In the middle of Italy and especially the south of Tuscany and in Umbria you’ll find a type of cow called Chianina. In the older days these impressive and good looking beasts served as draught animals pulling carts and plows over the hilly landscape. When the animals lost their powers they were put on a grain diet to fatten them up and then it was off to the dining table. Nowadays heavy work is done by diesel powered tractors but the Chianina live on as premium beef suppliers since the meat of these cows is very tasty and they have lots of it. Now you must know that the old practice of fattening the animals on grain has more or less died out and their main meal consists of hay which especially in the male version can make for slightly chewy meat.
I said more or less died out because ristorante Stella one of our favourite restaurants near Perugia,, had organised a dinner where in a lot of dishes the ‘Bue Grasso’ (fat cow) meat had been used. Stella organises a lot of these special dinners. What makes these themed dinners even more special is that they always sport the producers of the products they use in the meal. So in between courses you can listen to an interesting story about the how, what and why you are eating. So not only did we get extremely good food we also learned a lot about the Bue Grasso. The butcher tried to convince everyone to ask him for advice when they come to the shop since it was impossible for him to have only steak or other well known pieces.
‘Use my knowledge’ he said and learn to eat and prepare other cuts than you see in television.
The atmosphere was great as were the wines thanks to ubersommelier Arek who makes sure Stella has one of the most original, interesting, affordable and tasty winelists in the region.