This post is authored by Kendall College student Kim Haines
Today we set off for Greve in Chianti, Tuscany to visit a butcher, Dario Cecchini, and his Chianina cattle ranch. Dario Cecchini is known as the “poet-butcher,” and lives by the Whole Cow philosophy. This philosophy represents an important link the in delicate food chain. One kills for food and therefore you must guarantee the animal a good life, one filled with compassion and high quality. The death of the animal must be compassionate as well. He lives by the “no waste” policy. Every part of the cow must be used! Our bus arrived to this small town and were loudly greeted by Niccolo in his apron. “He has a big spirit; a large presence” as my friend Wing would say. Niccolo was the assistant to the butcher. He was full of life.
The visit to the butcher was an experience I have never experienced before nor will I experience again. Imagine you go to your local butcher and he is dressed in red pants, red crocs, blowing a medieval trumpet horn, cutting porchetta, while ACDC’s Thunderstuck was blasting on a level 10 in the background. Your head rattles a little when you enter the building. Where am I? This was basically Chef Altieri’s heaven. They offered wine a total of five times within two minutes throughout this experience. I do not drink so much wine anymore, but maybe I should start. This was one of those experiences that you truly had to see to believe.
After processing what we just had seen, we sat down to lunch and were served an assortment of homemade sauces with bread. Here you have the trinity affect again. What sauce is this, Niccolo? “It is sweet and hot, just like love.” Benne! For lunch they served hamburgers and potato wedges with fresh herbs for us meat eaters. I suppose they like their meat very very rare. “The Americanos like their meat more well done,” said Niccolo.
This was heaven for us carnivores, but not so much for some of us vegan/vegetarians.
Dario the butcher explained his philosophy behind raising the cattle. When I took the Storeroom and Operations class for the culinary program at Kendall, Chef Dewan showed the class this traumatizing video on the poor treatment of farm-raised animals used for the production of meats. This is not what they do here, this is not their mission. In fact, it is quite the opposite. They love and respect their animals. They offer them a beautiful life of freedom, because the maltreatment of the cows will lead to bad quality and pain. Upon consumption, we will take on the pain that is in the meat. When the cow is happy, the meat is of better quality and then we become happy after consumption. This mission works with me, this is the way to go.
The cows have a lovely life. They have the option of roaming inside or outside. They are not confined to small spaces, but they are able to roam among the grass and graze when they desire. Life is a choice for these cows. Luigi, the bull, is the man of the house to the 23 lady cows. Speed dating at its finest, ladies and gentlemen. A little baby calf, nameless, runs around drinking the milk from it’s mother. The cow’s milk is not generally used. In previous times, it was used for human babies, but not so much for adults.
Next, we visited the Castello di Verrazzano winery. There are seven vineyards to be harvested in the end of September beginning of October in the fall to be harvested by hand; about 150 acres. Grapes ferment in stainless steel for three weeks. The wine is then aged in the cellular. The winery makes the wine with their own production, sweet white wine. There are 280,000 bottles produced a season.
They took us on a tour, where we were able to walk the gardens of the villa, looking for tiny wild boars that resided over the hillside. You could not quite see them, but you could definitely hear them snorting. This was followed by a quick wine and balsamic vinegar tasting.
Left with the taste of wine and vinegar in our mouths, we made our way to the beautiful city of Florence. This has been a intense trip going from one stop to another and the tiredness has started to set in for some more than others. “We can sleep when we’re dead,” was what we said the first day. Do we regret it now? But wait, guys, there’s more. Once we entered Florence we made one last stop to the center of the city. “Guys!” said Eitan. The site of the city reenergized our hearts, our minds, and our spirits. See for yourself.
Pasta pomodoro and a glass of vino before bed. Tomorrow we will wake up at 5:00 am to explore parmigiano-reggiano and balsamic vinegar. Until then, Florence, ciao!
Wish you were here,
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