The day was gorgeous –
sunny, blue sky with a few puffy clouds and my friend Deborah from the Strada
dei Vini e dei Sapori del Garda and I were headed to La Torre Vineyards in the
province of Brescia (Brescia is the province in Italy that borders the western
end of Lake Garda and is located in Lombardy).  Yes we were going for the wine, but we were
also going for what Deborah promised me was an authentic Brescian meal – Spiedo
and Polenta.

The driveway passed through the lovely vineyard which has been in the
Pasini family for 3 generations and we parked in front of the 18th
century building which houses the wine cellar (la cantina). Already I’m getting
excited….And as we got out of the car, I smelled the most amazing aroma but it had
nothing to do with the bouquet of wine; it was smoky, meaty, herby and
fabulous.  I asked what that wonderful
smell was, and Deborah proudly told me that it was dinner (at this point, my
heart skipped a beat). Our noses led us to a large shed-like structure where Attilio
Pasini, the owner of La Torre and a couple of other guys were poking and
prodding at something and as they stepped to the side, I saw one of the oldest
forms of cooking – meat roasting over a fire…sort of.  The special oven is called a tombolo and as I
found out later, Brescia is the only place in the entire country of Italy where
you can find a tombolo.

And turning round and round was a beautiful sight of chestnut
hued meat rotating on 3 foot long skewers with butter and sage gently drizzling down from the top.


Olive wood was fueling the fire producing the most sublime smoky aroma.


I asked what kind of meat was on the Spiedo and the response was
pork, chicken and bird.  So then I asked
what kind of bird thinking it was turkey, duck, maybe goose and the answer
again was “bird”.  Now, my Italian isn’t
what I would like it to be, but I think I have a fairly decent command of the
English language and thought for sure there was some sort of language barrier
here.  But when the guy pointed toward
the trees and flapped his arms, I had my answer.  So yes, authentic Brescian Spiedo has pork,
chicken and bird…specifically goldfinch.

Sometime later, we sat down to a
beautiful table set with multiple wine glasses,


a platter of perfectly roasted and glazed spiedo and amazing polenta.


The food, the wine, the company was awesome…and no, I didn’t try the




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