The Valdambra is an area of Tuscany that takes its name from the river that runs through the valley in the province of Arezzo. It’s an area to be discovered with time, from unique landscapes and artistic treasures. It’s worth going just for its local cuisine: here, there’s been a longstanding tradition of unique food and wine products.
Not to be missed is the Tarese, a cured pork meat that’s been produced in the region for centuries. The Valdarno Tarese has a distinct and persistent yet delicate flavour due to the long curing process that makes the fat soft and mellow from the aromatic spices covering it. The meat is cured according to a secret recipe that varies from producer to producer.
The extra-virgin olive oil produced in Valdambra is pressed with the best extraction techniques; the physical and chemical properties of the oil are indicative of its quality. This ingredient that is vital to the Mediterranean diet is now recognised as a piece of World Heritage. Every year in the Valdambra, festivals are organised to celebrate other traditional recipes of the area. For example, liver pate toasts are a must-try of Tuscan cuisine, and it’s an old custom to prepare them for important moments for the whole community, such as post-harvest grain threshing or family events like weddings and religious festivals. Another traditional dish from the area is snails in sauce: a dish that comes from the countryside and is part of peasant cuisine that can also be rendered haute-cuisine by the real experts. The snail has tender flesh that lends itself to many different cooking methods while being compatible with low-calorie diets. Snails contain high levels of protein and are easily digested.
Large populations of frogs live in the countryside of the Valdambra, especially the areas near the river Ambra, and the streams and ditches that border the fields. Peasant cuisine actually included frogs prepared fried or in stews and soups.