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, and enjoy them at the house.
You can forget about cooking – and start to consider the concept of un-cooking instead. 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 an 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 meal as simple as a few slices of just picked tomatoes, a handful of garden fresh basil with cheese and olive oil or a perfectly ripe cantaloupe melon with some salty Prosciutto is such a joy and so embodies Tuscany in the Summer. Despite having lived here for years every Summer we remark on how wonderful it is to get back to eating ingredients.
In the Summer, particularly, it is so easy to make and enjoy a super supper using 2 or 3 ingredients. Cheeses or cured meats – Pecorino, Salami, Prosciutto, as mentioned above – so simple, so good. From the deli counter in our favourite store (the Gastronomia) there’s a fabulous array of excellent cold ready to eat food sold by weight – they’ll even let you taste before you buy. Add a beautiful setting (your room or the garden) some crusty bread and a great bottle of wine for a truly relaxing, excellent meal at home.
You don’t have to go to a supermarket, 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 and 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…Bring home and assemble!
So it’s second time around and you want to try something a little different… such as that Insalata Caprese, or you want to make a fresh garden Pesto to enjoy with pasta? Buy your Buffalo Mozzarella from the local maker Nonno Benito about 8 minutes away. Close by find our absolute favourite Tuscan food store the Consorzio Agrario which is a joy to shop in for any thing else you might require and carries an excellent selection of Tuscan wines. Absolute kitchen essentials – good Olive oil, salt and pepper – are provided for you by us, found in the Summer Kitchen so that you don’t need to buy a whole bottle when you only need a drop. 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. We also have a little know how since living here so long to help you to figure out what you need to buy or do when anything beyond simply slicing and placing is required.
If you are as sure as sure that there’s no way you could consider preparing at any level for your self 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 about it.
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.