January 19th , 2010 → 5:42 am @ admin


Each of the Italian regions has its own unique cuisine, all influenced by the various climates.  A look at the Tuscan countryside reveals some of the key ingredients in local cooking: olive groves, forests of chestnut trees, terraced hillsides of grape vines, and fragrant rosemary and sage bushes in gardens everywhere.

Tuscan cooking is simple and seasonal, without the heavy sauces found in other regions.  Tuscans use olive oil generously for cooking, dressing salads, dipping bread, and flavoring soups.  In addition to olive oil, no Tuscan pantry is complete without sage, rosemary, thyme, chestnuts, pecorino cheese, beans, prosciutto, and bread.

Vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, fennel, peas, and wild mushrooms, feature in Tuscan cuisine, and the porcini mushroom is a staple in this part of northern Tuscany, featured in antipasti, pasta, and meat dishes.  Tuscany is also known for its simple meat dishes, such as Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a thickly cut steak cooked over coals and flavoured with only olive oil and salt, and Arista alla Fiorentina, roast pork loin with garlic and rosemary.  Wild game is also popular in Tuscany, and in this area, wild boar, rabbit, and duck feature widely.  Cheese is popular, and various types of  pecorino, made from sheep’s milk, are used in many dishes of the region.

Tuscans prefer simple country dishes. Specialities include bean-based dishes, such as Ribollita (a hearty soup with Tuscan white canellini beans), Fagioli Infiascati (beans simmered in an empty Chianti bottle over charcoal), Fagioli all’uccelletto (beans seasoned with tomatoes, garlic, and sage), and Classic Tuscan Minestrone soup with borlotti beans; bread-based dishes such as Bruschetta (grilled bread rubbed with garlic and olive oil), Panzanella (bread salad with tomatoes and basil), and Pappa al Pomodoro (deeply flavored tomato soup thickened with bread); and Pasta dishes such as Ragù Toscana (pasta with a hearty beef sauce) and Pappardelle a sugo di lepre (wide, flat pasta with a sauce made of braised hare).

Tuscan desserts also rely on the simplest of ingredients that, when combined, produce surprisingly rich results.  A favourite is Siena’s panforte, which means “strong bread.”  This round, dense cake, enjoyed year round but particularly popular during Christmas, is flavoured with almonds, candied fruit, honey, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

Casa Lucia is close to the border of the province of Liguria.  The food of Liguria is representative of the areas unique climate, with abundant use of garlic and olive oil.  The most famous food from Liguria is its basil Pesto sauce, served with either Trofie (favoured in Cinque Terre) or Trenette (favoured in Genoa) pasta.  Wheat, chickpeas and chestnuts are all used to make flour for both breads and pastas.  Seafood plays a large role in the local diet with fresh-caught anchovies being a favorite antipasti or main dish. Swordfish, Tuna, Sardines, and Sea Bass are also popular fish.  Rabbit and Veal are found in popular meat dishes, including Tomaxelle (Veal rolls) and Coniglio in Umbido (Rabbit stew).  Ligurian desserts include Pandolce Genovese, a sweet bread made with candied fruit, raisins and nuts, and sweet pizzas made with walnuts, chestnuts and candied fruit.

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