Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Schiacciata di Pasqua


This cake comes from Tuscan country cooking, and in particularly from the provinces of Pisa and Livorno.
It was traditionally made from Lent to Pentecost, when there was not much to eat.
It arises from bread dough enriched with eggs, sugar, and flavorings. It is a very balanced cake, with low fat and not many calories.
It is one of the most popular cake served on Easter in Tuscany. It is a delicious treat, often accompanied with chocolate Easter eggs and Vinsanto (Holy wine).
Schiacciata di Pasqua (Easter Schiacciata) is one of those traditional and ancient delicacy still enjoyed today. Ingredients and preparation are still the same ones used hundreds years ago.

One of the best pastry shop where you can get this delicious cake, is located in a small town of La Rotta, near Pisa, where my parents grew up. Pasticceria Leoncini is where every year, on Easter, my family and I would get this cake.
This is one of the food that we want to promote and protect, just because it represent everything about this wonderful Italian region; simple greatness.
Join us and truly discover how we live! A presto!
Let me know if you would like to have Schiacciata di Pasqua recipe.
Contact me at tours@utuscany.com

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Panino con il Lampredotto



Panino con il Lampredotto
is one of the most popular street food in the city of Florence.
Trippa (Tripe) and Lampredotto (Offal) are two dishes that perfectly represent the Florence popular culinary traditions, eating them is an experience you can’t miss.

Trippa, is the part of the digestive organ found between the esophagus and the stomach of the cows. Lampredotto, also comes from the stomach of a bovine, but is more tender, thin and flat, and it’s not white, but light brown.
The meat is simmered in a broth of herbs and vegetables, then cut up into small square slices and served on a traditional round crusty panino, called Semelle. It is also usually served with a green sauce, salsa verde, made from basil, garlic and olive oil.

The sandwiches are sold at typical Lampredotto stands, called Banchini dei Trippai, where you can stop, get your sandwich and wine (served in a plastic cup) and enjoy the city and a Panino con il Lampredotto. Probaly the best Lampredotto stand in Florence is Nerbone. Nerbone is located in San Lorenzo market, and it has been a city's institution since 1872.

Get to know this magnificent city through its traditional food, interact with the locals, discover sites left behind from the mass-tourism, experience the best of what Florence and Tuscany has to offer. Join us! A presto!



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Devil's Bridge

The 'Maddalena's Bridge' connect the two banks of the river Serchio in the small town of Borgo a Mozzano, near Lucca.It is located on the ancient Francigena road. In the medieval times it was an important pilgrimage road, connecting Rome to Canterbury (England).

The bridge construction goes back to the era of the Countess Matilde di Canossa (1046-1115), that had large influence and power on this zone of Tuscany, the Garfagnana, but its current aspect is due to the reconstruction carried on by Castruccio Castracani (1281-1328), Sir of Lucca at the beginning of the 14th century.

The bridge is known as Ponte del Diavolo (The Devil's Bridge) in force of a popular legend, reinforced from its strange aspect: a master mason begun its building but soon noticed that he would not be able to complete the work for the fixed day and frightened of the possible consequences invoked to the Devil asking him help. The Devil accepted to complete the bridge in a night in change of the spirit of the first that will cross it. The contract was signed but the constructor, full of remorse, confess himself with a religious of the zone that advised him to let cross the bridge for first to a pig. So the Devil was defeated and he disappeared in the deepness of the river.

This remarkable example of medieval engineering, is one of the many sites that you will discover with us at Undiscovered Tuscany.

Tuscany goes far beyond beautiful landscape of rolling hills dotted with vineyards and olive trees, art treasures and architectural landmarks. Let us show the undiscovered beauty of this wonderful Italian region. A presto!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

La Cecina


Cecina
is a thin, crisp, pizza-like pancake from the Tuscan coast. It is simply made by stirring chickpea flour into a mixture of olive oil, salt and black pepper, to form a loose batter, and baking it in the open oven.
The word Cecina comes from the Italian word Ceci that means Chickpeas.
It one of the most traditional food of Tuscany, and it is really hard to find it anywhere else outside the region.
La Cecina is traditionally cut into irregular shaped triangular slices, and then stuffed into Focaccia bread or between two slices of Pizza Margherita.
It is one of the most popular traditional Tuscan snack food, and it sold in Pizzerias and bakeries.
In the town of Livorno, Cecina is usually served between two slices of bread, and it is one of kids favorite food to eat for Merenda (snack-time).
Cecina also make a wonderful appetizer, along with cold cuts like, prosciutto, mortadella and Tuscan soppressata.
We offer visits and hands-on cooking classes to Tuscan pizzerias and bakeries, to show our guests how these traditional food are still made today. All of our partners are located in small towns off the beaten path.
We want to provide our guest the highest quality in travel, our goal is to make them experience the authentic Tuscan everyday life.
Join us for a trip of your lifetime, get to know one of the most beautiful place on earth:
La Toscana!

Here is La Cecina recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup chickpea flour
2 cups water
2 TSP olive oil
Dash salt and black pepper

Preparation:

Mix the batter (it is very watery) and let set for 2-4 hours.

Fire your oven so that is is hot and ready for fire-in-the-oven
cooking. Maybe two Mississippi's. This is a good brick oven recipe
because it cooks best with top and bottom heat.

Pour a liberal amount of oil in a baking sheet with 1" (or so) sides.
Add enough batter to make a 1/4" - 1/2" thick flat-bread, and bake for
10 minutes. It should be brown on top. Cut and drizzle with olive
oil, sprinkle with black pepper and serve immediately.
Bakeries have seasoned cast iron pans, so that Cecina does not stick
to the bottom, but a steel pan should work as well.

Chickpea flour is both healthy (a good source of protein) and tasty.
Buon appetito!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Upcoming 2010 Tours


We are booking our upcoming 2010 tours of Tuscany and we are very excited to announce our new itineraries, accommodations, and much more.

Our new day trips are the Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera, the Montecarlo (Lucca) wine country, the seaside resort town of Viareggio, the town of Barberino in Mugello, home of the largest designer shopping outlets in Italy, and much more.

Undiscovered Tuscany will also offer our guests private cooking classes at the property with local chefs, visits to local olive oil factories, food markets, wineries, ceramics factories, chocolate and gelato stores.

Our new accommodation is Casa Vacanza. Casa Vacanza is a gorgeous old country farmhouse, which has been completely renovated in the rural Tuscan style with terracotta floors. Casa Vacanza is divided into six comfortable apartments (double occupancy).
Casa Vacanza offers our guests a large and private living space, satellite TV, WIFI internet access, air conditioning, telephone. Also, the property offers a swimming pool with solarium, tennis courts, walking trails, free bicycles rent, a bar-lounge area, and a restaurant.

The property is located on the Lucca hills near the town of Altopascio on the famous Francigena road rich of history and culture.
The Via Francigena is an ancient road between Rome and Canterbury, passing through England, France, Switzerland and Italy. In mediaeval times it was an important road and pilgrimage route. To pilgrims headed south, it was the Via Romea; to those headed north, the Via Francigena.
You can see pictures of Casa Vacanza by clicking on this link http://www.utuscany.com/casavacanza.htm

Join us and you will get to know our passion for this wonderful land. Our high quality services and highly selected suppliers will make you feel part of our culture and never want to leave us.

Here is a sample itinerary :

Day 1
Pick up and transfer to Casa Vacanza. Meet your hosts, enjoy the surroundings and a typical Tuscan dinner.

Day 2
Visit to Olive oil factory, Sonnino winery and gelato store in Montespertoli in the Chianti. Lunch with private tasting at the Sonnino castle.

Day 3
Visit to Cecchini Butchery shop in Panzano (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKeBpGlJ5dw) and Villa Calcinaia winery. Lunch with tasting at Villa Calcinaia wine shop.

Day 4
Visit the Italian riviera Liguria region and the Cinqueterre historic towns. Lunch at local restaurant in Riomaggiore. All-day train and walking paths pass included.

Day 5
Visit to the city of Florence and central food market. Visit to the Accademia (home of Michelangelo's David) and lunch at wine-bar in downtown Florence.

Day 6
Visit to San Gimignano and one of the best winery in area for the production of Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG.

Day 7
Visit to a local winery in the Montecarlo hills area. Visit to the city of Pisa. Farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Tour of the leaning tower.

Day 8
Breakfast and transfer to airport.

Tour includes:
- Double occupancy single apartment accommodation in Casa Vacanza
- All ground transportations
- All visit to wineries and olive oil factory with tasting included
- All breakfasts, lunch and dinner included (wine and some liquor included)
- Pick up and drop off either Pisa or Florence airports
- Myself as a personal tour guide
- Cell phone (with free incoming calls)
- All taxes included

Contact us for pricing (our best ever!) and dates available at tours@utuscany.com

Became a fan of Undiscovered Tuscany, LLC on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook badge at the top of this page, also follow us on twitter at http://twitter.com/utuscany

Ciao e a presto!

Gianni Vanni

BENVENUTI IN TOSCANA!

Hello and welcome to Tuscany.
Join us for the trip of your lifetime. A Presto!