Traditional Tuscan dishes

The Etruscan Coast is not only wine and wine cellars, but also good food linked to the Tuscan tradition with quality raw materials. 

In the medieval villages, from Bolgheri to Suvereto, which lie on the hills surrounded by woods, vineyards and olive groves, there are many restaurants where meat is the real star of the room. Shall we take a dive together into the flavours of our tables?

Crostini with chicken livers

Among the starters, the crostini with chicken livers, cooked with capers, anchovies, onion and excellent Tuscan olive oil and then blended to obtain a cream with a unique flavour to be spread on a slice of toasted bread, are a must. A simple but tasty dish to get lunch or dinner off to a good start. They have been part of Tuscan cuisine since time immemorial and are so good that their recipe lives on not only in restaurants but also in the homes of those who have always lived in Tuscany.

There are those who serve it as part of a mixed starter and those who prefer it as a first course, whatever the way, pappa al pomodoro, brought to success by Rita Pavone, is always a tasty choice. Typical of the peasant tradition, it is also a dish that is much appreciated for its ease of preparation given the few ingredients: stale bread, sun-ripened tomatoes, garlic, basil, vegetable stock and the usual dash of Evo oil to give it that extra touch of flavour. It is an “anti-waste” dish as it uses hard bread and ripe tomatoes which would not be good in a salad.

Tagliatelle al cinghiale or cinghiale in umido

Another typical dish derives from the conformation of the territory, which is mostly wooded and inhabited by wild boar, hunted since Roman times for the particular flavour of their meat, excellent for enriching festive banquets. Tagliatelle al cinghiale (tagliatelle with wild boar sauce) or cinghiale in umido (wild boar stew) are famous everywhere. This is a long and difficult preparation whose recipe has been handed down from family to family and from generation to generation up to the present day. There are various versions of wild boar, with or without tomato, some prefer to add a little cinnamon, others add pine nuts or candied orange peel, but in any recipe, there are two ingredients that cannot be missing from the cooking of this meat: bay leaves and juniper berries, the symbol of Tuscany. The flavour is still unique and is often accompanied by polenta or spinach cooked in the boar’s own sauce.

Even if we are not close to Florence, bistecca alla fiorentina is now an important icon of Tuscany by interior. The meat must be first choice, the best being Maremmana and Chinina, it must have the classic “T” bone with the fillet on one side and the sirloin on the other and must be at least 4 cm high. Strictly served rare, its cooking has very precise rules, apparently easy to respect but in reality very difficult to replicate at home. Fortunately, there are many excellent restaurants in the area that have made this dish their battle cry, so you can enjoy a nice, tasty Florentine steak from the comfort of your table on a cool summer evening.

Fish dishes

And then there is the coast itself, where the fishermen go out early every morning and return with fresh fish to sell to the seafront restaurants. Alongside classic dishes such as impepata di cozze (mussel soup), spaghetti with clams and octopus with potatoes, there are traditions that here are called Palamita in San Vincenzo and Cacciucco in Livorno.

The palamita is a fish that lives in our seas but is often underestimated and has been baptised the ‘poor man’s tuna’ since it belongs to the same family as the tuna but has less commercial value. Yet this fish can be baked, grilled, cooked in acqua pazza or used in seafood ragouts for its taste and versatility. So it was that in 2008, the famous chef Fulvio Pierangelini decided to promote this poor fish and bring it back into the limelight by organising the event “Tutti pazzi per la Palamita” in San Vincenzo. Over the years, the event has been renamed “Una Mare di Gusto” (A Sea of Taste) and takes place in spring, which is the best season for fishing bonito.

cacciucco alla livornese

If you are passing through Livorno or if you fancy an excursion to discover a port city to experience, don’t miss the cacciucco alla livornese. It is a dish whose origin seems to date back to the Phoenicians and has always been a poor man’s dish, a soup made from the waste of fish caught, now enriched with crustaceans and molluscs. A recipe that requires time and dedication due to its long preparation, consisting of a mix of various species of fish (scorpion fish, dogfish, gurnard, etc.), molluscs and crustaceans combined in a tomato-based soup and served strictly with slices of toasted bread. For those who like it, we recommend a bit of chilli pepper to give the dish a cheerful boost. And if you are in Livorno, come and visit us at Agave in the city!