Stan­ley Tucci’s Last Bites

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page -

I’d want to spend my last meal by Lake Como. The first time I went there was about 10 years ago, maybe more, with my late wife. It’s also where I met my now-wife, Felic­ity, at her sis­ter’s wed­ding. The wa­ter shines, ev­ery­thing is so ver­dant, and then the Alps are in the dis­tance... the dis­par­ity of the to­pog­ra­phy is so ex­cit­ing.

We’d sit out­side, over­look­ing the lake with a view of the Alps. The set­ting would be sim­ple and rus­tic: a white table­cloth, wild flow­ers and can­dles. We’d be lis­ten­ing to clas­sic jazz – Dix­ieland, some Gersh­win, Cole Porter, Harold Earle. We’d do a lit­tle danc­ing. I’d be with ev­ery­one I love.

It would be early au­tumn, late af­ter­noon. I like that time of year: you still have warmth dur­ing the day, but it’s cool at night. You know change is about to hap­pen. Some­times things are re­ally beau­ti­ful as they start to die.

We’d have mar­ti­nis to be­gin with, then white wine from Villa Spa­rina, Gavi La Scolca and Meur­sault; red wine – Gaja and Sas­si­caia.

As for the menu, to start we would have tagliarini with white truf­fles and risotto with shrimp. It’s a dish I had on my hon­ey­moon. I’d had it be­fore, but that mem­ory makes it so spe­cial. I had the risotto in Venice a very long time ago in a lit­tle trat­to­ria, and it is with­out ques­tion one of the best dishes I’ve ever had.

Trav­el­ling is im­por­tant – the recipes in my books come from trav­els, or from mem­o­ries. You’re al­ways search­ing for that per­fect alchemy of all the in­gre­di­ents; ev­ery time you make a recipe it’s slightly dif­fer­ent.

For the main course, I’d have a whole branzino – seabass that’s so sim­ple to make. With it I’d have sal­ads – cu­cum­ber and olive oil with gar­lic, salt and the small­est bit of dried oregano; a fresh tomato salad with oil and basil; a salad of pea shoots, fresh peas and mâche leaves. Also a Floren­tine steak and my mother’s broad bean mines­tra.

Af­ter­wards, we’d have a board of sheep and goat’s cheese with an Amarone wine. I don’t eat cow’s milk cheese or gluten – but I would have pecorino from Pienza, and also the soft ones – a great French goat’s cheese with a lit­tle honey. I’d have to have bread – it would be my last meal so it’d be fine. And I’d round things off with a great Cuban cigar ... and Ar­magnac!

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