If you have read a few of my blog posts, you might have learned that my handsome Giuseppe and I start a lot of Friday nights in the bar at Sunset Grill and are often served up some lovely cocktails by one of our favorite curators of libations, Nate Kerchief. Last year, Nate traveled all over Europe and brought us some insanely beautiful balsamic vinegar from Siena.
We had some of it before our trip to Italy on some fresh strawberries … amazing, and we raved to Nate about how great it tasted. Nate had found a place in Siena that offered olive oil and balsamic tastings and recommended that Joe and I go there … it was located on a side street off of El Campo and there was a statue of a black panther just in front of the shop.
Siena is not a large city and El Campo is almost smack center in the walls of the city like the hub of a wheel. It couldn’t be that hard to find, right?
We did a little looking around our very first night in Siena, before that wonderful meal at Osteria Enoteca Soto de Fonti, and then we continued our search the next day. We were determined to find this place and have our own tasting.
The symbol for Siena is the wolf and it is everywhere, signifying the nurturing of Remus and Romulus.
We saw the wolf everywhere … we even saw this big GSD on a balcony on the Piazza del Campo that looked like a wolf! But not a panther in sight!
And like a couple of wolves, Giuseppe and I hunted … stalking the streets of Siena in search of the elusive black panther Nate had described. Hither and yon, over cobbled streets, up hills, down hills, to and fro and still no black panther was in sight. Finally Joe (Giuseppe) expressed his thoughts, “that Nate, I think he must have had too many of his own favorite cocktails … he doesn’t know a black panther from a wolf! Geez!”
Somewhere along the way during the hunt we stopped to climb the bell tower, Torre del Mangia … 505 steps to the top. I went to the top … Joe stayed a little below me. The last leg of stairs were very steep, wooden and Joe was feeling the tower sway. I had a couple of amazing views.
Back to the scavenger hunt … there was a lovely shop right on El Campo that sold a huge variety of balsamic vinegars … this must be the place! And so we went in and ponied up for large quantities of balsamic vinegar … balsamic 8, balsamic 10, balsamic 12, balsamic with cocoa, balsamic with chili on and on.
And just around the corner we had found Olio Etc. and we had a nice little tasting of our own and ponied up for large quantities of olive oil … lemon olive oil, basil olive oil, estate olive oil on and on.
Some 250 Euros plus later, said balsamic vinegar and olive oils were shipped to my office in Franklin and they have been well received. A little later, we are going to invite friends over for our own little tasting and pairing of these delightful items. More about that later!
Joe (Giuseppe) could hardly wait to get back to Nashville and Sunset Grill and razz Nate about him not knowing a panther from a wolf. And Nate … well, he is a very cool guy. And no dummy. Keep in mind that while we are at Sunset Grill we are having Nate’s libations and Nate is stone cold sober.
So after listening briefly to our story and Joe’s razzing about the panther, Nate pulls out his phone and finds, low and behold, a picture of a statue of the black panther. There you go.
We also scavengered for a pin with the horse race through the city for our friend Don who runs Adept Limosine service. No luck there either.
So here is the lesson … Joe (Giuseppe) and Donna are definitely not scavengers or hunters or gathers. We make reservations. We did find some really cool stuff during our day or two wandering the streets of Siena including this amazing pizza we enjoyed while sitting in the sun on Piazza del Campo.
Life is good. Enjoy it where you are. If you really think about it, everything is special. So Nate … thanks so much! We didn’t have our tasting in Siena, but we can have one in Nashville and I can get me a panther centerpiece!