Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mangiare in Italia!

We have a guest blogger today — my husband Dan Ryan:

As some of you may know, we are planning a trip to Italy. There are so many things we're looking forward to seeing: We start in Venice, then go to Rome and Positano in the first week. The second week will be spent at an agriturismo in Tuscany, I Melograni del Chianti.


One of the great things about our weeklong rental is that it comes with a kitchen (pictured above) — and a barbecue — so we can have fun buying and cooking local foods. So many things come to mind: cinghiale (wild boar), porcini mushrooms, all sorts of pasta, and of course bistecca fiorentina with local beef.

Remembering that there is much more to do in Tuscany than shop and cook, I posted a question on TripAdvisor.com about the best ways to shop; there have been several useful responses. A sampling:

Quality coops:
Meat and fish are excellent at all the local Coops; there's a chain called Punto that has a rosette for award winning Chianina beef that is as good as any I source from my local butcher
Hello rabbit:
Rabbit too is also very popular and if wild has a great flavour. Terrific in casseroles, grilled or roasted.
A few people chimed in after that comment and said that there are no wild rabbits in Tuscany, but there are wild hares; now you know.
I'd suggest you make good use of your agriturismo's barbecue rather than buying meat that takes a long time to cook and buy enough food for your first two days as shops and restaurants often close on Sundays.
There are also some differences in the store:
Just a quick note of supermarket etiquette that we don't have in the US. There are plastic gloves provided in boxes near the fresh fruits and Vegs, put them on to pick out your produce. Most (supermarkets) you are responsible also for weighing it on the scale, punching the correct item (it is all pictures) and then putting the price sticker on the bag. Think how lovely this would be in the US! 
 I think all of the pork tastes different too - much tastier.
And the figs!:
small sweet fresh green figs were flying off the stalls at the market in Orvieto this morning (Euros 2.50 a kilo). And if you're particular about your lettuces, they too are good when sourced from the market as many stallholders have their own smallholdings so they will have been picked late last night. 
So, figs, porcini and beef move to the top of the list, though maybe we'll have to save the wild boar for restaurant eating. There's more info in the thread, so please feel free to check out the link.

By the way, some travel trivia: This will be our fourth visit to Venice, and the fourth different way we'll have arrived there: Train (1993), Car (1999), Cruise Ship (2004) and now airplane this year. Here's a photo we took from the top of the Star Princess in 2004:


Buon appetito!  

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