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Tuscan cooking, legendary for its sobriety, is based on salads, legumes, cereals, and meat. It prefers oil rather than lard, and soups rather than pasta. The basic food is bread and the main drink is wine, which gives colour to every glass. In Tuscany the bread is insipid. Dante Alighieri in his " Commedia" (Paradise) referred to this characteristic: "You will try how salted is other people's bread". Bread without salt, then, white and perfect foil of tasteful Sienese seasoned meats.

Here are some examples of the dishes we have rediscovered for you:


APPETIZERS

CIBREO DE' MEDICI
Cibreo is a delicate fricassee of chicken liver and giblets. It is a wonderful dish dating from the Renaissance, whose name comes from the Latin "cibus regis" (king's food); originally it was served at the beginning of important banquets. Chronicles of that time tells that Caterina dei Medici was so fond of cibrèo that on the occasion of her thirtieth birthday, in April 1549, she risked dying due to an indigestion from it.

TUSCAN CROSTINI
In Tuscany appetizers are always eaten at the beginning of every lunch or dinner on public holidays and they are so many and so good that they may replace a whole meal. A real Tuscan appetizer is not representative without crostini - sliced home-made bread grilled and covered with different topping (chicken liver sauce, lard of Colonnata cream, crumbled "finocchiona") or with a simple dressing of good olive oil, salt ("fettunta") and garlic ("bruschetta"). How to forget sausages, Tuscan salami, ham and other tasteful seasoned meats such as " spalla", "soprassata", "rigatino" (streaky bacon), "gota" (pig jowl) and "finocchiona" …


GUINEA HEN SALAD IN VINEGAR WITH SUGAR
Plinius, in his History of Animals, describes guinea hen as "a specie of African hens, hunchbacked and with a multi-coloured plumage", and he reminds of the link between this specie and Meleagro, Eneo's son. According to Greek mythology, in fact, on Melegro's death his sisters were so overwhelmed by sorrow that they followed him in his tomb. Diana, however, wanted to make this brotherly love eternal and she gave these hens eternal life transforming them into the Faraons's hens or Meleagridi (this is how Aristotele calls them). Their plumage is spotted since it recalls the tears poured by the girls in memory of their dead brother.

BEEF SALAD PICKLED WITH CHIANTI
Pickling is an ancient cooking technique used to flavour meat with spices, dressing, wine, oil vinegar and, at the same time, to help it ripening .

SPELT SALAD WITH "GOTA" AND ORANGE PEEL
Passing through different quotations of Omer's poems and other works by the Greek scholars and philosophers, we can find spelt as a basic ingredient in the Roman culture. In fact spelt was used in several pagan rites and, as a food rich in proteins, it was the basic element in the diet of the Roman legions. Today spelt is widely cultivated in Tuscany, meeting perfectly with the idea of organic agriculture. Actually its characteristics make it stronger than all infesting weeds, and therefore an excellent product is obtained with no chemicals .

SALAD OF "DOLICHOS LABLABS", RICE AND BLACK CABBAGE
"Dolichos lablabs" (or hyacinth beans) are the only beans in the Mediterranean area before the discovery of America: they were the beans used by the Greeks and the Romans who imported them from Western Asia and Africa. The Etruscans considered "Dolichos lablabs" a sacred food reserved for priests. Black cabbage, together with oil and bread, is the main ingredient of the Tuscan cooking, and in 1999 it was included by the Italian State in the list of the Traditional Italian Product.

OLIO DEI PRUNETI
Olio dei Pruneti is an extra-virgin olive oil obtained from the fruits of five different olive-trees varieties ( Moraiolo, Correggiolo, Frantoio, Leccino e Pendolino). The harvest lasts 40 days and the olives are picked at different stages of ripening and in different - even if close - areas. The olives are picked by hand and crashed within 24 hours by a mechanical mill under a temperature controlled system below 25° C. We suggest to taste 4 different oils:
- D.O.P. Chianti Classico (fresh and intense aroma, with marked notes of fresh grass. A perfect seasoning for pasta, vegetables and fish).
- Tradizione Pruneti (fruity aroma, intense notes of ripe fruit, piquant on the palate. The ideal seasoning for legumes, red meat and game)
- Leccino variety (intense aroma of fresh vegetables, very delicate nut notes. Best foil for cooked fish, white meat, and cheeses).
Moraiolo variety: (fresh and intense aroma, delicate and rather sweet notes on the palate, piquant aftertaste. Better enjoyed with fresh cheese, white meat and sweetish vegetables).

FIRST COURSES

RIBOLLITA SOUP
Bread has always played a fundamental role in the diet of the people. During the Middle Age it was often the only base in the food of the poor. On the rich people's table, after the pomp of the Roman culture, the taste for refinement declined: in big banquets crockery was not so used anymore; there were only a few dishes and they were reserved for the most important guests. For the others the "dish" consisted of a big and large slice of bread on which all the courses were served. At the end of the meal, this bread, soaked with the seasoning of the different courses, was given to the servants or thrown to the people. They brought the bread at home and put it in the pot on the fire together with vegetables and few legumes, to obtain a hot and tasteful soup, "ribollita", re-boiled day by day.

RICE WITH PIG JOWL AND RED LENTILS
(the so-called Friars' rice) The Friars of the Tau congregation at Altopascio Abbey offered this soup to the pilgrims travelling along Via Francigena. Rice was considered by the Roman culture a cereal which was not suitable for human feeding, but rather a medicinal product which was prescribed by medical men to their richest patients as a decoction to cure body diseases. Only in the Middle Ages it became an important ingredient in the preparation of soups. Red lentils are probably as old as man: there are traces of them in Mesopotamia in the seventh century B.C. It was always considered "the meat of the poor", and it was one of the legumes which contributed to the rebirth and repopulation of Europe after medieval famines and epidemics .

TIMBALE OF CUTTLEFISH IN "ZIMINO" AROMATIC SAUCE
"Inzimino" in Tuscany means "cooked with herbs" (coming from the Arabian word "samin", which means sauce with herbs).

TIMBALE OF AUBERGINES AND "RICOTTA" WITH TOMATO SAUCE
The discovery of America brought new ingredients and gave the possibility of making new combinations. Tomato, at first, was considered an exotic ornamental plant, but it had quick success, together with pepper, in the common people's cooking. No doubt, since the early eighteenth century, the most widespread and valuable use of tomato in cooking has been as a seasoning for pasta. The origins of "timbale" are very ancient: Apicius was the first one to document the existence of a mixture very similar to our pasta, in his treaty "De re coquinaria" (230 A.C.). In fact he described a timbale closed in a stripe of thin dough made of flour and water.

STRACCETTI DI PASTA WITH WILD BOAR BITTER-SWEET RAGU '
Cicero and Horace, 100 years before Christ, wrote about làgana (a word coming from the Greek laganoz and the Latin làganum which refers to a thin stripe of dough made of flour and water from which our Lasagne take their origin). Besides mere literary books, the first recipe of a dressing for pasta dates back to a 1705 hand-book, "Il Panunto Toscano" by the Jesuit Francesco Guadentio, where tomato is also mentioned for the first time as an ingredient for our tables. The "bitter-sweet" dates back to sixteenth-century Siena; chocolate, at first replaced by honey, was the last ingredient to be used to prepare it.

PICI (hand-made thick spaghetti) WITH MINT PESTO SAUCE
Traditional Pici are the most simple thing you can imagine: thick spaghetti made of flour and water. This ancient dish of the rural tradition soon reached the tables of the higher classes and then entered the tradition of the greatest Sienese cuisine. One of the dressing for this dish of "thick strings" was something similar to a pesto sauce made of fresh leaves of mint, ripe pecorino cheese, walnuts, garlic, olive oil and salt - all simple natural ingredients.

 

SECOND COURSES

DUCK BREST A L’ORANGE AND CAULIFLOWER PUDDING
Duck brest à l’orange was the "paparo al melarancio", the one which flew from Siena to Florence and from there to France, coming back with a richer but less tasty dressing and a new exotic name "canard à l'orange". Actually this dish, "Paparo al Melarancio", enriched the tables of the Tuscan nobles during the Renaissance when Caterina de’ Medici got married to Henry II King of France. The king was followed by more than 40 cooks coming from Siena and Florence who taught the kitchen staff how to prepare crêpes, balsamella, besciamel, ice-cream, bignet, soupe à l’oignon and other tasty things.

DRIED COD WITH ROSEMARY AND BLACK CHICK-PEAS
The Pope Pio V Piccolomini (born in Siena and founder of the town of Pienza) introduced baccalà (cod preserved in salt) and stockfish (cod dried in the sun as a stock or on a stock) in the traditional Tuscan cuisine. Its Italian name derives from " Stock " and "Fisch", a type of fish coming from Scandinavia and commercialized by the German peoples). Baccalà was also eaten raw with some grape especially during the grape harvest.

"FIORENTINA" T-BONE STEAK
The cut of the steak called "fiorentina" is characterised by its thickness and by the characteristic central t-bone left between its sirloins. The attitude of cooking it very shortly and keeping it very rare takes its origin from the Etruscan attitude of reading the omen of the future in the blood of rare meats (especially liver).

If you want to taste a "King-size" T-bone steak, ask for it when you book your dinner.

"TAGLIATA FIORENTINA" (cut beef)
In ancient times roasted meat was a "status symbol". Lower classes (who aspired to be upper classes) longed for having the best quality pieces on their tables. Roasted beef was considered to be suitable for Gods and heroes. Heroes themselves cut the meat and distributed the best parts, first of all to the Gods, then to the other people sitting at the table, according to their hierarchical importance. The history of "tagliata fiorentina" dates back to the sixteenth century and more exactly to the celebration of Saint Lawrence and to the Medici family. On Saint Lawrence day, August 10th, Florence was enlightened with big fires, where huge quantities of beef was roasted, "cut" and then distributed to the people.

LAMB WITH MINT AND PECORINO CHEESE AND GREEN BEAN PUDDING
In ancient times lamb and ram were considered the most appraised sacrificial animals. An ancient Roman rite consisted of offering a male lamb to the Goddess of prosperity. After the sacrifice, the meat was first scented with mint, laurel and rosemary then cooked over charcoal. While cooking, the fat melted and produced a perfumed smoke which was intended to became Gods' nourishment.

SOUVETAURILIA WITH ONIONS
Ambarvalia was an ancient Roman festivity for the purification of fields taking place in spring just before the harvest. On this occasion some SOUVETAURILIA were offered to Cerere, the goddess of crops (they offered a pork "sus", a lamb "ovis", a calf "taurus" after taking them in procession around the town for three times).

DUCK BREST A L'ORANGE AND CAULIFLOWER PUDDING
Duck brest à l'orange was the "paparo al melarancio", the one which flew from Siena to Florence and from there to France, coming back with a richer but less tasty dressing and a new exotic name "canard à l'orange". Actually this dish, "Paparo al Melarancio", enriched the tables of the Tuscan nobles during the Renaissance when Caterina de' Medici got married to Henry II King of France. The king was followed by more than 40 cooks coming from Siena and Florence who taught the kitchen staff how to prepare crêpes, balsamella, besciamel, ice-cream, bignet, soupe à l'oignon and other tasty things.

SPICED ROAST RABBIT WITH GREEN BEAS PUDDING
This dish actually originates from "porchetta" (spiced roast pork), that is a boneless young pork stuffed with spice an, perfumed herbs which was cooked in the oven in the oven or on the spit. There are records mentioning porchetta which date back to the Middle Ages, but this is probably even more archaic. In 1813 Luigi Nardi - an erudite priest - wrote a charming operetta whose title was "Porcus Troianus", which gave evidence of the Roman origin of porchetta by quoting the classics. The rabbit is a later descendent, however it is at lest two-hundred years old.

ROAST CANNON-BONE OF CHIANINA BREED WITH POTATOES
Oxen of chianina breed were highly appraised by the Etruscans and the Romans which chose them for the triumphal parades and sacrificial rites to their deities thanks to the white colour of their coat. After 22-century rearing in Val di Chiana (from here the name of this breed), these calves, mainly used for the hard work in the fields, are now considered the most prestigious beefs in the world.

STRACOTTO WITH CHIANTI SAUCE AND POTATO FLAKES
From a research in the area of Mugello, the Medici's land, we found out an ancient recipe which reads that for luxurious lunches the best cut of beef was larded with garlic, rosemary, almonds, pine-nuts, mint and cinnamon and it was cooked in the best wine of the Chianti region.

SIRLOIN OF "CINTA" SENESE" WITH HERBS AND VEGETABLE PUDDING
"Cinta Senese" is a breed of pigs with a long history as proved by the XI and XII-century frescoes of Sienese school showing animals with a white stripe similar to present Cinta breed. Excellent grazing breed, these pigs, which mainly live in the wild state, have a striking maternal attitude and a great suckling ability. One- year-old males can weigh even more than 150 kilos and females more than 140 Kg. They have remarkable fat quantity and quality especially the dorsal fat is highly appreciated by the producers of "lardo di Colonnata". A consortium - Consorzio della Compagnia della Cinta Senese - was created to protect and promote this breed.

MARIA'S GOAT-CHEESES
Maria De Dominicis shares a gorgeous and fairy place in the Land of Etruscans with a nice flock of goat. Together with her husband and her daughter, they make cheese, and precisely goat-cheese: fresh, small and white cheeses which, besides the aroma of raw milk, pick up herbal notes, with the perfume of Crete Senesi, and the fascination / strength of passion.

 

CAKES IN TUSCANY

"…Cakes and pastries in Florence kept their simple and rough characteristics till the end of the XVI century, when a group of Lombardi arrived to the town and began making pasticci, offelle, sfogliate, and other pastries made of eggs, butter, milk, sugar and honey. Before that time, there were only some ancient memories of pies stuffed with donkey meat which Malatesta gave as a present to his friends during the siege of Florence when famine was spreading and there was a great food shortage, especially meat …" ( Pellegrino Artusi - "La scienza in cucina e l'arte di mangiar bene").

 

We will be pleased to have you at the Locanda and experience with you the essence of our traditions. Together we will have the opportunity to prepare your dinner and become acquainted with the world of Tuscan wine, olive oil and cheese by tasting a selection of products or visiting those producers who have considered quality as the main goal of their life. (see activities)

 
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