Autumn equinox BBQ 2020 along the Swedish west coast, Sweden.
Text Photo & Video © D Neikter Nilsson; JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020
Our family had the most amazing Bistecca alla Fiorentina experience in 2008 when in Florence, Italy, courtesy of a good friend who had recommended and booked a table for us at the restaurant 4Leoni. Located between Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti, in one of the historical pizzas of the region´s capital city, Piazza della Passera, the interior of the restaurant is fairly small, but utterly cozy. It was a double birthday celebration night, and it seemed the full moon was out to greet and celebrate with us in Florence, standing perfectly centre over Ponte Vecchio as we walked by. I remember the food and service at 4Leoni to have been excellent. Our steak arrived grilled to perfection, carved and served with skilled hands. The recommended accompanying wine was just heavenly.
Since our remarkable visit to 4Leoni, we´ve tried our best to have a little bit of Florentine experience in our steaks when at home in Sweden. There are many barbecue and grilling bibles you can find on the internet that recommend plenty of cooking techniques, all very usable depending on personal style and preference. User guides to the perfect Bistecca alla Fiorentina recommend getting a T-bone cut of meat around 2 inches thick, and dry aged for about 4 weeks. The meat is traditionally from the Italian Chianina cattle breed, one of the oldest draught bred cattles in the world that is today bred for meat. In Scandinavia, the Nordic Angus is closer from farm to fork, and it is the Nordic Angus that we have on the grill here in celebration of the Autumn equinox 2020.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina usually uses a cooking method that requires little but salt, olive oil and heat to the meat. The manner of grilling and presenting the steak thus puts the quality of the meat in focus. What the cattle was fed, how it was farm raised and how well it was treated translates to its meat appearance at the table, from colour, odour, texture, tenderness, juiciness and flavour (sans spices and oils). A cow that grew up on a regenerative farm, feeding on its favourite grass, makes a gourmet farm to fork experience with little cooking efforts.
The lack of cooking efforts on our part, attributed to quality Nordic Angus meat was however playfully challenged by some autumnal elements.
Autumn is a season of harvest, when the colours of nature turn into beautiful golden hues of yellow and sunset orange. These colour changes in nature are also accompanied by strong winds, particularly along the Swedish west coast. Apart from the usual loosely moored boats often found adrift at sea after stormy evenings, neighbours have been known to lose their tool sheds and even whole balconies to the winds during this time of year. But we thought, what better time than to attempt a barbeque against the seasonal high winds as a celebration of the autumn equinox?
So after giving the meat a light salting and baking in the oven, we set out to have the steak seared on the barbeque. The short video shows the highlights of that event. We had tomatoes on the grill too, to accompany the baked root vegetable pan of potatoes, carrots and leeks.
Dinner was fantastic.
The meat and root vegetables were baked prior to the last searing on the grill.
We had a mixture of fresh potatoes, carrots, leeks and onions baked with rosemary.
On the grill.
This reminds us of the gorgeous Bistecca alla Fiorentina that we had in 2008 at Trattoria Quatro Leoni, a restaurant located in Tuscany, Italy.
Tomatoes on the skillet.