Dr. Dawg

Getting stinco at the Trattoria da Tito

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Readers will note that co-blogger Alison has been doing much of the heavy lifting for the past few days. I’ve been vacationing in Italy, missing the new Harper cabinet and the onslaught of his Maximum Program, and the latest Obama controversies—but not very much, I’ll admit.

At this point I’m slowly recovering from three days in Florence. You can’t go there without trying their famous bistecca fiorentina, and so the first evening in we headed over to the Trattoria da Tito, a block from the little residenza where Ms Mew and I were staying.

The city is chock-a-block with tourists at the moment, and it was assumed that my friend and I were from away. But as soon as she opened her mouth—she’s clearly Italian, born and bred—the waiter actually apologized, whisked away a wine that had been placed on the table, and suggested a better one.

A superb evening was had—I’ve never seen such a vast and magnificent grilled T-bone in my life, an entire kilo of it—and the bill came with a discount. What can you do? We went back the next evening.

This time it was later, 8:30 or so, and the Italians were coming out to dine. So we waited in a rapidly-forming queue until a largish squad of Japanese tourists emerged from the place, all at the same time, and we were welcomed to a table like regulars. I ordered stinco di maiale—a roasted pork hock with herbs—and the jolly owner-chef came out to talk to us.

Then, our meals consumed, he brought out the limoncello.

This lemon liqueur goes down like silk and strikes with a fury. The regular at the next table, a music teacher, shared a bottle with us and the owner. The vessel was drained, and quickly replaced by a carafe. The owner would toss back a glass and then rap it on the table. He whispered into my ear, in English, “If you can’t knock, you can’t f—” (it’s the same word in the local dialect).

I don’t remember if we drained the carafe or not. It was all on the house. That night I experienced the first “whirling pit” since I was a much younger man. The next morning was pretty much a write-off—not even the magnificent tomb of the Medicis was able to revive me.

Back to da Tito for lunch, of course. The owner took one look at the two of us and laughed. I was able to force down a bruschetta, accompanied by a Coke. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like a little glass of limoncello?” he asked me, with a twinkle in his eye.

Ma vai!

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on May 21, 2011 6:14 AM.

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