Tuscany is a region in the north-west of Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million well-fed Tuscans. The regional capital, and the main tourist draw, is Florence with its numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi, and it is also a major city for Italian fashion, considered one of the top fifty clothes capitals of the world. But Tuscany is just as much known for food as frocks.
Tuscany is the region we will likely think of with regard to Italian food and wine. OK, the south also has much to recommend it but Tuscany has the richest tapestry of ingredients on a field of stunning landscape and architecture. Its lands produce celebrated wines, such as Chianti Classico, the Brunello di Montalcino, and Rosso di Montepulciano, which is one of my favourites and much underrated.
Tuscany is strewn with vineyards but there are also olive groves which are important to the local rural economy, along with cheese and meat production. Its simple cuisine has charmed the rest of us for generations and now we take advantage of holiday homes and cookery schools to immerse ourselves still further in the delicious dishes of Tuscany.
This book is part recipe book and part inviting travelogue. 50 recipes offer an overview of classic yet often rustic fare. You’ll have no problem finding the ingredients and you won’t need to have attended one of those aforementioned cookery schools to achieve success. Nothing too costly so this will be the book into which you can dip for more interesting family meals without the need to consult a bank manager.
Each area of Tuscany is considered and some representative recipes are listed, along with striking photography of food and the landscape. Hearty savoury dishes and sweet tarts to enjoy with that local wine.
If I was driven to select just one area on which to focus then it would probably be Luca in northern Tuscany. Arista al Finicchio – pork loin with fennel – is a dish that would work for a large family Sunday lunch: it does feed six. This pork is smart enough to be on your dinner party menu, with some roast veggies on the side.
Crostata di Ricotta Garfagnina – Garfagnina ricotta tart – would be the perfect end to that porcine feast. I always warm to a recipe that allows the cook to use ready-made pastry with no guilt. This is a rich cheese tart flavoured with a little Marsala and raisins for sweetness. A simple recipe for a dessert or an afternoon treat.
Tuscany is a book that will be appreciated by those who love Italian food but who are looking for something a little different from pizza. You don’t have to be an expert cook to be able to replicate these recipes, but an enthusiastic cookbook collector will find much that is new. Tuscany will also be sought by those who love the region and want a souvenir of holidays already enjoyed and inspiration for those yet to come.
Published by: Phaidon
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018