THANK YOU.… [more]
I adored absorbing this holiday in Tuscany, courtesy of DaVinci Wines. Each of the Storytellers experienced the food, wine, people and tours through a different lens. My lens is ‘Culinary Arts’; I am a Seattle-based cooking instructor, urban farmer and food blogger (Talk of Tomatoes). Piles of recipes with photos are how I hope to extend this experience—and the spirit of DaVinci Wines—with each of you.
Dolci.… [more] Dessert in Tuscany is often a simple cake, a fruit tart or cookies. Chocolate shows up too, but my experience with dessert is beverage-forward: Grappa or Vin Santo (sweet white wine) and always espresso. Once you have the drink down and are wholly satiated on the aforementioned multi-course meal, dessert is more of an excuse to stretch time and good conversation than showcasing multi-tiered dessert cakes or layers of
Contorni.… [more] Meals are often accompanied by a plate of tenderly cooked garbanzo or cannellini beans, a dish of sautéed-with-garlic spinach or grilled mixed vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and asparagus are common). At nearly every meal, we enjoyed a plate of cannellini beans, perfectly cooked then seasoned with the best-quality olive oil and liberal grinds of salt and pepper. I tried my hand at making this white-bean side—and now you can
Secondi.… [more] The second coarse is the main coarse of the meal: the protein climax. This is where you pull out the big forks and knives to dive into wild boar stew, tuna steaks, and fish or sausage nestled in a bed of cannellini beans with garlicky tomato sauce. This was when we were already happily stuffed to the gills with big samplings of salami and pecorino, chicken liver pate, a
Primi.… [more] The ‘first course’ is generally a starch. Italians spread out their courses, so no two things go on a plate. Contorni are the sides, salad is separate and pasta stands alone. No piling multiple things—in Italy each course is deserving of its own plate. The Primi coarse includes everything from pasta (with ragu, seafood or just garlic and oil) to risottos, polenta, gnocchi and gnudi. Gnocchi are olive-size potato
Zuppa e Insalata.… [more] The soup and salad course is not to be missed: salads are home to seasonal greens plus seafood and all the trimmings—or simply lettuces with high quality olive oil, salt and pepper. A quintessential soup of Tuscany—and born out of a peasant’s kitchen—is called ribollita. Ribollita can take on many forms, from thin and broth-like to thick like stew. Its signature ingredients include day old bread, cavalo
To fully embrace the Montalbano… [more] region (of Chianti): buy some DaVinci Chianti (Trader Joe’s carries it—and many others), then make some of these recipes. And don’t worry if you aren’t used to zucchini flowers, haven’t cooked with rabbit and can’t find wild boar: I’ve got you covered. You can substitute beef for boar, zucchini flowers are easier than you think, and to Italians: eating rabbit is as normal
TUSCAN FOOD.… [more]
‘Localvore’ may be a term we use in other parts of the world; in Italy eating local is SO normal, applying the term ‘localvore’ would be both useless and redundant. Each region of Italy has its specialties—or shall I say vehement preferences? In Tuscany you eat Pecorino, Parmesan hails from the Emiglio Romagno region and Mozzarella di Bufala is further south than you realize. When we first arrived
CHIANTI WINES.… [more]
Chianti wines aren’t as simple to understand and appreciate as you might imagine (unless: you are in that moment when wine is swirling around your tongue). In fact the Chianti region of Tuscany is broken into 8 smaller regions, each with their own set of standards and requirements for making Chianti. Each region is intimate with its micro-climate, wine-makers, multi-generational growers, old traditions and new technology.
This July, I was asked to be one of four Storytellers for DaVinci Wine. We traveled for a week to Tuscany, with the small town of Vinci as our home-base. A glorious villa nestled above countless vineyards was the perfect setting to soak up the wine, food, people and culture of the Montalbano region of Chianti. Besides writing posts each day during our visit—Days 1, 2, 3… [more],