Going to Florence? Eat Bistecca alla Fiorentina

If you will be travelling to Florence anytime soon, you should prepare your palate for the delight that is Bistecca alla Fiorentina. What makes this meat dish so special is that it is made from only one ingredient; meat alone. It is a T-bone steak that’s at least 3 fingers thick. The meat isn’t from just any cow; it comes from Chianina cows which are found in Tuscany. Because the diet of the cows affects the taste of the meat, they are fed on very specific grasses that grow in the region and nothing else. The cows are left to wander free where only these grasses grow. They are usually slaughtered at the age of 2 years which means that the meat is very tender.

過癮!!
Bistecca alla fiorentina – source

Bistecca alla Fiorentina stems from a centuries old tradition. It came about during celebrations to honor one of the Medici family which ruled for 200 years since the 13th century, Lorenzo de Medici. During the festivities, crowds would gather in the streets around fires and roast large chunks of meat. The tradition was easy to pass down because there were no additional ingredients to confuse people. Today, the meat is in the form of a T-bone steak that is prepared carefully over hot coals.

The quality of a Bistecca alla Fiorentina is determined by the quality of meat. It has to be very tender and it has to be ringed with a little fat. If you decide to prepare this little treat yourself, make sure that the T-bone steak that you choose has a lot of fillet – some butchers trim off fillet to make an extra buck. The best grilling results are achieved with woods such as ash and oak which add a special flavor and aromas to the meat. You don’t need to add salt or oil during the grilling process but once the steak is served, it can be sprinkled with a little olive oil and seasoning. This doesn’t mean that the meat needs any help – it is delicious just without olive oil or seasoning.

Grilling a Bistecca alla Fiorentina is a two step process. First, when the grill has become very hot the meat is placed on it for between 3 and 5 minutes. This is to harden the surface so that it can hold the juices in. After a crust forms, reduce the coals so that you have less heat for passive cooking. The meat is placed on the grill bone first and then roasted slowly. Traditionally, it is eaten rare but there is no reason why you cannot cook it until it is well done if that’s how you like your meat. It is usually served with baked potatoes and red wine.

If you plan to eat Bistecca alla Fiorrentina in a restaurant, you are better off getting recommendations from locals. Although many serve it, there are some that have distinguished themselves for serving excellent quality cuts. In some restaurants, you will even be able to choose a cut yourself and then have it roasted. If you choose this option, make sure you have a lot of time to wait for your Bistecca alla Fiorentina to roast. And if you are cooking it by yourself you can check our guide how to cook bistecca alla Fiorentina.

Tuscany Cooking – A Time When Poverty Has Become The Great Culinary Invention

Tuscany food has always been considered as ‘cucina povera’ or ‘cuisine of the poor’ closely interconnected with peasant traditions. The poor roots of this cuisine though caused by the poverty of the people of this region in the past, today has become the land of superb food and wine.

 The Art of Cucina Povera – The poor man cookery style.

If you ask me to give few attributes to cucina Toscana than two will be the best to describe it, simplicity and ingenuity. As many other regional cuisines, the Tuscan was and continues to be attached to rural traditions using a range of excellent natural ingredients.
It’s not a secret that other Italians still call Tuscans ‘mangiafagioli’ (bean eaters) – an unjust label, but refer to the region’s simple ingredients. Not all the food in Tuscany has humble roots.

Fresh borlotti beans
The Borlotti beans are a Tuscan classic and part of the Italian agricultural heritage. Image source

Florentines will tell you proudly that they invented many of the great dishes of French cuisine. Of course this is attributed to Medici family, more precisely to Catherine de’ Medici after her marriage (1534) to Henry de Valois, the future king Henri II of France. As an excellent connoisseur of Florence food she had transferred some typical Florence dishes at the France court.
Thanks to Catherine some Florentine dishes were assimilated by France court such as ‘papero alla melarancio’ (duck in orange sauce) which became ‘canard à l’orange’ or ‘zuppa di cipolle’ (onion soup), in France become ‘soupe d’oignons’. Beside these dishes Catherine also introduced to French court how to use two essentials of the modern table – the fork and the napkin.

Tuscan style cookery in the modern times.

Today’s Tuscan food contains plenty of sophisticated dishes that that wouldn’t dishonour to tables of restaurants in London, Paris or New York. Most of this food is seasonal and locally produced, and it only appears at the time of the year it is grown.
To give you an idea of Tuscan food delights, we can start from breakfast that consists of simply coffee and croissant (brioche). The lunch and dinner begin with starters or antipasti like bruschetta or Florence crostini (slice of toasted Tuscan salt less bread) topped with olive paste, chicken liver pate and a variety of hams, cheese and salamis.

The ample use of beans, lentils and legumes.

As the first course in Tuscany, pasta is less used than in other parts of Italy, instead soups are more popular as minestrone (vegetable soups), zuppa di fagioli (beans soup) or famous ribollita (reboiled) white beans and cabbage soup, papa al pomodoro (bread and tomatoes soup).

Among classic pasta meals we must mention ‘pappardelle alla lepre’ based on home-made pasta with a hare sauce. The game meat has very important role in Tuscan cuisine, particularly wild boar and hare. This list wouldn’t be complete without uncontested king of Florentine main courses, ‘bistecca alla florentina ‘ (T-bone steak).

Bistecca alla fiorentina

The Tuscan sweets.

When we come to desserts than the winner is gelato (ice-cream). Gelato means ‘frozen‘in Italian, so it embraces the various kinds of ice cream made in Italy. It’s not a secret that the best gelato you can taste in Florence. There is also a Firenze Gelato Festival from in May from 23rd to 27th, important event to taste the best artisan ice cream. It’s worth mentioning some of the many regional specialities like ‘panforte di Siena’ a rich cake made of cocoa, walnuts and crystallized fruit dating from 13th century.

While eating well in Tuscany you can also drink well whatever the time of day and whatever the season. Good coffee is must have in almost every bar and café, from the breakfast cappuccino or café latte to the after dinner espresso. Don’t miss fresh squeezed orange, lemon or grapefruit juice (spremuta). Closer to sundown you may want one of the classic aperitif such as Campari or Negroni, during Happy Hour.

The Tuscan wines are the kings of the dining table.

While eating you will probably ask for a bottle of good Tuscan wine, like Chianti, Tuscany’s most famous red wine or some “super Tuscans’ reds. Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are the big names that perfectly match all Tuscan dishes. After dinner you will need one of the Italian digestives as Grappa, a spirit distillated from grapes, Amaro ‘bitter’ made of herbs and ‘secret ingredients’. Emilia Delizia offers Chianti wine tours from Florence  via our sister site.

After all these food and drink offers we hope you are convinced that eating is a passion for Tuscany that visitor can easily share. We are sure it will be experience as memorable as visits to the best museums and galleries.

Elena&Pero
Easy Florence Travel Guide
http://www.easyflorence.com/

 

A culinary tour of Florence gastronomic tradition – Bistecca alla Fiorentina

How to cook the Italian t-bone steak Bistecca alla Fiorentina to perfection.

20130108-130210.jpg
Bistecca alla Fiorentina – Emilia Delizia Food tours

Italian cuisine is not just about carbs such as bread, pizza and pasta but we have aslo good meat dishes. In Particular in Tuscany we find the Bistecca alla Fiorentina a meat dish from Florence, a massive t-bone steak that should be at least 4 cm tick and one kilo of weight. The perfect Fiorentina steak comes from cows of the Chianina breed. A native cattle of Tuscany which is reared outdoor and fed with grasses according to a strict discipline. The diet of the animals will confer high nutritional values to the beef. When buying the meet from the local butcher in Tuscany you should make sure that the cut has enough fillet, as they tend to cut it out and sell it apart, however the best Fiorentina steak must have plenty of fillet attached.

How to cook bistecca fiorentina.

20130108-130227.jpg
How to cook bistecca alla fiorentina

The cooking of the steak is rather simply but you should follow the traditional steps if you want to obtain the perfect results. First of all it should be grilled on noble woods such as ash or oak which will confer the best flavours. When the coals start to ash the fire is hot enough. Spread them with a tool in order not to have an open flame or the meat will burn. Then position the stainless steal grill on the coal and use it only when is very hot.

To cook bistecca alla Fiorentina you will not need neither salt, nor oil, of course you can add a little seasoning at the end of the the cooking.

Once your “Griglia” is very hot, place the steak on each side for 3/5 minutes until nicely browned and a crust start to form. The following step is to cook the inside of the meat with the passive heat from the coal fire. So place the steak upright, sitting on the bone for 15/20 minutes. The traditional way wants a steak that is raw inside, but if you do not like your meat that way you can continue cooking it on the sides until it stops bleeding.

How to serve bistecca alla Fiorentina.

Once it is done, you can carve it on a wooden board and serve thin slices of the steak to each guest. A kilo portion will feed 3/4 people easily. Do not forget to get your best salads out and nice home made bread to go with. Of course you should serve Chianti Classico wine with the Italian T-bone Steak.

20130108-130243.jpg

 

20130108-130348.jpg
a tour into Florence culinary traditions