By Nadav Soroker
SIENA, Italy – We fill the entire patio outside of Il Vinaio, well outside of the tourist center of Siena, down a long road leading away from the Piazza del Campo. Squeezing into the benches we talk about our final day to shop in the city before we all disperse, where we shopped and what we saw.
We get prosecco and water and wait for the first course as the water tells us that we are going to be served the Tuscan philosophy of food in a meal. Just like every meal we have had on our trip, we start with some Crostini, in paté and egg and spicy sausage varieties, bringing us back to the Bruschetta and the Crostini Neri of Florence that were our staples as we learned to call Florence home.
We move into plates loaded with baby mozzarella balls and Proscuitto, like we tried when we went to Parma to see how the original Proscuitto was made and where we toured the facilities. The thin, salty slices cut from the big pig legs like the one that hang in aging rooms we have toured. Plates of salumi follow, resplendent with diverse sausages and salame to try like we sampled in lessons at Spannocchia.
When we are stuffed to the brim, full of more food philosophy than we can stand they finally bring out fennel frittata and seasoned meatballs to tip us over the edge. Our Columbia, Missouri friends bemoan how we are going to founder if they bring any more food out for us. I wouldn’t be surprised if I stuff myself enough to be slaughtered, cured and made into a primo sausage.
Taking our time they bring us out our final dessert, Vin Santo or Holy Wine, and a platter of Cantucci and Ricciarelli. The sweet, thick amber shot glasses of the honey-tasting wine give us something to dip the dry, almond Cantucci in before bringing the ambrosia to our lips. The Ricciarelli needs no accompaniment.
Finishing up the meal, on the narrow knife edge of foundering we roll out from the benches and go wandering back into town for a last stroll, and exploration before we say goodbye and leave to pack.
Nothing in Italy is truly finished though until you stop for a bit of goodbye gelato. We grab some before we meet in the Piazza and off we go. Time to let our editor fly away to Ireland and a new pack of writers. Time to hand off the blog. Ci Vediamo!