Food. The tales about Tuscan food are NOT overblown. Last night was grilled red and yellow pepper strips with garlic, capers and parsley; Tuscan bread topped with cheese and walnuts; pasta with black cabbage and beans; roast beef with Tuscan herbs; green salad; chocolate cake with pears. Our Italian cook is very proud of her work, and she should be. Every meal she has cooked us (all from local organic sources) has been exquisite. She doesn’t speak a word of English, but when we oooh and aaah she covers her heart with her hands and beams. The quantity of food, especially the first course (pasta) and the dessert is always enough to feed us for two meals, plus a dessert breakfast for Jim.
Our food in restaurants has been equally good. I’ve had three versions of my personal favorite, marrow bone – a braised veal shank with marrow intact – and all were excellent. We’ve discovered that wild boar is best served as part of a sauce over pasta, also excellent. We like the fat spaghetti (pici) that is often served with a tomato sauce, but all the pasta seems to be home made and extremely fresh. And of course Bonell’s favorite, eggplant, comes smothered in cheese, or with a light tomato sauce, or packed tightly into a baking cup and turned out onto a plate when done, or sliced and marinated in oil and balsamic vinegar. Margaret (a questioning soul) always orders the strange and unusual. She has had braised rabbit (“quite delicious”) and truffles (she said the truffles did not quite live up to their hype).
The Tuscans like to combine chocolate with pears. Big slices of fresh pears are baked inside chocolate cake, or folded with chocolate syrup inside flaky pastry before baking.
And hot news: we have discovered that the thick balsamic vinegar which pours like syrup – brand name Fini Glassa – is available from Amazon online, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.