Of all the pastas, ravioli is our favorite so far. Thinly pressed sheets of homemade pasta dough filled with what is regional and seasonal, topped with a variety of delicious sauces like truffle oil and mushrooms, garlic and olive oil or a tomato sauce. This dish served in Cortona was a classic ricotta filling topped with a mushroom and truffle sauce. Delicious!
Near our base camp of Monticchiello is the town of Cortona, which many people will recognize from the film ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’. We learned from a shop owner that the winter snow scene in the center piazza required 10 truck loads of salt to create the effect of winter. Apparently, the night after the first ‘snow scene’, the region got a massive thunder and rainstorm washing away all of the salt into the streets below (as Cortona is a VERY hilly city). The next day the film crew had to haul in another 10 truckloads of salt to fill the streets again. Can you imagine?
There is so much to explore in Tuscany, and a week is hardly enough to see all that this region has to offer with cooking classes, olive harvest, buildings, and a long and rich Italian history. Lucky for Mom and I we both agree is that we love the days that we don’t go anywhere at all. Just wandering in our own little city, stopping to enjoy the sun and sounds and smells seem to be the most satisfying and give us the brief feeling that we actually live there.While in Cortona, from a fellow traveller, we learned that Italian breweries are starting to adopt the ‘Abby’ style of beer making that is so famous in Belgium and in fact one of the Abby breweries of the world in located in Italy. In Cortona, we found a delicious little restaurant that sells craft (not Abby) beer from a local Cortona brewery called “Birrificio Cortonese“. The staff were super friendly and welcoming and it was open and serving food at the odd hours of 4pm, when most other restaurants are closed.So long as you order a drink, in most restaurants it is typical in Tuscany for the waiter to bring you a little appy to get thing started. The one below is a plate of Tuscan style bread with different spreads (olive, tomato & eggplant). If you are not a huge eater and enjoy your healthy vegetables, many restaurants will have a ‘side order’ section that features baked potatoes, side salads (often very large) and local grilled vegetables. We were thrilled with the grilled eggplant, zucchini and squash show below. ALWAYS in Italian cooking, be sure to garnish your dish with a healthy drizzle of olive oil for the best flavor. Of course, even though our trip is heavily focused on the local cuisine, we cannot help but admire the incredible churches, mosaics, frescoes and buildings that truly are everywhere in Italy. dOh … and the colors your image here really do exist.