Friday, May 03, 2013

Tuscanic - A taste of Tuscany in Soho

What a delight to discover a taste of authentic Tuscany hidden amongst the bustling streets of Soho!

If you’re a fan of true Italian food, you’ll also be delighted that we’re pointing you in the direction of Tuscanic ‘Merende’ meaning ‘to deserve’; they definitely got that bit right!!  Tucked away on Old Compton Street, this gorgeous little café come wine bar come deli has true Tuscan taste down to a tee.

Greeted by the delicious smell of freshly baked bread, we were shown to our cute little table by the fabulously animated and passionate Lorenzo.

It’s a simple place yet still brilliantly stylish.  Every single thing you see including the floor and the tables have comes from Tuscany.  As is all of the food…of course.  There’s no cheesy Italian table cloths or big chunky candlesticks, but there are lovely quirky touches everywhere – handmade terracotta pots for the cutlery, salt and pepper pots which you know would look great in your kitchen at home, and a range of the finest olive oils on the side. 

Tuscanic also sells all of its oils, jams, olives, wines and even tapas pots…  So if you like what you’re eating and drinking, you can attempt to re-create the taste at home!  What a brilliant idea.

On the back of the menus is a great little guide to the produce and which part of Tuscany it comes from, so there’s absolutely no chance of you not knowing what you’re getting when you order.  And of course Lorenzo was on hand for the evening to explain in great detail about all of the amazing meats and cheeses.  We got the impression his extensive knowledge wasn’t just being extended to us though; while we were there, all his customers got exactly the same attention.

Now, this guy also knows his wine and before we knew it, there was a gorgeous bottle of fruity Bolgheri Superiore on the table.  I’m not a red wine drinker, but this went down surprisingly well (and maybe a little too quickly!)

Throughout the evening, we sampled raw veg – carrots, celery and tomato with a deliciously rich olive oil, along with a basket of warm bread.  Then, a Tuscan speciality – ‘Le Zuppe’ which as Lorenzo explained was a way of using up all of the leftover ingredients in olden times.  Cooked with fresh soaked bread, one of our soups was a wholesome blend of mixed veg, carrots, beans and celery; the other, a tomato, bread, potato and oil mix. 

For our main antipasti platter, we were treated to a selection of the finest meats and cheeses straight from Tuscany.  The produce is so fresh and the express deliveries are so quick, that some of the cheese is still warm when it arrives at Tuscanic; we were suitably impressed by this fact and couldn’t wait to tuck in.  The salami, mortadella and prosciutto went perfectly with the pecorino, goats cheese and nocino, and was accompanied by acacia honey, fig jam and artichokes.  I’ve never had fig jam before and was pleasantly surprised – it was absolutely delicious!

Our light and fruity Bolgheri which had been perfect with our starters, was replaced by a much heavier, more powerful wine – a Brunello di Montalcino produced by the La Manella farm in Tuscany.  Although there’s many Brunello’s, this particular wine which Tuscanic have stocked since opening, has just been given a staggering 93/100 by the trusty ‘Wine Spectator’ website; further proof that when it comes to their food and drink, Tuscanic know their stuff.

Absolutely full to bursting point, we couldn’t resist desert when it arrived – a gorgeously thick and creamy Tiramisu with biscotti and Vin Santo (sweet holy wine). 

We left Tuscanic feeling full and happy and also vowing to marry an Italian chef!   And because we’d had a little too much wine, we also forgot to buy the fig jam and olive oil!  Probably just as well, because now we have a reason to go back!!

We ‘heart’ Tuscanic and you will too.  Promise.  Whether it’s for a latte, an antipasti platter or a glass of Brunello, you don’t need to jump on a plane to experience a little taste of Tuscany, just head to Soho.

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