Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Road to Giusti, Part One

            Despite there being only four tables and one server, and that it is closed for the entire month of August AND that it is only open for lunch, Hosteria Giusti is considered the quintessential Modena eatery.  This family operated restaurant was founded in 1605 as Salumeria Giusti and is rumored to be the oldest deli in the world.  Even Mario Batali has named it as his Modena favorite, so as you may imagine, it is as difficult to get a table there as a last minute reservation at The French Laundry. 
            While in Italy, we were fortunate enough to work with Atlanta-based travel guide Peter Morich, who as a friend of the Hosteria Giusti, was able to get us a reservation.  Walking hurriedly up a non-descript Modena alley, I could not help but be reminded of my own beginnings as a chef, as I watched Chef Matt racing ahead of me.  It was obvious that as Matt rushed toward our reservation, he was eager for so much more than food: he was embarking on his journey as a chef, searching for divine inspiration and a way to crack the intangible culinary code as the owners of Giusti obviously had.  The scene bore an uncanny resemblance to my own travels through France and Spain ten years prior, as just like Matt was now, I was pursuing a spiritual understanding of cuisine. 
With our Italian guide in tow, we rushed up the medieval lane that leads to Giusti, so as not to be late for our 1:00 PM reservation.  By the very nature of the culture, little rushing takes place anywhere in Italy, which attests to the great sense of urgency and importance this appointment carried.  When we finally arrived, we were greeted by the sumptuous aromas of Northern Italian cuisine and a man who explained simply that our reservation was not today; rather, it had been yesterday.  Our disappointment and frustration was palpable and though there were available tables in the restaurant, we would have readily eaten on the floor if that were an option.  For the next five minutes, our guide negotiated with the man in Italian, as the fate of our whole stay in Modena hung in the balance.  It felt like one of the longest five minute intervals of our lives.
Be sure to subscribe to the blog to read the conclusion of the Road to Giusti later this week. 

-- Chef Brandon McGlamery

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