Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Consorzio Agrario di Siena (Siena, Italy)

Following four days in Rome, we traveled to the Medieval town of Siena in the Tuscany region last Tuesday, where our first stop after dropping off our luggage at the hotel ended up being one of our most memorable experiences in Italy: an “olive oil tasting” at Consorzio Agrario di Siena, or the Agricultural Consortium of Siena, arranged by our tour. Although olive oil was prominently featured at this tasting, we also had an assortment of cured meats, Pecorino cheese (made with sheep's milk) topped with two different spreads (onion and pumpkin), two different red wines, as well as desserts accompanied by dessert wine.

Olive oil is a specialty of this region:

Olive oil at Consorzio Agrario di Siena
Three different olive oils.  All different, all amazing.

Wild boar salami is another specialty of Tuscany.  In nearby San Gimignano, you can't walk a few yards without seeing a wild boar sandwich shop, complete with a wild boar head at the entrance of the shop:

Wild boar salami at Consorzio Agrario di Siena

Other cured meats are also popular in Tuscany:

Cured meats at Consorzio Agrario di Siena
Cured meats, sundried tomatoes, artichoke, and cheese.

Traditional Tuscan desserts:  Cantucci (almond biscotti), Vin Santo dessert wine, and Panforte (a fruit and nut cake).  Siena is considered the panforte capital of Italy.

Dessert table at Consorzio Agrario di Siena
The dessert table. 

We had two amazing red wines:

Wine at Consorzio Agrario di Siena

Wine at Consorzio Agrario di Siena

Buon appetito!

My lunch at Consorzio Agrario di Siena
My lunch plate

After the tasting, we went downstairs to the store that carries only local products, many straight from the farms.  It was like Italy's version of a farmer's market, only bigger and indoors.

The store at Consorzio Agrario di Siena
The wine selection

The store at Consorzio Agrario di Siena
Fresh local produce

R. bought some wine as souvenirs and I bought a little trio of olive oil for a friend who was to pick us up at the airport upon our return to Pittsburgh.  I was tempted to get some olive oil for myself, but figured it'd be too much to carry, and that ended up being a wise idea because my bag would have been overweight!  I wish I had brought an extra suitcase!

Consorzio Agrario di Siena
Via Giuseppe Pianigiani, 9, 53100 Siena, Italy
On the web:

View Larger Map