by Beth Elon
Just when we thought we knew everything there was to know about Tuscany, along comes Beth Elon – cookbook writer and 30-year resident of a small village at the foot of the Appenines – who takes us along the back roads and through the ancient hill towns to remote restaurants that are for the most part overlooked by tourists and known only to the locals. At each restaurant the cooks share their highly personal recipes for regional dishes made with local ingredients. With this guide in hand, you’ll not only know where to dine, but what to order when you get there. Each regional section begins with illuminating and absorbing explanations of what makes Tuscan cooking so unique: location, location, location. You’ll read about a bean so beloved by a village that it’s been elevated to cult status–but that is totally unheard of a few kilometers down the road; the specialty of the Zeri Valley, a milk-fed aboriginal baby lamb, that is almost unknown elsewhere in Italy; the endless array of vegetable tarts found only in Lunigiana and Garfagnana. Elon has organized ten itineraries that also include stops at gourmet shops, food festivals, green markets, and private kitchens. Along the way, she points out significant architecture, historic sites, churches, art, museums, and points of interest in the memorable landscape. The indispensable travel information in this guide is enriched by the author’s deep personal knowledge of the history and legend of the region – and her delightful voice and beautiful writing.