Charity dinner for “io sempre donna”

Charity dinner for “io sempre donna”

Cantina Gattavecchi organizes a yearly fundraising dinner for the Breast Cancer Foundation “Io Sempre Donna“. Io Sempre Donna is in Chianciano Terme, a small village nearby Montepulciano.

Usually this annual charity dinner offers food from all over the world. But this time chef Lilian Gattavecchi decided to offer an Italian night with food from different regions, such as: Trentino – Alto Adige, Veneto, Calabria, Sardegna, Liguria, Toscana, Piemonte, Sicilia and Lombardia.

The wines they served were local wines from winery Gattavecchi: Toscana IGT red and white; Rosso di Montepulciano DOC; Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG and Vino Santo di Montepulciano DOC.

The total amount of the dinner was euro 30.00 per person (including bread, water and wine).

Io Sempre Donna

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women. Io Sempre Donna helps women who are dealing with breast cancer and are in need of emotional support.

In Italy women who are 50 years or older (until 69) have screenings every 2 years. Women with a family history of breast cancer have a routine screening mammograms every year.

Io Sempre Donna means literally “Me always a woman”. Women diagnosed with breast cancer face a difficult time. Io Sempre Donna assist and support them before, during and after hard times.

Menu charity dinner

Antipasti

Toscana – nero toscano (chicken liver)
Calabria – BOMBA calabra (chilly peppers)
Umbria – salame al tartufo e crostini funghi mozzarella
Sardegna – pecorino cheese
Veneto – baccalà mantecato (stockfish)

Primi piatti

Trentino Alto Adige – canederli in brodo
Campania – scialatelli alla sorrentina
Piemonte – la paniscia alla novarese

Secondo piatti

Lombardia – polenta con le quaglie (quail)
Toscana – peposo (red wine beef stew with lots of pepper)

Contorni

Liguria – patate al forno con i funghi
Sicilia – melanzane (eggplants)
Toscana – fagioli bianchi (white beans)

Dolci

Toscana – crostata / biscotti al Vino Nobile
Lombardia – tiramisù

Conclusion

The food was fabulous. We were a bit too full at the end but it was really amazing. A great experience!

 

Glera | prosecco grape harvest

Glera | prosecco grape harvest

The heroic grape harvest season of the Glera falls between the end of September and early October in Refrontolo. Refrontolo is a small town in the heart of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene and the Colli di Conegliano region.

Glera is the principal white grape variety of the prosecco sparkling wine. It is a late ripening grape variety. They are green and have a thin skin. The grape is classified as semi-aromatic with a high acidity, making it perfect for prosecco wine production.

The “vendemmia” in the province of Treviso is one of the most fascinating time of the year. It is a busy period when it comes to local harvest festivals and feasts.

Many tourists visit Italy especially in the fall season to discover the best (new) wines and food the region has to offer.

Vintage 2021

Summer 2021 in Italy was a warm growing season for the grapes. Warmer than average summer. The grapes didn’t suffer from water stress and sunburn, fortunately.

The quality of the grapes is superior this year. Due to the warm weather conditions the berries have accumulated more sugar than usual. The grapes are in good health and excellent in balance of sugar-acidity.

They say vintage 2021 is an outstanding wine year for prosecco. Good news for fans of this wine. Cheers!

Production process Prosecco Superiore

The area Conegliano Valdobbiadene is situated between Venice and the Dolomites. 

All the grapes have to be hand picked. The vines are planted on hills with narrow ridges and steep slopes. This makes mechanized harvest impossible.

After picking, the tractor driver brings the next load to the winery for fermentation. But before they are unloaded, they are weighed by the winemaker in order to check that they do not exceed the production limits fixed for each vineyard every year.

The grapes are pressed gently in absence of oxygen and any skin contact. 

The freshly pressed fruit juice is the must. The sugar concentration and the acid content will be measured before fermentation starts. Corrections/additions of yeast or acids can be needed and sulfites (SO2), are always be added during the wine making process.

Metodo Charmat / Martinotti

Prosecco is an Italian DOC and DOCG white sparkling wine.

The tank method “Metodo Charmat or Martinotti” is a very common method to make prosecco. The first fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks to keep the fruity flavors in the wine.

While the second fermentation takes place, the large tank is sealed to prevent CO2 from escaping. This is a slow process.

The longer and slower the winemaking process, the more delicate the prosecco wine will be.

There are different qualities in prosecco. Production and quality of the grapes are definitely Superiore at Toffoli. Therefor their DOCG Superiore prosecco is often more expensive over the standard DOC.

Mind that prosecco is a wine to drink young, ideally within one year of its production. It is not a wine for storing.

Strada del Prosecco / Prosecco road

The Strada del Prosecco is Italy’s oldest wine route. At first it linked the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene but now it winds its way through more communities between the towns Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.

The area has a number of biking,- hiking trails and good restaurants to eat. It is a unique and magnificent place where past and present come together.

Since 2019 the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene hills are UNESCO World Heritage site.

Wine tasting

Visitors are welcome at winery Toffoli to taste their wines. It is recommended to call or e-mail in advance to book a date and time.

The prosecco wine tasting takes place at the winery. Before you taste the wines the wine maker will guide you through his vineyards and the wine cellar.

Family Toffoli is happy to welcome you in Refrontolo!

Online wine tasting

A Taste of Veneto! is a unique wine experience with the winemaker himself Sante Toffoli and an Italian sommelier.

This online tour and tasting is the perfect way to get to know the winery and the wines from Veneto.

The tasting can be organized at any date and time of your choice. All wines from Toffoli will be sent from our distribution centre in Holland.

Getting excited? For more information about this online wine experience visit my website “A Taste of Veneto!

 

The best Chianina steak in Foiano della Chiana

The best Chianina steak in Foiano della Chiana

Foiano della Chiana is a small village in the province of Arezzo. It is home to a few thousand inhabitants

I have never visited the historic centre of Foiano della Chiana, but I do know that they have the best meat restaurant in town!

Fierli farm

Fierli is an organic farm. They keep 200 Chianina calfs and 300 Cinta Senese pigs. The animals have 100 ha agriculture land for grazing.

A few years ago I visited the farm. The agriculture land is really impressive and nice to see.

Nicola, Cecilia, Francesco, Atos and Eros Fierli are all responsible for running the farm and the restaurant. It is a good place to eat and popular with locals who come to enjoy the bistecca and other high quality meat dishes.

The farm and restaurant are located in the centre, not far from the Valdichiana Outlet in Foiano della Chiana.

Restaurant Fierli

The restaurant is open seven days a week for lunch.  Only indoor dining is offered. Dinner is saved only for special occasions or a private dining event.

The shop is open at 9 am every day. I often buy meat at the Fierli’s butcher shop for new local recipes with wine I sell in my webshop.

The Cinta Senese pigs and the Chianina veals are merely slaughtered only by competent personnel at specialized established slaughterhouses.

Son Nicola and daughter Cecilia are committed to serving you amazing food. The restaurant offers dishes that showcase fresh local produce from their own farm.

The restaurant’s wine list consists of a small selection of local Tuscan wines. Cecilia is a certified FISAR sommelier and she loves to guide you through the range of wines and advice you on the perfect food pairing. 

Cecilia is a good friend of mine, I have known her since our FISAR wine study in Italy.

Bistecca Chianina IGP

Chianina meat is protected by the IGP mark (Protected Geographical Indication). This means quality guaranteed.

IGP is linked to the place of origin where it is being produced, processed and prepared. The average weight of one bistecca is 1 kg and meant to serve 2-3 people.

Chianina is one of the finest meat. It is the oldest breed of cattle raised in Italy. Chianina is also called the “gigante bianco”, the white giant because of the size and the color.

Its territory of origin is the Val di Chiana in the province of Siena. You can find the Chianina breed in central Italy.

In ancient times the Chianina was used only for work, but since the ’30 in Bettole (Valdichiana) the breed is raised for meat production. The Chianina veal is not made for fast growing and slaughtering. 

Chianina is the largest and oldest breed in the world. The meats are extremely delicious and healthy!

Cinta Senese DOP

The indigenous Cinta Senese pig is native to the Tuscan region and in particular nearby Siena. The breed is medium sized, with black skin and a white belt. They have been raised for centuries.

The pigs live in maximum freedom throughout diverse forests. The Cinta Senese pigs can eat whatever they want. 

The meat has a DOP classification, which means local products of high quality. It has a unique and surprising flavour.

The main cured meats produced with the Cinta Senese breed are dry-cured ham, capocollo, finocchiona, salami, pancetta and so on.

Chianina and Cinta Senese Experience

Fierli organizes a Chianina and Cinta Senese Experience 2-3 times a week. Enjoy the possibility of high quality, organic, wholesome and KM zero food.

The chef prepares the best meat dishes for your lunch. It is an amazing experience when you’re on holiday in Italy. Also nice for children.

For more information and bookings: ChianinaItaly

 

Market in Montepulciano

Market in Montepulciano

Weekly market every Thursday in Montepulciano

A visit to the local market is a very characteristic experience in Montepulciano.

It is a typical Italian market with fresh fish, salumi, prosciutto, olives, different types of pecorino cheeses, cod, mozzarella di bufala, roast chicken as well as kitchen utensils, clothes and shoes.

There is always something for everyone!

The weekly market is from 8 am till 1 pm. Address: Piazza Pietro Nenni in Montepulciano.

Two market stalls every Tuesday and Friday in Montepulciano

Every week on Tuesday and Friday morning is a small outdoor market in the “Via Marino Cappelli” in front of the BCC Bank. The two market stalls sell fresh fruit, vegetables and fish.

The fish market vendor offer a wide range of fresh fish and seafood: salmon, tune, calamari, squid, cuttlefish and prawns for instance. In addition to the fresh fish you’ll find all kinds of fried fish and fried vegetables such as “fiori di zucca”. Fiori di zucca are blossoms stuffed with ricotta cheese. It’s really worth a try!

This small market is mostly frequented by locals.

Why going to the market?

I love to buy local produce at the market. I like knowing where the food I eat comes from and supporting local farmers. It is good for the environment and it benefits the local economy. 

The food is super fresh compared to the grocery store foods. The market stalls showcase their locally fresh (seasonal) fruits and vegetables. The vendors are more than friendly and they will always choose the best pieces of fruit and vegetables for you.

Every week I go the market in Montepulciano. I often do my shopping at my favorite market stalls. Barra Francesco from Foiano della Chiana (AR) is the best stallholder to buy fresh mozzarella and burrata.

They have a small market stall, not only for cheese, but they sell also other delicacies from Southern Italy. It is a real family owned businesses where mother, father and son are all involved.

Mozzarella di bufala is a traditionally soft cheese produced in the region Campania. Mozzarella is a ball of fresh cheese and has a better texture, richness and overall flavor than the mozzarella cheese from a grocery store.

The family Barra also sells delicious olives, anchovies, taralli (typical snack from Puglia), taralli napoletani, different kinds of cheeses and dried tasty sausages. 

Traditional food

Tuscany is rich in traditional, mainly pork based, dishes. For instance “porchetta”. This is a roasted pork with fennel, bay leaves and pepper. It is a real specialty from Umbria and Southern Tuscany.

Many locals eat a porchetta sandwich for lunch.

Furthermore the bistecca Fiorentina is a famous meat dish in central Italy.

Every day I try to cook fresh. I do not always have the time for that, but I find it important to eat fresh and healthy. The dishes I prepare are mostly seasonal.

Autumn is coming and at the moment you can find a big offer of funghi porcini at the market. So what do we eat tonight? Pappardelle ai funghi porcini!

Buon appetito.

 

Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva recipe

Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva recipe

Recipes for ossobuco vary wildly. Although the “Ossobuco alla Milanese” from Lombardy may be one of the most famous and well known Italian secondo piatto.

My favorite recipe is: Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva!

Ossobuco di Chianina IGP

You can pair ossobuco with other dishes. I am talking about delicious saffron risotto such as: Risotto alla Milanese.

As a side dish you may choose to eat ossobuco with polenta or with mashed potatoes.

The Italian ossobuco is a beef shank from the cow’s leg. It is a cut of meat butchered from a cow’s or bull leg.

Much is written on which part is best. It’s been said that veal shanks from the hind legs are the best! Meat from those parts is more voluminous and fleshy.

Ossobuco literally translates to “bone with a hole” with meat. You can prepare ossobuco from veal but also with other kinds of meat such as pork.

However, the finest meat for cooking, in Tuscany, is Chianina breed. It is high valued meat with a more intense taste.

For this recipe I bought the ossobuco di Chianina at the Fierli farm in Foiano della Chiana. Fierli is an organic farm. The animals have a long life and they are treated well.

Recipe

The Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva is a true Tuscan recipe. Many people don’t prepare it at home. Some cuts of veal from the store may be chewy.

Tip for buy-in, first look for shanks that are > 2 inches. If they’re too thin, they’ll braise too fast.

My style Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva needs the following ingredients:

Ingrediënten

Recipe for 1 person

  • 1 ossobuco di Chianina
  • flour
  • red wine “Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG” – Il Convento
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 onion (soffritto)
  • 1 celery (soffritto)
  • 1 carrot (soffritto)
  • 1 bay lief
  • pepper
  • salt
  • olive oil

When braising the ossobuco you may as well use meat broth or any other liquid (water). I prefer to use only wine. I do not mix the wine with other liquids. That would be a no-go, especially when it’s a high quality wine.

Also mixing tomatoes or tomato paste with red wine is not what I recommend. But that’s my personal opinion.

What else do you need

Stew pot

Braadpan

How to cook

Chop the onions, carrots and celery.

Peel the garlic.

Heat the pot until the olive oil is well heated. Instead of olive oil you may also use butter.

First stir-fry the garlic. When the garlic begins to colour reduce heat. Add the soffritto and cook the vegetables until they begin to soften and caramelize.

Meanwhile cover the Ossobuco with the flour.

Ossobuco di Chianina IGP

When the soffritto has a golden wheat color, remove it or move it to a side. It depends on the size of the stew pot. Sear the ossobuco on both sides until nicely browned. Sprinkle the ossobuco with salt and pepper.

Pour the red wine over the ossobuco and bring it to boil to evaporate the alcohol. Reduce the heat and add the bay leave and cloves.

Cover the pot and check occasionally. When the wine is absorbed just add a little extra. The meat should be left at a low temperature for about 2-3 hours.

When the meat is tender it will fall off the bone. The marrow in the hole of the bone is the best part of the ossobuco. It is a real delicacy and super yummy!

Serve the ossobuco on a plate and the warm wine sauce on top of it.

Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG

What to serve with ossobuco

Due to its massive taste ossobuco goes well with a creamy risotto, mashed potatoes or polenta.

Wine

If you’re cooking beef or stew Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (sangiovese) is your friend. It affects the taste of the dish. The ripe flavors in this wine give complexity to the sauce and the meat. Chianina is a traditional and genuine meat with an intense and pure taste.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a full bodied wine. It is best when paired with the right food. In particular Chianina beef.

Nothing beats the magic of a brilliant wine and food pairing!

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG is recommended by Dutch wine critic and journalist De Grote Hamersma. This wine is available in my webshop.

Buon appetito!

Video

Watch this video recipe to see how to cook Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva.

 

 

Biking in Montepulciano

Biking in Montepulciano

Biking in Montepulciano – Tuscany

The region Tuscany is a land of cyclists, it offers a variety of itineraries. Biking is one of the best ways to explore more of this wonderful wine region!

Montepulciano is a scenic hilltop town. It stands on a limestone hill. This area is the right place for road and dirt road cycling routes, but good fitness is required.

The best period for cycling Tuscany on bike are from March to October. Riding in the summer can be hot, but you can bike early in the morning, avoiding the heat of the day. Many find it’s a great time to relax and plan their day.

If you are planning about cycling in Tuscany, the most important biking needs are a good bike (MTB or race), a helmet and a repair kit. Cycling with a helmet is really recommended!

Bike itineraries to Pienza

There are amazing bike routes from Montepulciano to Pienza. The trail types are mostly asphalt and dirt roads. You ride along the hills overlooking the amazing views of Val d’Orcia.

Most of the trails are suitable for advanced – experienced riders. They are quite challenging but definitely worth it!

1) Mountain bike route Montepulciano – Pienza

This is a gravel road and a road itinerary. Ideal for MTB, not for tour or racing bikes. You’ll bike through hills, valleys, olive groves and vineyards. This is a spectaculair itinerary for experienced mountainbikers.

Distance 27 km.

2) Road cycling route Montepulciano – Pienza

Explore this amazing cycle route to Pienza! The start and arrival point is Montepulciano. From here you start the bike tour among the hills of the Val di Chiana valley. Passing Montichiello you’ll see the very best of the iconic Val d’Orcia valley.

Val d’Orcia

Panoramic roads lead you the Renaissance village Pienza. Once you’ve passed Pienza you take the road back to Montepulciano.

Distance 38 km.

3) Road cycling route Montepulciano – Acquaviva – Montepulciano Stazione

This itinerary is almost my daily bike exercise. It is a short ride from the historic centre of Montepulciano to Acquaviva, Valiano and Montepulciano Stazione.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano, Acquaviva and Valiano are hilly villages. The biking route around Montepulciano Stazione is primarily flat.

After leaving Montepulciano this road passes the villages of Acquaviva and Valiano. Once you reach Valiano you turn back the way up to Montepulciano Stazione and Montepulciano.

In the countryside of Montepulciano you can see the hospital of Nottola.

Distance 27.6 km.

4) Road cycling route Montepulciano – Chianciano – Montallese – Montepulciano Stazione

It is a nice panoramic ride, it has not many up and downs. Starting in Montepulciano you follow the signs direction Chianciano and Chiusi.

Chiusi is the former Etruscan city in the province of Siena.

Along the road to Chiusi you pass my favorite pizza restaurant “Jamaica”. Jamaica is close to the discotheque La Bussola In. The pizza’s at Jamaica are huge and delicious!

Pizza Jamaica

Turning left you take the downhill road to Montallese. When arriving in Montallese turn right and you take the dirt road – cycle path to Lago di Montepulciano (Lake Montepulciano). This path is also called “Il sentiero della Bonifica.”

Sentiero della Bonifica

From there you follow the dirt road to Valiano, Montepulciano Stazione and then the road back to Montepulciano. Cycling uphill to Montepulciano is not easy. The road is not very steep but it is long. For this track you need a reasonable fitness.

Distance 53 km.

Happy cycling!