Cooking in the Marche is deeply rooted in peasant tradition, here the home cook rather than the professional chef rules and even the smartest restaurants seek to produce food just like “nonna“, or grandmother, used to make.
The use of fresh, top quality materials assembled with the minimum of fuss marks the “cibo marchigiano“. But as dishes are strictly based on tradition and local produce, each local area has its distinctive “cucina tipica“.
As with any rural diet, much use is made of food gathered from the wild; mushrooms, nuts, field herbs and – the area’s greatest culinary treasure – truffles are an important feature in the Marche.
For “antipasto”, mountain salt-cured ham and “lonza” (salt-cured fillet of pork) reign supreme. If you see it, also try “ciauscolo” (a soft, spreadable pork salame).
The classic “primo” is a plate of tagliatelle dressed with sugo, or meat sauce. The region’s unique pasta dish is “vincisgrassi“, a rich baked lasagna without the usual tomatoes.
Apart from the ever-present meat grilled alle brace, on embers, delicious stuffed pigeons (piccione ripieno) and rabbit cooked with fennel (coniglio in porchetta) are a Marche speciality. In some areas, stewed snails (lumache) occasionally creep on to the menu.
By the coast, taste “brodetto“, fish stew which must be made with 13 species of fish. Thin spaghetti dressed with clams, or baby clams, is always good here as is “spaghetti allo scoglio”, “on the rocks” dressed with seafood.
The sheep’s’ milk “pecorino” cheese is excellent here and is best eaten in the spring with young raw broad beans or fava beans. Look out, too, for “formaggio di fossa” – (a strong-flavoured cheese aged by being walled up in limestone holes in the ground).
Oil has always been a basic element of the Mediterranean diet, well known and appreciated all over the world, for its taste and as a balanced and equilibrated supply of calories.
There are many different qualities of olive cultivated in this region, and their fruits are used both as a food in itself and for oil production.
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Olio Extravergine di Oliva 100% Italiano – Dal 1945
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The Marche is one of Italy’s last untouched wine regions, and a must for gourmet travelers.
Wines that are as easy on the palate as they are on the wallet.
Le Marche boasts Mediterranean flora like Cyprus trees, olive trees and vines spread across a hilly landscape, and dotted with medieval villages. The calcareous soils here, have proven excellent for varieties like Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Verdicchio and Montepulciano.
The region has just 20,000 hectares of vineyards spread throughout 11 DOCs in the provinces of Ancona, Ascoli Piceno, Macerata and Pesaro; and it ranks 12th place among Italy’s wine regions.
The best red wines coming from the region are Sangiovese and Montepulciano, not related to the Tuscan wine region of Montepulciano where “Vino Nobile” is made, rather is a separate noble varietal. Both Sangiovese and Montepulciano are used for red wine Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno, tannic and easily recognizable wines.
Most of the wine made in Le Marche is white, with the crisp and fresh Verdicchio varietal being the star.
There are different types of Verdicchio – Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica, Castelli di Jesi being more prevalent. The Pecorino grape is gaining popularity in Marche and many producers are making stellar white wines with this trendy varietal.
Other appellations in Marche include the DOCG Vernaccia di Serrapetrona (a unique red sparkling wine that has been made since ancient times and it mentioned in Dante´s Divine Comedy), Lacrima di Morro d’Alba (a sweet red wine made in Ancona province), Falerio dei Colli Ascolani (a wine that dates back to Roman times!), Bianchello del Metauro (named after the white Bianchello grape which is a clone of the Greco grape, and the “Metauro” river), Colli Maceratesi (local red and white wines made in the hills around Macerata), Colli Pesaresi, Esino, Offida, and Terreni di Sanseverino.