Food Club

Cacciucco (Fish Stew) at Wine Dinner Brings Back Memories

Our Under the Tuscan Stars Dinner featuring Banfi wines is coming soon, and I wanted to tell you about the special Cacciucco alla Livornese (fish stew) we will be serving alongside the exclusive ASKA Banfi wine. This special stew takes me back to my younger days living in Italy. My first taste of Cacciucco was not in Livorno, but on the Island of Capraia – a tiny island off the coast of Tuscany. Young and poor, our vacation involved camping out in a tent and fishing for our supper. We befriended an old fisherman who lived on the island and made his living by fishing and Cacciuccoselling his fresh catch to the large, expensive yachts docked at the port. We would accompany him way before dawn when he would set sail to haul in the nets he had laid the evening before. Inevitably, there would be unsightly (yet delicious) types of fish and lobsters that had died in the nets during the night that he could not sell to the wealthy vacationers, so this became the basis for OUR Cacciucco.

Back at the port, he would build a fire behind his little metal hut and begin the process of gradually adding the different kinds of fish to a boiling pot of tomatoes and herbs. Served with toasted bread rubbed with garlic and fiascos of rich Tuscan red wine, this Cacciucco has remained one of my favorite memories. In addition to the original poor man’s version, the ingredients for the one we will serve Wednesday, July 20 at 7 pm include shrimp, lobster, scallops, calamari, tuna, mussels, clams and grouper.  Cacciucco recipe

Cacciucco is similar to other types of fish stew, such as the French bouillabaisse, Greek kakavia, Spanish zarzuela and Portuguese caldeirada. Italian-American fisherman in San Francisco developed Cioppino, using the local Dungeness crab as a variation of the cacciucco recipe. Originally fish soups were made by fishermen with the scraps of fish that they couldn’t manage to sell, because they either didn’t look particularly good, or because they were the worst cuts. In a stew, though, they would develop a lot of nice flavors and feed a ton of people. But if there ever was a poor man food, fish soup is the one.

Get your tickets now to savor this Cacciucco alongside me and other lovers of Italian fare and great wine!  Under the Tuscan Stars menu

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