We were on to reds, two bottles of Giovanni Manetti’s Flacianello, the one made from the very vines I’d seen from that ridge by the old church in Panzano. Those finished, Mario and I passed the half-case point, a full case in watery view. By the time pastas appeared (I hadn’t realized that the first thirty-five dishes were starters), my notes grew less reliable. According to one entry, there were eight pastas, but what I wrote seems incomplete: “ramps, breadcrumbs, spaghetti, wife” (when did she arrive?) followed by an instruction to her from Mario – “You will eat your pasta or I will rub shrimp across your breasts” – which is confusing because I don’t remember any shrimp. By now we’d had, by my count, forth-three plates of food, although I feel compelled to add that the plates really were very small. Main courses arrived. And more wine. (“Bricco dell’Uccellone,” my notes say. Three bottles, which brought our tally to ten, mitigated by the presence of a third drinker, my wife – if she was drinking. If she was there.) I remember pork and oxtail stew and an uproar following the appearance of a swordfish…”Two thirty; exterminator here.” To disinfect the restaurant or us? Alarmingly, we then left to get something to drink (Mario was parched), when he put the question to me again: so, a restaurant?
Bill Buford, from “Heat”