Tag Archives: Tuscan cuisine

Caffe Desiderio – Cooking as Art

cdc1Caffe Desiderio
Piazza Niccolò Tommaseo, 5r
Settignano (FI)
39-055-697687
http://www.caffedesiderio.com
info@caffedesiderio.com
Owners: Michele Busanero & Francesca de Gasperi

What a pleasure it is to sit with Michele, chef and owner of Caffe Desiderio, an unpretentious yet inviting wine bar/restaurant in the center of Settignano outside of Florence. Caffe Desiderio indeed was a locale as far back as the end of the 18th century when artist Desiderio da Settignano opened it as a tea room and exhibit space for his paintings.

cdd1Today the art that is offered is of the culinary variety, attractive to look at, and most satisfying to consume. Seasonally fresh ingredients and innovative recipes make Michele’s cuisine a special treat on this summer evening. And Michele shares a moment with us expressing his knowledge and passion for his Tuscan cuisine, inspired by his childhood in Florence and his travels to other parts of Italy.

Take for example, traditional prosciutto of Tuscany served with milky fresh stracciatella cde1and fritters made with grano arso, or burnt grain, a tradition that has its modest beginnings in the southern region of Puglia. In the 18th century villagers would harvest the scorched grains that remained after the farmers had burnt the fields in preparation for the next planting. For the poor, nothing went to waste not even burnt grain, and Michele’s efforts to introduce burnt grain to his customers are not wasted either. His liver paté, on the other hand, is as rich as fois gras, made so with lots of butter and an extra amount of vin santo, making a superbly rich spread for his fried polenta wedges.

cdf1The menu at Caffe Desiderio changes often, according to the season, and sometimes daily depending on what is offered at the market that day. We got to try fagottini (little egg pasta knapsacks) stuffed with lampredotto, or tripe. Lampredotto is a Florentine specialty that shows up as popular street food when stuffed into a crusty panino. Tonight’s pasta dish is topped with delicately sweet red onions and a spritz of green sauce. I would not have known any of this, nor had the courage to try it, if it hadn’t been for our chef introducing us to this unusual, yet totally delicious specialty. I love being cdg1introduced to the local cuisine in this way.

Our wine is local too, a Chianti Ruffina from the Frascole estates. Grazie, Michele and Francesca, for a delightful meal.

copyright Ginda Simpson   http://www.rooms-withaview.com    http://www.gindasimpson.com

Advertisements

Eating good in the neighborhood – Cortona’s Ristorante La Bucaccia

 

La Bucaccia

 

Ristorante La Bucaccia
Via Ghibellina, 17
Cortona
0575-606-039
info@labucaccia.it
www.labucaccia.it
Owner: Romano Magi
Chef: Agostina Magi

From Cortona’s main square, it is a steep descent down Via Ghibellina to La Bucaccia, a uniquely charming local restaurant. It is well worth the effort, because here the cuisine of Tuscany rises to unbelievable heights. This cozy restaurant was carved out of the ruins of a 12th-century palazzo, a painstaking restoration that took the owners, Romano and Agostina Magi, almost two years to complete. The stone walls resonate with history and with the Magi’s passion for preserving that history and its architecture.  They have incorporated the remnants of the old well, the cellars, the animal feeding trough and the old camino, into the décor of the intimate dining room which seats no more than thirty people.

Romano Magi is justifiably proud of this multi-tiered accomplishment and of his wife, the chef responsible for La Bucaccia’s famed cuisine.  One is not likely to meet a man more passionate about Tuscan cooking or cheese-making, in particular, so it was with immense pleasure that we got to know Romano over a lunch that literally burst forth with flavor, one course after another.  Romano entertained and educated us as he made fresh cheese at our table, one of several cheese offerings that he produced and presented throughout our meal.   There is nothing like newly made ricotta drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and cracked peppercorns.  Or a plate of cheese arranged in a circle, that invites one to taste in clockwise fashion the stages of its aging, each accompanied by a different garnish or marmalade.

But, oh, the pastas!  Romano introduced us to a sampling of three different kinds – boasting that over the course of the seasons, they alternate between no less that 67 pasta dishes.  The pici, made green with fresh herbs rather than spinach, topped with porcini mushrooms, was the stuff of celestial banquets.  We were content, but Romano insisted we sample Agostina’s bistecca of the local chianina beef.  Mamma mia!

Agostina and Romano’s daughter, Francesca, has been learning on the job since she was six.  She smiles an angelic smile from behind the bar; she de-corks the wine, and can explain anything on the menu.  She is as sweet as any dessert Agostina can create!

copyright – Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

Lunch at Ristorante Patry

Ristorante Patry WEBRistorante Patry
Viale G. di Vittorio
53042 Chianciano Terme (SI)
0578-63014
http://www.ristorantepatry.com
info@ristorantepatry.com
Owner:  Gino Maresca

We are seated in the homey dining room of what is obviously a very popular restaurant with the locals: couples, families, business colleagues, and friends. The welcome sunshine on this late November day casts a buttery glow through the sheer curtains, adding to its already cheerful interior.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAn extensive menu makes it difficult to choose, either a la carte, or from its very generous fixed price lunch selections. We finally settle on pappardelle, a flat broad noodle, with wild boar sauce and pici cacio e pepe – one of my favorites. Pici are a typical Tuscan hand-rolled noodle made of eggless pasta. Then, in this case, tossed immediately with a mixture of butter, cheese and cracked pepper. Simply prepared and simply delicious. A half carafe of the house wine, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa Chianti, goes well with our choices.

Beef, of course, is always a smart choice when in the Valdichiana region of Tuscany. My husband always finds it hard to resist the Tagliata with rosemary and is not disappointed. The filet of beef with braised radicchio in vino nobile of nearby Montepulciano is tender and satisfying. Dessert choices are many and we are a bit surprised to OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAfind Sacher Torte featured, an original Austrian specialty, but as our waiter explains, it is a dessert that everyone loves. The real winner, however, is the more local sweet, Torta di Chianciano, a delicate pastry filled with custard and flavoured with amaretto.

All of this makes Ristorante Patry special, but it is the special attention of Valerio, our waiter, and Gino, the owner, who cares so much about OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhis guests, that he comes to each table to introduce himself and make sure we are enjoying our meals. A nice touch.

Before or After Lunch suggestion:  Don’t miss a visit to see the Etruscan and Roman antiquities at the Archeological Civic Museum.

Gino, the owner, with Valerio

Gino, the owner, with Valerio

Read more about other lovely hotels and restaurants in Italy,  Rooms with a View and Italian Wanderlust, by clicking on their covers:

Rooms cover      italian wanderlust 2

********************************************************************************
All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.

********************************************************************************