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CiboChat is the Food and Culture blog of FUA Florence University of the Arts. This blog project reflects our aim to share the cultural and especially gastronomic experiences of our students, faculty, staff, and Florentine locals. Check out our Florentine Food Guide for how to dine like a local!

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TuttoToscana - James Beard Foundation

Carbonaione – A Tuscan Powerhouse

IMG_0684 (1)By the TuttoToscana Team, with contributions from Luca Del Fante

This Chianti Classico is a veritable powerhouse when it comes to the Tuscan wine panorama. Created by the father-son team of Vittorio and Yuri Jurij, who are both highly regarded enologists, Carbonaione represents a single-vineyard wine and 100% Sangiovese grapes.

The grapes date back to over 80 years, possibly linked to those replanted after WWI, and are a rare example of plants containing the the original Sangiovese di Lamole clone originating in the Chianti Classico area. Carbonaione was conceived by Vittorio, credited as one of the protagonists of the Tuscan enology revitalization, thanks to years of study and analysis. The product represents the purity of Sangiovese in an extremely rich, elegant, and power expression of the Tuscan landscape.

The Sangiovese grapes grow in sandy, loam-rich, and rocky soil. It is fermented for 12 days and aged for 14 months in oak tonneux barrels. The result is a silky, refined Chianti Classico with notes of dark berries, spice, leather, and herb. For our 2015 JBF dinner it was paired with the stuffed rack of lam with rosemary, pecorino, honey, wild fennel flowers, violet potatoes, and pickled red onions.

For more information visit the winery website.

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Pastificio Fabbri: Senatore Cappelli Pasta

IMG_0704 (1)By Brenna Boone

Pastificio Fabbri, an artisanal Tuscan pasta producer, creates the Senatore Cappelli pasta we used for our JBF dinner in the Chianti area. The pasta is made with a special grain hybrid because the main grain that is used is particularly difficult to grown on its own.

This grain comes from a particularly tall plant, which is easily knocked over by heavy winds or rainfall, and the fallen plant needs too much energy to prop itself back up. However, the quality of grain that the plant produces is superb, and has been around for a very long time. This grain used to be particularly popular because of its rich flavor and healthier qualities but gradually fell out of cultivation with the producers because it was difficult to grow. This is why a hybrid grain was developed by genetist Nazareno Strampelli at the beginning of the 20th century to make the plant more stable; Strampelli dedicated the hybrid’s name to the Marquis Raffaele Cappelli from Abbruzzo, who was the senator of the Italian Kingdom in the late 1800s and a sustainer of both agrarian reform and Strampelli’s specific efforts.

If you looked at the grains throughout the world used in pastas, you would notice there may be little bits of the Senatore Cappelli grain mixed with different producers’ plants, but none have as dominant of a Senatore Cappelli gene as the Fabbri producers. This is what makes Fabbri pastas so special. The Fabbri producers dedicate their production to quality, not quantity. They produce pasta that is very nutritious and is closer to whole-wheat pasta rather than typical refined pasta. Because we chose to serve a traditional Tuscan pasta at the James Beard dinner, we chose to pair Fabbri pasta with a very classic sauce – ragu. A ragu is a rustic and simple sauce that consists of stew with broken up meat. The Fabbri Senatore Cappelli pasta and the ragu made for an iconic, delicious, and memorable dish.

Discover the world of Fabbri at the company site.

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Organic Tuscan: Fontodi Wines

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By the TuttoToscana Team, with contributions from Luca Del Fante

When JBF wines come from an area called “the golden shell” (Conca d’Oro) we know that there must be something special about them. Fontodi, a well-respected wine producer in Tuscany, is located precisely in the heart of this special area just south of the town of Panzano.

We’re talking about Chianti Classico, an area whose first wines were documented in 1398 and whose rich lands were hotly contested by the cities of Florence and Siena. The terroir today combines high altitude, calcar clayschist soil, and plentiful light as the winning elements of this Tuscan microclimate.

The Manetti family has been producing wines at Fontodi since 1968. Fontodi is a certified organic producer and its agricultural practices are applied with a natural and sustainable approach. A better, purer, and truer expression of the grape is what the company strives to attain. Our TuttoToscana hospitality was incredibly excited to serve the company’s Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. 2013 paired with our JBF dinner’s appetizer – a cauliflower and pecorino Toscano DOP “tiramisu” with powdered anchovies and San Rossore pine nuts, topped with a few drops of chive oil.

The Chianti Classico is composed of 100% Sangiovese grapes, which are fermented with indigenous yeasts for a minimum of 2 weeks. The wine is then aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. Deep ruby red in color with perfumes of cherry, plum, leather, and tabacco, this wine has soft tannins and a silky-smooth texture.

Find out more about this unique organic Chianti Classico and other Fontodi products online.

JBF Wine Sponsor – Salcheto

salcheto

By Brenna Boone

Salcheto Nobile is a red wine from Montepulciano. The vintage we are used for the James Beard Alumni dinner is a 2010. The grapes used in Salcheto Nobile are 100% Prugnolo Gentile grapes. This wine is aged for a total of 18 months and 70% of this time takes place within the bottle while the other 30% takes place in large wooden barrels. This creates a very high quality everyday wine. Salcheto has firm tannins with acidity to balance the wine. There has a full bouquet with aromas of fresh herbs like sage and thyme, and scents of red currants. The producer of Salcheto Nobile is very unique because the only produce organic wines. At the winery, the Salcheto team has worked very hard to create little to no carbon footprint and run a completely sustainable winery. The winery uses no electricity and purely harness the energy of the sun and earth around them. For an example of this, the light fixtures use the light of the sun, on bright or cloudy days, and filter light down into the various floors within the winery with large reflective tubes.

Check out Salcheto for further details on the producer’s wines and sustainable approach.

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Acquerello Risotto: The Art of Aging

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By Brenna Boone

Acquerello is a very special rice from Italy. This rice was developed by the Rondolino family. In 1935 Cesare Rondolino became a rice farmer and bought the Tenuta Torrone della Colombara because of its fertile fields and abundant water; two conditions perfect for growing rice. Many years later, in 1972, his son Piero joined his father as a farmer. Finally in 1992 Piero developed Acquerello. To begin the production of Acquerello rice, the producers begin with extremely high quality Carnaroli Superfine rice. Unlike most rice’s,, Acquerello is aged for one year. While it is aged, it is kept in the hull. This helps with a few things, it enhances the flavor of the rice and it makes the starches more stable, which gives the rice more bite to it when cooked. This is because the grains continue their maturation when the hull is still on the grain. After the 1 year of aging, the hull is removed which also removes the germ from the grain. In most rice products this is removed and not utilized again. However, for Acquerello rice, he germ is ground and mixed in with the rice which both ads flavor and nutritional value. This germ addition gives the rice the nutritional value of a brown rice. We served it at the James Beard Foundation dinner with risotto flavored with Blu del Chianti cheese and topped with toasted hazelnuts. We were fortunate to host Alessandro Bellini, Acquerello’s rep in the USA for product importation, who joined our team at the event to speak to diners about the rice’s unique qualities.

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