of a calm environment with chefs communicating on-and-beyond behind the line. A few words resinate; local and sustainable. Chefs are sharing the important message of what’s not only fresh on today’s menu- that's local; but they are putting emphasis on using ingredients that haven’t spent unnecessary time on the back of a truck to get to your plate.
There’s a lot to be said for my brothers and sisters in the kitchen and the connection we all share no matter where we are in the world. My friend Gino, owner L’Orciaia Trattoria, in the historic village of Montebenichi- (halfway between Siena and Arezzo, in the Tuscany region) and I shared an instant connection as if we've known each other for many years. The thing is Gino speaks no English, and my Italian is, well- niente.
I'd like to think the bond is because we share the same love of food, prepared simply with the purpose to feed and nurture others.
Here's a recipe that I learned from Gino. He serves this local speciality, a typical Sienese dish. You would die for his Fagioli al Fiasco, Beans in the Flask; basically beans cooked in a Chianti bottle. Note, without the wrapped straw. It's so simple, yet one of my most memorable dishes I tasted traveling in Italy.
Fagioli al Fiasco aka Beans in the Flask
Cannellini beans are soaked overnight in water with salt.
The next day put into the ‘fiasco’ or heat-proof crock with 2 Tbsp of olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic, a quarter onion, 2 sage leaves, a small piece of fresh rosemary. Then fill 3/4 full of water or better yet chicken or meat broth. Bring beans up to a boil, then moved to a lower temperature, cap and gently simmered for an hour. Traditionally the fiasco was capped and put next to a dying fire in the hearth and slowly cook until the next day.
Oh, the translation of this recipe- I promise it didn’t suffer when Gino and I talk over a few Grappas!