What should I buy in Tuscany? What should I bring back home? What should I try during the stay? After a recent, intense discussion on Facebook, I realized that the answers to these questions are not obvious at all, especially for those who first time travel to the land of wine and cypress before departure. Here’s a Tuscan shopping and culinary guidebook. Read, note and pack your suitcases!
Tuscan cuisine and local products are never ending story I don’t want to attempt to discuss it in its entirety. I will tell you about my culinary experiences from this region as well as what to buy and bring back home, also as a gift for loved ones.
What to eat i Tuscany?
The Tuscan cuisine is delicious and very rich. There are heavy, tasty dishes, lot of meat, wild meat, red wine and delicious olive oil. What should you know when you going to a restaurant?
Bistecca alla fiorentina
Canons of Tuscan cuisine and a real treat for carnivores. Beef, bloody Florentine beefsteak from Chianin breed, grown in Tuscany. Meat sliced and grilled with bone, after baking has a thickness of about 4 cm. The portion weighs from 1 kg upwards and I guarantee you that two adults can eat one fiorentina. The dish isn’t cheap. Counted for 100 g, recently (in 2014) I paid 5.50 euros / 100g, in which for a classic steak with weighing circa 1.2 kg you need to spend more than 60 euros. Well it’s worth every spent cent, belive me.
Note! The best version of bistecca alla fiorentina I ate at the pub described in the post, which I link below.
Ribollita is a vegetable soup with beans, cabbage and bread. Dense and very satisfying – traditional Tuscan cuisine.
Pici is a Tuscan special that I loved from the first bite. Thick, long, often hand-made pasta, spaghetti-like length pasta. It’s made from properly combined flour, water and eggs and then formed into long ribbons. Pici often handmade dishes is served at the restaurant with a variety of sauces. In shops you can buy pici packaged in the same way as classic pasta.
© The Rambling Rountrees
Dry, hard and salty Tuscan bread didn’t impress me. If someone claims it’s the best bread in Italy, he didn’t eat the famous bread from Matera and Altamura. But one note. Tuscan bread soaked in delicious olive oil and added in balsamic vinegar, is another fairy tale.
Ravioli con ricotta e spinaci
Ravioli with ricotta and spinach topped with butter isn’t only found in Tuscany, but right here at La Bottega in Voplaia I fell in love with it.
© Ristorante Il Capestrano
Ice cream. Every one know it? Should someone be encouraged? No, but it’s worth talking about. Ice creams in Tuscany are very good, and in a few places you will find out that they are the best ice cream parlor in Florence, Tuscany, Italy and even in the world. I particularly like the Gelateria Vivoli in Florence and the Dondoli in San Gimignano. The Florence ice cream shop really didn’t impress me, and this one at San Gimignano, well, in my opinion Gelateria dell’Olmo next door, also boasting a lot of prizes has must tastier ice creams. But still I would not say that in other parts of Italy you cannot eat ice creams as good. Say what you like, but delicious ice cream can be bought in every region of Italy, what can not be said about pizza, but this is topic for another post.
Ice cream from Vivoli in Florence. Big disappointment.
What to buy in Tuscany?
Crossing the streets in towns and cities you will be led many times by the temptation of numerous shops with local culinary delights. Here is what I recommend to try.
Arezzo. Typical shop with local delicacies. © www.toscana-avventure.pl
Cantucci is a native of Prato in northern Tuscany cookies, due to twice baking are very hard. They usually contain a large amount of chopped almonds and it’s a classic version, but I also encountered the addition of pistachios, hazelnuts, chocolate, orange peel. Of all the cantucci I have eaten, the classic version with almonds is the best. These cookies should be eaten before dipping (and thus softening!) in coffee or vin santo, about it I tell you in a moment. Cantucci you can buy in ready-made packages or sell by weight.
Pecorino is a traditional Tuscan cheese from village of Pienza in Val di Orcia. It’s made from sheep’s milk, very hard, with intense taste and smell. It can be purchased in various versions, depending on the time of ripening (minimum 90 days) and the ripening environment, eg ripening in ash. In addition, Pecorino can be without additives or with additives such as truffles. At this point it’s worth to add that most grocery stores, especially those in tourist destinations, offer free vacuum packaging to keep the freshness of purchased food. I was buying pecorino from ash. From packing to arriving home it was 10 days and with cheese everything was fine.
Pecorino in ash, Montepulciano.
Long ripened ham, dried at least a year, with a very distinct taste.
Most delicate, literally melting in your mouth white curd, made from sheep’s milk, not salted, often used as a base for sweet creams, such as Sicily for cannoli. Ricotta is not a regional product, but due to my admiration for this cheese it could not be lacking in this post. Warning! Not every ricotta is ricotta fresca, that is fresh and soft. There are ricotts hard, salted or soft but not fresh. Although in discounts you can buy such ricotta, only pay attention to the expiry date. A real ricotta fresca is useful for consumption about three days after manufacture and only if stored in a fridge.
Olive oil is a very broad topic. Does Tuscan oil is the best? It’s a matter of taste. Tuscan olive oil is great, it’s true, though I inclined towards to oil from the Basilicata, equally tasty and much cheaper. It’s also believed that the best oil comes from Apulia. The olive oil, like the wine, in Tuscany can be tasted, which is a big advantage. Therefore, don’t be ashamed to ask before buying a portion to taste with a slice of bread.
I love salami and I buy them in every region of Italy. Tuscany is exceptionally tasty, ideally suited to travel to Poland, and moreover, if you want to buy original Italian salami in Poland you have to pay double, so I recommend to make a small reserve while traveling.
I love such views! And this smell.
A short guide to Tuscan wine
Tuscany is the region of Italy with the richest tradition of making and drinking wine. Depending on the grape varieties, the proportion of their blending, the area of wine production, the vineyards in which they are produced, the color and serve (meat, dessert, fish etc.) are countless, depending on the grape varieties a detailed discussion of this subject is the material at least for the book. So how to get caught in a Tuscan winery? Remember the five below mentioned names, and you will be fine.
May 2013 My first tasting Brunello di Montalcino, which nomen omen took place in Montepulciano. I can pass such opportunity
The most famous wine of all Tuscany. Red, dry and heavy. The name Chianti probably knows everyone who likes to occasionally reach for a glass of red wine, but beware. Win called Chianti you will find a lot, but genuine, original wine from the vine grown and processed in the Chianti area (between Florence, Siena and Arezzo) is called Chianti Classico, marked with a black rooster logo and protected by the place of origin.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Red and heavy, coming from the town of Montepulciano and its surroundings.
Brunello di Montalcino
Czerwone i ciężkie, pochodzące z miasteczka Montalcino i jego okolic. Jest to wino produkowane w stosunkowo niewielkich ilościach, bardzo dobre jakościowo, a przez to drogie.
Red and heavy, coming from the town of Montalcino and its surroundings. It’s a wine produced in relatively small quantities, very good quality and therefore expensive. I recommend it!
Vernaccia di San Gimignano
White and delicate wine from the town of San Gimignano and its surrounding area. I recommend it!
Exquisite, white and very sweet dessert wine. Expensive, available usually in 0.5 l bottles. Often served with dessert along with cantuccini.
What should I bring back home from Tuscany?
The answer is: everything, which will allow you the volume of your luggage, the thickness of your wallet and the possible possession of the fridge. What will I bring? Pici, cantuccini and wine are the basis of my Tuscan shopping. Pici loves even my dad, who – to put it mildly – is very resistant to all the novelty and culinary experiments. Cantuccini with almonds is my mother’s little obsession, while wine is an extremely desirable gift for my sister. Interestingly, my sister has suffered severe migraines for many years and has noticed that the symptoms are getting worse with white wine. But not Tuscan! The white wine I buy in Tuscany, not in the supermarket, but in the vineyard, is the only one that she can drink without fear of another migraine. What else I buy? I love salami and the Tuscan tastes special for me it’s good and hassle-free in transport. Much bigger problem is with fresh ricotta. I allow myself only when I’m traveling by car from or through Tuscany straight home. The cheese is obviously traveling in a car fridge. But that’s not all. In 2013 we also brought from Tuscany also cuttings, including rose. Listen, how the flower smells! In May, in gardening shops there’s a shade of rose plants in full bloom. If you have garden and you are traveling by car, I highly recommend it to buy.
Planning to visit Tuscany for the first time? Read!
If your first trip to Tuscany is just ahead of you, I recommend my posts:
For sharing the main photo thank you © www.toscana-avventure.pl
If you have any questions, please, ask them in the comments on this post, I will try to answer each and advise. I’ll be happy to read your experiences, go ahead and share the information, I’m sure it will help those who just planning to go there 😉
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