Tuscan food: delicious
Tuscan people have a historical addiction to excellent food. It doesn’t matter if it is a high level restaurant or a family meal, food has to be excellent and you have to invest time on it. It is a great honour for the cook and great pleasure to tablemates. Of course, “Bistecca alla Fiorentina” (blue thick steak, which is typical of Florence) is more expensive than “Tortelli alla Mugellana” (homemade egg pasta filled with potatoes, rosemary, garlic, cheese and bacon), but all Tuscan dishes express local knowledge and passionate artisan skills. In our tours we love to taste local Tuscan food! Have a lookOur tour in Tuscany
It doesn’t matter the price or the food style, you can find delicious local food even in the streets of Tuscany. Street food in Tuscany can be excellent. To find the best quality, you have to go to the right places, such as the local open-air markets. The more locals you see there, the better the quality is. If you find a local market (and you are not vegetarian) you have to try “Panino con la Porchetta” and “Lampredotto”. The “Panino con la Porchetta” is a sandwich (the bread we use is called “Rosetta”) stuffed with sliced roast suckling pig and seasoned with garlic and herbs. In Florence you can taste “Lampredotto”, a sandwich with the lamprey (the meat of one of the four stomachs of cattle) boiled in water and served plain, or with spicy oil or green sauce. They will add flavour to the bread by bathing it in the water of cooking meat. Alternatively, you can taste the “Trippa Fiorentina”, which is also a sandwich.
Street food for vegetarian people and non
For vegetarians, and non vegetarian people, you can go to buy some “Schiacciata” at a local bakery. The “Schiacciata” is rise bread with olive oil, rosemary and coarse salt. There are many types. If it is a thick and soft “Schiacciata”, you can fill it with whatever you want (olive paté, pickled tomatoes, Pecorino cheese, ham, aubergines…). The “5 and 5”, typical from Livorno, is a “Schiacciata” stuffed with a salty cake and chickpeas flour. Its name is due to the way it was once required, “5 pounds of bread and 5 pounds of cake”: so 5 and 5. You can eat it with pepper, or aubergine sauce.
Sweet street food
If you are still at the bakery, you can also take the chance to taste something sweet. Depending on the time of the year, you can find different desserts (here, we never get bored by food). In Carnival, there are “Frittelle di riso di San Giuseppe” with rice, egg, sugar, flour and a dub of rum fried in hot oil. You can also find “Cenci”: fried dough made from egg, flour and sugar. If you are in Tuscany during the grape collection, you must try “Schiacciata con l’Uva”, which is the sweet version of “Schiacciata”. They make the dough with grapes and sugar and they cook it in the oven. Simply delicious!
Traditional Pastisserie in Tuscany
In the Nannini Patisserie in Siena, you can buy and taste “Panforte”, a medieval dessert, which is typical of Siena. It has pepper and dry fruits. They also have a more modern version, which is sweet and has sugar and honey. You can also try the “Ricciarelli” and the “Pan Pepato”. In the Mattei shop, in Prato, you can buy delicious dry biscuits called “Cantuccini” and “Bruttiboni”. To enjoy them as much as you can, you have to dunk the “Cantuccini” in a little glass of “Vinsanto”, a sweet white wine for dessert. In some restaurants, they are already served with a glass of “Vinsanto”. However, remember that the original biscuits are from Prato!
Restaurant Food in Tuscany
There are many different types of restaurant in Tuscany for all tastes and pockets. I love to eat in Restaurants like: “Trattoria”, “Fiaschetteria”, “Osteria”. These places are normally the Tuscan authentic and local restaurant where you can eat high quality, local food at very good price. These restaurants vary their menu with the season and some of them specialize in just few dishes. If you find a short list in the Menu, this is a tangible clue that they are really specialized. So, they know very well what they are cooking.
First course at the Restaurant
In winter, you should try the “Ribollita”, which literally means: re-boiled. Like most Tuscan dishes, it is a soup of very humble origins but with a great taste. There are many variations but its main ingredients are Tuscan bread (stale bread) and various seasonal vegetables and legumes, in particular, black cabbage. We add some extra virgin olive oil and some black pepper. Et voilà, it is ready!
Another first course I recommend to try is “Tortelli alla Mugellana”. They are from the Mugello, the hilly countryside region near Florence. My aunt is from there and she loves to cook them following the original recipe. Tortelli are fresh egg pasta stuffed with boiled potatoes seasoned with fried garlic, bacon, salt, black pepper, Parmigiano cheese and rosemary. My aunt combines them with a sauce of butter, sage leaves and Parmigiano cheese to exalt the filling flavour. But, in some restaurants, they use Ragù sauce (aka Bolognesa sauce – ground beef fried with tomato sauce for hours) which is also fabulous.
Main course at the Restaurant
Here, in Tuscany, we love to eat meat. The “Bistecca alla Fiorentina” is a blue thick steak typical of Florence, which is why we call it “Fiorentina”. It consists of a very thick cut of tenderloin beef or beef (usually Chianina race) that contains the bone. Try to eat it like in the original recipe (very rare). The steak is very soft and the meat is delicious cooked like that. You can share your steak with someone else and order something to accompany it like, “Fagioli all’uccelleto” (beans) or a salad. You will love it in its blue version, believe me!
If you don’t want to eat too much meat, I recommend you to try the “Sedani Ripieni alla Pratese” which is Celery filled with ground beef, mortadella ham, Parmigiano cheese, garlic and few eggs. They are fried and then cooked in the Ragù sauce or duck sauce. In both cases they are magnificent! This dish is typical from Prato, but they also cook it in the Florence.
Dessert at the Restaurant
We have already talked about some bakery and patisserie desserts. Some of them can also be tasted in restaurants. In addition, I recommend you to try Tiramisù. Tiramisù is made with Mascarpone cheese, beaten eggs, sugar, chocolate and sponge finger biscuits wet in Martini liquor or coffee. I love it! If you travel to Pisa, Lucca and their countryside, you should try the “Torta coi bischeri”: literally cake with pegs. The base is a sort of shortcrust pastry, while the filling is prepared with rice, chocolate, eggs, sugar, pine nuts, candied fruit, raisins, enriched with nutmeg and liqueur. Only restaurants that are using local ingredients, can call it “Torta coi bischeri”.