martedì 15 aprile 2014

Palaia, a sweet hilltop tuscan village

Palaia, a charming village in the tuscan district of Pisa, has its origins in the Etruscan period as hypogea and artifacts there found witness it. Its territory extends between the river Chiecina and the river Roglio and as a hilltop settlement lies at 240 meters above sea level. In the middle ages the castle was a very important establishment in Tuscany.

A typical medieval little town, it can be identified in two main sections, the fortress in the higher portion with its circular area and the inhabited part that stretches around it with focus in the main square as a typical social identity center.
Porta Fiorentina, the old gate that gave acces to the town, is on the east side with the small fort on its right side and the guard tower on its left.

Points of interest are, the clock tower, built on top of the former gate Porta Ghibellina, the church of Sant' Andrea from middles ages period with its precious artifacts, the church of San Martino also from the middle ages time and built with stone and bricks with romanesque and gothic elements.

Palaia's land has the most suitable properties to grow the grapevine and olive trees and an important part of its economy nowadays relies on the clever agricultural work of its inhabitants that produce superior quality extra virgin olive oils and great tuscan wines that are internationally appreciated.

Arianna & Friends as a local tour operator specially focused on wine and food experiences, is the most appropriate expert companion that can make you relish the best products that Palaia has to offer.

giovedì 3 aprile 2014

Extra virgin olive oil in Tuscany

Extra virgin olive oil has been been considered for long a great product although limited as a dressing ingredient for salads or vegetable recipes in most mediterranean dishes, as it improves taste and flavor of them.
As a matter of fact, olive oil is the best cooking fat since it has a high melting point and doesn't create toxic matter when used to prepare high temperature processed foods and the tuscans have known this for ages.  Many Tuscan recipes make use of extra virgin olive oil for deep frying like artichokes, zucchini, chicken, rabbit, squids, cod, frittelle and many more.
Extra virgin olive oil, in order to reveal its best quality in terms of organoleptic properties, flavor and taste needs to come from a strict process where the olives, picked at the right ripening time, have to be cold pressed (below 27 ° C) within a few hours from picking. The oil extracted will then have to be sealed immediately and stored in a dark cool place.
Following these guidelines as stated in the tuscan D.O.P. regulation, the product that comes out keeps a low acidity, which means more palatable to taste, fresh flavor and aroma, retaining antioxidants and vitamin E.
In Tuscany the olive tree presence dates back a few centuries B.C. and the use of olive oil has spanned from curative and therapeutic purposes to food preservant and ingredient.
Nowadays the high quality degree of extra virgin olive oil is so appreciated that the tourism industry highlights the best producers. Olive oil tasting tours in Tuscany are held in traditional expert farms, where, a guided tour of the olive groves, the milling room, and, most of the times, in a proper tasting room, a sampling evaluation of quality, flavor, color of the variety of extra virgin olive oil locally produced, provide a fun experience and a starting point to get acquainted to the olive oil culture and its world.