Dear traveller friends,
Today I’m not going to write about someplace to visit, but about something tastier, that deserves to be remembered.
As you may have understood, I’m going to talk about Tuscan cuisine, a perfect mixture of plates from the typical poor kitchen and some refined and expensive products.
Among the various courses, the starters are probably less varied than the other categories of plates. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll have problems to find something delicious.
Starters you’re sure to find almost in every restaurant are cold cuts and cheeses. Tuscan cold cuts are famous, delicious, and more difficult to find in other parts of Italy. The most peculiar, those you don’t want to miss are:
- the finocchiona, made with pork meat and fennel seeds.
- the soppressata, made with parts of the pork’s head.
- the lard of Colonnata, made with spices inside specific marble containers.
On the famous Tuscan cutting boards, cheeses as well represented as cold cutters. The most famous of all is pecorino. You can find several varieties of Tuscan pecorino cheese, among which you have undoubtedly heard about Pienza Pecorino. However, there are many types of pecorino: aromatized with wine, truffle, olives, etc.
Another starter you have to try is the “crostoni”, slices of toasted Tuscan bread with various dressings. The typical most common crostone is with tomato, but you can also find it with liver pate and venison pate.
Something you need to know about Tuscan bread is that the traditional bread is prepared without salt, that’s why it’s perfect to accompany tasty dishes. However, if you try it alone, you may find it tasteless.
The first courses can be divided into two groups: soups and pasta.
The most famous Tuscan soups are:
- – the ribollita, a soup made of bread and vegetables, especially cabbage.
- the pappa al pomodoro, a soup made of bread, tomato and garlic.
- the acquacotta, a soup of bread, vegetables and often a more substantial food like an egg.
- the caciucco, the fish soup typical of Livorno.
In general, in Tuscan restaurants, you’ll find long pasta, like spaghetti just to make myself clear. The most famous Tuscan pasta are pici, bringoli, pappardelle and ciriole. Pasta is usually dressed with venison meat sauce (especially boar’s ragù) or cheese and pepper (“cacio e pepe”). Obviously, on the coast, the venison meat is replaced by seafood.
Another typical first course is filled pasta. It’s less common than long pasta, but it’s delicious nonetheless. You can try the gnudi, small gnocchi made with spinach and ricotta, and the pannicelli, a sort of ravioli with ricotta and spinach too.
It’s now time for the second courses, where the absolute king is beef.
Tuscany can boast two famous breeds of cattle, the Chianina and the Maremmana.
The undisputed speciality is the Fiorentina, a t-bone steak of about one kilo. Don’t ask for it well cooked. Even assuming they agree to serve it well done, the risk is eating a steak as tough as a shoe sole. The true Fiorentina is rare or medium-rare.
Another dish you can taste while in Tuscany is the peposo, a stew abundantly flavoured with pepper.
Besides the prime cuts of beef, you can also try poor dishes made with cuts less noble but tasty nonetheless. The more renowned are the trippa and the lampredotto.
Venison is not only used for starters and first courses, but also in second courses. In fact, you can often find venison stews, mainly made of boar.
Tuscan deserts aren’t among the most renowned and showy in Italian confectionery. The specialities, in fact, are dry cakes and biscuits.
Among the cakes, the most famous are the castagnaccio, made with chestnuts, and the zuccotto, prepared with sponge cake and ice cream.
There are several kinds of delicious biscuits in Tuscany. Indeed, you can’t leave the area without tasting the typical cookie, the cantucci, the cavallucci and the brigidini.
Our overview of Tuscan cuisine can’t be complete without a few words about wine. Tuscany is, in fact, one of the most important producers of Italian wine, both for quantity and quality.
This region can boast 11 DOCG and 39 DOC wines. Among these, the most renowned are red wines such as Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Nobile di Montepulciano.
Among the white wines, the most famous is the Vernaccia of San Gimignano.
With wine, we conclude our overview. Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive, and several delicious plates couldn’t find space in this post. If you have suggestions about dishes I might add, write it in the comments!
I hope you enjoyed this post. I’ll see you at our next destination!