Like bruschetta, sliced cured meats are a constant on traditional Tuscan menus. The white stuff is lardo: cured pork fat. Tuscan prosciutto tends to be drier and saltier than silky prosciutto from Parma, but it is no less delicious.
This is the classic Tuscan dessert of cantucci with vin santo. Cantucci are smaller versions of what we know in the US as biscotti, though they are perhaps leaner and harder, and baked darker, than American biscotti. They are invariably served with a glass of vin santo, a sweet wine for dipping.
These wide sheets of pasta are combined with a dark, deep, meaty-flavored duck ragu.
A signature dish of Tuscany is this platter of crostini topped with chicken livers. The livers are traditionally often combined with milza (spleen); while we don’t know if these contained milza, they may well have, as the flavor was not quite the chicken liver taste we’re familiar with.
Fried polenta triangles, gorgonzola topping
Pasta in a spicy sausage sauce
We believe this is an apple cake, but we didn’t sample it.
Chocolate cake; looks good, but we didn’t taste.
Sweet, sour, and crunchy cool onions were a big hit at the table.
Another antipasto: fried eggplant
A few people ordered this pasta with mushroom sauce. Most were disappointed by the too elusive flavor.
A zabaglione-type dessert
Another fried antipasto: these are fried squash blossoms. You find the huge flowers readily available in season even in local supermarkets.
Bruschetta topped with herbed tomatoes and olive oil are practically standard in Tuscany. These almost disappeared by the time the plate came around for a photograph.
It was a beautiful evening for dining out-of-doors. All around our table were burning coils of insect repellent, commonly used in Italy.
Via Cassia per Siena, 32
50026 San Casciano Val di Pesa, Florence, Tuscany
+39 338 385 5963
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BEST THING TO EAT: Salt cod and chickpeas