A little bit of Tuscany, at home

Visiting the medieval Tuscan town of San Gimignano in Italy this past fall, I stepped into a butcher shop to ask for directions. Little did I know that this inquiry would lead me to a wonderful Italian spice mix that has become a drug (uh, I mean staple) in my home.

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San Gimignano is easily accessible from Florence.  It is a bit more touristy than other towns we visited in Tuscany, but the beauty of the town (dating back to 63 B.C.) lies in the soaring towers that rise from the town.  While only 13 of the original 72 are still standing, the towers immediately set it apart from all the other castle-like towns.  Apparently, only the wealthy were able to erect such tall homes and thus the towers became a symbol of power and status. I was told by a shop keeper that if residents quarreled with a neighbor (and lost) the loser would be required to make their tower shorter.  While I haven’t found any supporting information about this, just know that most of the towers are now gone.

We agreed that we wanted to eat “as the Tuscans do” and unable to find Trattoria La Briciola, I stepped into a small butcher shop to get directions. Having a pleasant conversation with the butcher, I felt compelled to buy something.  Unable to choose from the large selection of italian food products, I asked the butcher for a recommendation. He suggested two packages of italian spices – a “Grigliate di Carne” and a “Preparato per Penne All’Arrabbiata”. She noted that the Grigliate was especially good. I quickly bought them without another thought.

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Like most visitors to Italy upon their return, I could not stop dreaming about the food (and the coffee!).  Luckily, that little package of grigliate was in my possession and during one of my first home-cooked meals, I sprinkled it over steak on the grill. It. was. amazing.

Grigliate means grilled.  Grigliate di Carne is a spice mix for grilled meats. This spice is amazingly aromatic with over 10 spices. Believe me when I tell you that Tuscans love their meats and know how to prepare them.  Theirs is a diet rich in wild boar and game. Generously sprinkled on a plain boneless chicken breast elevates a regular weeknight meal into a special treat.

It is fantastic on chicken, salmon, pork chops.  I started to run low very quickly.  I looked up the brand online and to my dismay it is not sold in the United States.  So, I emailed Borghini and promptly received an email back from Alain Borghini.  He offered to ship it to me.  Happiness is a package of spices from Tuscany waiting on your doorstep.

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