When we reported on our traveling chefs last week, they had just finished their farm tour, the marble caves tour and lardo lunch, an artisanal bread workshop, and a truffle hunt followed by a truffle lunch. We were still trying to set up a winery tour, but most of the wineries in the Western part of Tuscany specialize in high-end Bordeaux-style wines that sell for $300 a bottle. Not exactly what we were looking for in Italy.
After returning from the truffle lunch, the plan for the evening was to grill the Chianina sirloin and some vegetables, make a charcuterie board of the salami and cheese, and sample the wine we had purchased. I opened a bottle for John while he was working the grill and after the first sip, he said, “What is this. Damn. Yummy.” Or something like that. We checked the label and realized it was a red that Shawn had bought at the Chianina butcher shop and the winery was located just outside of that town about 15 minutes away - and it was less than 10€. After some text messages to the butcher shop, they would try and get in contact with the winemaker. We hope for the next day, Saturday. Needless to say, eating a dinner cooked by four chefs was a real treat - like eating at M’tucci’s!
We had been on the road early each morning and stopped for coffee and a pastry along the way. Our country villa was among the vineyards and olive groves in the valley and we hadn’t been to the hill town a few kilometers away, so we went there for coffee and shopping, and to soak up the ambiance of a small Italian town on a Saturday morning. It’s here that you experience the rhythm of Italian life, la dolce vita (the sweet life) or dolce far niente (the pleasure of doing nothing). Life slows down and people sit in cafes enjoying their coffee and each other’s company.
The village of Bolgheri is about 10 minutes from Castagneto Carducci and is surrounded by vineyards bearing the names of some of Italy’s most prized and expensive wines known as the Super Tuscans. The vineyards in this region are only a few kilometers from the sea, which cools the land at night, giving the grapes a quality that can be superior to the warmer Chianti region. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot are popular here and are probably more common than Chianti’s ubiquitous Sangiovese grape. The Super Tuscans - Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Solaia and Tignanello, to name a few - are found in the shops and on the wine lists of simple osterias and pizzerias, in addition to the upscale restaurants in town. However, you don’t have to spend your entire paycheck to get a good wine, with many local wines on the shelves beginning at 8€.
A walk around the compact streets of the town quickly emphasize that wine and tourism is the local business. The pizza was pretty darn good, too.
We got a message that the winemaker, Massimo, could meet with us. He is located just a few miles from Bolgheri in Bibbona, so he has the same land and the same weather as the Super Tuscans, but not the same prices. We arrived a little early, before the translator, so we communicated with my basic Italian and his basic English. Not a lot of English is spoken in this area, since it is much less traveled by Americans than the Chianti region or the area around Siena. Once the translator arrived, our mission was made more clear and the wine tasting moved into high gear. We like what we tasted, especially his award-winning Merlot, which surprised all of us.
After the tasting he took us to his vineyards to walk among the Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon vines that were full of young clusters of grapes. He spoke about how he cares for and eventually prunes the clusters to enhance the concentration of flavors. We may not have caught all the words, but his passion and enthusiasm were obvious. With luck, we may see his wines in M’tucci’s in the future.
With no appointments on Sunday, we took advantage of our proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and tried out seafood in the busy, commercial/cruise ship port of Livorno for lunch and then dinner in a more tranquil, upscale village called St. Vincent. Both featured seafood crudo (sushi Italian-style) featuring salmon, tuna and sea bream. We discovered some new flavors and interesting preparations.
I know you are thinking, “those guys are so lucky, eating and drinking all day long.” That’s partially true, but each meal was the opportunity to taste another chefs techniques and flavor combinations, and every meal involved a lot of discussion about what we were tasting and how it could apply to what we do at all three M’tucci’s locations. It was work - but, it was enjoyable work.
NEXT FRIDAY: A master class with a world-famous Tuscan Macellaio (butcher) followed by an unforgettable 8-course lunch with more beef than one should safely eat and a visit to a Tuscan cheese caseificio (producer and seller).
Weekend Dinner Specials
Ravioli: Braised Lamb & Goat Cheese Stuffed Ravioli, Asparagus, Tart Cherries, Arugula, Rosemary Goat Cheese Sauce
The Braise: Sautéed Harris Ranch Beef, Gray Family Farms Oyster Mushrooms, San Marzano Tomato Ragu, Five Cheese Tortelloni
Pan Seared Fish: New Zealand Swordfish, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Sautéed Arugula, Roasted Italian Artichokes, Lemon-Caper Beurre Blanc
Cut Of The Day: 24oz House Cut Porterhouse, Crispy Salt Water Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, Balsamic Reduction, Grilled Lemon
Chicken Marsala- $20
Two Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts served with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and
Sautéed Garlic Haricot Vert in a Marsala Wine Sauce with Mushrooms,
Sage and Garlic.
Wine pairing- Stephen Vincent Pinot Noir 7/28 Sonoma County
California Halibut- $26
Prized for its fine texture and delicate flavor with large flakes.
Served with Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Marinated Artichokes, Sautéed
Arugula with Lemon Butter Sauce and Capers.
Wine pairing- Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand 8/32
Hand Cut Steak of the Day: 24oz Bone-in NY Strip $33
Served with Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus and a traditional
Italian Salsa Verde.
Wine pairing- Molly Dooker "The Scooter" Merlot, South Australia 7/25
M’tucci’s Italian Market & Pizzeria
Every Thursday - Sunday: M’tucci’s pizzas, sandwiches, and charcuterie boards are available La Cumbre Westside. Look for the M’tucci’s server and we’ll bring the food to you!
New and special pastries in the deli case every week. You must try the new Sourdough Croissants!
M’TUCCI’S MONTHLY PHOTO CONTEST
The winner of the May Photo Contest was Melissa Garcia. The June Photo Contest is a hot contest right now, so post a photo from M’tucci’s with friends, food or beverages on your Facebook page or your Instagram feed and tag the photo #lovemtuccis. The winning photo is chosen from the three photos with the most likes. Don’t forget to edit your photos for exposure. When you enter early you have the best chance to win.
M’TUCCI’S AROUND TOWN
Our market items can be purchased at a couple of locations. We deliver our fresh bread every Tuesday and Friday to Silver Street Market at 2nd and Silver. Choose from Sourdough, Fennel Rye, Wheat, Baguette, Ciabatta, Raisin Rosemary and Focaccia.
Drinking at Bosque in Nob Hill? You can order a M’tucci’s Charcuterie Board while there.
SERVICE INDUSTRY NIGHT & DISCOUNTS
Area service industry workers can get a Service Industry card from us by showing proof of employment. With the card you receive 10% off your check every day and 20% off on Sundays from 6:00 - 9:00. Dine in only.
M’TUCCI’S ITALIAN WEDNESDAY PRIX FIXE DINNERS
Dinners for July will be posted in this space in the next few days
Our food is available for delivery with Door Dash or for pick up. Pick up something for the weekend or on your way home from work. The links to ordering are on the Home page.
MTUCCI’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL
Videos about making cocktails and pasta and getting to know the M’tucci’s culture. Click here
ALBUQUERQUE THE MAGAZINE - BEST OF THE CITY
We would appreciate your vote and support in the newest Best of the City poll. We feel pretty strongly that we are the best in these categories: Bartender, Bloody Mary, Craft Cocktails, Happy Hour, Appetizer Menu, Brunch, Chef, Dessert, Gourmet Pizza, Pizza and Wine List. We won last year for Waitstaff and Italian Restaurant and would love to keep our record intact. Click here to vote.
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Ciao until next Friday!