Where's the beef? In Vinovo, Italy!

| 12/11/2008 4:53:55 PM

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One of the best aspects of my recent trip to Italy as a participant in the Terra Madre conference was that we got to stay with local people in the village of Vinovo, about 20 minutes’ drive from the enormous hall (Isozaki Palace) where the conference was held. Thanks to that housing situation, we (the members of my band and I) feel as though our families got expanded by 40 or so lovely, lively Italians.

The floor of the conference at Isozaki Palace

We bonded with all the men and women of the Centro Parrocchiale who gave us caffe every morning to send us on our way and a beautifully prepared dinner every evening to welcome us home. It was during one of these meals that I had the best beef I’ve ever tasted – and it was raw, a tasty carpaccio of paper-thin slices of this fabulous beef, a little olive oil and salt and pepper served with thin slices of lemon.

And sitting across from me as I took my first bites of this heavenly dish was the farmer who raised the beef, Antonio Sandrone. He and his wife, Donatella, and two adult daughters (Chiara and Franscesca) became some of our very favorite people – and not just because of the great food.

The last night of our trip, the Sandrones invited us out to their farm for a last, great family feast, and it turned into one of the highlights of our trip.

At the Sandrones ranch near Vinovo Italy

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