San Vincenzo: The kitchen or the fishing boat

“So, would you like to be in the kitchen or on the boat?”

Sometimes an amazing opportunity pops up, offered to you unexpectedly, like a chef offering to talk to you about local fish and its preparation on his boat rather than in the kitchen. The person asking is Fulvietto Pierangelini, chef and owner of Il Bucaniere restaurant in San Vincenzo, a beach resort and port town on Tuscany’s Etruscan Coast, a place I hold very close to my heart.

At first, the other girls, fellow food bloggers, Giulia from Juls’ Kitchen (who was the one behind organising meeting Fulvietto Pierangelini), Regula aka Miss Foodwise and Karin from Yum and more (Zita from Zizi’s Adventures was out having her own vegetarian adventure elsewhere), are unsure if they’ve heard right. “The kitchen or – where?”

“The boat.”

Absolutely the boat!

At 6pm it’s still stiflingly hot and I can’t imagine a better place to be than zipping out to sea and not in a sweltering kitchen. So we set out with Fulvietto and fellow chef, Lorenzo Lunghi, to the boat, which is sitting pretty in San Vincenzo’s newly designed port. On the way out of the port, a returning fisherman shouts out to Fulvietto that there was a school of horse mackerel at 32 meters depth. So that’s where we’re headed.

As the shore get smaller and smaller and the colour of the sea gets inkier, Fulvietto spots the school of mackerel at just 25 meters depth and turns off the engine. The sound of the sea lapping around us engulfs all other sounds. It’s quite incredible. Lorenzo takes a dip or two, jumping straight off the boat. In the meantime, Fulvietto gets his fishing line set up and we slowly chase the fish until we bring in a few lovely, shimmering, shiny mackerel – soon to become our antipasto.

We zip back to the port and with wind-tousled hair and huge smiles, head back to the beachside restaurant with the humble catch.

Fulvietto is softly spoken and humble, considering his well-known family. His parents Emanuela and Fulvio ran for thirty years, San Vincenzo’s famous Michelin starred restaurant, Gambero Rosso, just a couple hundred meters away from where Il Bucaniere is perched on the beach. He openly shares with us his incredible passion for and knowledge of how to store and prepare the local fish, many species of which fishermen can’t sell at the market because of a lack of know-how or interest.

Now that the temperatures are cooling off, the kitchen is a much more bearable place to be. While Lorenzo prepares the mackerel for our antipasto, Fulvietto shows us how to make our primo, the first course – linguine alla razza, linguine with skate. I’m fascinated. I have to admit, I’ve never eaten or cooked with skate. It’s not a sustainable species in Australia and not easily found to be honest, but in the Mediterranean, this cheap, humble ingredient is available in markets and even the supermarket, though not often seen on menus anymore (revision: I do want to point out that it’s not a sustainable species in the Mediterranean either, but dishes using skate do have an important history and cucina povera tradition amongst fishing communities that I think should somehow be documented, even if no longer used! Italy’s wonderful Slow Fish website is a good resource for discussing the problems with overfishing or other threats to certain species – do check it out if you are curious for more on seafood sustainability in the area).

He shows us how to clean the skate, scoring the skin carefully then using pliers to pull it off. He doesn’t just use the wings, but the whole cartilaginous carcass, which makes the sauce become a naturally creamy emulsion. It’s placed in a pan with olive oil, garlic and chilli and cooked until opaque but not caramelised. A bit of good white wine, some water and constant stirring for a few more minutes and the skate is already falling apart into a creamy sauce. The cartilage is removed and the flesh scraped off as much as possible. That’s the sauce done.

Meanwhile, our mackerel are simply bearing a sprig of rosemary from the mouth and some freshly picked basil leaves – being so fresh, they’re not gutted or even rinsed, they’re still naturally seasoned by the seawater. They go straight into a scorching hot pan for a couple of minutes.


The rest of the dinner is a parade of fresh, local seafood, from more antipasti of raw mazzancolle prawns dressed simply in Fulvietto’s family olive oil, seared scallops with radish, a puree of white beans with calamari and olive oil. Finally, our linguine with the luxuriously creamy skate sauce comes out. And just when we thought we had no more space left, out comes a glorious “fish soup” – pieces of crispy sautéed local fish that we had been shown how to fillet in the kitchen are served in their own little bowl, with a separate bowl of fish and crustacean broth to pour over.

With full bellies and salty, sea-sprayed skin, the sea lapping the shore below us, I think we’ve just experienced the best of what this beautiful stretch of coast has to offer.

Ristorante Il Bucaniere
Via Marconi
San Vincenzo (LI)
Tel. (39) 335 800 1695

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Comments

19 Responses to “San Vincenzo: The kitchen or the fishing boat”
  1. What an absolutely wonderful experience. There’s nothing better than catching, preparing and cooking fish and it tastes so much better straight from the ocean.

    Very jealous of your summer adventures – it’s cold and rainy in England and your photos are making me pine for Italy. Off to Tuscany in 2 weeks though so am counting down the days!

  2. Sarka says:

    Oh, what an amazing experience it must have been. Sounds like you girls had so much fun and good food! I’m so gutted I missed it! Skate is one of my favourite fish but I’ve never had it with pasta. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos Emiko, they make me feel like I was there with you. :)

    • Emiko says:

      You should have been there, Sari, but with your frequent visits to Tuscany I’m sure you’ll have another chance to visit – now you know where to make a little detour! ;)

  3. What a wonderful experience. Thank you for taking such wonderful photos, capturing the boating trip and then sharing it with all of us! I enjoyed it all and would have just loved to taste the mackerel.

  4. It was awesome and no one could have put words to that enchanting experience better than you Emiko.
    Thanks again to Giulia for organizing and for being together wirth you and Marco the perfect foodie hosts!

  5. Fairlita says:

    What a coincidence! I was looking for pork cheek recipes and came to your blog. To my surprise, it’s about Tuscan food, or rather, mostly, as you stated. So I went to the blog’s home in order to bookmark it, and guess what, the latest post is about San Vincenzo! It’s my husband’s hometown and we’re going there this coming Friday. I am soooo gonna to harrass him to take me to Il Bucaniere!

    Grazie mille for this post, Emiko. :-) Because of it, now I have something to look forward for the 7-hour car trip!

    • Emiko says:

      Thanks for your comment! Hope you do make it to Il Bucaniere, it’s very much worth a visit and if your husband’s from there, you’ve got no excuses not to! Glad you enjoyed the blog :)

  6. sergio sergi says:

    Carissima Emiko, Tanti ma tanti auguri per il bambino ch’avrai fra poco!! Ian ci ha passato la notizia ed io e Leigh siamo molto felici per voi due e naturalmente per i genitori.
    Saremmo in Adelaide fino alla fine del anno per lavoro a Saint Peter’s College, poi andremo in Turchia per passare il Natale con Nico ch’e Console a Gallipoli per i prossimi tre anni.
    Siamo molto fieri di quello che stai compiendo, brava,bravissima.I tuoi articoli sono molto interessanti e divertenti
    Melbourne e la nostra citta favorita in Australia e il fatto che siete voi li ci dara un altra ragione per visitarla nel anno venturo.
    Salutoni a Marco
    Abbracci
    leigh e sergio

  7. Juls says:

    If I wasn’t there, I would have been envious reading such a description!
    You know you have a gift with words, don’t you? x

    • Emiko says:

      ha, thank you but you too! Thanks for setting up the meeting with Fulvietto in the first place Giulia – a fantastic idea and amazing experience! x

  8. Zita says:

    Your pictures are wonderful. It looked gorgeous on your camera screen but here… even better! Nice memories about this experience and San Vincenzo although I wasn’t there with you, guys!

  9. Regula says:

    What a beautiful round up of a wonderful evening… this was a fabulous.
    I still can’t believe we went on a boat!!!
    This memory will be cherished forever x

    • Emiko says:

      And I didn’t even get to the pictures of our dinner! The others will just have to go to taste and see it. Absolutely a memory to put in the vault! x

  10. Evie says:

    So envious. Don’t think I’ll be trying anything similar off the UK coast anytime soon. Thanks for transporting me away from the dismal weather of London for a few moments.

  11. Hi Emiko,
    I love your blog, but I had to disagree on one point: skate (razza) is NOT a sustainable fish in Italy. The WWF’s guide to sustainable seafood for Italy lists it as a “forbidden” fish to eat, for the same reasons it is in other countries. It’s lovely that the experience you had was so wonderful, but a shame that it revolved around eating one of the most overfished animals in the world, including in the Mediterranean. See here for more: http://www.wwf.it/UserFiles/File/News%20Dossier%20Appti/DOSSIER/Mare/Sai%20che%20pesci%20pigliare.pdf.

    For English-speakers, this post on sustainable seafood in Italy is also a good source of information: http://www.walksofitaly.com/blog/ethical-travel/sustainable-seafood-in-europe

    • Emiko says:

      Thanks for bringing up this important point, Amanda, I’ve added a little note (in Italics) above just to clear up any confusion from what I meant by “available” as opposed to “sustainable”. It is a sad thing that as a seafood lover there are now many, many fish species that I avoid eating but in this case, when this dish was generously prepared for me and the recipe (a traditional fisherman’s preparation that is rarely seen anymore) shared with me, I (having never eaten skate or seen a recipe like this) wanted to also share the experience with readers. From what I have read about skate (but this could be in Australia as opposed to the Mediterranean), there is a problem with it being caught accidentally in trawls and nets more than being overfished like it’s shark cousins, but it’s still an unsustainable species worldwide. My post here has some handy links on seafood sustainability in the US, the UK and Australia, which I highly recommend for further info: http://www.emikodavies.com/blog/a-sustainable-calabrian-lunch-la-pittea-tropeana/

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