Meandering through Tuscany in the almost-springtime is something I suggest everyone do at some point in their lives. I was in Siena the other day, exploring a place called the Enoteca Italiana. While I’ve been to Siena more times than I can count, I’d never found my way into this shrine to wine. Founded in 1960, it is a place to see and taste wines from all over Italy. The welcome I got couldn’t have been nicer.
This place is like a museum of wine, very tastefully laid out, and while totally empty on a mid-March Friday afternoon, clearly a place where groups of people can relax, come taste the wine and hear the band.
This place is in some ways a precursor to the mega-wine fair, Vinitaly, which is just around the corner, in April. Starting in 1933, they were holding a National Exhibit and Market of Wines here. I simply love the old posters, talk about Italian design and graphics!
Maybe it’s that quintessentially Italian mix of the old and the new that gets me every time…
Even in the food, this trip proved surprising. How can you resist the Tuscan antipasto, with its tempting array of cold cuts?
Things like fettunta, an olive oil-soaked piece of unsalted Tuscan bread just have no rivals and will get you every time!
But there are some interesting restaurateurs in Siena these days, revisiting dishes like pork loin and mashed potatoes, and giving them a decidedly modern turn.
What about the decidedly un-sexy but super-healthy red cabbage and kale combo? The presentation was stellar (as in Michelin stellar).
And to top it off, an old-fashioned dessert that is making a comeback: bavarese. The dark chocolate and the desiccated orange slices add to the show and the taste.
I guess that’s what is so exciting about revisiting well-known places and well-known dishes: there is always something new to discover!
Up and coming: awaiting Vinitaly…