As we say goodbye to summer, I find myself missing Italy and especially my morning visits to our local town, Gaiole in Chianti. It is my favorite part of every day there. There’s one long piazza that has everything you could ever need including a shop that sells everything, which we have imaginatively dubbed “The shop that sells everything”. I love working my way from the butcher at the top, past the bizarrely restored Mussolini quote, to the green grocers at the bottom.
“Who is not ready to die for his faith is not worthy to profess it” – Mussolini
Bistecca alla fiorentina from Macelleria Chini, needs nothing but a hot grill and some salt and pepper.
They all ask after my father and brother and how long I’ll be staying but I’m ashamed to admit I knew very little about them until this year. I should know more about these wonderful men who have hacked enormous Florentine steaks and carefully selected plums for me and my family for over 40 years. Finally, this year, I got a little further than the basic “your peaches are excellent this year” and “last night’s porchetta was incredible!”.
This year, I found out Gaiole is made up of brothers; the butchers are brothers, the green grocers are brothers and even the baristas at Bar Centrale (that make the most delicious coffees that I have to allow myself one a year even though I never drink coffee) – are brothers. There are sisters too at the restaurant Lo Sfizio Bianchi – their parents used to make my birthday cakes every year. The bakery on the outskirts of town, which has no name, but you can smell your way to, is also made up of a mother, father and son. There is something so reassuring about seeing the same faces year after year and I pray that the next generation continue to keep it in the family. There’s a reason Gaiole in Chianti was voted No. 1 on Forbes list of Europe’s Most Idyllic Places To Live.
The butchers: Vincenzo (left) and Cesare Chini. Their family have been raising pigs since 1682!
The greengrocers: Angiolo (left) and Mario del Lungo
The bakers: The Alpi family
At Many Kitchens, we are thrilled to keep the family tradition alive! We are working with two brother and sister teams. Jen and Jeff Martin of Pipsnacks and Ken and Toan Huynh of The Saucey Sauce Company.
Jeff and Jen Martin of Pipsnacks
Toan and Ken Huynh of The Saucey Sauce Company