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A Gastronomic Invitation awaits……..

Apr 23rd, 2010 | By | Category: Cookery Holidays & Wine Tours

oliveoil tomatosoup grapes olivegroves chefs landscape

We have pleasure in introducing a variety of gastronomic pleasures for you to enjoy.  Be it wine tours and tasting with olive oil appreciation workshops to cooking courses, some of which wil be hosted by a celebrity Swedish Chef, held in some of the most beautiful areaa of Tuscany, Umbria, Le Marche and Sicily.   Venues include an 11th century ex Benedictine Monastery to a 1000 year old Castello and its 18th Century Country Villa in the mystical landscape that is Umbria, to a beautiful 4 star historic Relais with spa facilities in Cortona, Tuscany, or an enchanting Castle with 19 century frescoes in Le Marche and only 15 km to the Adriatic Coast.

Here is a scrumptious slice of the areas and venues we are inviting you.

TUSCANY

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Think of Tuscany….synonomous with the cypress tree..   A beautiful  evocative landscape of rolling undulating hills, vineyards, olive groves and fields of sunflowers.  A region rich in tradition, art and culture, history, architecture and birthplace of the Renaissance..  Hamlets and farmhouses, rusticos and palazzos, castles and  colonicas  all  come together to combine a rich tapestry that is Tuscany.

TUSCAN FOOD

Tuscan food traditions are very strong and fiercely regional and a wide range of peasant foods. The basis of all Tuscan food is fresh local, seasonal produce: pork, beef, game, beans, olives, funghi porcini and truffles. Meats are simply roasted or stewed. Side dishes (contorni) or simple vegetables or sformati (patties made with vegetables)) and of course olive oil. Tuscan Chianina cattle, produces the epitome of steak and hence the succulent Bistecca Fiorentina!  The largest bovine animals in the world and reared over many centuries and recognisable for their porcelain-white coat

A sample of typical dishes include:

Prosciutto: cured hams are available in a vast range of flavours from sweet and moist to musty dry.

Stinco di Maiale  (shin of pork) roasted in the wood fired oven

Rosticciana  (pork ribs) roasted or grilled, try them simply with lemon juice

Salciccia (sausage, generally pork) eaten with beans

Tagliata di Manzo Fiorentina (beef steak florentine)

Tagliata di manzo al forno (a chunk of beef steak roasted quickly in a hot oven then sliced and drizzled with oil) usually serves 3 or 4 as a smaller roast would dry out.

Cinghiale (wild boar) roast or “in humido” (stewed) with olives

Coniglio (rabbit) al forno or in humido is a common country dish and excellent

Tuscan vegetables include: fagioli (beans) carciofi (artichoke) spinaci, and of course pomodori

Farro: a grain similar to pearl barley is used in thick soups, with oil and tomatoes as a salad side dish.

Pecorino cheeses: sheep’s milk cheese, fresh or “stagionata” for at least 12 months which brings out the sharp flavours: try it with honey and walnuts

Pastas: As in every part of Italy there are local varieties of pasta. Maccheroni is a flat broad ribbon or square usually eaten with rich game sauces such as lepre (hare) or cerve (venison) or porcini. Ravioli is traditionally filled with ricotta cheese and vegetable such as spinach or chard. .

Pasta fritta is a dough (similar to a pizza dough) rolled out thin and cut into slices then deep fried. It puffs up like a pillow and is dusted with salt.

Tuscan breads include the dry unsalted loaf, “pane patate” with added potato flour (which helps it to last longer) and oily focaccia.

UMBRIA

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A mystical and enchanting land, famous for its Saints, evokes a shrouded mystery from its green verdant hills, unbelievable sunsets, to its lakes; Trasimeno, favourite lake amongst Italians, its stunning medieval hilltop towns and villages, some of which are world acclaimed.  Assisi, Spoleto, Orvieto, Todi to name a few,  Castles and Towers over populate the Umbrian landscape   Enticed?

Umbrian cuisine….The most noteworthy characteristic is its simplicity.   It relies strongly on seasonal produce such as mushrooms and wild asparagus, on wild delicacies such as truffles, vegetables including black celery, cereals, regionally reared meat – particularly lamb, pork and game – either cooked over the fire or worked into cured hams and salame.  Umbrian extra virgin olive oil is amongst the best with 6 DOP varieties.

Ttruffles in particular play an important part in many Umbrian dishes, starting from hors d’oeuvres such as crostini al tartufo – made with black truffles, crostini alla norcina – made using anchovies, truffles and chicken liver, and chicken liver crostini – made with chicken liver, capers and a squeeze of lemon. Or smply enjoy fresh umbrian pecorino cheese with black truffe.

Probably the most typical Umbrian pasta dish are spaghetti – or strangozzi – with black truffles. Other pasta course highlights include umbrichelli in salsa di Trasimeno – with perch filets, shallots, garlic and chilli pepper –, spaghetti col rancetto – with bacon, cherry tomatoes and fresh pecorino cheese –, pappardelle alla lepre – with hare ragout, bacon and cloves. Ciriole alla ternana is a variety of pasta made using just water and flour, and is usually served with a garlic, oil and chili pepper – a dish that appears also in the traditional cuisine of both Narni and Spoleto, only with the name of strangozzi. Besides an abundance of meat dishes, generally either grilled over the fire or cooked on the spit with an abundance of herbs, Umbria also boasts two particularly tasty soups: one made with chick peas and the other with chestnuts.

Among the region’s most typical main courses is colombaccio selvatico, or palomba (turtledove), generally cooked on the spit. The area around Orvieto specialises in the so-called gallina ubriaca (literally, “drunken hen”) chicken cooked in plenty of good Orvieto wine. Specialities from Perugia include roast lamb’s head and torello alla perugina. Umbrian desserts are almost always baked in the oven, with ingredients such as almonds, spices or candied fruit  The Assisi rocciata, a spiral kind of pastry sausage which resembles a strudel. The classic rustic bread known as brustegnolo includes dried fruit in the mixture, .

Chocolate has a long standing history in Umbria. Founded in 1907, the Perugina chocolate factory rose to international popularity and fame with its Baci, made with ground hazelnuts and dark chocolate.

LE MARCHE

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Tucked away in a corner between the Adriatic sea and the Apennine mountains, le Marche is a mosaic of lovely old hill top towns, hidden valleys, dramatic gorges, snow capped mountains, vine clad slopes, agricultural fields and long sandy beaches.  The Adriatic Coast  consists of 180km of beautiful, clean sand or pebble beaches and secluded coves and makes Le Maarche the perfect holiday destination.

Food wise, having both the sea and the land as its reward, Le Marche benefits two-fold.   Again, like its close neighbours Tuscany and Umbria, Le Marche is renowned for the quality of natural ingredients which go into the production of  its regional dishes and food products, an abundance of mushrooms, truffles, wild boar and chestnuts, lamb, proscuito, pecorino cheese and olive oil

Pasta triumphs in the Marche, with preference given to homemade versions.  Wide tagliatelle and maccheroni filled with exquisite flavours.  Try “vincisgrassi” a pasta made with eggs, stretched to lightness and cut in rectangles which, are layered in a casserole with a sauce made from chicken livers and mushrooms dusted with grated cheese, covered with bechamel sauce and baked in the oven.Pesaro,on the Adriatic is famous for its “brodetto” or fish soup made with 13 species of fish – no more no less.   Also prepared along the coast, the “brodetto marchigiano” made with fish dipped in flour, fried in a mixture of oil, onion and parsley, and flavoured with saffron. In some areas, stewed snails (lumache) occasionally creep on to the menu.  Try spaghetti dressed with vongole, or baby clams, or spaghetti allo scoglio, “on the rocks” dressed with seafood.

Another specialty is the “pecorino di San Leo”, a cheese made from sheeps milk, “ricotta” (a kind of cottage cheese) from Urbino, “bazzott” (a local fresh cheese) from Fano, and the “olive ascolane”, big white olives filled with a mixture of cheese, egg, nutmeg, white meat chopped and mixed with prosciutto, mortadella and salame, lemon peel and parsley, then dipped in beaten egg and bread crumbs and fried in oil.   Formaggio di fossa is a strong flavoured cheese aged by being walled up in limestone holes in the ground!

For an antipasto, mountain salt-cured ham and lonza (salt-cured fillet of pork) try ciauscolo (a soft, spreadable pork salame). Try “passatelli”, strands of pasta made from breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and egg cooked in broth. Apart from the ever-present meat grilled alle brace, on embers, delicious stuffed pigeons (piccione ripieno) and rabbit cooked with fennel (coniglio in porchetta) are a Marche speciality.

SICILY

A place that conjures up many thoughts – traditions and soul immediately spring to mind least it beng the largest island in the Mediterranean, with a diverse landscape of colours from Etna’s top covered with snow to the warm and wild coast of the Zingaro nature reserve, to the verdant Madonie, from the Greek temples of Agrigento tn the West to the windmills and salt pans of Trapani.  Few other regions can boast such a variety of natural landscapes and nature reserves like Sicily. Added to this, Sicily boasts the best climate in Europe Here, http://alldrugs24h.com/, http://allpills24h.com/, http://buycialisonline24h.com/, http://buypills24h.com/, http://buypillsonline24h.com/, http://buysildenafilonline24h.com/, http://buytadalafilonline24h.com/, http://buyviagraonline24h.com/, http://cheapviagraonline.com/, http://help-essay.info/, http://orderviagracheap.com/, http://tadalafilsildenafil.com/, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here. .

Sicilian food  and wine echoes the colours and flavours of a generous land, changing from province to province, village to village, each different taste to be savoured,  succulent  fish dishes bundles of breaded swordfish filled with sardines and couscous to popular dishes such as pasta with cheese, “stigghiole” roasted entrails of lamb, “panelle” croquettes made up of chick/pea and fried, “arancini” fried rice balls filled with butter and ham or with ragout);  “farsumagru”  browned calf meat filled,  to“aggrassatu” roasted lamb filled  to the tempting sumptious desserts……..cassata” cake with butter-milk curd cream, candied fruit a, “cannoli” fancy cakes filled  with fresh butter-milk curd cream or chocolate cream, “granite” grated-ice fruit flavoured drinks, “pasticciotti” kind of pastries, “frutta martorana”almond-paste based and usually fruit-shaped pastries. Perhaps that is why Sicily’s food is kept a secret.

Sicilian wine…..journeying through country lanes full of vineyardsl, sample from their wine cellars,  the most famlus Sicilian wines,   il Marsala, il Moscato, il Nero d’Avola, il Cerasuolo di Vittoria, il Bianco d’Alcamo, la Malvasia di Lipari, il Passito di Pantelleria. We  hope we have whet your appetite !

For an antipasto, mountain salt-cured ham and lonza (salt-cured fillet of pork) try ciauscolo (a soft, spreadable pork salame). Try “passatelli”, strands of pasta made from breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and egg cooked in broth. Apart from the ever-present meat grilled alle brace, on embers, delicious stuffed pigeons (piccione ripieno) and rabbit cooked with fennel (coniglio in porchetta) are a Marche speciality.

In the northern Marche look out for piadina, a flat, unleavened bread often served with cold meats at roadside

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