March 18, 2007: Foods of Tuscany II, A Florentine Food Fair

March 18, 2007

Foods of Tuscany II: A Florentine Food Fair

Florence’s second annual food fair, “Taste in Viaggio, con le diversita del gusto,” http://www.pittimmagine.com/it/fiere/taste/ , (in English at http://www.pittimmagine.com/clists/cfiles/13/TasteN2_ING.pdf) takes place this weekend. Over a hundred exhibitors presenting pasta, coffee, wine, prosciutto, salame, cheese, smoked fish, marmalade, honey, olives, olive oil, capers, chocolate, cookies, cakes, mushrooms and truffles. A noon-hour visit with dozens of small tastes constitutes an ample lunch.

Wines of Italy

There were the distinctive Tuscan wines: Chianti Classico and Vernacia (dry white). More surpising were wines from outside the region. Sweet wines from the island of Elba, made with grapes dried to raisins (without pouriture noble) and fully fermented (strong without fortification, 14.5 alcohol); sweet, flavorful, refreshing, without the complexity of sauternes.

Olive oil

Two dozen olive oil producers were represented, all offering samples (for smelling) of the aromatic oil, some offering small oily tastes. Hog heaven for connoisseurs of the olive. There’s a remarkable variety (especially for those of us unused to olive oil tasting). Some mild, some peppery (presumably from the spicy taste of the underlying olives, not from added flavor).

Prosciutto

Sicilian prosciutto was rich and moist, Tuscan drier and saltier.

Cheese

The cheeses were really in their element at the food fair. Ricotta: Rich mild slightly sweet. Fresh mozzarella di bufala with complexity unparalleled even on India St. Soft goat cheese (formaggi di capra) surprisingly sweet with the earthy character of goat.

The shop at the exit

Most of the foods are not easily available in Florence. But the retail shop at the exhibit hall was doing a fine business. We stocked up, enough cheese for the next week, even with family visiting.

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