My favorite word this year is “yes.” So when Wolfgang called last Sunday night to ask, “Would you care to join me at a small cocktail party for Dario in a couple hours?” I said, “Yes.”
That is how I found myself standing under a large Murano chandelier talking to Kim, Dario’s recent bride but partner of many years, while Dario adoringly hugged, poked and pinched Wolfgang like a fatted calf. I had met them years ago in Panzano through my friend, Judy. I had helped Judy teach a wood fire oven class. Of course, they didn’t remember me, nor did I expect them to. Dario Cecchini is a rock star–I mean ROCK STAR. He is movie star famous in meat circles. People travel from all over the world to visit the small butcher shop in the tiny hill top town. I was just another in long line of ladies he hugged for the camera, sliced a bit of lardo for, and sold a 7 lb Florentine steak to. But because we were friends of Judy’s, Kate and I were seated a few days later at the chef’s table in his restaurant Solociccia for seven courses of beef…one of the most protein rich meals of my life. I was delirious for days.
Beef is not the same from place to place, from cow to cow. Dario had been invited to New York to make a five courses of beef for 150 people. An entire American cow had been provided. Possibly the largest cow in America. He would make his traditional Tuscan beef dishes using American beef and adjust accordingly so the flavor and quality of the meat would shine. So when Kim said they were going back to Del Posto that night to cook because Dario was not happy with how a couple dishes were turning out, I said, “I’ll help,” (which is almost like a preemptive “yes”). But Kim did not acknowledge my offer until Wolfgang stopped everything to say, “Listen, you WANT her in the kitchen. She can help.” Very flattering since I think the first thing I ever feed Wowe was over salted, and the cherry pie I made him this summer was a tad underdone. But in my own defense, I can be trusted not to maim myself, and I do know when to stir something on the stove, and I am freakishly strong for my size. All good things in a kitchen with a cow in it. So it was agreed I would lend a hand after the party. As the evening wore on, “after the party” became “meet the next morning.” Again, I said, “Yes.”
That is how I found myself tenderizing meat next to Mario the next morning. (More later)
Here is a lovely picture Wolfgang took of Dario, Kim and me. I’m the one on the left.
Note: I have started to post some old emails sent to friends in 2007 to the blog. This post contains links to some of them.