If you’ve never been to Italy in the Summer, you might think you need to book a place with a restaurant on site to really relax and enjoy a great meal ‘at home’. You don’t. Once you arrive you will realise how easily you could prepare a fantastic supper – if only for a little equipment, a suitable space. We have it! Not only is ignoring the fabulous produce that will be on sale all around you practically impossible there’s also no need to actually cook – particularly in the Summer. Buy food in the hill towns and buy wine in the wineries, bring back to the house and enjoy!
Forget about cooking – and consider the concept of un-cooking instead. So many of our traditional local dishes are assembled, rather than cooked. An example: the typical Tuscan plate of ‘Affetati Misti’ mixed slices on offer in almost any restaurant in Tuscany; a selection of local cured meats and cheeses. To get the ingredients cut and on to the plate is not really cooking, more assembling. Melon with prosciutto ham is another example of a super-simple assemblage; as is the eternal Italian favourite the Insalata Caprese (salad of Mozzarella cheese, Tomatoes and Basil). The art is in the shopping, not the cooking! A supper as simple as a few slices of just picked perfectly ripe tomatoes, a handful of garden fresh basil, cheese and Tuscan olive oil – or a perfectly ripe cantaloupe melon with some salty Tuscan Prosciutto is truly joyful and so embodies Tuscan Summer dining. Despite having lived here for years, every Summer we remark on how wonderful it is to get back to eating ingredients.
At 8 minutes from the house or en route for guests arriving from Rome or Florence Tuscan food store the Consorzio Agrario Tuscan Grocery a joyful place to shop. Find a fabulous array of ready-to-eat food sold by weight; much more than just cheeses and cured meats. The fruit and vegetables are always the best quality available and the wine selection is also super. At this store you can also eat the same produce that you can buy at the deli counter, in. Good food, relaxed atmosphere, right price. Open until 8pm, Closed on Sundays.
You don’t have to go to a ‘food shop’, either. Imagine: you’re out strolling some gorgeous hill town. Take the tiny hill town of Pienza, for example. The local speciality of ‘Pecorino di Pienza’ sheep’s cheese is offered on sale up and down the tiny main street, in side streets too. You can taste it in the restaurants, you can bring some home. We would suggest that buying a small selection of Pecorino (such as fresh, semi mature and mature) is the thing to do if visiting Pienza. So you have your cheese – and probably accompaniments of bread, honey, fruit…add a beautiful setting (the garden, terrace or your room) and a great bottle of wine for an uber-laid back supper at home.
Also to consider is ready-to-eat take out. This is a good option if you want to ‘pick up’ a meal en route home from a long day out exploring try the Coop Supermarket at the I Gelsi Commercial Centre about 5 minutes from the house for a good selection of ready to eat Italian food along with typical deli choices, this is the latest opening supermarket open until 8.30 pm and on Sundays in the Summer.
Pizza, the Italian fast food is also readily available. We particularly like The Scusate O’ Ritard Pizzeria which is about 5 minutes from the house, with easy parking opposite and a huge menu (in Italian) great pizza, good price, nice people. You can also eat in but as with the best pizzerias, it’s not a glamorous location. Closed on Monday.
If you would like to barbecue some of the glorious organic Chianina Beef from the Fratta, you could visit La Toraia (The Bull House) Butcher to buy. Opening hours can vary so we might need to call the butcher to check when he’s in for you. Alternatively ‘5 R’ rated Chianina meat is readily available around these parts. The cut to go for is the ‘Fiorentina’ Florentine T bone.
Kitchen essentials – good olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper, garlic, pasta, wine & water, espresso coffee – are provided for you within the Summer Kitchen. Tomatoes when they’re ripe (July through to the end of September) are generously planted in all shapes and sized in the house vegetable plot that you are welcome to pick from – and basil is typically abundant here during the same period.
If you are as sure as sure that there’s no way you could consider preparing at any level for yourself there is an alternative way to eat in – which also takes advantage of the Summer Kitchen – we can prepare something during our daily breakfast shift. We call this our ‘all day breakfast’, ask us how. Close by there are several excellent local restaurants starting with the closest being only 1500 metres away – ‘La Toraia’ serving their own organically farmed Chianina beef. The prince of Japan was here last year to eat steak at La Toraia and it’s certainly one of our absolute favourites. Advance booking is required in our local restaurants on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and certainly if you’re only with us for 2 nights you should book your first choices early.
Breakfast at the house is made with the ethos outlined above, the slow food philosophy that living in Italy has taught us. All as fresh as possible, just baked or just cut. Highest quality ingredients included boutique tea and coffee.
Often we cater for Wheat Free, Gluten Free & Celiac guests – as well as Vegan or Vegetarian and indeed if you have particular requirements never hesitate to let us know.