2018: Year of Italian food: a fabulous gastronomic and wine heritage

March 16, 2018  |  Culture and Art, Food & Wine  |  Comments Off on 2018: Year of Italian food: a fabulous gastronomic and wine heritage

Italian food market

Did you know? 2018 will be the year of Italian food, celebrating the Italian gastronomic and wine heritage and the links between gastronomy, landscape, art and culture.

However, the term “Italian food” is too generic! It is much richer and diverse, although for many non-Italians pasta, risotto or pizza are synonymous with Italian cuisine. In fact there are many types of Italian food, as many as regions!

Food and wine are two pillars of the Tuscan culture. Inherited from rural tradition, it is made of simple products: locally sourced, fresh, seasonal and tasty, such as tomato, eggplant, peppers, beans with regard to vegetables, beef, wild boar, rabbit, chicken, with regard to meat. Everything is cooked with locally produced extra virgin olive oil… With these dishes, simple but tasty, accompanied by exquisite wines, and especially the Chianti Classico, you taste Tuscany!

And Villa le Barone serves traditional Tuscan food, prepared, with local fresh products by our Tuscan cooks. The extra virgin olive oil, with ecolabel, comes either from the olive grove of Villa le Barone, or that of our farm in Maremma. Beef, also eco-certified, comes from our breeding free limousines cows… and in July, August, and September, tomatoes so tasty also come from our farm.

Buffet of appetizers at Villa le Barone

The dinner menu is a typical Italian menu. First, the traditional antipasti buffet to whet your appetite, with various regional charcuteries, colorful salads, marinated or dried vegetables… Then a “primo” (different kinds of pasta prepared in various ways, or risotto, or soups such as the Ribollita), then a “secondo”, meat or poultry or “bistecca alla Fiorentina”, or a vegetarian dish, finally dessert, with a choice of ice cream or homemade sherbet. You can eat as much cheese and fruit as you wish on the buffet…

The candlelight dinner is served in the restaurant or if the weather permits on the terrace in the greenery!

The famous composer Gioacchino Rossini has written: “An Italian meal is like an opera!” Come in Tuscany and celebrate Italian food and gastronomy, and at the same time relax and immerse yourself in the beauty of Chianti at Villa le Barone!

Tasting Vin Santo with Cantucci

September 23, 2017  |  Food & Wine  |  Comments Off on Tasting Vin Santo with Cantucci
Barrels "Caratelli" for Vin Santo ( Holy Wine) in Chianti

Barrels “Caratelli” for Vin Santo ( Holy Wine) in Chianti

Have you ever tasted Vin Santo with Cantucci? If not, you miss something! An ancient and fabled wine, Vin Santo is one of the most voluptuous, although nearly unknown, dessert wine. Wine’s historical roots date as far back as the Middle Ages, and its name most likely can be attributed to the use of sweet wine during catholic masses.

According to the legend, Vin Santo can be traced to 1348 when the plague was rampantly devastating the whole of Europe, and when a friar from the province of Siena began distributing this sweet wine to the sick to alleviate their pain, hence the name of Vin Santo, or Holy Wine .

The Vin Santo wine is made from naturally dried grapes with a concentrated sugar content due to the evaporation of water. In 1990 Vin Santo produced in the “Colli di Etruria Centrale” obtained the D.O.C (Denominazione di Origine Controllata), which means that it must contain at least 50% of Tuscan Trebbiano, up to 5 % of Malvasia from Chianti and a combination of 5% Pinot Bianco or Grigio, Chardonnay and Sauvignon . The sugar content of the grapes must reach at least 28%.

Vin Santo (Holy Wine ) and Cantucci

Vin Santo (Holy Wine ) and Cantucci

Traditionally, Vin Santo is produced by picking the best bunches of grapes and spreading them on mats or hanging them on hooks, sometimes until march, to allow grapes to dry (traditionally the grapes were hung in waning or hard moon periods with the conviction that it was avoiding the grapes to rot).  When dried, the grapes are pressed and the grape must (with or without grape juice depending on the tradition followed) is transferred to various small wood barrels (caratelli) of varying size (usually between 15 and 50 liters) from which the previous production of Vin Santo had just been removed.  This allows to keep some yeast (madre) from previous year’s production and it is believed that this older wine can help jump start the fermentation process and add more flavors to the wine. Afterwards the ”caratelli” are sealed and generally housed in an attic as it is believed that strong summer-winter thermal differences of temperatures are good for the fermentation. At least 3 years three years of aging in those small barrels are necessary to produce good Vin Santo wines, but the best ones are left for aging sometimes for 10 years. The color of Vin Santo ranges from pale to dark amber, and exude intense and aromatic perfumes, and its flavors include nutty or raisin notes with honey and cream attributes. Usually, Vin Santo is served, as we do in Villa le Barone, with “Cantucci” , crunchy biscuits with almonds typical of Tuscany.

Organic food in Tuscany

August 26, 2017  |  Food & Wine, Hotel  |  Comments Off on Organic food in Tuscany
Jujube fruits at Villa le Barone Panzano in Chianti

Jujube fruits at Villa le Barone Panzano in Chianti

Do you wish to taste organic food and seasonal food in Tuscany? At Villa le Barone we serve organic food, with fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables: in early spring, we had the cherries. In summer, we have made our jam with the apricots and the plums produced in Villa le Barone.

Soon the quinces will be mature and we will make the jelly!

Did you know that in Greek mythology, the “golden apple” Paris gave to the goddess Aphrodite (in return for the love of Helen, ‘the most beautiful woman in the world ‘) and which sparked the Trojan War, is thought to be a quince, and not an apple? We have brought back from our organic farm the savory “beefsteak tomatoes” (cuore di bue), as well as the delectable “Muscat Hambourg” grape, a black grape known for its sweet flavor, its smooth texture and musky taste. It also makes exquisite pies!

Soon we will be able to crop the white grape “Dattier de Beyrouth”. There are still some peaches with which we are making our own sherbets. Figs are beginning to ripen… and some guests like to pick them up on the tree! In our orchard, we also have hazels, medlar, kakis, and ”jujube”, a very ancient shrub tree coming from south Asia, with thorny branches, that produces fruits looking similar to an olive pit! And we have, in our farm as well as in Villa le Barone, many olive trees, allowing us to produce an extra virgin olive oil that benefit from the ecolabel “Agriqualità”.

In Villa le Barone’s vegetable garden we have some salads, kale to make the delicious “ribolitta”, beautiful pumpkins, and all the aromatic herbs necessary for cooking: various species of sage, rosemary, thyme, laurel… The organic food served in our restaurant is genuine and delicious! It is “slow food”!

Tuscan Beer

June 10, 2017  |  Food & Wine, Tuscany  |  Comments Off on Tuscan Beer
Tuscan beer Vapori di Birra

Tuscan beer Vapori di Birra

Tuscan wine or Tuscan beer? You will find both in Tuscany and they are both excellent! Tuscany is in fact the third craft beer producer in Italy, with about 80 producers but there is only one Tuscan beer produced with geothermal energy!

One of the oldest beverage produced by man , beer was brought in Italy by the Etruscans 2000 years ago , It was one of the most common drinks during the Middle Ages.in Europe, in particular in the northern and eastern part where grape cultivation was difficult or impossible. Today, the production of beer has been industrialized, but a number of innovative entrepreneurs have continued the tradition of producing craft beer, and Tuscan beers are particularly appreciated.

The bar , next to the infinity pool at Villale Barone

The bar , next to the infinity pool at Villale Barone

Beer production requires a lot of energy (the grain is milled, mashed, cooked, etc), but there is a Tuscan beer produced with geothermal energy, a sustainable source of energy, it is the brewery “Vapori di Birra” , based in Sasso Pisano , close to our farm “Vecchienna”. Water, malt, hops, yeast and sugar are the only ingredients used to produce this Tuscan beer, cooked and brought to fermentation with the heat of the earth. The result is an exclusive high quality beer, unfiltered and unpasteurized, refermented in the bottle. To preserve the organoleptic quality it is not more submitted to any filtration and pasteurization. It is marketed in 3 varieties Magma, Geyser and Sulfurea.

One can find this craft Tuscan beer at Villa le Barone in our honesty bar or in the bar close to our infinity pool!

Tuscan food wine and cheeses

March 30, 2017  |  Food & Wine, Hotel  |  Comments Off on Tuscan food wine and cheeses
Free serving buffet table with Italian cheeses

Free serving buffet table with Italian cheeses

What is best than a Tuscan dinner with good Italian cheeses and with a good glass of Chianti Classico wine? Made of cow’s milk, sheep or goat’s milk, Italian cheeses come of all of shapes and flavors, and at Villa le Barone, we are selecting the best for our guests on the free serving buffet table: parmesan, gorgonzola, pecorino, taleggio… and all of them have the label DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) that certifies the origin of the product.

For Italians, there is no good dinner without cheese, and, at Villa le Barone you will find a good choice of Italian cheeses, from all regions. They are served on the free serving buffet table in our restaurant, and you can savor them either at the beginning of the dinner… or at the end.
Of course, you will find Parmesan (“parmigiano”) the king of the cheeses. Produced in the Parma region, in the northern part of Italy, it is a “grainy” cheese, coming in huge round wheels, in which pieces are cut. A sprinkling of parmesan cheese gives everything a delicious taste, and is used to top pasta. But it is also used in a number of dishes such as “the Parmigiana”, a gratin of eggplant covered with Parmesan cheese.

A very famous cheese from Tuscany is the “Pecorino”, one of Italy’s oldest cheeses that gets its name from the Italian word “pecore”, which means sheep .Earliest records of pecorino cheese production in Tuscany go back to Etruscan and Roman times. You find it soft or dry (“Stagionato”), and served with pears and walnuts or with honey or jam.

Italian cheeses on a Tuscan market

Italian cheeses on a Tuscan market

Gorgonzola is a soft cheese, a specific type of blue cheese prepared with cow milk, and that contain spots or stripes of the mold “Penicillium”. By law (and by tradition!), Gorgonzola is made exclusively with milk from cows raised in Piedmont and Lombardy, around the city of Gorgonzola . Since 1996, Gorgonzola has benefited from the Denomination of Protected Origin (DOP) certification.

Taleggio  is a semisoft, washed-rind, smear-ripened Italian cheese that is named after Val Taleggio, an Alpine valley in the Italian region of Lombardy.  Traditionally formed in square molds, the cheese has a thin crust and a strong aroma, but its flavor is comparatively mild. The cheese is set on wood shelves in chambers, sometimes in caves as per tradition, and matures within six to ten weeks. It is washed once a week with a seawater sponge to prevent mold growth and to form its typical orange or rose crust.

A delicious dinner with exquisite cheeses and an excellent Chianti Classico in the cheerful restaurant of Villa le Barone, what best?