One of our most important planning resources for our trip to Tuscany was Little Roads Europe: Tuscany, Italy Small-town Itineraries for the Foodie Traveler.
It was there that we discovered an entry for Osteria Starda which is located in one of the more remote areas of Tuscany. Please call for reservations since the may not open if no guests plan to visit.
The village of Starda is inhabited by only nine people. You dine in a castle that was once owned by a notorious Sicilian named Malaspina. When asking for family details, our hosts demurred rather than provoke angry Castle ghosts.
There was only one other couple in the restaurant and they preferred to dine in the sun. We opted for a table close to the fireplace which was carefully lit with a small piece of paper drenched in olive oil.
The Spartan but tasty meal was prepared by a talkative Romanian woman who had been taught to cook by an elderly Italian woman schooled in “the old ways” of cooking.
I will spare you the details, but we sampled delicious chicken livers that had been gently sautéed with only onions. Our loquacious chef argues that other vegetables detracts from the flavor of the puréed livers. Who am I to argue? The liver purée was then served of a piece of toasted crostini brushed with Vin Santo, a sweet wine traditional to the region. Frankly, it has a more subtle taste than Marsala.
Our pasta courses were Pici (a local handmade thick spaghetti made with just flour and water traditionally made by peasants) with truffles and another with cinghiale. Both were very good.
The highlight of the meal – in addition to the wonderful setting – was the superb local wine, grappa and vino Santo. Our host (see pic above) was thrilled to show us his wonderful wine cellar.
This was an excellent wine, but reportedly sells for some astronomical amount in Germany.
This was truly an experience that will not be soon forgotten. Nevertheless, the drive is a bit hazardous and not recommended for the faint of heart.
Although it is miles from this remote village in Tuscany, I still remember the delightful weekends we spent in the luxury resort of Il Pelicano sipping Campari’s and grapefruit juice around the pool.