Here’s how to take in the Tuscan country side through markets, cooking, and eating.
We’ve all dreamed of exploring the Tuscan countryside and taking in as much of the rustic food as we possible can. For a launching point with great resources, let’s start the adventure at Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort and Spa.
Only about an hour from Florence and Pisa and sitting on a breathtaking hill overlooking the Serchio Valley, the resort has a stunning wine and culinary program that brings guests in touch with local producers and flavors. Not only are visitors able to eat the best of Tuscany, but they can cook the authentic flavors as well.
Go to the Market
Often our favorite places to visit in a new city or country is the local markets. This atmosphere gives visitors a great picture of the food scene of the city and what the locals love, not just what a travel guide says you should do. Talk to producers and customers at markets to get the lowdown on what’s in season, who to buy from, and traditional dishes to try. At the Renaissance Tuscany, you can take a guide with you on your trip to the local market to help point you in the right direction. Some favorite specialties one would find this time of year include, dried chestnuts, traditional Tuscan potato bread, local “Bazzone” ham, unique beans, homemade holiday cookies, and even wine from Garfagnana Valley. Fill up on ingredients to take back to the property and experiment with in the kitchen.
Grab Your Aprons
With Tuscan ingredients in hand, it’s time to don your aprons and get cooking. While sipping on local wines, get your hands dirty and jump in for a cooking experience like no other. The Renaissance provides guests with a professional kitchen to work in and a native chef of the region to guide your way. Learn traditional dishes of Tuscany, like gnoccheti, see below for the recipe, fresh pastas and salads.
Once your cooking lesson and experiencing is complete it’s time to sit back and relax. Enjoy the three-course meal you created while taking in the stunning Tuscany views. Now you can return home knowing not only how to prepare true Tuscan food, but more about the ingredients that make it simply delicious. Buon appetito!
Christmas in Tuscany
Although most travelers think of Tuscany in the warmer months, winter is a perfect time to enjoy the quiet region. Around the holidays, travelers can enjoy a traditional Christmas meal complete with veal, ox, pasta, chestnut cakes, and the iconic Penettone or Pandoro. At the Renaissance, guests have the opportunity to enjoy a typical Italian Christmas lunch. It is a true feast!
A favorite recipe of the Tuscan chefs at Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa is gnocchetti di farina di farro con salsa alla selvaggina. Made with spelt flour, these potato dumplings are served in a rich game sauce.
- 1kg (2.2 pounds) of potatoes
- 300 gr (10.5 ounces) of spelt flour
- 1 egg
- Salt, to taste
- 250 gr (8.8 ounces or half of a pound) of wild boar meat
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery
- 1 onion
- Bay leaf
- juniper berries
- 1 lt. of red wine
- Oil salt and pepper
- Wash the potatoes and cook them with the skin on. Once cooked mash them, mixing them together with the flour adding the egg and salt.
- With the dough, roll to make long strands and cut them in dumplings shape. About one inch long.
- hours before serving, put wild boar in a bowl with red wine, some juniper berries, celery, carrots and onion to marinate.
- Once marinated fry in a pan the wild boar meat and all the vegetables adding extra virgin olive oil
- Cook for about 20 minutes then add the wine from the marinade and add a tablespoon of tomato sauce. If necessary, add a bit of vegetable broth to finish cooking.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Once cooked, mince the meat with a knife.
- Cook the gnocchi in salted, boiling water until tender (this will only take a few minutes) and toss with the sauce of wild boar with a spring of rosemary to scent.
Mandatory family outings to the Detroit farmers' market and nightly home-cooked meals cultivated Annelise's respect and curiosity for food. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, she spends her free time in New York City recipe testing, eating breakfast all day, and dreaming up international culinary adventures.