Meet Amy McCoy, a cookbook author and food blogger living in Rhode Island. Amy is the author of the cookbook Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget, a very handy book for all cooks, from the novice to the time-challenged professional. She’s one of the warmest people I know, and her personnality shines through her easy but delicious recipes and the advice she provides in her book. She also writes a blog, Poor Girl Gourmet, on which she shares recipes made from locally grown ingredients, many of which she grows herself on the small farm she owns with her husband. Together, they will be conducting fantastic culinary tours in Tuscany starting from spring 2013. Here’s Val d’Orcia, in her own words.
Val d’Orcia, Italy. My husband, JR, and I were married in the Val d’Orcia, in 2003. We had a small ceremony with family and a couple of close friends in attendance, followed by a reception on the lawn of the agriturismo Chiarentana, which is part of the La Foce estate. Our guests were just as awe-struck as we were by the natural beauty of the landscape, as well as the wonderful food and wine.
The Val d’Orcia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of that unique and stunning landscape and because it represents a standard for sustainable rural development that began in the 14th and 15th centuries under Sienese rule. Quite a bit ahead of the curve those Sienese were on sustainability!
On the day after our wedding, our guests had all left by late afternoon. JR and I were so sad to see them go that we took a drive down the strada bianca (white road) in the hopes that the scenery would take our minds off of our family and friends being gone. Not far from Chiarentana, we spotted a cinghiale, a wild boar, bounding through a hay field. We actually cheered when we saw it and decided that it was a sign that we should stop moping around, so we drove to a nearby trattoria to have a meal of papparadelle con ragu di cinghiale. But of course.
My Favorite Dish
Roast Suckling Pig with Cannellini Beans. With all of this chatter about cinghiale, it would be understandable if you suspected that it’s my favorite Val d’Orcia dish. Oh, but no. Not that it’s not in the top ten, and not that I don’t crave it, it’s just that over time, it’s become apparent that the dish I crave most when I’m not there is maialino arrosto, roast suckling pig (we’re still in the swine family, anyway), along with a side of cannellini beans, the perfect foil for the local olive oil. I get this meal every time I go to Latte di Luna in Pienza. This favoritism, however, is a matter of degrees, for the list of wonderful dishes I’ve enjoyed in the Val d’Orcia ranges from grab-and-go porchetta panino, to the local pasta specialty pici, similar to bucatini, only without the hole down the middle – oh, and handmade, so better than boxed bucatini any day – served with butter and shaved local truffles, to the simple yet over-the-top Bistecca Fiorentina, made with Chianina beef raised in the region, to the best roasted peppers I’ve ever eaten, to, yes, papparadelle con ragu di cinghiale. No matter which dish graces my plate, one thing is certain, it is always washed down with a Nobile di Montepulciano and followed by a dessert of Pecorino di Pienza cheese.
- Everytime Amy and her husband go to Val d’Orcia, they stay at the agriturismo La Foce, in Chianciano Terme. The owners are the daughters of Iris Origo, an Anglo-American writer, who chronicled daily life in the Val d’Orcia during World War II in her book War in the Val d’Orcia
- Learn more about the food and wine products of the Val d’Orcia
- Take a week-long culinary tour of the Val d’Orcia with Amy and her husband
- Discover parco della Val d’Orcia itineraries
- UNESCO designations: Pienza and Val d’Orcia
- Amy is also a gifted photographer and her pictures have been licensed by manufacturers for home décor and Tigerprint (Hallmark UK) for sale at Marks & Spencer. View her Polaroid transfer collection, or buy note cards through her Etsy shop.
Next Week On Edible Cities
Next week, David Dadekian, private chef, food instructor, photographer and blogger on Eat Drink RI, is taking us to Providence. Don’t miss it!
Photo Credits: All pictures by Amy McCoy.