Tuscan lunch al fresco

Tuscan lunch

Just how perfect the timing was of Masterchef Australia’s Italy episodes is summed up in this quick and simple spread right here. A week before we split for Tuscany, the contestants cooked for 50 residents of Monticchiello (Pienza) and as soon as I saw the pici pasta, I knew I had to replicate something similar to bring a taste of Toscana to our table. The difference is that I bought my pici. The Aussies had to make theirs from scratch – no mean feat for the unexperienced – and these two guests were having way too much fun trying to get incredibly long strands onto their plates.

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Pici wrestling

Sagra della Porchetta in ChiozzaOther tasty delights picked up in Tuscany included about a half pound of chicken liver paté, some roast pork, and tuscan pecorino cheese. For some reason, tuscan porchetta tastes better than what I can get here in Lecco. The combination of herbs and spices makes the meat really flavorful and moist without being too salty. If we could’ve stayed just one more night, the 13th Sagra della Porchetta in Chiozza would’ve been another festival to check out.

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Monticchiello feast menu

Crostini with pecorino and fegatini
Close-ups of some dishes. Antipasti: crostini with fegatini (chicken liver paté) and pecorino drizzled with honey; tuna-stuffed mini peppers preserved in olive oil.

Baccala and potato crocchette
Baccala and potato croquettes, pan-fried in a thin layer of olive oil to keep it lite; served with lemon wedges and spicy tomato sauce.

Frangipane tart with wine-poached pears
Wine-poached pears baked in frangipane tarts; served with homemade Marc de Champagne gelato. Not quite italian, or even tuscan, but still a sublime finish to a great meal.

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6 thoughts on “Tuscan lunch al fresco

    1. Rowena Post author

      The original croquettes (in the show) were deep-fried and I really wanted to avoid that. Done this way, I could’ve finished off several more!

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