I get cranky when a meal doesnt go my way back at home. I tend to get very quiet, and everyone at the table usually knows it at some point no matter how hard I try to hide it. But when it happens on vacation, its closer to a clinical depression. After months of preparations, somehow I picked a place that just served me cardboard flavored crostini. I start to doubt my research abilities and sometimes even change plans to maximize probabilities. On my last trip, midpoint, I cancelled all remaining hotel dining, even though I read nothing but good things about them.
Thankfully the bad meals were few and far between. The only quibble was that some of the really good ones were very early in their respective legs. So when we came across similar dishes in the region we were often disappointed. Such was the case with L’oste di Borgo in the picture perfect Tuscan town of Colle di Val d’Elsa. Our first meal in Tuscany this time set the bar maybe a little too high.
Finding L’oste di Borgo is easy. Enter the main gate (Porta Nuova) and walk until you see the first evidence of life conversing with other life. The young couple that took over the space not too long ago runs the place like a well-oiled machine. If you are in a rush, this place is probably not for you. Its “Slow Food” in every sense. From the wait, to the explanation of the 0 km ingredients (or 5 to be exact), and the enjoyment. When things taste this good, three hour meals are pure joy. When its not, its pure Tortura.
The mixed appetizer platter is nothing short of a triumph, especially once you compare it to other places. Fresh, local, peppery Salami, silky Prosciuto, Crostini with liver and lardo, fruits, various spreads and more. Impeccable attention to raw material. Then comes an expertly prepared, Piemonte style, hand chopped Beef Tartare. Not the prized Chianina but who cares when it tastes so good. There was also a fine chicken, and Tagliata, but get the Tartare.
The Pici Cacio e Pepe was another big hit, and most likely best I ever had. We enthusiastically ordered three more of this during this trip and they never got quite as peppery or creamy. But the most interesting dish was the Paccheri coated with a Scamerita ragu. Thats a white ragu of the back of the pork neck. Only in Italy we experience such flavor from such little meat. And only in Italy you can wash it all down with a nice dry red litter for the price of a NY glass. One of our new favorites in Tuscany.