Overall, a good visit and meal at da Vinci’s Italian in Eagle, ID last night. Overall good flavors in the food and good wines. My only negative comment is that there seemed to be an overuse of salt. Things were salty. But the layers of flavors – after you got by the salt – were very good. Had it not been for the overuse of salt, we would have rated da Vinci’s a 4-Star restaurant. Instead, we rate this as a 3-Star (out of 5-Stars) restaurant. You can see their menu at Yelp. From their website, “All Full Size Entrees Include Our Bottomless House Salad Bowl With Da Vinci’s Homemade Italian Dressing And Freshly Baked Tuscan Bread, Or Substitute A Caesar Salad For An Additional $2.95.all Chicken And Veal Dishes Are Complemented With A Side Of Angel Hair Pasta With Aglio Olio Or Tuscan Tomato Sauce. Add Extra Chicken $2.50 Add Extra Veal $4.50” Here are some photos from the evening. Enjoy!
Pasta. Ever think about how it is made? Really not hard to do. A little flour, some eggs, a little oil and water. That’s all there is. Oh yes. Then mix it all and not in a mixer. On a flat surface. Don’t get any on the floor! Here is a recipe from Chef Anne Burrell. Pasta. OK. So now I have made the pasta, and not to much of a mess.
Now what? Try a Bolognese Sauce with your pasta. The Bolognese is a very Tuscan style of sauce. We made all of this to take to the Treasure Valley Wine Society Board meeting last night. I think they liked it! Let me take you through the process of making the pasta. Here we go!
I had an interesting question the other day as to what is the Tuscan Cooking Style. Quite simply – It is a very basic style of Italian cooking using the barest of food essentials. Fresh herb, pasta, wine, bread. Not particularly a heavy tomato sauce, although tomatoes are used. Only a light sauce, if any, and pasta with herbs and cheese. There is a wide variety of information on the Tuscan Style of cooking on the web. I offer only a small portion of that information here.
If you are looking for some Tuscan traditional recipes, here is one source: Tuscan Recipes. And if you want that well known 3″ thick Tuscan Porterhouse steak, aka Bistecca alla Fiorentina, here is that recipe: Tuscan Porterhouse. And the traditional Tuscan dish of Osso Buco – here is a recipe for Veal Osso Buco. Or maybe you prefer a Lamb Osso Buco. An Osso Buco is referred to in the article by Delallo (dot) com below.
Information from the Examiner,
Tuscany is the land of simple and honest flavors with cooking that might be heartier than much of the rest of the country. It features excellent ingredients including a fair variety of herbs such as basil, rosemary and sage, strongly flavored olive oils, meat dishes from cattle and wild game like wild boar, and seafood on the coasts. Soffritto, a mixture of chopped celery, onions, garlic, peppers and herbs sautéed in olive oil, similar to the French mirepoix, is used as a base for soups and sauces, might be more popular here than elsewhere. Beans have long been a big part of the diet, and spinach is the most popular green vegetable. Excepting the spinach and the few tomato dishes, much of the cooking is unattractively brown… Commonly found dishes include the hearty peasant bread soup, ribollita, pappa al pomodoro (bread and tomato soup), pappardelle sulla lepre (fresh pasta ribbons with wild hare), pappardelle con cinghiale (with wild boar), fritto misto (fried meats, offal and vegetables), tagliata (thinly sliced beef served with arugla), and the famous bistecca alla fiorentina (a thick steak traditionally from the prized and enormous Chiana cattle that used to clutter the Chianti hills, simply prepared and grilled over an wood-fired flame).
And here is some information fro EHow,
Tuscan-style cooking evolved from “la cucina povera,” or peasant cooking. The cuisine relies on home-grown ingredients, prepared fresh with nothing left to waste … Tuscan-style cooking employs a wealth of vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, green beans, fava beans, peas and all types of greens, including Swiss chard, spinach and escarole. Peaches and pears are popular fruits … The most famous Tuscan meat is the bistecca alla fiorentina, a large grilled porterhouse. Game meats, including wild boar, duck and rabbit are also important to Tuscan-style cooking … Wild porcini mushrooms and truffles add an exotic touch to Tuscan dishes. The porcini can be served raw, grilled, sauteed in olive oil and garlic. Truffles are added to pasta dishes or shaved over eggs or steak … The basis of many Tuscan dishes is soffritto, which means “under-fried” in Italian. Soffritto is made by lightly frying minced vegetables in olive oil. The soffritto goes into sauces, soups and other recipes.
And finally from Delallo (dot) com,
… The single most pervasive food image associated with Tuscany is likely that of the olive tree, which grows in a gnarled profusion throughout the region. But Tuscany’s climate also provides ideal soil for the grapes grown to create the region’s world-renowned Chianti wine. Cattle also weigh heavily in the region’s food production. Chianina cattle is one of the oldest breeds of cattle in the world, as well as one of the largest, producing prized Fiorentina beef for bistecca alla fiorentina (a T-bone steak brushed with olive oil and grilled perfectly rare).
Game meats and fowl, fish, pork, beans, figs, pomegranates, rice, chestnuts and cheese are earthy staples of the Tuscan table, and the coveted white truffle abounds in the region. Tuscan cooking is an interesting blend of dishes made from odds and ends for poor tables, as well as choosier fare created for the powerful noble house of Medici which once occupied and ruled from the Tuscany area. Osso bucco is a well-known favorite of the area, as are finocchiona (a rustic salami with fennel seeds), cacciucco (a delicate fish stew), pollo al mattone (chicken roasted under heated bricks), and biscotti di prato (hard almond cookies made for dipping in the local desert wine, vin santo). Barlotti beans, kidney-shaped and pink-speckled, provide a savory flavor to meatless dishes, and cannellinibeans form the basis for many a pot of slowly simmered soup. Breads are many and varied in Tuscan baking, with varieties including donzelle (a bread fried in olive oil), filone (an unsalted traditional Tuscan bread) and the sweetschiacciata con l’uva (a rolled dough with grapes and sugar on top). Pastas are not heavily relied upon in Tuscan cooking, and papparadelle (a wide egg noodle) is one of the region’s few traditional cuts. Pecorino Toscano cheese is native to Tuscany, as are semi-soft cow’s milk Tendaio and mixed sheep and cow’s milk Accasciato cheeses.
Soups, sauces and stews are the cornerstones of Tuscan cooking, many beginning with and relying upon the mastery of a perfect soffritto on which to build more complex flavors. A soffritto can be considered a sort-of Italian cookedmirepoix, and is a “pre-prep” combination of olive oil and minced browned vegetables (usually onion, carrot and celery) that creates a base for a variety of slow-cooked dishes. Herbs (sage and rosemary are used in many Tuscan dishes) and seasonings can be added to the soffritto as needed to bring out the unique flavors of each different recipe. Try the following Ribollita Toscana (Tuscan soup) recipe any time of year to transform your kitchen with the smells and flavors of the Tuscan countryside.
Wait a minute! What about the big, bold, deep red to purple wines of Tuscany? Have no fear. Here is some delightful information http://www.winecountry.it:
Wines of Tuscany – Tuscany’s winemaking industry counts on one of the most noble and ancient traditions that predates the universally known Chianti wine that often springs to mind when this region is discussed … Nowadays, the most grown variety is the noble Sangiovese, which is often combined with small amounts of locally grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo and other grapes into wonderful blends such as the Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano, Carmignano and, of course, the signature Tuscan wines, the Chianti and Chianti Classico, which probably are the best known Italian wines in the world. Other grapes grown here are the Mammolo, Malvasia, Colorino, Raspirosso, Gamay, Grand Noir, Barbera, Moscatello, Aleatico and Vernaccia, among others.
Some interesting reading. But like I say, there is much, much more information available on the web about the Tuscan style of cooking. Indulge yourselves and look for more specific answers to your questions. Cheers!