Sunday afternoon in Tuscany, you are likely to find locals out in the fields and forests, walking slowly along and focused intently on the ground.
If it weren’t for the wicker basket in hand, you may think they were lost in thought, perhaps contemplating the meaning of life or formulating a new theory to rival that of Einstein or a new invention to top Tuscany’s own Leonardo da Vinci.
But no. These wanders are in fact out searching for hidden treasures, in the form of funghi porcini.
Used in appetizers, starters and mains, Porcini are the most valued mushroom variety in Tuscany* that mushroom hunters passionately seek in the stunning hillside of Tuscany.
We recently tried and tested some great porcini recipes, from a delicious ‘pici’ (‘pinched’ pasta variety typical of the zone around Siena), pork medallions with a porcini sauce, fried porcini and grilled porcini mushrooms.
To make the fried mushrooms, simply wipe them with a damp cloth (never wash them or they will absorb water). Cut of the stems and turn the porcini mushrooms cap down. In the base, stick in some pieces of garlic, sprinkle with thyme and place in a grill pan or non-stick frypan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Cook over a medium flame until tender and slightly browned. Season with freshly ground pepper and salt. This porcini mushroom recipe is great as a side dish, or as a main for vegetarians.
Leftovers can be finely chopped and served over fettuccini the next day, with a dash of olive oil and even some grated parmesan cheese for a simple and tasty pasta recipe.
We also recently made a delicious Tessa Kiros recipe for porcini preserved in oil, which we have been enjoying on our ‘antipasto’ starter platters with some great salami and cheese varieties. Yum!
To learn about the traditional Italian ingredients and learn to make delicious, typical dishes before indulging in a delicious meal made by you, we have hands-on cooking classes in Florence.
If you are looking for some other great things to do in Tuscany to enjoy local cuisine, explore the Tuscan countryside in a small group, taste Tuscan wine and the like, we have a great range of small-group Tuscany tours.
Visit a Tuscan villa on the Taste of Tuscany at the Villa wine tour. Explore the historic wine estate before undertaking a wine tasting. Tread through the terrain, enjoying spectacular views of the Tuscan countryside up-close and personal.
Stroll through the Tuscan countryside, join us for a Perfect Morning in Tuscany small-group walking tour. Leaving from Florence’s city centre and heading to the surrounding countryside, this small-group walking tour includes, well, walking in Tuscany, as well as lunch with wine at a stunning Renaissance Villa Estate, accompanied by an expert tour guide.
If you would like to immerse yourself in the Tuscan countryside and be part of the scenery that has inspired so many great artworks, we have a small-group Best of Tuscany tour visiting Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni, and stopping for lunch and wine tasting at an award-winning wine estate. See the highlights of Tuscany in one spectacular day tour from Florence – Best of Tuscany small-group tour.
Whilst our small-group Rome and Venice tours are on summer break in August, we can offer a private guide to accompanying you. We have a great range of fantastic private tours that cater to your every desire. From Florence (and Tuscany) to Rome, Venice to the Cinque Terre and beyond, we are at your beck and call.
To explore other areas of Italy, can check out our Artviva Walking Tours website to read more about the tours we have to offer in Florence, Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.
* aside from the truffle which is technically a tuber, kind of like the ugly cousin of the mushroom!