Can you say “Cheese” ? Then Pecorino Toscano is for you

For those who appreciate the tastes and flavors that the world of cheeses can offer, the tuscan pecorino represents a must to try.

cheese2

 

Sheep cheese comes from a very old food tradition in Tuscany where the Etruscans used to make it and consume it as a regular part of their daily diet.

In time, thanks to the generous pastures in the region, shepherds presence grew, driving many to turn their activity to dairy production, specialized in the milk transformation to cheese.

Today Pecorino Toscano is a DOP protected trademark (Protected Designation of Origin) by the European Commission, this guarantees that the product, a cheese with a soft semi-firm consistency, is made according to the rules fixed in Regulations that state its requirements, and ensures that tuscan sheep cheese is only made in Tuscany from sheep breeding to the final piece of cheese.

From a full-fat sheep’s milk cooked curdle then pressed and salted, pecorino toscano goes under an ageing process that promotes delicate aromas and flavors. It ‘s available fresh with about 3 weeks age but mostly preferred a few months old.

cheese1

All around Tuscany this cheese is cured with different aging tecniques. like wrapping it in chestnut’s leaves, brushing with evo oil and herbs or tomato paste, left in oak casks.

Ways to taste pecorino are numerous, just by itself to enjoy the full palate that it express, with honey or jams, fresh fruits, ham, a typical old one is to combine the fresh cheese with green broad beans (baccelli) in springtime.

Well, if you are ready to see the real thing, how is made and try some in a typical farm, see here for a tuscan cheese tasting tour that will make you want for more!

 

A tuscan wedding

A dream that comes true, in the country of love, passion, style and fashion, yearning the perfect time of your life.

A wedding in Tuscany, a remarkable place, an atmosphere that breathes of historical charm, old-fashioned villages, culture and traditions, among superb scenery and landscapes, castles and wineries, great food.

tuscany

Choosing the land that inspired arts masters like Leonardo, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Puccini and many more great artists is like electing your experience to a lifetime landmark under the tuscan sun.

In order to have everything perfect you need to plan well, organize and make a detailed list.

wedding table

Select the venue, consult for ideas. think about setting and decorations, arrange accommodation for you and your guests, logistics and transportation, choose hairdresser and make up service, photo or filming service, documents and paperwork, reception details, food and drink, music, and more to your wish.

wedding ceremony

The focus of the attention to make everything right is “people”, you, Bride and Groom, and your guests, and most important you need someone who take all the stress load from you and looks after everything.

A special help to all this is offered by the experienced thorough service of Friendly Weddings, wedding planners in Tuscany, with their original and unconventional approach to an authentic involvement and participation that can make you live memorable times. If you goal is a glorious unforgettable experience made of magical moments that will remain in you hearts forever, rely on them and look no more.

Contact them  +39 0587 672088     info@ariannandfriends.com

 

The traveler is coming to town

Join the “ Albergo diffuso” a widespread hotel or scattered hotel, from the concept of “a village as your hotel”, alternative to the typical hotel in one single building.

panoramapeccioli

 

More than holiday apartments, the widespread hotel allows to be part of a village life benefiting of fundamental functions of a hotel like a reception, centralized booking, assistance, services like bars and restaurants. It’s a way in to the traditional way of life of the place where the traveler stays absorbing local cultures and traditions.

The apartments scattered throughout a small town or village, in old palaces, buildings or single unit houses are part of a centralized network supervised by a single organized entity that ensures the guest a reference for any information or issue may occur.

Due to the unique authenticity, this type of accomodations offer, along with privacy and relax, the chance to experience new places not only visiting but being part of a local community, sharing the vicinity and evaluating a different way of living.

chianni

Two examples of widespread hotels in Tuscany are “The medieval village of Peccioli” and “ The medieval village of Chianni”. Both villages in the Valdera area of the Pisa district are of ancient origins, with a lively community of residents and placed in an enchanting tuscan landscape of sweet hills with olive groves and vineyards.

If you are an independent traveler seeking a true experience, take a chance and come and stay in an Albergo Diffuso in Italy, you’ll see the difference.

Tuscan chestnut cake

Fall in Tuscany, in many households traditional recipes reflect what the fruits of the season offer, and one of these are chestnuts. Its trees are widespread throughout the region, from Valdichiana to the Maremma, from north of Siena to the Mugello and Garfagnana, chestnuts have always been a food resource for the tuscan population.

castagnaccio

What we describe here is the recipe for Castagnaccio, a simple chestnut flour cake (from “castagna” which means chestnut). The word cake here can be a little improper since this dish isn’t exactly “sweet”, the light sugariness tasted comes from the raisins and chestnuts, there is no sugar in it, there is also no baking powder or yeast.

Here the recipe as we know it from our family.

Ingredients:

  • 350 g of chestnut flour
  • 500 ml of water (flexible quantity according to flour quality)
  • 85 g of raisins
  • 100 g of pine nuts
  • 4 walnuts coarsely ground
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • about 40 needles of rosemary
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat oven at 200 °C

Oil (use 1 tbsp of the above) a large tart pan

Put the raisins to soften in a cup with some little warm water.

In a bowl sieve the flour and, slowly while strirring, pour first the water and then the olive oil and salt, you need to obtain a thick but fluid batter, not too liquid. Still mixing, add then pine nuts, walnuts, well drained raisins.

Pour the batter in the pan, the thickness should be more or less about 1 cm high. Spread the rosemary needles on top of the batter without stirring.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until some cracks appear on its surface. Remove from the oven and let it cool. It can be served in slices just plain or with some fresh ricotta cheese.

This is Arianna & Friends’ recipe and it can be directly learned hands on, in one of its tuscan cooking classes in Tuscany, Italy.

 

Torta della Nonna

Torta della nonna ( grandmother’s cake ) is a very traditional and popular dessert in Tuscany, a simple and tasty recipe with pastry crust filled with custard and pine nuts on top. It can be found across all the tuscan districts sometimes with slight variations like almonds instead of pine nuts.

torta della nonna

Here we propose the classic recipe.

Ingredients for the pastry:

250 gr of white flour

15 gr of baking powder

125 gr of white sugar

125 gr of butter

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 spoon of icing sugar

pinch of salt

100 gr of pine nuts

Ingredients for the custard:

50 gr of white flour

50 gr of white sugar

3 egg yolks

½ lt of milk

1 lemon

Directions:

Preheat oven at 180 °C.

Butter and flour a tart pan of about 24 cm.

Prepare the pastry making a well in the flour and put in the egg yolks, the butter previously softened at room temperature, a pinch of salt, the baking powder and vanilla extract. Combine and knead all together until the dough comes smooth and even, then set aside for half hour.

In the meantime start the custard by putting the eggs yolks and sugar in a medium saucepan and whisking until well combined, add then slowly, while still mixing, the flour, the milk and grated lemon zest, cook over moderate heat, strirring, until it bubbles and becomes thick, set then aside to cool.

Split the the pastry in 2 pieces, one a little larger than the other, and roll out 2 dishes, the larger should be able to cover the bottom and sides of the tart pan, spread the cooled custard on top of the bottom dish pastry in an even layer. Set the smaller dish of pastry on top of custard layer trying to avoid air bubbles trapped in, press the edges together to seal the cake and cut out the excessive dough.

Spread on top the pine nuts and bake for 35 mins, Remove from the oven, let it cool, and then sprinkle some icing sugar on top.

In Tuscany this cake is usually served with a good glass of Vinsanto wine.

This is one of the many recipes that can be directly experienced with Arianna & Friends tuscan cooking school, all year round, in the Valdera district of Tuscany, Italy.