My mother and father had visited Bordeaux followed by a driving trip around Tuscany with some friends back in 2009, which believe me, was a trip to be envied.
My parents have these randomly amazing memories and my mum was adamant that she was going to take Tim and I to two of the places that they ate at in Tuscany. Even if she couldn't remember the names of either places, which meant we had absolutely no address, just vague location memories to base off from.
The first of these places, was fortunately very easy to find. My mum recalled it being right next to the motorway.
We turned off the A1 at the Incisa exit, and straight away my parents saw the restaurant. Mum freaked out, dad got excited and we all excitedly trundled on in.
It was called Osteria de' Giusti, an osteria originally being a place that would serve wine and simple food, although now the emphasis has shifted to the focus being on food, although in true Italian style, the menus are usual local and short.
I loved that even right off the motorway, the Osteria had a gorgeous little garden. Removes you from the fact that you've just been on the road for four hours...
Inside was just gorgeous, absolutely rustic, nary a white wall in sight. It was just warm and cosy, kind of like what you think a tavern might feel like, if dressed up a little anyway. I fell in love with the yellow tablecloth. It just adds a punch of colour and warmth doesn't it?
My father meant to order the Carpineto Chianti Classica Reserva, but we accidentally got this instead. For 12 euros, who was complaining too much? It was nice, but definitely not as good as the Reserva (which we had at a later date) Carpineto is a Tuscan wine, quite well known in the states and was only a 20 minute drive from where we stayed. We actually passed by the winery one day, but it was closed as it was close to dinner time. Oh well.
We were given complimentary bread to start off with, warm and fluffy, generously seasoned with olive oil, it was definitely a very comforting way to start the evening.
I can't remember exactly what this all is, I know that this was our entree, with different toppings on fried polenta (which was so yummy!). I think one was tomatoes, one eggplant and one meat based one. Whilst tasty, not the thing that stood out to me the most that night.
Mum and dad's pasta with truffles. You could smell this guy a mile away. Creamy, yet not drowning in it, the pasta was also cooked to absolute perfection. It was indeed quite creamy, but so simple and straight forward, it didn't feel gluggy at all. This is how the Italians do it!
Whilst it looks like a pile of purple mush, which is the strangest colour for a risotto, well, it's pretty much the best risotto I've ever had in my life.
I don't say these things lightly.
I remember being even slightly apprehensive even when it was first placed in front of us, as mum and dad's pasta smelt and looked more enticing initially. But oh my goodness, one bite changed all that. This was a raddichio risotto, although I've forgotten what cheese it was served with.
The raddichio was torn through it and with the absolutely perfectly cooked rice, the crunch of the raddichio (yes it was still crunchy!) gave it almost a wild rice texture, which I absolutely love. It had a bit of nuttiness to it that I liked as well and the cheese gave it that rich edge as it melted through the rice, which was also, incredibly comforting and made it exceptionally moreish. I severely lack words to describe how much I love this. I keep saying I'm going to try and replicate it but I haven't gotten around to it yet...
Serious knives for serious meat....What my mum had wanted to bring Tim and I here for, was the steak Florentine, that she keeps raving about. I'm so bummed I forgot to take a picture of the raw steak that was shown to us, because it was a behemoth in raw form, bone and all!
Oh hi there meat! Lots...of meat....1.6 kilograms of meat to be exact. After a pasta, risotto and entrees, I was at a loss on how we were going to finish this.
And then I remembered my brother was with us. Haha.
When we were actually ordering, after reviewing our order, our waitress kept gesturing to us and looking at us funny, thinking that we hadn't ordered enough food. We assured her we would be fine for the time being. Can you imagine if we had ordered more?!
The steak Florentine was cooked a lovely medium rare, deliciously pink in there! The meat was also tender and oh so succulent. I personally quite liked the more charred edges and juicy insides. Although I pity that I couldn't enjoy this more as I was so full, I may have managed two or three slices of meat before admitting defeat. A poor effort I know, but I had filled up on risotto already!
All up, Italy was already delivering amazing things. Our meal was also amazingly priced, for 4 people, our bill came to around 88 euro. EIGHTY EIGHT EURO. For 4 people, bread, entree, 2 carbohydrate dishes and 1.6 kilograms of meat. I am absolutely flabbergasted at how they manage to do it. To not only provide such reasonable prices, but for such amazing produce that has been fabulously cooked. Whilst Melbourne may be one of the best cities to live in...Tuscany was shaping up to be one of the best places to eat in.
After our fabulous meal, we then proceeded to drive into the Tuscan hills and get perfectly lost in the dark as we tried to locate our hotel. At least we had warm full tummies.
Piazza Amendola, 2
Loc. I Ciliegi (exit A1 INCISA)