I have just been to Italy for a short holiday (well it was just but it has been a while since I started this post) and I have eaten some of the best food… Yum!
So one of the many crimes that the English have committed is going off to countries and then forcing our food choices on tourists, in Spain’s hot spots it is often easy to find fish and chips or a full English breakfast which to be quite frank is just the worst type of holiday food. Thankfully this has not happened in Siena.
Anyway first we will mention lunch which was a pleasure to have at the Osteria Il Grattacielo, which is an ironic name as you will discover should you ever go to Siena. You basically turn up and get a plate of food before sitting down with a glass of wine and enjoy. Of course this appears to be somewhere the locals also eat and if you go earlier you get a better selection, but I like the chilled out atmosphere and simplicity of it. All of it was so good. It is also cheap it cost us 20 euro for 2 plates, wine and sparkling water. You can see on this plate smoked ham, pesto pasta, melon, bean salad, roasted courgette salad, egg omelette (sort of) and some of the lovely ewe milk soft cheese (Pecorino).
This is my second visit to Siena my first being in 2010, so although I am still a tourist I felt more relaxed on this trip and did not feel the need to go to everything. Of course I still wondered around taking pictures and they can be found here.
In the evenings I spent my time in the Nicchio gardens. The Nicchio (Seashell) is situated in the far eastern corner of the city. Traditionally, its residents worked as potters, it is one of Siena’s contrade of which there are 17. I am guessing my friend Anna would say that the Lupa are the only really good contrade, as she is a member. The Lupa is situated to the north of the Piazza del Campo. Traditionally, the residents of Lupa were bakers.
Anyway back to subject I was spending my evening in the Nicchio gardens which was wonderful as they have a really good space, the food was wonderful but also it was just really grate to sit down and eat with real people, I know that sounds odd, but when you are a tourist in a country that is not your own it is always hard to find an authentic place to eat. The last time (2010) I was in Siena I also ate here and have been dreaming of the Octopus and Cannellini bean salad (below) ever since so you will be pleased to know it was on the menu once again. There were of course other things on the menu including the best gnocchi I have ever had with a mushroom sauce, meat (lots of types from stake, ribs and even really good sausages), pasta of course (one night I had a simple Lasagne, and Anna had this amazing seafood pasta), roasted vegetables, fruit etc… the food was always good and always cooked by people who knew how to cook but also were part of their contrade.
There is something that feels right about sitting with several hundred families eating simple but wonderful food.