Honeymoon Ragu Revelation
Saturday the 8th of September 2007, the day after our Italian wedding...
With both Laura and I exhausted after driving from the town Rapallo (on the North West Italian coast), through some snarly rush-hour traffic to Villa Pitiana near Florence in Tuscany, our evening got off to what we’ll call a ‘questionable’ start with the news that we weren’t actually booked into the villa’s restaurant for dinner, as expected.
Still, not to be disheartened (after all, you’re still on one heck of a high the day after your nuptials), we wandered instead into the villa’s bar, thinking we could at least then could get a panino (sandwich) and a glass of local chianti to wash it down. (I figured I could also catch a glimpse of the friendly Italy vs France soccer match on the big screen; what excellent timing eh!)
Well it's at times like these it seems the Lord or whoever you subscribe to grins knowingly down and exclaims, ‘Ye shall eat like a King’, for out of the kitchen wondered a tired but smiley chef, whose name we sadly never learned. Whilst planning on watching the game himself, he did however reckon on having enough time to whip us up some leftovers...
“Un po’ di pasta?” (a little pasta?) he asked.
Why of course!
Ten minutes of wedding stories and general ‘Can you believe we’re official?’ chatter later, and our new pal walks back in with two dishes of green tagliatelle (freshly made pasta of course), coated in a glorious wild boar ragu sauce.
We found a nearby drawing room – featuring another TV of course – grabbed a pair of the comfiest ‘wingback’ chairs in the place, and got stuck in.
Now how can I best explain the treat we enjoyed? Well, call us sad no-lifers, but put it this way... we still talk about how delicious that food was – and this is a year later! That gives you a clue of just how mouth-watering this dish was.
You see, unlike bolognese sauce, which is made with minced beef (or pork), ragu is typically made by slow-cooking a whole chunk of meat (in this case boar; a rather unfriendly wild pig often found snuffling around the woods of ‘Toscana’), right until this meat eventually falls apart and breaks down into small, mightily succulent chunks.
In our case, these softened lumps of hearty protein were then poured over and mixed - thick gravy and all - with spinach-coloured ‘al dente’ strips of pasta, to give us the kind of start we’d dreamed of for our food-focused honeymoon.