Chef Harvey perfected his skills with seafood many years ago while living and working in Tuscany at one of Italy’s top destinations for fine food.
“When people think of authentic Tuscan cuisine,” says Chef Harvey, “it’s only natural that they think of Chianina steaks and porcini mushrooms and pappardelle with wild boar ragù. But they forget that Tuscany has an amazing coastline and the seafood, from Livorno to Grosseto, is fantastic.”
Here at Siena Ristorante Toscana, we love authentic Tuscan food and authentic Tuscan wine. Our friends Tracie and Jeremy Parzen has been traveling in Tuscany. Here are their notes from the Tuscan harvest 2012…
It’s been a hot and arid summer in Tuscany this year but rains in recent weeks have helped the grapes to ripen well.
While growers in Tuscany began picking their white grapes a few weeks ago, the time has come to begin picking the red grapes.
Yesterday, they began and they will continue picking over the next two weeks or so, harvesting the ripest grapes first (in the vineyards with the best exposure to sun) and waiting until the other vineyards as they achieve their fullest expression of flavor.
It is perhaps the most beautiful time of the year to stroll through the vineyards, especially at daybreak, when the wildlife is still active.
In the photo above, you see Mt. Amiata in the distance, the gentle giant that protects the vineyards of Montalcino from inclement weather arriving from the Mediterranean sea to the south.
For growers with good vineyard sites, a good to excellent vintage is expected, although the yields will be slightly smaller: hot temperatures and prolonged drought posed challenges for growers and winemakers this year. As a famous Tuscan winemaker once said, there are no bad vintages; there are just vintages when we make less wine.
A Texan in Toscana, Part 4 (click the following links for Part 3, Part 2, and Part 1).
Here, in San Gimignano (Toscana), I would find the truth and simplicity of Tuscan cuisine rolled out day after day, and here, I would feel my culinary life come full circle.
This circle began over forty years ago in a small west Texas community called Decker.
One of the reasons why we started this blog here at Siena Ristorante Toscano was so we could share our passion for Tuscan cooking and our experiences traveling, cooking, working, and living in this amazing region. Here, farm life and great food are interwoven in a truly unique way.
When I was studying Italian cuisine in Italy (in the north), I had the chance to meet many great people and learn about the traditions of their regions.
Then, when I went to work in Toscana, at the famous restaurant Il Pino in San Gimignano, I dived in head first and lived, ate, and drank the cuisine of this amazing place.
The photo to the left is of a lady picking olives in an olive grove not far from where I lived and worked. I think it’s such a great photo: except for the fact that I took the photo with a modern camera, you could have seen that same image, exactly as you see it here, 150 or even 200 years ago. That’s part of what is so special about this place.
And this is what I try to share with you every day at Siena Ristorante Toscano: a Texan in Toscana and a little bit of Toscana in Texas!
In upcoming weeks, I’ll be sharing photographs and stories about my life in Toscana. I hope that you’ll enjoy them as much as I did.
We hope to see you soon!
Buon weekend (happy weekend)!
Debbie Adams, co-owner of Siena Ristorante Toscano (and Stan’s better half), recently returned from a fabulous trip to Tuscany with fellow Austinites Jan and Frank King.
The trip was a celebration of Jan’s birthday… and what a celebration it was! 10 girls traveling on a private bus with the escort of Alessandro our guide and Frank the great sport who put up with all the laughter from early morning until late at night. We stayed at a beautiful villa in Cetona and visited many areas of Tuscany. It was a walking adventure. The bus would drop us off at various locations and we would then get to see the countryside up close while visiting gorgeous sights such as three incredible gardens each of a totally different nature from modern to very traditional. We saw a beautiful abbey, met a handsome Swiss cheese maker on a totally organic farm, spent some time in the towns of Pienza, Cortona, and of course Siena. We also had a cooking lesson taught at our villa. The food was fabulous as only the food of Tuscany can be. Our in house chef, Ana, was truly talented and each evening made a wonderful and delectable dinner using the fresh ingredients from the gardens on the villa and the local market. Just like Harvey!!!
We visited two special wineries. The first was Máté which is owned and run by Ferec Máté and his wife Candace. Ferec is an author and wrote A Vineyard In Tuscany which is a great account of how the winery came about and tells of how they have been able to make such delicious and highly rated wines. Candace gave us an intimate view of the property and we were able to taste and buy four of her wines. All were special. They are limitedly available in the US. Next year their production will be increased since they have added more capacity to their facilities so hopefully we will be able to get their wine here! The Brunello is especially fabulous.
The other winery is owned by a count and his home is partially preserved in the 17th century. The fabrics and paintings are really something right out of the Renaissance. He also has beautiful and interesting gardens which we were able to tour with him as our escort.
Both the count and Mates are avid sailors… something Stan can certainly relate to. I am sure that he will plan to visit them the next time he gets to go to Tuscany.
Click here to read more about their wonderful journey at Tiff and Julie’s blog.
We just received this photo from our resident blogger, Do Bianchi, currently in Tuscany following the grape harvest. The grapes below are not actually for wine: they are “Fragolino” grapes that will be served as table grapes.
Above: The seafood in Tuscany is abundant. I took this photo at the local fish monger where I used to shop when I lived, studied, and worked as a chef in Italy.
Siena Goes to the Beach
Wednesday, August 25, 7 p.m.
$59 per person
Come join us as we present the lighter side of Tuscan cuisine. Five courses prepared especially by Chef Harvey and paired with five white wines.
TO RSVP, PLEASE CALL (512) 349-7667.
When we think of Tuscan cuisine, images of bistecca alla fiorentina (Tuscan porterhouse steak), wild boar, Tuscan Prosciutto, sheep’s milk Pecorino cheese, and red wine come to mind. But Tuscany is also a seafood lover’s dream: from Livorno to Orbetello along the Tuscan Mediterranean coastline (known as the Maremma), the seafood is abundant and DELICIOUS!
In August, the Tuscans head to the beach for their summer vacation. Just like in Toscana, the heat of our Texas summer calls for lighter foods, including seafood paired with crisp, fresh white wines. We are pleased to announce the next event in our series of wine dinners, “Siena Goes to the Beach.”
Stay tuned for menu details!