Author Archives: IL Bistro

A Celebration of Cheeses from Tuscany

Tuscan Cheese: High Quality and History-Rich

Did you know that Italy is the third largest cheese producer in the European Union, behind France and Germany? Italy is one of the most productive cheese regions, with over 450 varieties.

Tuscany alone, small as it is, produces a plethora of local cheeses artisanally. Artisanal meaning made from scratch, by hand, minimal machinery, with local raw materials. Their cheesemakers put in some passion while respecting the history and identity of the cheese. It’s an arduous task making cheese and, hence, its hefty price.

Pecorino, the most popular cheese in Tuscany, is a hard cheese made from whole sheep’s milk between September and June. It can be eaten fresh when still soft and creamy, or it can be aged until firm but crumbly, nutty and sharp in flavour. Aged for at least 18 months, mature Pecorino can be grated over pasta sauce. There’s Pecorino with black truffles or walnuts inside, and wrapped in leaves during aging.

There are parts in Tuscany where Pecorino is produced with unpasteurised milk or where the oval-shaped maturing cheese is rubbed with olive oil, tomato paste or salt according to a local style and flavour. Pecorino is also served with honey or fruit conserves, a tradition during pre-Roman Etruscan period.

Another Tuscan cheese is Caprino, soft, creamy and made from goat’s milk. It is often rolled in herbs or ground pepper for extra flavour. It is produced in Maremma and the Mugello. Tuscan Stracchino, also known as crescenza is a soft, creamy cheese with a mild, slightly sweet flavour. It is made in the south west of Tuscany in Maremma also and is used in delicate egg dishes or with vegetables.

Another cheese produced in Maremma and in some areas of Massa Carrara and Pistoia is the Ricotta. It is high-quality fresh sheep cheese, low in fat and slightly sweet. It is a soft, fresh whey cheese made from ewe’s milk, used for many pasta fillings and desserts. Usually eaten fresh, it can also be found smoked or salted.

These cheeses are not the only ones Tuscany has to offer. There are more than 30 types of cheeses recognized as traditional Tuscan products.

Great Cheese Flavors in Seattle

Il Bistro in Seattle brings Tuscan cheeses to your dinner table whenever you dine with us. Find it in your pasta, insalata, and our Late Night Happy Hour.

The Amazing Red Wines of Tuscany

Great Wines and A Small Place

Italy is so very diverse in climate, it is also diverse in wines. Different varieties of grapes are produced from region to region. Some of the most important red wines in the world are produced in Tuscany. It is unique in a sense that it is home to a number of different types of soil, yet the region is so small. For example, rocky soils produce excellent Sangiovese wine, similarly for Montalcino. Vernaccia grows well in the higher altitude areas, and below that is soil comprise of sand and clay that produce Super Tuscans.

Some of Tuscany’s well-known wine areas produced the prestigious wines we know today, in particular about 70% is red wine. For example, Brunello di Montalcino is produced in the hilltop town of Montalcino, in the hills surrounding a lovely town south of Siena. The quality is outstanding; a wine made with 100% Sangiovese grapes that becomes softer and more harmonic with age.

Between Florence and Siena lies the countryside of Chianti. Chianti is made from the robust Sangiovese, which has grown in the area for centuries and has a revered tradition. It’s the best wine to accompany Tuscan food, from meat to soups and cheeses. Top quality Chianti Classico is more expensive than the everyday Chianti varieties, but both are known for their quality and excellence.

In the Montepulciano area two great wines are produced: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano. The first one is a fine wine with a long history, medium-bodied and elegant, and worthy of ageing. The second one is a dry red, easy drinking and fresh. Bolgheri, in the Livorno hills, is where the Super Tuscans come from, considered to be among the best wines in the world, with outstanding quality and inventiveness, born out of modern Tuscan wine making. Using different grapes and traditional Sangiovese, Super Tuscans are produced in small batches and fetch prodigious prices.

Morellino di Sansano is the famous wine from the Maremma area, near the sea. It’s 50% Sangiovese and the rest a mix of white and red grapes. It’s slightly tannic and dry, full-bodied, and goes well with meat and meaty sauces. Then there’s Carmignano, with a long history and differentiates itself from the other traditional wines in its use of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with the local Sangiovese and Canaiolo. It has an intense wine, with a harmonic taste, and a whiff of floral bouquet.

Tuscan wine is special due to the passion of the winemakers’ art mixed with centuries of experience.

Tosting Tuscan Wine in Seattle

IL Bistro in Seattle impresses you with its red wine list, world-famous varietals of Tuscany. Come and enjoy an evening of great Italian fare paired with only the best of Tuscan red wine.