“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

TravelHaven Journal: Italy 2013 – Marcello and Porchetta

We have tried to have one ‘chill day’ a week when we just stay at the villa to relax and enjoy our “home” surroundings. That’s the time to do laundry, blog, work on photos, and just hang out. This day at four-thirty (not four because that’s too early or five because that’s too late) our friend Rosado will take us to the local butcher’s in Monterchi to purchase some porchetta. Since both Arn and I LOVE porchetta, we can’t wait!

Promptly at four-fifteen, Rosado arrives and we follow him to the butcher’s shop, which is a tiny place (probably 12′ x 15′) tucked back among a few other buildings. If you don’t know where it is, you will never notice it. Obviously, it’s a spot where the locals shop, much like our little super mercado that we visit almost daily and love (more on that later).  

But back to the porchetta. In case you aren’t familiar with the dish, porchetta is a roasted pig, deboned and stuffed with garlic, rosemary, fennel, or other herbs. When we enter this tiny shop, which has beautiful meat cases on one wall and a whole pig laid out in a case on another wall, there are already 3 people ahead of us. We are pretty crowded in the shop. When the others have made their purchases, Rosado orders for us —  half of our meat will come from the side of the pig, which is more fatty and half from the leg which is more lean. This gives a nice balance; if it was all lean, it would be too dry. I know the meat will be good just from looking at it, but the best part of all is just the experience and interaction with the butcher and his wife, whom we later found out is a butcher herself. She can cut some mean steaks!

Then, porchetta in hand, we manage to turn around in the tiny parking lot and head home to enjoy our dinner. Oh, it was great! The butcher had thrown in a nice amount of the crispy, tasty skin, which, to me, is the very best part! Actually, I am very surprised that Arn will eat the porchetta because he hates fat and cuts every bit off any meat. Then there’s me, who loves the fat when it’s cooked and crispy. Jack Sprat and his wife. Ha! I was secretly hoping (and expecting) he would hate the skin so there would be more for me!  But we both love it and know we will probably not get it back home. <sigh!>

I don’t think I have told you much about our villa or our local grocer. Our grocer is Marcello and he and his wife (I don’t know her name) have run their little supermarket in Monterchi for about 40 years. We love Marcello. He is always such a happy guy! When we come in, his face lights up in this huge grin! He doesn’t speak a word of English and we, unfortunately, don’t speak Italian, but we all use lots of hand gestures and manage to understand each other. 

Marcelo , owner of the Supermercado Marcelo's wife and  a longtime worker

Marcello                                                                         Signora Marcello and friend

When we went in one day last week, along with our usual groceries (milk, fresh cheese, fresh mushrooms, etc.) we were looking for shaving cream for Arnold and, of course, wine. I had picked out a rosé since we were having fish that night and I had wanted to try a local rosé. When I got to the checkout counter, he took the wine I had selected, which was about 6 euro and motioned me to follow him, which I did. He placed my selection back on the shelf and, instead, selected a Monte Schiavo rosé. He kept pointing to the label, saying “Schiavo! Schiavo!”  I nodded vigorously and smiled and thanked him. The wine he had selected was just over 4 euro and it was excellent! I later looked it up online and learned that Monte Schiavo wines are known both for their excellent taste and their price to quality ratio. Marcello did not steer me wrong! 

Then when Arnold asked him where the shaving cream was (which was hilarious to watch as Arnold pantomimed pushing the button down on a can of shaving cream, then spreading it on his face and shaving, all with sound effects only Arnold can produce), Marcello took him over to where the product was and we started looking at them. Arnold does not like menthol. Marcello picked up a can and thrust it at Arnold, all the while gesturing, nodding and smiling. I told Arnold it had eucalyptus and menthol so he put it back on the shelf and picked up a different brand. Marcello reached over, took the can from Arnold, shook his head and wagged his finger “no”, and gave him the original can. He would not take no for an answer!  So Arnold is now using menthol shaving cream. What else could he do?  

Clearly, Marcello has taken us under his wing. And we do love him!

Grazie mille, Marcello!