August 15, 2012, 01:19 AM
Fact Checking for magazine
I need to verify factual information about Tuscany for a travel magazine in the United States. Can you put me in touch with a person who works with the media? Thank you!
August 23, 2012, 12:35 PM
Since Jenna also contacted us by email and sent her questions there, I thought I'd also share them on here because it had me thinking that others might find them interesting as well!
Let us know if you would change anything in the answers!
1. Can you find radicchio at the open air markets in Florence, Italy during fall/winter? If yes, can you find them at the Mercato di Sant' Ambrogio (is that spelled correctly?)
Radicchio is generally grown outside of Tuscany but yes, you definitely will find it both at the Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio as well at all the markets and supermarkets in the area starting from November onward.
2. Do most of the open air markets offer products from regional farms? Are they displayed in baskets and bins?
Many open air markets offer both products from regional farms as well as products from outside the region. It is hard to find only regional products, because consumers have gotten used to have many vegetables and fruits year round and therefore these come from outside the region and even outside of Italy. Yes, they are displayed in plastic bins generally.
3. Is Tuscany generally considered the culinary capital of Italy?
Definitely! Not because it is complicated cuisine but because of the high quality of the ingredients used - recipes are often to let the ingredients taste shine through and not masked by sauces or to many condiments.
4. Tuscan meals are based around "schiacciata" - a bread that soaks up olive oil.
NO! Schiacciata is a flat bread usually eaten as a snack or as a sandwich bread, with fresh prosciutto and pecorino cheese in the middle (great lunchtime picnic meal, by the way). Schiacciata goes into the oven with lots of oil and salt on top so it comes out oily -- but traditional Tuscan bread is round, slow fermentation rise bread with NO SALT at all.
Italians DO NOT eat bread sticks or dip their bread into oil at the restaurant as many restaurants in the US would have you believe. You do that in Italy, they know you're foreigner .
In Tuscany, there is a tradition in the fall after the "new olive oil" has been milled to "taste" the new oil on a slice of toasted bread. This is called "fettunta" which means "oily slice (of bread)". This is the only time that Tuscans eat bread alone with oil, as a means to taste the flavor of the new oil.... and without salt, to better taste it. So Tuscan bread is excellent for this fettunta tradition, since it has no salt.
5. Italians generally shop for groceries at neighborhood markets, referred to as chilometro zones because they are close to home.
Mmmmmm...... Italians generally shop at neighborhood markets because they are convenient and easy to get to. They are NOT known as "chilometro zero" - the "chilometro zero" markets refer to local outdoor markets where they specialize in local products = farmers markets because the produce itself has traveled very little. These are not that common, but are definitely becoming more requested as consumers recognize the importance of eating locally grown produce.
6. The best time to visit Tuscany is between late August and early November because crowds have faded and olives are ready for harvest.
Best time to visit Tuscany is any time from September through June because of the great weather.... crowds are year-round unfortunately. Grapes are harvested in late August-September and you get the "novello" or new wine in early November. Olives are generally harvested in November and you get the new olive oil that month, but don't believe tourists really consider this when planning their vacation. Nowadays, there are less crowds in November-March but there are still lots of visitors.
7. Tuscan hills are often dotted with goats, which are used for Caprino, a creamy cheese much like chèvre.
Actually Tuscany is more famous for PECORINO cheese, which is a round, aged cheese made from SHEEP's milk. You'll find more sheep in Tuscany than goats.
Pecorino can be pretty "fresh" (1 month old) as well as "aged" (to 18 months) and the Pecorino di Pienza is actually recognized with a DOP classification (Protected Origin Denomination).
Caprino is produced in Tuscany but only in the high Mugello area (basically in the Tuscan Apennines) and in the western side of the Tuscan Alps - both higher elevations. Since Tuscany does have mountains but is more suited for vineyards and olives, the breeding of goats tends to focus on these two areas of Northern Tuscany.