In a recent event featured in the Wine Spectator, the :Wine Experience’s: final seminar, “The Best of the Boot,” panelists tasted a vast array of wines ranging from sparkling wine to Barolo to Amarone.
1) Ferrari Brut Trento Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore 2001 (91 points, $100)
2) Jermann Venezia-Giulia Vintage Tunina 2009 (NYR, $NA)
3) Falletto di Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva 2007 (NYR, $NA)
4) Gaja Nebbiolo Langhe Conteisa 2008 (NYR, $240)
5) Castello di Ama Chianti Classico Vigneto Bellavista 2007 (93, $200)
6) Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Greppo Riserva 2006 (97, $600)
7) Antinori Toscana Tignanello 2008 (92, $105)
8) Tenuta San Guido Bolgheri-Sassicaia Sassicaia 2008 (94, $220)
9) Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia 2009 (94, $215)
10) Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Mazzano 2003 (93, $200)
This is a beautiful story about a re-visit to Tuscany after 10 years to see whether the healthy lifestyle, the poetry and the magic still hold:
Having just returned from my native Tuscany, I am busy cooking recipes that bring back wonderful memories. As we head towards colder weather, there is nothing so comforting as good, fresh and very healthy Tuscan soups. Those from the Lucca area are especially close to my roots. Plus my husband enjoys being used as a food guinea pig!
|Ingredients for 4-5 servings:|
|Farro – best if farro from the Garfagnana area near LuccaBorlotti beansOnion
Canned, peeled tomatoes, chopped
Pancetta, chopped or diced
Tuscan kale, chopped
| 200 gr.250 gr.250 gr.
1 small bunch
When you are looking for “true” Tuscan (or Italian) recipes of any kind, you may become very perplexed over numerous versions of the same recipe. Which one is the right one? Which is the “classic?” Let me try to shed some light on this quandary: In Italy, each person or restaurant, puts a personal spin on a recipe. The variations depend on personal taste, family background, specific area of Tuscany (or Italy) and what is easily available and very fresh in that area. Tuscans are notorious for being fiercely independent, even when it comes to recipes.
Again, we can use a musical analogy. Many musicians can play the same piece of music but it is the interpretation that makes one stand apart from another. Each recipe has a personal interpretation. To make it even more complicated, Tuscans will hardly ever be able to give you a precise recipe: It’s “A handful of this, a pinch of that” as cooking is often learned from watching other family members and done “a occhio” (by eye-balling) quantities.
Cooking is not a chemistry formula, it is an artistic experience; it is a way to express your creativity, enjoy all the steps of the process and render a wonderful result.
When Italians do give you recipe ingredients and measurements, it is always in weight (not cups or teaspoons). A perfect example of this is Tuscan Crostini (appetizers). First of all, when you say “Crostini” to Tuscans, they automatically assume you are referring to chicken liver crostini. If the crostini are any other kind, they are referred to by color or by naming the main ingredients (such as Crostini di Tonno – tuna – or Crostini di Pesce – fish). There are probably as many variations on Tuscan Crostini as there are Tuscans.
Have you tried making Tuscan Crostini? You should try the Tuscan way: Take a basic recipe, and adjust it to your taste by using variables or optional items, such as sage or bay leaves, chopped carrots, lemon juice, wine, etc. Just be careful not to overcook the chicken livers (they should not be too dry). Make certain that whatever you use is “in tune” with the rest of the ingredients. Then you will have your own “authentic recipe.” Please write in and let us know if you come up with something you really love!
Crostini Toscani (Tuscan Chicken liver crostini)
Basic recipe (This is one version. There is another listed below in the “Recipes” section)
Preparation time: 20 minutes.
Cooking time: 20 minutes.
- One onion
- ¼ carrot (optional)
- ¼ celery (optional)
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 300g chicken livers
- Stock (optional)
- One tablespoon capers
- 4 anchovy fillets
- Freshly chopped Italian flat leaf parsley or sage (or preferred herb) roughly chopped 50g butter.
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 500g unsalted bread, preferably country bread
- Wine (optional)
Chop the onion (carrot, celery) and sauté in the e.v.o.o. Clean and wash the chicken livers, cut them roughly, add to the sautéed ingredients and brown well. If they dry out too much, moisten with a little stock or wine, but allow it to evaporate. Cook until done but not dry or overcooked. Remove from heat. Add the capers, and anchovy fillets, chopped herb leaves and butter. Using a large kitchen knife, chop the entire mixture very finely. Lightly toast the slices of bread and spread with the liver paste. If the slices of bread are crisped under a grill, they may be moistened with a spoonful of stock before spreading with the liver mixture. Some like crostini crisp and some prefer them moistened. The liver paste could also be served in an attractive bowl, surrounded with crisply toasted bread and decorated with herbs.
These are truly the best tomatoes for a real Neapolitan pizza. I recently found some at Costco!