My first night in Montepulciano, Italy I found myself sitting at the train station in the glow of the setting sun, watching the local gang of old men assemble at cafes and under trees for their evening ritual of chit-chat with their mates.
My family arrived just as the sun disappeared and whisked me off to a stunning old villa rented by our friend Pia. She had invited us all over for a Tuscan BBQ to celebrate our first day in Italy.
It is a splendid place hidden far down a maze of gravel roads so twisty and turny that we couldn’t actually find it until Pia rode out on her bike to lead us in. It was well worth our haphazard journey though. Peaceful, secluded and so welcoming you really felt like you’d arrived home.
We were entranced by the splendid old wood-fired oven that was just perfect for grilling plump sausages, pork chops, chicken breasts and steaks. My brothers, Ryan and Dana, were grill masters for the evening, churning out massive platters of succulent meats that smelled heavenly.
We sipped glasses of Prosecco and nibbled on marinated beans and crisp potato chips while Pia and the others whipped up one delicious veggie dish after another: raw fennel drizzled with olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper, fresh tomato salad, fresh cucumber salad, oniony steamed spinach, pasta with sausage, green salad with radicchio, on and on it went.
When everything was ready we piled our plates high and sat outside to eat by candlelight under a moonlit sky, marveling that we were really, truly in Tuscany.
After thoroughly stuffing ourselves, the makers of our feast relaxed with Prosecco or played wild games of Foosball while the rest of us clustered around a couple sinks to wash up mounds of dishes and wrap up leftovers.
What is your favorite must-have dish at a BBQ?