November trip to Tuscany & Umbria: what's in season? Regional specialties?
My spouse and I will be traveling though Tuscany and Umbria in late November, specifically Pisa, Pienza, Siena, Arezzo, Gubbio and Assisi. We'd like to eat seasonal food and regional specialties. For example, I know that pecorino cheese is made in Pienza and that it's probably a good time of the year for mushrooms.
What would you recommend? We eat everything, but we need to stick with a modest budget. We really love street food and enjoy picnicking.
Sorry to be a bore, but there have been dozens of posts on dining in these towns. Be sure to do a search on this board for each town you are thinking of visiting.
Il Rosselino, in Pienza, has been recommended in the past by myself & others. It is run by an older couple and has about 5 tables. Reservations are essential.
You can find white truffles available in November in this part of Italy. The NY Times had an article a few years about white truffles in and around the village of San Giovanni d'Asso, which is south of Siena. If I can find it on the NY Times website, I will post a link.
It might be worth it for you to pick up a book called Authentic Tuscany put out by the Touring Club of Italy (TCI)
They have a large section devoted to regional specialties - meats, cheeses, wines, pastries etc. not only of each region but each town along with lists of recommended shops you can buy these items. They are weak on actual restaurant recommendations but it sounds like thats not what you are asking.
In Tuscany this time of year , of course, truffles are in season, but for those watching their pennies, they are perhaps not the direction to take. I certainly recommend you try Cinghiale (wild boar) in umido and coniglio (rabbit served in a variety of ways), as they are Tuscan specialties and worth trying.If you get to Orvieto, which I highly recommend, as a delightful little hill town famous for its wonderful white wine, do look for the restaurant in the cave, a hidden gem full of delicious food.
Although you are more likely to see it north of the Apennines than in Tuscany/Umbria, one other fall specialty to look for is fresh pasta (tortellini, ravioli, etc.) stuff with zucca (pumpkin). It is usually served with sage leaves sauteed/fried in butter. Very tasty indeed!
Pienza is fabulous.
East of Pienza, next to the Autostrada, is Lucignano. Go to Da Toto for authentic seasonal, regional cooking. It's what they do! And it will only cost you about 30 euros pp for a 4 or 5 course meal with everything included. (Wine, water, grappa.)
Don't use the carte: let chef Boris choose.
Don’t miss “IL GARIBALDI INNAMORATO”, for greatly cooked fresh sea-food, generous portions and honestly priced – around 30 Euro per pax without wine. Menus vary according to season and offer such delights as “Zuppa alla Corsa” (Corse Soup) – “Tagliatelle con Cernia e Porri” (Tagliatelle with Stone Bass Fillets and Leeks), “Seppie con passato di Ceci” (Cuttlefish with chickpeas puree).
“OSTERIA DEI CAVALIERI”. It is an intimate and historic restaurant. Here you can choose/mix from three Menus (traditional Tuscany and more creative):
Di terra Meat & Poultry
Di mare Seafood
Di Verdure Vegetables
Around 35 Euro per pax without wine. Worth a visit
Crazy for chocolate? DE BONDT – Lungarno Pacinotti.
Pecorino Cheese. Yes, there is the Pecorino Cheese from Pienza.
“Crostino Toscano”. A rich and earthy traditional Tuscan chicken liver pate, sometimes flavoured truffle, with onion, and carrot. Great on canapés, crostini or hot toast.
“Cantuccini o Cantucci Toscani”. The classic Tuscan biscuit with almonds accompanied by “Vin Santo” (Sweet Wine).
“Panforte artigianale di Siena” and “Ricciarelli”. Siena cake, Siena biscuits.
“Lardo di Colonnata”. The world’s best lard
re: Henrietta Stackpole
From Wikipedia :-):
Lardo is a type of salume (Italian charcuterie) made by curing strips of fatback with rosemary and other herbs and spices.
The most famous lardo is from the Tuscan hamlet of Colonnata, where lardo has been made since Roman times. Colonnata is a frazione of the larger city of Carrara, which is famous for its marble; Colonnata is itself a site where Carrara marble is mined and, traditionally, lardo is cured for months in basins made of this local marble. Lardo di Colonnata is now included in the Ark of Taste catalogue of heritage foods as well as enjoying IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) status.
Another prized form of lardo is the Valle d'Aosta Lard d'Arnad, a PDO product from the area of Arnad in Aosta Valley. Both superior types of lardo may be served very thinly sliced as an antipasto.
An interesting recipe in English :-)