This January we are taking 26 Wine MBA and Wine Bachelors candidates to Tuscany for 2 weeks as part of a Winter Intersession class on global wine business. Most participants currently work in the California wine industry, and are excited to learn more about the Italian wine scene. We will be visiting wineries in Chianti Classico, Montalcino, Montepulciano and Bolgheri, and staying in both Florence and Siena. For more information on the tour schedule, see: http://tuscanwinemusings.wordpress.com/
One of the interesting facts about Italian wine is its linkage to food. In fact, in Italy, the experience of drinking wine is not complete without food that is produced in the same region as the wine. The Italians even have a phrase for this concept. It is “L’Ambiente Del Vino,” which means the culture or habitat of wine. In Italy, wine does not stand alone; it is part of the soil, the people who create it, the food, and the very culture of the place.
Speciality Foods of Tuscany
In Tuscany, there are many different grape varietals, but the top three are sangiovese, trebbiano, and vernaccia. Some of the specialty foods produced in Tuscany and designed to go with wines made from these grapes include: bistecca alla fiorentina, fagioli (white beans), pecorino toscano (cheese made from sheep’s milk), and a variety of game meats, including duck, rabbit, wild boar, and partridge.
Recipe for Bistecca alla Fiorentina
A few years ago a wine professor from Tuscany gave me the following recipe for Bistecca alla Fiorentina, or Grilled Steak Florentine Style. When he first described it to me, I couldn’t believe how simple it sounded, and was skeptical about how it would turn out. In fact, when I told my husband – the grill master – about the recipe, he said it would never work because it didn’t require any type of rub for the meat. However, when we tried it, we were amazed at how magnificent this steak can be.
- High quality T-bone or Porterhouse steaks (at least 1 inch thick)*
- Virgin Olive Oil
- Sea Salt
Rinse steak in water and let sit on counter a while so that it reaches room temperature (at least 30 minutes). Heat up BBQ grill to around 400. Place steaks on grill (do not add any rubs, marinade, etc.). Cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side. While steak is cooking, pour generous amount of olive oil on a plate and grind sea salt on top of oil. When steak is done, immediately transfer to plate and let it sit in oil/salt mixture for about 10 seconds before flipping to other side and letting it sit for another 10 seconds, then serve on clean plate. Eat immediately and enjoy with large glass of sangiovese from Tuscany.
*It should be mentioned that in Tuscany, they have a special breed of white cows called Chianina beef. This special type of beef provides the flavor and tenderness that make this recipe more successful.