The Revenge of Happiness on a Stick
Montesilvano, the beachfront modern extension of Pescara is mainly know for two things – summer hotels for families and arrosticini. Even though we spent 4 months there following the L’Aquila quake, we never did get around to seeing if the latter was a reputation well deserved.
I was not in much of a hurry – Abruzzo itself is famous for the little mutton skewers. Anyone with a place to grill out has one of the characteristic long and thin arrosticini grills, and I’ve become good at them myself -but much of the credit for those goes to the butcher in San Pio delle Camere. If you’re in a place where a flock of sheep can block the road, the mutton is usually pretty good. Here on the Adriatic coast it’s a common follow-up to pizza, at Sofia’s parent-student Christmas pizza party they served arrosticini in terra-cotta vases to keep them warm.
(By the way, if find yourself stranded in a swarm of sheep in Abruzzo, do not get out of the car to take pictures until after you talk to the Shepherd. There are probably a few of the beautiful, massive and overly protective Pastore Abruzzese sheep guard dogs blending in with the flock).
So last night Piero, the father of one of Emily’s friends took us to one of his favorite places, the Locanda di Crocitto. La Locanda, is a noisy neighborhood pizza joint in a modern, inland part of town, is not Montesilvano’s most famous place for arrosticini (I’ll write about them when we go there), but it did have a few pleasant surprises. Emily enjoyed her black truffle pizza, and Silvia’s huge ravioli with ricotta from the ancient buffalo breed were excellent.
Piero, however, had called ahead to make sure they had enough of the liver arrosticini set aside for us.
Arrosticini, as a general rule, are made from some form of mutton. Usually adults, not lamb. Part of the reason they are cut into little cubes and roasted over red glowing coals is to turn tougher meat into tender, greasy addictive tidbits you can pull off the stick with your teeth like a viking. Fun and primordial. And that’s what Emily and her friend did with a dozen of the mutton ones, forgetting half their pizzas.
Piero and I had a few of those, per devozione, to “keep the faith”, as they say in Italy. But we made room for scores of the liver ones. Choice chunks of liver alternating with laurel leaves, diced pancetta and quarters of baby onions. You don’t actually eat the laurel, but I did discover they joy of nibbling at the toasted corners.
It aint just chopped liver.
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