The best focaccia I ever tasted was at a Greek artist’s house outside of Milan. Her name is Madame Lisa. I was told that Madame Lisa was the muse of the famous Italian artist, Giorgio de Chirico. I channeled my inner artist and used Madame Lisa as my muse when making this eclectic, artistic focaccia. Serve this masterpiece with a gorgeous glass of Sangiovese from Poggio Grande, Piano. The perfect pairing that would make even Mona Lisa smile.
Vendemmia, the time of harvesting the grapes, is celebrated in Tuscany as a sacred ceremony every year, with celebrations and symbolic meals prepared solely during the grape harvest. Schiacciata con l’uva, grape focaccia, whose annual appearance in kitchens and bakeries across the region, heralds the start of a month-long harvest season. The Tuscan word “schiacciata” means “pressed” or “flattened,” and it refers to a flatbread known as focaccia. This sweet version, prepared with dough, sugar, and juicy grapes, is a special treat I enjoy at our family wineries each fall during harvest! Drinking a glass of red Tuscan wine with this sweet focaccia is a must! I suggest the king of all Italian reds, Brunello di Montalcino, from the Madonna Nera winery in Montalcino, Tuscany.
Focaccia, also known as Pizza Bianca, means a plain pizza. This version is one my little Italian grandmother made often. She always used black cured olives that she and my grandfather made from their olive trees. Usually, focaccia will have a drizzle of EVOO accompanied with olives, or sun-dried tomatoes pushed into the dough and sprinkled with savory herbs like rosemary. Have fun trying different toppings; be sure to crack open a delicious bottle of Capitoni Orcia Riserva from Tuscany to enjoy with every bite of focaccia!
Day-old bread is never tossed in Italy! In fact, many have told me it is bad luck, so I make breadcrumbs and freeze them, so they are always on hand whenever I need them.
In Italy, throwing away bread is said to be bad luck, so the Italians have found numerous ingenious ways to recreate stale bread into something delicious, like these homemade croutons! You can easily make Crostini precisely the same way, except slice the bread instead of cutting it into cubes. Add these croutons to a creamy soup, like my Porcini Mushroom Soup, and enjoy a glass of Poggio Grande Syrah to transport you to the rolling hills of Tuscany.
To make this vegan-friendly, substitute the Parmesan cheese with vegan cheese. I use Violife Plant-Based Parmesan cheese.