Maude Journeys to Tuscany

We started in Western Australia, then traveled to Sonoma, followed by Champagne. For the the fourth and final menu of Maude 2019, the team, consisting of Executive Chef Chris Flint, Wine Director Andrey Tolmachyov, and Pastry Chef Yesenia Cruz traveled to Tuscany, Italy. Making Siena their hub, they spent an immersive week filled with eating and drinking and now created a menu to share their discoveries.

The cuisine of Tuscany is based on the Italian idea of cucina povera (“poor cooking”). It is a cuisine known for its simplicity. There are no complicated seasonings or elaborate creations, rather the focus is on fresh, high-quality ingredients. And this is exactly what Executive Chef Chris Flint executed. It was a menu that was clearly inspired by Tuscany and the presentations were simple. But the flavors were anything but simple, and paired with a selection of old Tuscan wines that my dining companions brought, our Maude journey to Tuscany was another wonderfully memorable meal.

Our meal started with four small bites. 

Pinzimonio is an Italian-style crudites of fresh, crisp vegetables and an olive oil emulsion.

Chestnut Bread – Chestnuts, known as castagne or marroni in Italian, are an important part of Tuscan cuisine. In the old days, it was considered a poor man’s food as it was fruit from the trees that could be collected in the woods for free.

Chicken Liver – I am not normally a fan of chicken liver as I do not like the irony aftertaste. But, this chicken liver on a crostini and topped with lardo was sweet with no lingering aftertaste.

Fig – Another specialty of Tuscany, figs are stuffed with mushrooms and were wrapped in little packages for us to unwrap.

After enjoying a little Champagne, our first Tuscan wine was the 1972 Ricasoli Chianti.

Chicories – The  bitter greens were tenderly cooked and served in the shape of a small football and stuffed with olives and served with a pistachio and orange cream.

We veered off the Tuscan path for the next wine, Raveneau Chablis Montee de Tonnerre Premier Cru 2009 because when Raveneau is offered, you do not say “no”.

Cacciucco – Cacciucco is an Italian fish stew and Maude’s interpretation was a Santa Barbara spot prawn served with chopped squid and seaweed and a reduced tomato sauce.

Our next wine was the 1964 Melini Chianti Classico.

Ravioli Mugellani – Based on an ancient dish, ravioli mugellani is potato ravioli. Served with a Pecorino cream, the dish was not the most photogenic but it was a dish I wanted to lick every last drop.

Next up was the 1973 Tenuta il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino.

Pici – Our second pasta dish was pici, a fat hand-rolled spaghetti, with a smoked and fermented vegetable ragu and black truffle. A vegetarian dish, this pasta was so rich and savory, it was hard to believe there was no meat in the ragu.

Our next wine was the 1999 Pian Pannello Brunello di Montalcino.

Squab – The first meat dish was a small piece of squab with crispy skin, served with crispy kale, cannellini beans, rosemary and black truffle.

Beef Cheek – Our second meat dish was a tender piece of beef cheek with fennel and anchovy.

We ventured upstairs for dessert and our final wine, the 2004 Madonna de Piano Brunello di Montalcino Riserva.

Our first dessert was a chocolate coated gelato, because gelato is a staple of the Italian diet.

Duomo di Negroni – The main dessert was a dessert version of a Negroni with pear, Campari and juniper and with a frosting dome.

And to complete the meal were three biscotti.

Our journey to Tuscany was another incredible meal at Maude and I am looking forward to traveling to Southern Australia in the new year.