Tuscany is probably the most known region of the beautiful Italian peninsula, there are many traditional destinations, very famous are the typical dishes of this area.
So, where to eat them?
Where to find a truly Tuscan atmosphere and taste?
I have found for you some places where culture, landscape and taste come together to savor something unique with eyes and mouth….
Cortona and l’Osteria del Teatro
Near the Umbrian border and with a long view over the rich Chiana plain (Val di Chiana), Cortona looks at first glance like a typical Tuscan medieval town with slim streets and tall towers.
Yet, it’s way older than that: it was already an Etruscan city long before Rome was founded.
The Etruscan tombs that are scattered all about the area are not the only signs of glorious pas: there is food. Emiliano Rossi, chief and owner at Osteria del Teatro, researches and present ancient Tuscan recipes such as Lepre in dolceforte: sweet and spicy hare, and Fagiano farcito al tartufo: stuffed pheasant with truffles.
Fagiano Farcito al Tartufo
Wild pheasant is Tuscany’s most popular game, and Tuscans have had a passion for hunting and cooking it since the glory-days of the Reinassance. Here’s deluxe version with white truffle.
Lepre in dolceforte
Il dolceforte is an accompanying sauce for stewed hare or wild boar of Sienese origin, whose preparation is already found in the sixteenth century recipe books, a time when, at banquets, the services of belief, that is a rich buffet of appetizers where the salty sweet was mixed, became fashionable. The connoisseurs of these contrasting combinations, to keep the sweet flavors more intact and decided, had the sauce added only when the meat was almost cooked; a tradition that has remained almost unchanged up to the present day. And even before the arrival of the chocolate from the Americas, the dolceforte included honey in its place.
Lepre in dolceforte – The Recipe
Cooking time: 60 min
Ingredients for 4 people:
Half hare that must be aged for 4 days (about 1.5 kg)
30 gr. of fat raw ham
30 gr. of grated dark chocolate
30 gr. of pine nuts
25 gr. orange and candied citron
2 tablespoons of sugar
50 gr. of sultanas Flour Half a red onion Half carrot
2 stalks of celery
1 teaspoon of chopped parsley
1 glass of red wine vinegar
salt, black pepper, Extra virgin olive oil
First prepare the hare taking care to cut it into small pieces and putting it to marinate overnight in a bowl covered with red wine and salt. Before cooking the pieces of hare, rinse and cook for 10 minutes in a saucepan without water with a lid to let out all the liquid absorbed during the marinade. At this point you can start to prepare a mince with your vegetables and you can brown the hare with a mixture in a saucepan with a generous amount of oil. Once browned, take the bites of hare and drain them from the oat and add a pinch of flour and add water gradually to cook the hare over a low flame. In the meantime, prepare the cake by putting the raisins, pine nuts, chocolate, candied fruit, sugar and vinegar in a glass. At the end of cooking, when the hare seems almost ready, pour the glass and boil the sauce until it is incorporated into the saw and into pieces of meat. Serve hot and enjoy!
Capalbio e Il Frantoio
If you want to spend glittering days at the seashore but quiet nights in a history-stuffed town, discover Capalbio!! The town sponsors music and art events all summer long and it’s really close to the Tarot Garden; Do you remember? Go see one of Tourcrafters’ latest photoblogs.
A group of literati open Il Frantoio in 1996. The restaurant-cum-art gallery features a tree-shaded garden and the talents of Chef Popa Aurica, who hails from Romania.
After 20 years in Capalbio, she’s mastered traditional Tuscan cooking: the kneading, rolling, cutting, stuffing, spicing, and stirring.
Her story shows that learning to cook locally is not about borders or languages or nationalities; it’s all about the dance of your fingers in the kitchen.
Acquacotta soup from Maremma
A rustic vegetable soup crowned with egg – comfort food for a fall or winter eve- this dish (litterally: “cooked water”) originated in the Maremma, an area between Siena and the Tuscan coast that was once both isolated and poor.
Acquacotta – The Recipe
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients for 4 people:
800 g di cultivated chicory (or country wild chicory, already blanched)
700 g potatoes
200 g cherry fresh tomatoes (or canned tomatoes)
4 slices of sourdough stale bread
1 clove of garlic
extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
Wash the leaves of the chicory carefully, discarding any yellow or old-looking ones, cut leaves in half. Peels onions and potatoes and cut them into pieces. Put on the fire a pot filled one-third with water with a bit of salt, add the onions, the potatoes, the whole unpeeled cloves of garlic,the fresh nepetella,the hot pepper and the tomatoes. When the water boils, add the chicory, and cook until vegetables are soft but still wholes. Add the eggs into the soups . Toast the bread. To serve: cover the bottom of the serving bowls with toasted stale bread and pour some cooking broth, vegetables and eggs. Sprinkle with good extra-virgin olive oil and if you like spread with grated pecorino cheese.
The wild boar is one of the most common meats in Tuscany, when it comes to game: the tradition combined with the wisdom of the butchers, has allowed to develop a good production of meats; but it is in the kitchen that you can express recipes that enhance it. The boar meat, leaner than that of the pig, lends itself to being cooked roasted or grilled, if properly “fattened” with the addition of lard or bacon, but is used in stewing the most widespread methodology of preparation. The classic way of cooking the wild boar in this way is similar throughout the region, but it is in the Maremma that originates, due to the abundance of wild boars in circulation.
Traveling between Capalbio and Cecina you will pass through the Maremma. The Maremma is a wild land, which lets itself be dominated by the most uncontaminated nature, that of the Mediterranean scrub that inebriates with its scents from the hill to the sea. It is also a land lapped by waters that, with their transparencies, are a metaphor of the purity and authenticity of these areas, where the coast coexists with a hinterland made of unique countries with a very rich past. The Regional Park of the Maremma, 9000 hectares of unchanged spaces where the herds are bred in the wild and the animals live undisturbed in their habitat.
Cecina and Lo Scacciapensieri
Cecina – with a long history dating back to Etruscan times – was a simple fishing village on a big blue bay untili t was discovered by the Summer tourist back in the 1960s.
But even before that, in 1954, the Buonanzia family had opened the doors to their Ristorante Scacciapensieri (literally, “push your worries away”), an eatery specializing in super-fresh seafood. Signora Rossella, current chef, learned how to cook when she married Gianluca Buonanzia, and found herself in front a stove with his mother, whose passion for cooking was contagious and who taught her this: “Don’t ever decide today’s menu until the fishermen have returned from the sea; then you’ll see what the sea has decided.”
Triglie alla Livornese
Proof of free Italian cuisine is: some cooks dredge the mullet; some do not. Some fry, some brake. And some cook it direclty in the tomato sauce, without dredging. Be free! Be Italian!
Triglie alla livornese – The Recipe
Cooking time: 5 minutes
1 kilo of fresh mullet (about eight)
500 grams of peeled tomatoes (Casar variety)
a clove of garlic
parsley and fresh basil
extra virgin olive oil, salt, chilli pepper according to your taste.
In a low and wide pan with high sides, brown the chopped garlic with chilli and a handful of parsley in plenty of oil; add the reduced tomato into pieces with all its creamy juice. Lower the heat and simmer. Meanwhile clean the mullets taking care to cut the side fins and the upper one; remove the scales and clean the belly by removing the entrails, then rinse. Put the mullet in the tomato sauce, add salt. Let the fish cook for 6/7 minutes without turning them, you would risk breaking the meat, very delicate. Turn off, sprinkle with chopped parsley and basil leaves, left to rest with the lid for five minutes. Serve garnished with a generous amount of oil. These delicious mullets go well with potatoes, boiled or baked, and any kind of salad, better if cooked.
Insalata tiepida di mare – warm seafood salad
The freshness of the fish and skill of the cook can make or break this great Tuscan Calssic
Florence and Fiaschetteria Burde
When Fiaschetteria Burde opened its doors in 1901, it was a suburban trattoria with an attached grocery and wine shop right outside Florence. Nowadays, it is a 15 minute drive from the Church of Santa Maria Novella, on the way to the airport.
If you are fond of Tuscan traditional soups, this is the address for your final Ribollita in Florence, one last chance to indulge before you head home. Or order a glass of Chianti and a slice of finocchiona salami at the counter, where Paolo Gori, great-grandson of the founder, will tell you the tale of how the restaurant got its courious name…
Pappa al pomodoro – Tuscan bread soup
Italians would never dream of throwing away stale bread, as it’s a sacred object. Here the way to use up old bread, another old Tuscan soupe recipe.
Carabaccia – Tuscan onion soup
Carabaccia is an ancient and rustic onion soup, culinary ancestor of French onion soup. It was Catherine of Medici, betrothed to France’s Henry II, who carried the soup recipe all the way from her home in Florence across the Alps in 1533.
Ribollita – Tuscan ribollita
A winter soup so hearty your spoon will stand up in it! IT’s also a classic of Tuscan peasant cuisine: cheap, flavour and filling. And the name? It comes from the fact that the soup is brought to a boil a second time (ribollita) after the addition of bread.
Ribollita – The recipe
Cooking time: 2 and a half hours
Ingredients for 4 people:
250 gr of Savoy cabbage
250 gr of black cabbage
150 g of sliced stale Tuscan bread
250 gr of potatoes
200 gr of cherry tomatoes
250 gr of dried beans (to be soaked the night before) or drained canned beans
200 grams of chard
120 gr of leeks
60 gr of celery
60 gr of carrots
100 gr of extra-virgin oil
1 sprig of rosemary
Carefully rinse the beans that you have soaked for 12 hours in cold water, if they are dry, and put them in a large pan. Cover with cold water and cook over low heat for about an hour until they become soft. Otherwise you can use those already cooked in the box, but you will have to drain their liquid and devote to preparing the sauté that will consist of thin slices of leeks, finely chopped carrots and celery, chopped onion and minced and a whole clove of garlic divided in two parts. Still on a low flame, let fry in a separate pan the vegetables so prepared with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, let brown for a few minutes. At this point prepare the other vegetables for cooking: peel the potatoes and cut into cubes, slice the chard eliminating the central coast, cut the tomatoes in half. Subsequently, divide the cabbage into two equal parts, depriving it of the hard central part and slicing the leaves coarsely. In the same way, slice the black cabbage by removing the final part of the leaves and separating the finely sliced ribs. Add the leek to the fried prepared shortly before and let it dry over a gentle fire, taking care to mix it from time to time so that it does not stick to the bottom. After a few minutes you can combine all the other vegetables, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the cooking liquid of the beans. Cook for about 2 hours on low heat adding a little vegetable stock when necessary and until the vegetables inside start to fall apart. Add the beans, still wet with broth and cover with a lid, letting it cook for another hour. When the vegetables are overcooked and the cannellini are reduced to almost cream, you can remove from the heat and transfer to a tureen that you will cover with a film and the lid. Tradition has it that the ribollita is not consumed on the same day of preparation but the next: keep it in the refrigerator for a whole night and the next day transfer it in the same pan used for cooking adding stale bread (even more delicious if toasted) and broth and making ‘boil’ all over low heat for 15 minutes. Perfume with a sprig of rosemary, season with a little oil and serve hot.