A brief brain dump of what I learned while eating and drinking my way through Tuscany. If you have others, please share in the comments!
- Drink local. Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Rosso di Montalcino, Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, Chianti Classico, Toscano Rosso. Order house wine. Many restaurants work with local wineries to produce their private-label house wines. Cheap and tasty.
- Take a (long, winding) drive on the Via di Chianti and stop in at random wineries. I visited Castello d’Albola and friends went to Vescine.
- You must eat truffles… truffle cheese, truffled pasta, truffled olive oil. They are not currently in season (fall/winter) but you will see their earthy mark everywhere. Bask.
- Visit the food market in Florence. Produce for pennies, housemade sausages, fresh meats. made me envious.
- Seek out restaurants that make their own pasta.
- The seafood is only OK in the inland parts… but the pork and sausage rocked my world. Chickens are far and above better than the US. Didn’t try much beef. Braised wild boar is truly magnificent.
- Find the off the beaten path restaurants… they are ALWAYS better. Avoid restaurants situated on the squares in larger cities. Tourist traps.
- I didn’t not have bad pizza anywhere… upgrade to bufala/buffalo mozzarella (not made from buffalo milk, btw, it’s a regional appellation for the cheese) when you can. Worth every penny.
- Try the chicken liver spread, if you can. Really.
- Eat as much gnocchi as you can… god, it was amazing.
- Buy Rick Steves’ Italy 2010… it became our bible.
Hi Taylor… I just arrived in Montepulciano and we will let you know how it goes. Thanks for the awesome tips.
Yep thats basically all we did =). I forgot the liver pate, thanks for remidning me!