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“Living” the Palio of Siena

palio of siena drago

When he was visiting Siena last fall, our blogmaster shot this video (below) of a procession that he happened to catch outside of the famous pastry shop Nannini.

In the video, you see young men from the Contrada del Drago, the Ward of the Dragon, one of Siena’s seventeen “neighborhoods” or contrade.

While the drummer and the flag bearers lead them, in the center of the procession a young man carries the “Palio,” the decorative banner that the winner of the famous horse race gets to take back to its ward’s church.

You can see the banner here.

One thing that’s really interesting to note about the video is that the young men are so serious. They’re not frowning but their attitude is sober.

The people of Siena really and truly live the Siena all year round.

The Drago won the July 2014 Palio. You can see the race in the video that follows the one directly below.

Chef Harvey’s Valentine’s Day Menu is here!

Please call (512) 349-7667‎ to reserve.

Please click here for a downloadable/PDF version of the menu.

VD2015

A note from Chef Harvey on Foie Gras

Recently a person emailed me to say they would not be dining at Siena because I was featuring Foie Gras on my Valentine’s Day menu. Below is my response and the reason(s) for my decision to serve this tasty indulgence.

In 1995 myself and several other Austin Chefs joined Chefs Collaborative 2000. We represented the busiest, trendiest restaurants in Austin at the time and we had buying power.

Mezzaluna (where I was Chef) was always on a 20hour wait and was the first of many restaurants that would later become known as the “4th Street District.”

This attracted the interest of Alice Waters. Alice was the chef/owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, and a front runner and veteran of the fresh, seasonal, local food movement and was here in Austin promoting her book and CC2.

The idea was for us, the top chefs of Austin’s busiest restaurants, to buy as much of our inventory as possible from local Farmers and Ranchers who grew organic, chemical free produce, raised hormone/antibiotic-free animals, practiced humane animal husbandry, avoided GMOs and used ecologically responsible methods.

This would not only give the local producers more cash flow so they could grow and improve their operation, it would also put the pressure on the larger food distributors to start carrying products produced under the same guidelines.

Now 21 years later, across the U.S., especially here in Austin I am proud to say, it worked. I can’t remember a time when I have seen so many successful localvore restaurants.

At Siena I buy grass fed, grass finished beef, locally raised chickens that are hormone free, grain fed-free range-hormone free veal, all natural-hormone-antibiotic free pork, GMO free products and sustainable – non threatened fish species.

I have also avoided buying Foie Gras until I could find a producer that practiced humane animal husbandry and now that I have I am going to serve it, without guilt.

Thanks for reading, Buon appetito!

—Chef Harvey

WINE DINNER MENU: Chef Harvey’s Frescobaldi tasting menu

Please call (512) 349-7667‎ to reserve.

Click here for a printable/PDF version of the menu.

Siena Frescobaldi Dinner

We couldn’t be more thrilled about Siena Ristorante Toscana’s FIRST WINE DINNER of 2015 and we couldn’t be more excited about the wines.

Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi is one of Italy’s most famous noble families and one of its most celebrated wineries, producer of Brunello di Montalcino and some of the most coveted Super Tuscans available today.

Italian wine expert Galen Crippin will be on hand to lead us on a guided tasting of these extraordinary wines!

And Chef Harvey, who is no stranger to the great cuisine of Tuscany, has created a fabulous menu to accentuate the aromas and flavors of these singular bottlings.

A note on Galen follows.

Galen Crippin
Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Export Manager- United States

Californian by nature and Italian by upbringing, Galen Crippin is the latest addition to the dedicated team of wine professionals at Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi. Tasked with managing the prestigious Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi and Danzante brands in the United States, Galen comes to Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi with an impressive wine background and MBA credentials. Having grown up around wine, his combination of industry experience and passion makes him the ideal ambassador for one of the world’s most historic wine companies.

Although born in Venice Beach, California, much of Galen’s childhood was spent in the kitchen of his family’s homes in Florence and Rome. It was here with his father that he gained an appreciation for wine and discovered the gentle art of cooking and conversation.

After returning to the United States as a young adult, Galen moved to the Napa Valley to work for the Whitehall Lane winery in St. Helena, where he furthered his knowledge of viticulture and wine production.

Seeking a more in-depth understanding of the sales side of wine, he enrolled in an MBA program and started to work for a distributor, learning the ins and outs of selling wine on the street.

After seven years of working in distribution, Galen returned to his roots in Italian wine and joined the supplier side with Vias Imports. For seven more years he ran the successful Southwest region for Vias Imports and continued to expand his expertise in Italian wine.

MENU for Jan. 22 Wine Dinner featuring Frescobaldi

We couldn’t be more thrilled about Siena Ristorante Toscana’s FIRST WINE DINNER of 2015 and we couldn’t be more excited about the wines.

Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi is one of Italy’s most famous noble families and one of its most celebrated wineries, producer of Brunello di Montalcino and some of the most coveted Super Tuscans available today.

Italian wine expert Galen Crippin will be on hand to lead us on a guided tasting of these extraordinary wines!

And Chef Harvey, who is no stranger to the great cuisine of Tuscany, has created a fabulous menu to accentuate the aromas and flavors of these singular bottlings.

See his menu below. A note on Galen follows.

Click here for a printable/PDF version of the menu.

Siena Frescobaldi Dinner

Galen Crippin
Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Export Manager- United States

Californian by nature and Italian by upbringing, Galen Crippin is the latest addition to the dedicated team of wine professionals at Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi. Tasked with managing the prestigious Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi and Danzante brands in the United States, Galen comes to Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi with an impressive wine background and MBA credentials. Having grown up around wine, his combination of industry experience and passion makes him the ideal ambassador for one of the world’s most historic wine companies.

Although born in Venice Beach, California, much of Galen’s childhood was spent in the kitchen of his family’s homes in Florence and Rome. It was here with his father that he gained an appreciation for wine and discovered the gentle art of cooking and conversation.

After returning to the United States as a young adult, Galen moved to the Napa Valley to work for the Whitehall Lane winery in St. Helena, where he furthered his knowledge of viticulture and wine production.

Seeking a more in-depth understanding of the sales side of wine, he enrolled in an MBA program and started to work for a distributor, learning the ins and outs of selling wine on the street.

After seven years of working in distribution, Galen returned to his roots in Italian wine and joined the supplier side with Vias Imports. For seven more years he ran the successful Southwest region for Vias Imports and continued to expand his expertise in Italian wine.

Wine dinner Jan. 22: Frescobaldi, one of Italy’s greatest wineries

Happy New Year, everyone!

We are thrilled to announce OUR FIRST WINE DINNER of 2015: An evening with the wines of Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi paired with a menu created especially by Chef Harvey, January 22 (call 512-349-7667 to reserve).

We can’t think of a better way to start the year off than a dinner featuring Frescobaldi, one of our favorite Tuscan wineries and one of Italy’s oldest and most famous winemakers.

Frescobaldi has been producing wine continuously since the Renaissance. And the estate is considered by many to be one of the great pioneers of Super Tuscan wines.

Chef Harvey will be sharing his menu shortly and we’ll also be announcing the guest speaker.

But in the meantime, save the date! These dinners fill up fast and this one is sure to sell out quickly.

A stroll through Siena (Italy), the city that inspired our restaurant

Our webmaster recently visited Siena, Italy, the city that inspired our restaurant.

Here are some images from his time there.

siena duomo

The Duomo.

siena romulus remus statue

Romulus and Remus outside the Duomo.

siena bapistery detail

A detail from the façade of the Baptistery.

siena piazza campo

Palazzo Pubblico (Siena’s town hall in the Piazza del Campo). Note how the façade is slightly curved to reflect the curve of the piazza.

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