The following is an
extract from 'The Food Lover's Guide to Europe' by Cara Frost-Sharratt
Tuscany is the Italy of road movies
with its undulating landscape, ancient towns perched precariously on
hilltops and palatial estates bordered by neat clusters of cypress
||When you want an
ice cream, head to Vivoli (left)
Tuscan bread can be used to create
a number of tasty snacks.
It is a land of intoxicating beauty, with both rural and urban
settlements exemplifying Italy at its best.
Located in the centre of the country,
Tuscany has a natural affinity with its immediate neighbours
Emilia-Romagna and Umbria but it doesn’t play second best to them. There
is a great deal of authority on the Tuscan dinner table, which groans
under the weight of the local produce. The food might be earnest and
wholesome but the raw ingredients are among the best in the country.
Rich game, olive oil, fresh bread, beans and exceptional wine are among
the culinary highlights in this part of Italy.
Specialities and Local Producers
In Tuscany the food on the table is very much linked to its place of
origin. There are relatively few steps involved from harvesting
vegetables or hunting game to settling down to the finished dish. The
lightest of touches is used to transform raw ingredients into meals but
the flavours still sing on the palate. As with all regions of Italy,
Tuscany has its speciality hams: here, it is the EU-protected
prosciutto Toscano, which is a dry-cured ham that takes on the
flavours of its garlic and rosemary rub.
Hearty peasant food is another culinary highlight and Tuscan bread (pane
Toscano) is present at every meal. The dense, unsalted loaves are an
acquired taste but add some olive oil and garlic and the bread is
transformed into the Tuscan speciality fettunta. A few more added
ingredients and, hey presto, it’s crostini. The intense Pecorino
Toscano cheese is also a big favourite while Tuscan olive oil is used
for cooking and dressing food.
Although Tuscans are affectionately known as ‘bean eaters’ in Italy
because of their fondness for, and huge consumption of, white beans,
pasta is also enjoyed, particularly when paired with rich, gamey sauces.
Pappardelle is the Tuscan contribution to the pasta cupboard and
these large, flat egg noodles are perfectly suited to the robust
flavours that are piled on top of them. It is therefore no surprise that
the wines of the region are typified by bold flavours to hold their own
with the food, with Chianti and Montepulciano among the better-known
Markets and Shops
|There are many
great towns and cities in the region, all with their share of
unique shops. Florence is famous for its gelaterias and
Vivoli is consistently praised for its delicious selection of
Italian ice cream.
In fact food, art and
architecture are the backbone of Florence and the city is a
When the sightseeing has been
done, the Mercato Centrale provides everything required for the
evening meal. This indoor market is arranged on two floors, and
there are also stalls selling snacks and takeaway meals.
The nearby town of Figline Valdarno again has a wonderful food market,
as do Montepulciano, Lucca and too many others to mention.
The market town of Greve lies in the heart of Chianti country where
Antica Macelleria Falorni is a centuries-old butcher’s that sells
regional specialities. Check out the many exceptional delis in the town,
which offer a tempting array of cured hams, local cheeses and olive
3 things you must not miss
1 Montepulciano Open Cellars
The main town celebrates its food and wine in this gastronomic
spectacular that includes tasting and cellar tours in the last weekend
2 Truffle Hunting
If you want to unearth your own piece of fungi gold, what better than a
truffle hunt with an expert?
WHERE TO EAT
53048 Sinalunga (Siena)
t +39 0577 677 211
If you want to eat out in a picture-postcard setting, it’s difficult to
beat this intimate, stylish restaurant. The menu is created around
seasonal ingredients celebrating the local cuisine.
LA BOTTEGA DEL 30
Via Santa Caterina, 2
Villa a Sesta
t +39 0577 359 226
Tuscan flavours are served in a delightful restaurant with a romantic
terrace for summer dining.
PANE E VINO
Piazza di Cestello 3 rosso
t +39 0552 476 956
This consistently highly rated Florence restaurant offers excellent
value for money with its Tuscanthemed menu that changes each day, and an
impressive wine list.
Food Lover's Guide to Europe', published by
New Holland Publishers, features over 40 destinations in 25
countries and, as you can see from the above extract for Tuscany, it has
a great deal to offer e.g. local specialities and producers, markets,
shop and restaurants.
In fact, it even has some recipes to
bring back those memories once you have returned home.
It would not only make an unusual and
useful gift for the seasoned traveller or for those who enjoy short
breaks but is also an interesting read for non-travellers.
Follow the link above for a copy at a
very good price as well as free P&P worldwide.
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