Don’t get me wrong I’m not talking about fast food like Subways, but about going to a Jewish or Italian Deli and piling up that bulky roll, panini, bagel, rye bread, whole wheat sandwich with whatever tickles your fancy. Being floored by the choices, the questions being barked out at me with impatience and sometimes boredom as the sandwich-maker stalks down the condiment line-up: peppers, hot peppers, onions, mayo, mustard… come on, what else?
I choose my favorite things then watch my sandwich being wrapped in special waxed paper and packed in a brown paper bag. Those are the days I am happy to be back in the States, visiting.
But the rest of the year I live in Germany and although the Germans love to eat a roll with cold cuts and or cheese for breakfast, and the choices and quality are very good –to me that’s just not like a lunchtime deli sandwich!
Oh and by the way I also grew up in France and the French eat a sandweetch when on the run but it is mainly a quarter baguette with chicken and mayonnaise and maybe a leaf of salad on it – nope, that’s just not comparable either.
Now imagine a new scene, it is late June and I am on the Etruscan Coast with our foodie gang and my friend Emiko Davies tells us we are going to the beach to have the best lunch from a food truck. I admit I was skeptical and I certainly never thought I would find the glory of a real Italian deli from a beach food truck. My expectations ranged between: I am so hungry I’ll eat anything as long as it is not deep-fried, on the other hand: Emiko’s husband Marco is a Tuscan native and they have been coming here for years, and if they along with Giulia from Jul’s Kitchen a wonderful guide to Tuscany, say it’s the best then I know I can’t go wrong.
The beach on the Gulf of Baratti near San Vincenzo is bordered by a beautifully fragrant Italian stone pine forest with trees artfully twisted by the coastal wind. Large families and groups of people set-up eating and resting spots amongst the shady trees close to the shallow waters of Populonia beach which in combination make it an ideal beach location for small children.
And there, nestled in the stone pine trees stands L’Osteria del Campo. Wondrously equipped and displaying an astonishing selection of cured meats, cheeses, grilled vegetables, stewed mushrooms and olives, fresh tomatoes, rocket salad and varieties of fresh local bread and rolls.
A sandwich paradise! And not just any sandwich paradise but an Italian Deli sandwich paradise, on the beach in 80 degree heat, just meters from the refreshing blue of the Etruscan coast sea to wash away any leftover crumbs from greasy fingers and just shallow enough to float in so as not to interrupt the digestion of said sandwich by anything so strenuous as swimming.
Be it tantalizing Porchetta, Pancetta, Mortadella, wild boar or pork salami, spicy or mild, 3 types of raw and 3 types of cooked ham, Pecorino, Parmesan, Provolone, Ricotta or Mozzarella, plus many more specialties I couldn’t possibly name, it’s all there just waiting to be tasted, selected, served cold or warm on Panini, bread or focacio, freshly put together just the way you like it, and then the base is wrapped in a paper slip and placed alongside an ice-cold drink.
One of the things I admired most at L’osteria del Campo food truck was the patience and smiles the two lovely Signoras showed while serving all these foreigners with their picture-taking and funny questions who want to taste everything first before selecting. But these two ladies just laughed, smiled and even modeled the meats.
We tasted, pointed and selected, photographed everything, all together and from all angles holding up the lines of others waiting for their food, and not one unhappy sound was heard. We paid more than reasonable prices and easily pulled some tables and chairs together under the shady trees to accommodate our large group. We then played foodie show and tell, tasted and exchanged, ooohed and awwwed until every bite was gone. And it was DELICIOUS!!!!
Only then did we head down to the beach to laze away the hours in the water and on the shore, with good friends who enjoy good food.
Thank you Emiko and Marco for showing us this beautiful and delicious spot and for sharing it with Zizi, Ivan, Regula, Bruno, Giulia and I so that I can now share this magical spot with you my dear readers!!
With this post I am also taking part in the August 2012 Monthly Mingle Street Food hosted by Zizi’s Adventures