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  • Cacio e Pepe - Pasta with Pecorina Cheese and Pepper

    Cacio e Pepe - Pasta with Pecorina Cheese and Pepper

    Photo Credit: Lori Sandoval

    Cacio e Pepe is a simple pasta dish made with pecorino cheese,"cacio" and black pepper, "pepe" that bind together to make exquisitely coated pasta. Pictured here, Cacio e Pepe is prepared with Pici pasta. Pici is a thick hand rolled pasta made with flour and water that originated in the town of Siena in Tuscany.

  • Costolette di Agnello - Lamb Chops

    Costolette di Agnello - Lamb Chops

    Photo Credit: Lori Sandoval

    Tuscans love to eat meat! In addition to beef and pork, lamb dishes are found in abundance throughout the rustic wine towns. You can easily find hearty lamb and bean stews or a juicy and tender rack of lamb. Pictured here are lamb chops grilled to a medium rare temperature. The lamb is local and grass-fed with a tender, juicy and exquisite flavor.

  • Brunello di Montalcino Wine

    Brunello di Montalcino Wine

    Photo Credit: Lori Sandoval

    In the land of Chianti, you are sure to always have a great glass of wine anywhere throughout the region. But for a real treat, head to the southern region of Tuscany and explore the vineyards surrounding the medieval town of Montalcino. Here you will want to taste the grand Brunello di Montalcino wines; they are regarded as some of the best wines in the world. Brunellos are smooth with fruit forward aromas and character which make them ideal for all those rustic meat dishes of Tuscany.

  • Parpadelle al Ragu Cinghiale - Parpadelle with Wild Boar Ragu

    Parpadelle al Ragu Cinghiale - Parpadelle with Wild Boar Ragu

    Photo Credit: Lori Sandoval

    Parpadelle is long, flat, thin pasta that is the fresh pasta of choice from Toscana. The region is known for its wild game which is used to prepare meat sauces that coat the fresh parpadelle pasta. Tuscans particularly love hare, duck, and wild boar (cinghiale). Parpadelle al Ragu Cinghiale is found on almost every Tuscan menu and it is a hearty and exquisite dish that epitomizes the taste this region's cuisine.

  • Bistecca Fiorentina - Florentine Steak

    Bistecca Fiorentina - Florentine Steak

    Photo Credit: Lori Sandoval

    Probably the most distinguished Secondi (main) course in the Tuscan region is the Bistecca Fiorentina. This famed rich flavorful steak is a T-bone or Porterhouse cut, very large in size due to the breed it comes from; the large Chianina cattle, a white ox bred near Arezzo. The steak is carefully grilled over a wood fire and served rare to be shared at the table between at least two people. The steak can be dressed in olive oil and finishing salt immediately as it comes off the fire and then paired with a glass of Brunello to wash it down.

  • La Colazione - Breakfast

    La Colazione - Breakfast

    Photo Credit: Lori Sandoval

    Breakfast in Italy is a simple meal composed of a cappuccino or a cafè e latte, a pastry of choice and a fruit juice (succo). Italians take their breakfast at the bar inside the café, or if time allows, you can enjoy your coffee at a table with wait service, for a premium of course. Many cafés have a selection of paninos (sandwiches) and you can even find American Breakfast options at some of the more touristy spots.

  • Pecorino Ravioli with Pea Puree

    Pecorino Ravioli with Pea Puree

    Photo Credit: Lori Sandoval

    There is an exceptional variety of cheeses made in Italy, but in Tuscany most of their cheeses are made from sheep's milk. Most notable is the PDO (protected designation of origin) Pecorino Toscano, a hard cheese with a soft non- granular texture that is perfect to grate over simply prepared pastas. It easily melts to make a rich buttery dish like this pea puree and Ravioli filled with creamy sheep's cheese and garnished with a mountain of Pecorino from the nearby town of Pienza in the province of Siena.

  • Stinco di Maiale alle Fagioli Cannellini - Pork Shank with White Beans

    Stinco di Maiale alle Fagioli Cannellini - Pork Shank with White Beans

    Photo Credit: Lori Sandoval

    Pork is widely produced in Tuscany and popular for the rustic preparations this region is known for. Pictured here is a Pork Shank that was slowly braised until the meat was falling off the bone. The skin was crisped and caramelized then served with white beans from the local mountain region of Pratomagno.

  • Baccalà Mantecato - Salt Cod Mousse

    Baccalà Mantecato - Salt Cod Mousse

    Photo Credit: Lori Sandoval

    Creamy salt cod mousse is a classic dish from Venetian cuisine. Typically served on a piece of grilled polenta or toast, here it is served on a slice of braised artichoke – a dynamite combination! You can primarily find baccalà mantecato throughout Venice as a cicchetti, a bite sized appetizer that is unique to this city (similar to the Spanish tapas).

  • Branzino Carbone alla Griglia - Charcoal Grilled Branzino

    Branzino Carbone alla Griglia - Charcoal Grilled Branzino

    Photo Credit: Lori Sandoval

    Branzino is one of Venice's favorite fish that is usually prepared whole for special occasions and holidays. Often it is cooked in the oven or grilled whole to perfection in olive oil and chopped fresh herbs, then served alongside a small green salad dressed in olive oil and lemon juice.

  • Linguine alle Vongole - Linguine with Clams

    Linguine alle Vongole - Linguine with Clams

    Photo Credit: Lori Sandoval

    Although this dish is most popular in the central regions of Italy, it is bound to be on offer in coastal Venice due to the fresh selection of seafood. The clams here are simply prepared in olive oil, garlic and white wine and then added to a bed of pasta topped with freshly chopped parsley. The flavors are rich yet delicate - the exquisite simplicity is overwhelming.

  • The Bellini Cocktail

    The Bellini Cocktail

    Photo Credit: Lori Sandoval

    You can't visit Venezia and not have a Bellini. After all, this Prosecco and peach nectar cocktail was invented in Venice's waterfront institution, Harry's Bar. Droves of tourists come to the spot just to sip the famous concoction that can also be found at other bar menus throughout the city.

  • Moleche - Soft Shell Crabs

    Moleche - Soft Shell Crabs

    Photo Credit: Lori Sandoval

    Moleche soft shell crabs are a specialty found exclusively in the Venetian lagoon. These crabs are unique not only because of they are only a couple inches big, but also because they are seasonal and available only in the fall and spring. But when they are available, they are found on every menu in town simply sautéed or lightly fried alone, or as part of a fritto misto.

  • Tartufo Bianco - White Truffles

    Tartufo Bianco - White Truffles

    Photo Credit: Lori Sandoval

    The culinary crown jewel of Italy would definitely have to be the white truffle. Yup, this stinky fungus is considered to be one of the most decadent and luxurious ingredients in the world. This rare mushroom only grows in the Piedmont region and can only be foraged by a hog (sometimes a trained dog) once a year for a few months in the fall. The world over seeks the indescribable umami flavor of these mushrooms, albeit at a very high price, to slice and serve over a lightly buttered pasta. Just one bite and you'll wish heaven was made of truffle clouds.

    For more yummy photos and recipes, go here!

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