Directly from the farmer to the table. I strongly believe that this concept is worth supporting. It gives us consumers the freshest food, highest in nutrients. It allows the farmers to make an additional margin in exchange for having grown a crop with tender love and care – an important factor, given that margins in agriculture are usually low, if not negative, and most farmers live on subsidies they receive in return for producing industrial crops for the various agribusinesses.
Farmers’ markets and farm shops are hence my shopping of choice, and when I get to the north of Italy where the farmstays (agriturismo) actually use farm grown products exclusively in their restaurants, I am in sevenths heaven!
Imagine how excited I am for Barbara and Fabio of the Podere del Grillo and the success they are having with their “Ristoro” in San Miniato (Tuscany). The creators of treats like the Tomato Jam w. Grappa and Tuscan Red Onion Chutney wanted to create a space in which they could sell their jams, sauces, condiments and increasingly fresh produce from their farm.Well, judging the crowds that bustle around the place every day and night, I guess it is safe to say customers felt the same way! The concept is great, because it is more than a store and not a full fledged restaurant. It is a relaxed bar, where you can sample the energetic couples’ products as condiments to a cheese and salumi plate, have a nice glass of wine and watch the cows grazing outside (well, they are fake, but they look pretty real).Barbara also prepares one dish every day with the fresh produce that comes off the farm that day: vegetable minestrone in summer, bread & bean soup in winter, fried artichokes in spring… very yummy, simply tasty Tuscan dishes that bring out the best of the ingredients. They have substituted their offering with other food products from quality farms of the area, like sheep cheeses from Giovanni in Voltera, honey from Ilaria or meats from Serse.
It is great to see how an initiative like this thrives, and it makes me hopeful for the future. Should you be in the Pisa/Florence area, why don’t you stop by? A trip to the Ristoro del Grillo is worth a lunch or dinner visit, or only a brief stop to shop for produce, salami, cheese and the Podere’s delicacies.
Ristoro del Podere del Grillo, Via Serra 3, San Miniato (PI). Open from 11 am to 3 pm and 5pm to 11pm. Closed on Tuesdays.