Tuscan cuisine is renowned throughout the world and travellers universally comment on the enjoyment of experiencing simple menus in rustic restaurants in the most unexpected settings.
The backdrop of spectacular hilltop towns, historic cities and breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, makes any foodie experience all the more memorable.
Tuscan menus are based on excellent olive oils and the finest of ingredients. Mouth-watering, spicy salamis, fresh fish, cheeses, hams and filling pulses.
The specialities on menus in Tuscany will vary from one village or town to the next, but this is an element that makes the region so exciting to discover.
A meal will often start with an appetiser such as crostini (small pieces of grilled or toasted bread, topped with pastes made from olives, tomatoes or liver). To follow you may be offered ribollita (a Tuscan soup with the main ingredient of leftover bread and also including beans and vegetables.
Traditionally, Tuscans were hunters and meat dishes are often served alla cacciatore (in the way of the hunter). These are simple tasty roasts in rich tomato sauces with garlic and olives. In the correct season wild boar and game birds are also popular. Probably one of the most famous Tuscan dishes is bistecca all fiorentina, steak grilled over charcoal. You can also enjoy pollo alla diavola (grilled marinated chicken) or arista (pork loin with aromatic and flavoursome garlic and rosemary ).
Should you have room for dessert there may well be zuccotto (sponge cake with cream and chocolate) or the spicy cake of nuts and candied fruit from Sienna, panforte.It’s very common for a menu to also offer cantucci (small almond biscuits, traditionally served with Vino Santo in which to dip them) Vino Santo or Holy Wine is a famous semi-sweet dessert wine.
Probably the most well-known wine from Tuscany outside of Italy, is Chianti. A wine often described as being of infinite variety and not always reliable quality. You could try the Brunello di Montalcino or Rosso di Montalcino. If you are looking for a magnificent red wine to accompany your Tuscan meat, the writer’s favourite would be Nobile de Montepulciano. So favourite in fact, that an Imperial bottle of the nectar travelled on the back of a bicycle around the area and still remained most drinkable on returning home.