One of the most memorable meals that I had during my first stay in Montepulciano (obviously aside from literally everything that I ate), was a simple tomato bruschetta.
I had just finished my Italian classes for the day, and I was wandering around town trying to figure out where to stop for lunch. I vaguely remember that for some reason on that day, most of the local restaurants were closed, and so I found myself with limited options.
I decided on a little hole-in-the-wall bar around the corner from where I was staying. Since I was showing up a little late for lunch service, I kept things simple – a glass of the local Vino Nobile, and a tomato bruschetta.
One bite and I was sunk. Who knew that tomato bruschetta could be this good? How had I never had this before? To say that it was excellent is a bit of an understatement. It was truly eye opening (and mouth-watering). Countless times have I had tomato bruschetta in a restaurant as an appetizer in the States, and never once had I ever tasted anything like this. Those sweet, juicy tomatoes, the slightly charred bread, the hint of garlic…where had this been all of my life?
Bruschetta for 2 as a Dinner 1 Small Boule (about 3 slices per person) 1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil + extra for drizzling 1 Large Garlic Clove, peeled and cut flat on one end 2 Large Tomatoes / 1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes (whatever you prefer), sliced Salt for taste Preheat your grill to a medium temperature. Slice your bread into roughly 1/2" slices. Brush the 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil evenly over both sides of all of the sliced bread with a pastry brush. Grill your bread for just a minute or two on each side, giving the bread a little char and color. After grilling, immediately rub one side of your bread with the garlic clove. Top with the sliced tomatoes, sprinkle on some salt and drizzle with a little olive oil. (If you happen to have an extra special olive oil, now would be a great time to use it.)
I really think that the reason why this bruschetta was so good is very simple – use the best possible ingredients that you can and you will have the most delicious bruschetta. They weren’t using day old bread that was then oven toasted. They weren’t using a topping that was out of season. And they definitely were not using some run-of-the-mill olive oil.
And this is exactly why I love Italy so much. It’s not about finding the fanciest restaurant with the most reviews and most beautiful pictures (in fact many of our most favorite restaurants don’t even have a website). It’s about simple ingredients, thoughtfully prepared with great love and intention. It’s about doing the best you can with what you have, and about letting the ingredients speak for themselves. Thank you Italy for the ever-so-important reminder that simple is so often better.