Trattoria Mario With Artichokes And Lamb
Agnello Con i Carciofi
Alice and I sat a table at Trattoria Mario with red wine in our glasses, held high, toasting our last lunch at Mario’s…”for a while”.
We went to the cashier to pay our bill and after having already written a post on Mario, I remembered being told that I should make myself known the next time I was to visit.
I relayed my disappointment onto Fabio, at not having a chance to report on any artichokes coming out of their kitchen. He called out for his brother Romeo’s attention and asked “what can we make with artichokes for this guy?” A few tight Florentine phrases were exchanged between them and the response was “ Do you like lamb?
“Come for lunch tomorrow, early. And we’ll make you the lamb with artichokes. It won’t be on the menu, we’ll make it just for you”
He made us an offer we couldn’t refuse.
So instead of having planned on this being our final day in Florence and making our way towards Urbino, we were staying an extra night in Florence so we could have another lunch at Mario. This news was much to the delight of our hosts Sarah and Edo who would join us for lunch at Mario the following day.
As we sat for the second time in two days we raised our glasses and made a toast not to the last time at Mario, but to the next.
This little restaurant jammed into the tight streets of Florence is a tiny microcosm embodying tradition and globalisation; this dining experience now belongs to the world. Once the domain of locals diners, it is now enjoyed by Florentines as much as it is by Japanese, Swedes or Australians. People from all over have discovered Mario and can count on finding a slice of tradition in a city that has, on more than one occasion, brought different parts of the world together.
What about starting a meal by shelling some fresh fave beans and accompanying them with prosciutto crudo, pecorino, bread and great olive oil. It looked so perfect, it’s what we ate as often as possible while we traveled around Italy visiting more places of interest to people who are slightly artichoke aware.
Followed our entré with some tender braised lamb shanks and artichokes, which I will detail in a moment. And finished off with a few cantucci (buiscuits) to dunk into some vin santo (dessert wine). We discovered that there are two types of the dessert wine served here; the good one and the better one. At the risk of piggybacking onto a few racial stereotypes, if you ever go to Mario, make a few smooth hand gestures when ordering to and be sure to ask for the better than good vin santo.
They were very generous to give me the recipe to this lamb dish to share with all of you who read this blog. So here is a recipe straight out of Florence central, which will have you wiping your plate clean after devouring every little bit.
The ingredients and method is a direct translation from what I was given, it details no quantities or timing. Don’t worry, great ingredients will make a great dish.
Here’s to the next time we eat at Mario.
Braised Lamb Shanks with Artichokes
extra virgin olive oil, salt fine and coarse, ground pepper and peppercorns, garlic, rosemary, beef stock, lamb, artichokes, white wine.
For the Lamb:
Saute the lamb in oil, rosemary and garlic with fine salt and peppercorns.
When it’s done add the white wine and simmer covered.
For the Sauce:
Gently fry the garlic and add the clean artichokes cut into 6ths.
Add the beef stock, the coarse salt, pepper and allow to cook.
At this point add the sauce to the lamb and simmer for 15 minutes.