|Yours truly enjoying a beautiful glass of Brunello.|
Some better than others (like the Brunello di Montalcino, Poggio Castagno that I'm having in above photo; or any other Brunello!), and truly have loved experimenting, sampling and discovering and enjoying each one for their uniqueness.
I ordered the Montalcino Rosso while we were in Moltalcino to go with my Chianina Beef Carpacchio. More on that in a minute, but first the vino.
The Brunello won hands down! But the Rosso is still very delicious.
Although I love to cook I am not really, in the traditional sense, a food expert or chef. I am not classically or technically trained, but I do both cook and eat a lot, so maybe I am qualified! I haven't enjoyed food more on any trip than I have in Tuscany; especially the small villages we have visited, and I have also loved cooking in our little villa. Here's my Tuscan cucina:
And here's the view from my kitchen window:
The first night we arrived in Italy we stayed in Florence (not a small village ;-@!) and on our first night out to dinner I had to try this special Italian beef I had heard about. I had it Carpacchio style-one of my favorites. The raw beef was served on a huge bed of Rucola (Rocket salad--also one of my favorite bitter greens that you don't see that often in the U. S.). The salad was dressed simply with olive oil, salt and pepper. The Chianina was topped with large very thin slices of pecorino cheese, salt and pepper. I had this with a half bottle of Rosso Montalcino. Great introduction to this very special beef and very special vino...and great first night in Italy!
I first learned about Chianina beef from my friend, rancher Duncan Blair (www.riosantacruzgrassfedbeef.com), who is a passionate producer of organic, humanely raised grass-fed beef; just like these critters. There are no feed lots in Italy! This is considered to be the finest beef. They call it, "The Queen of Beef". These cattle have a long and interesting history dating back to Estruscan times 3000 years ago. The meat is extremely tender, succulent and almost sweet. The cooked version, Bistecca Fiorentino, is very lightly grilled, always served rare, and has a taste and texture unmatched to any beef I've ever eaten.
|I know this does not look that pretty, but you have to believe me that pork belly fat melting over a perfectly grilled steak was heaven.|
I know most (normal) people would not have ordered their Chianina steak topped with pork fat, but when I saw that on the menu I couldn't say NO (other choices included rosemary or mushroom; I chose the fat.). This is Chianina beef, but because there is no bone-in and it is not 3 inches thick, it is not Bistecca Fiorentino. It' called Tagliatta Steak. The big meat was on the menu, but only at the 4 pound size for 40€, which is not a bad price, but what was I going to do with all that meat? We had just grocery shopped in the morning so I had the next couple nights dinners planned. I went for the boneless Chianina, which was not a disappointment.
I had this with a Capresse salad, which was also spectacular.
This meal could not have been better! On to another favorite Italian meat...
PORK AND WILD BOAR
Pork and wild boar play a greater role in Tuscan cooking than I realized.
|We found this meat shop in Pienza. That's one large piece of pork!|
|This man was very pleased to tell us he shot the boar hanging above him.|
I ordered Cinghaile al Tegame at a little restaurant in Montepulciano. With it I had a glass of Valdichiana Bianco and a tomato and lettuce salad. Since tegame means "pan fried" or "pan-ful" I am guessing this boar was browned in a pan and then braised, as it was tender and luscious; sauce was rich and herbaceous.
Here are two more pork dishes I want to share with you...
FICCO DI MAILE ALLE ERBE AROMATICHE; literally translated means Bow Pig with aromatic herbs. I tried, but could not discover what bow (ficco) pork (maile) is, but the pork was beautifully cooked--very moist, tender, and flavorful. It was thinly sliced, doused with a fragrant olive oil and served with a mixture of finely ground herbs made into a pesto (paste) and topped with fresh sage and rosemary, whole peppercorns and black flaked sea salt--one of the best dishes I have had yet!
The other night at the restaurant right beside our villa in Castiglione D'Orcia, I tried Pork Neck.
|La Cisterna nel Borgo-The cistern in the village.|
|Here's the main well in our village.|
I will conclude today's Food and Wine story with some miscellaneous shots of both. Let me say, a day has not gone by that I have not eaten pasta, at least once. Several times that included cooking and eating it at "home". The pasta is all fresh and homemade. Yesterday I made my own pasta in a cooking class my husband and I had with Chef Marta from the restaurant next door.
TUSCANY IS A FOOD LOVERS PARADISE!
THANKS FOR TUNING IN AGAIN
FOR ANOTHER EPISODE OF:
|Panna Cotta with Olives and Reduced Red Wine At Trattoria Il Cassero di Claudio e Maria in Castiglione D'Orcia.|
|Ice cold tomato soup with Buffalo Burata at Il Dopolavoro La Foce. Kind of like gazpacho, but better!|
|Another beautiful Brunello di Montalcino enjoyed in my own backyard.|
|Rabbitt Terrine-rabbit stuffed with rabbit pate at Osteria Estrusca in Chuisi.|
|Almond Biscotti and Sweet Wine at the same restaurant in Chuisi.|
|Cheese shop in Pienza--home of Pecorino.|
|Strawberry Cheesecake in Assisi.|