Monday, 5 May 2014

Wine and Dine in Italy

I think that Italian food is one of my favourite cuisine in the world. I love Asian, Mexican, Indian and a lot of other foods, but Italian at its best, beats most of them. Together with the Italian wines of the region where you are, you can't get much better taste experiences. Tuscany is known as a very good area both for food and wine, which we also discovered. It is not only the taste of the food but the way it is presented both in the shops and in the restaurants. It is an all-round experience.

We were lucky to eat home made cooking where we stayed. There was a camping and the host and hostess provided dinner for those who wanted to. We tried one evening and ...yes, they saw us for another two nights!  It is impossible to describe the food, it was just so delicious, whether it was antipasti or pasta or meat. As the hostess said; you have to cook the sauce for 4-6 hours to make it taste like this! That is a little bit the problem today; we don't have the time. Everything should go so fast. We buy ready made food, frozen, canned or whatever just to be able to put some food quickly on the table at the end of the day. It gives you 'food for thought'. When you have the right, fresh food, when you cook it with love and long enough, the tastes that come out is not of this world. From time to time we like to go to a Michelin restaurant to eat something really good. However, the food you got here, beat any Michelin restaurant any day.

To these delicious meals we had the couple's own wine, Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino as well as their own olive oil...mmmmm! The fresh olive oil is also something to be lyrical about.

The other enjoyment in Tuscany is the wine tasting. There are these lovely 'enoteca' where you can try wines by the glass and pour it down with some salami and cheese. Or go to a nice, small restaurant, mostly located in a medieval house, which offers wine from the vicinity, to go with the food. In Montisi, a small village which we passed by on our tour, we found Da Roberto. A lovely, rustic, restaurant with a very, charismatic owner. We had a small selection of cold cuts and salads and to go down with it we had a lovely Vernaccia. Jerry who opted for the beer, got one in a bottle that looked like a wine bottle! If we are in the wine district we have to adapt!

Da Roberto
Jerry with the wine...
sorry beer bottle

Annica trying the Montalcino wines
In the Fortezza in Montalcino we had another wine tasting. It is the old fortress that guarded the city and is now remade into an enoteca. We tried six different wines from the area.

San Filippo, 2009, very good
Tenuta Nuova, 2009, good, lots of tannins
Fornacella, 2009, very flat, to old we think be the waitress said no (but we got a replacement nevertheless, which was much better)
Franci 2009, very pleasant, not so much tannins, best of them all
Villa Le Prata 2007, ok, only few tannins
Salieviti, 2008, good, tannins perfect

Fortezza in Montalcino
There are two enotecas/restaurants that stand out above the rest. The first one is La Cantinetta del Chianti in Gaiole in Chianti. We came there on a rainy day, walked around the town which was quite deserted, and since it was lunch time, we looked and found this wonderful little place. We got the last table, ordered some antipasti and four glasses of wine to go with it. Different Chiantis and an absolutely lovely Chianti Classico Reserva (and it seems I did not take down the name!). After that we were ready to continue our tour.

La Cantinetta del Chianti

Antipasti which goes very well with the wines!
Later in the afternoon we passed by Castelnuovo Berardenga. After a short stroll in the historic centre (it is not very big) we found Bengodi Enoteca at the end of the square. We ventured inside for a wine tasting. It was in between lunch and dinner so not many people. Furthermore, the owners were new and had just opened the day before. Staff was very friendly and service minded so within minutes we were seated in the wine cellar. Red, the sommelier from Albania, recommended some really good wines, and I think these were the best we tasted. Chianto Classico and Chianto Classico Reserva from Felsina and an absolutely wonderful Bolgheri, Rosso Tringali-Casanuova.

Bengodi Enoteca in Castelnuovo Berardenga
The Bolgheri wine to the left
Annica in Bengodi Enoteca

On Sunday afternoon, the last day before going back home the next day, we stopped in Bagni Vignoni. A nice wine tasting, outside in the setting sun with some more antipasti and Montalcino wines.
In Bagno Vignoni

Martin in Bagno Vignoni
That was it, we thought. But sometimes you are lucky. We went along the coast up to Pisa and stopped in some tourist area which was quite terrible. However, hungry we were, and after all the meat products we had eaten the previous days we opted for fish. We were early so had to wait for 20 minutes for them to open. We did not have high hopes but found a lovely restaurant, where we had a spaghetti vongole (quite delicious) and fried, mixed fish (lovely). And of course....a Vernaccia wine to go down with it.

At the fish restaurant
The 'pebbly' beach along
the coast

Then the only remaining thing was the leaning tower in Pisa! We had to share it with what seemed like thousands of people! It was a nice ending to our six day tour of Tuscany. Back home for some diet food!
Martin trying to hold up the tower!

Last of the summer wines? At the airport!

But hang on...where is the literature angle on this one? Well, I could recommend some books on Tuscany, food and wine and history. But I prefer to show you the small book shop in Bagno Vignoni where you can spend some time when you are tired of the food and the wine! Enjoy this beautiful book shop!

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