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A Tour of Italy in the Kitchen, Part 14: Tuscany

Carmelo's Ristorante Italiano | Tuscany

One of the most popular regions in Italy, Tuscany stretches from the Appennines to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its landscape combines colorful rolling hills, ancient villas, mountains, many rivers and seven islands. Many well known cities are also located here: Florence, Pisa, Siena, Lucca, Arezzo and Livorno.

The most important thing to do when enjoying a Tuscan meal is to slow down. In Tuscany, food is meant to be savored and there is no such thing as “fast-food”.

Tuscan cooking leaves out the heavy sauces found in other regions in favor of simplicity. Olive oil is often the star of the show, and it is used generously for cooking, dressing salad, dipping bread, and flavoring soups. No Tuscan kitchen is complete without sage, rosemary, thyme, chestnuts, pecorino cheese, beans, prosciutto, and bread. Vegetarians will feel right at home here as many dishes center on vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, fennel, peas, and wild mushrooms.

Many locally produced wines complement the Tuscan cuisine the most famous of which is Chianti. Other local wines include Brunello di Montalcino, a matured red wine, Aleatico dell’Elba, a sweet red wine, and Vin Santo, a white dessert wine.That said, Tuscany is equally well known for its bistecca all fiorentina, a thickly cut steak cooked over coals and flavored with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Other meat dishes include duck, rabbit, wild boar and tripe. Pecorino cheese, made from sheep’s milk, is the most prevalent.

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