Camilla Pagliaroli on Sagras and Wild Boar
I can't believe it took us two and a half years to discover the abundance and variety of food festivals - a "sagra" - here in Tuscany. Everywhere you go you spot a poster for a sagra for this or the other food; anything from mussels or Cacciucco (the famous Livornese fish stew) to porcini mushrooms or pinoli (pine nuts). Some of them more famous and more organized and some so small that if you don't happen to pass the sign on the road, you might just miss them.
The 'Sagra del Cinghiale' i.e. the Wild Boar Festival in Gabbro belongs to the latter category, but if wild boar floats your boat, it is definitely worth making the detour to the little hilltop village of Gabbro this weekend. The concept seems to be fairly similar for most of the sagras. You take a look at the menu, order and pay your order beforehand and then wait to be served. We ordered three different pasta dishes to start with, one with the obvious boar ragu, but the others just as nice; one a little spicy with tomatoes and pancetta (Italian bacon), and the other a Viareggina with tasty pesto in the tomato mix. The cinghiale in salmi' - very tasty and tender wild boar stewed in wine with olives was definitely worth the wait, and so was the side of fagioli lessi - beans in rosemary-flavored oil. The table wines come from the local Cantina del Sole here in Livorno, and at 3 euro a bottle, the red paired surprisingly well with the boar. We tried the juicy pork ribs too, but had to forego the pork sausages this time - enough was enough! The festival takes place every night this weekend in Gabbro, about 30 minutes by car from Livorno. They start taking orders at 7 pm, and start serving at 7.30 pm. If you prefer to have a table with a view over the valley below, come early and beat the lines. The live music entertainment, however, doesn't start until after 9 or 9.30 pm, which the locals know, so after 8 pm the lines to the cash register were picking up. The fruit pies - crostate - can be ordered either with the meal, or purchased as an afterthought if you still have room for dessert. Buon appetito!