Seeing as I won’t be posting tomorrow, and that we actually changed our plans today – I have a quickie for you.
Ever since I came to Volterra and scanned the neighbouring villages, I’ve been wanting to go to Querceto. It’s a beautiful hamlet on the edge of a densely forested area (on a hilltop, naturally!). I thought it looked lovely in Google Maps, but as usual, no justice is done in comparison to actually being there.
We did a quick shop at the CoOp, and made our way there.
The place is 30-35 minutes drive from us, so a full day-trip isn’t required. We parked about 150 meters outside the hamlet, and as the place slowly unveiled itself, it was beyond expectation. It is gorgeous, if extremely quiet.
We stopped here for food, at Locanda del Sole. Niamh had speghetti in a rabbit sauce (light and tasty), and I had a dish that I thought couldn’t possibly work, it was so bonkers – but it was yummy! It was pici (thick spaghetti) in a carbonara sauce, with smoked goose breast, topped with grated bottarga (which is a Sardinian delicacy of solidified, cured mullet (usually) roe – which can be grated over dishes). The bottarga worked really well with the smoked meat. Give the chef a medal, and maybe a few weeks’ therapy! We both had a chocolate tart to finish, which was broken up for some reason, but was still tasty enough. We won’t have much to eat tonight!
Now we’re in the middle of this afternoon’s thunderstorm. In the last 6-7 days, we’ve entered a sub-tropical loop of hot weather in the morning, followed by thunderstorms and rain for 90 minutes in the mid-afternoon, followed by slightly lower temperatures.
The title of this blog isn’t only the highlight, but it about the only thing we did all day! We lounged and watched telly. Carnival Row has started streaming on Amazon Prime, so we watched the first episode of that. Seems good so far: excellent visual production quality, writing and acting – just the music is a bit of a let-down. It sounds like it’s been produced on a cheap synth.
I had pecorino aged in walnut leaves and salami for brekkie, for a change (it’s usually cereal), and I just had two slices of the best cooked prosciutto I’ve ever had. So by the time our anniversary dinner came (early – our anniversary is actually on monday – 15 years!) around at 20:00, I had a sore belly and head from hunger.
We were early, so had a wander around the viewpoint first.
We were shown to the garden seating at Del Duca. It was the first time we’d eaten in that area, and it’s really lovely. It backs onto 20 metre walls which form part of the boundary of the public park. We sat, and were offered aperitivi; Niamh had prosecco, I had an Aperol spritz. We also totally accidentally (not) asked for a bottle of wine each. We ordered our food, and after a short time an amuse-bouche arrived: a mini bruschetta, topped with a little basil sauce. I usually don’t do ‘obvious’ tomatoes, but yummied it down anyway – it was excellent. I forgot to take a photo, I was that hungry!
Next came a series of breads, baked in-house, all of which were excellent, and arrived in time for our first courses. Niamh had fusilli pasta in a tomato-based minced pork sauce with thinly-sliced green peppers, and I had restaurant-made gnocchi with mushrooms and a salsa verde. I thought mine was nice, although Niamh wasn’t a fan. We both agreed that Niamh’s was the winner, though. It was lovely.
Next came the seconds: Niamh had a fillet of white fish, and I had beef cheek in a rich jus, with an eggplant sauce. It’s testament to the cooking at Del Duca that we were both jealous of each others’ dish, while also lusting after our own! The fish was perfectly flakey, and you could have cut the beef with a spoon.
Finally, we ordered dessert. Niamh’s was a chocolate-bomb style tart, with a melty middle, served in a creme that countained some sort of booze – Niamh wasn’t sure, although she loved it enough to say that she thought she was going to cry it was so nice. Mine was a dessert of chocolate cremes, both 73% Peruvian chocolate, with tangerine jam filling served with homemade ricotta ice-cream. Absolutely amazing, and the best dessert I’ve ever had in Volterra, and possibly Italy itself!
The courses were interspersed with friendly service from several waiters, and from the restaurant’s somelier – the daughter of the owner/manager – who also came over to press the flesh. They have an agriturismo about 5.5km outside town, wherein they produce their own wines (of which we had a bottle each!). The somelier, being aware that we are undertaking a long-term stay, kindly offered us the use of their swimming pool, which was a lovely gesture. We also enquired about a cooking class there, and she described a 3-hour affair, during which 4 courses will be cooked (which included breads, stuffed pasta, guinea fowl). Niamh and I will definitely go, but we are waiting to hear from guests to see if they also want to attend.
On our way out, what was left of our wines was re-corked, and we took them home with us. A live band were playing outside a restaurant beside the entrance to our apartment – we didn’t stay long. All-in-all, it was a wonderful evening!
Note, that the pictures of the restaurant seating area were taken towards the end of the night – most tables were full when we first entered.
No walk this morning – I didn’t get up until a little after 09:00. There will be no blog tomorrow, as we have to pick up another visitor from the airport early in the morning!