It’s a modest unpacking (considering how I like to shop for foodstuffs), and the Birra Nursia brews are actually the only Umbrian goods. The rest of the stash was picked up in Tuscany on the way home: zolfino and fagioli verdolini beans (God bless those tuscan mangiafagioli and their variety of beans), packaged soups, and smoked eel (a speciality of Orbetello). I’m no good at suggesting what to bring back from Umbria, but I found a google link that allows you to take a look inside Consorzio Agrario Siena.
This store is the BEST for typical local products from central Italy. Wines, olive oils, chocolate, dried pasta, beans, truffle products, jams, etc. They also have a deli area that dishes out hot meals to go or to eat outside on picnic tables.
The famous Chianina beef from Tuscany is turned into il Chianino: 180 grams of pure ground beef patty, lardo di Colonnata, and pecorino cheese from Pienza. I believe you can order a smaller or larger version of this.
Via Di Vittorio – Centro Commerciale Le Rotonde – 53040 – Bettolle – Siena
Driving around Tuscany we came across Agriturismo Poggio Covili in Val d’Orcia – and WOW!
“Life offers you a thousand chances… all you have to do is take one.”
― Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun
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.
Other 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.
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 croquettes, pan-fried in a thin layer of olive oil to keep it lite; served with lemon wedges and spicy tomato sauce.
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.