Hello from Tuscany,
I am at the almost-end of my only week with a car in Tuscany, and after finding a very small cows milk cheese producer to taste with at his home this weekend, I am now addicted to the idea of finding more producers like this. The thing is, they aren't in magazines or online in google searches. I'm not looking for the 100 Euros all day cheese tours at the places who have made charging tourists money to see their site, their business. I'm looking for the tiny guys who produce high quality products and sell direct.
Have any of you been to taste sheep or goat's milk cheese with a small producer in Tuscany? Can you recommend any to me? I need a list of names and general areas so I can find addresses and phone numbers to make appointments, for my last day with a car (day after tomorrow). I would be grateful for your help.
I come from a background of working with small, artisan producers (wine and therefore by connection-meat and cheese and spice and flower and veggie/fruit producers) for many years in California, and so I guess my tastes and my background make me quite picky when it comes to 'tours' and meeting with people to taste their products. I don't want to walk into a store with a bunch of glass cases and stuff in packaging and only be able to 'tour' the property if I pay them a hefty fee.
In my experience, the small guys who need our business, are happy to meet with us, taste their products with us, and then sell them to us at reasonable prices, directly. These are the guys I like to support, because they are the ones who truly need it. And they retain that sense that only true small, for-the-passion producers (not the big money guys who buy farms and turn them into tourist trapping profit-centers) have.
I promote anyone I like (and their products) as much as possible in the form of blogs, articles, and word of mouth, once I leave (I know a lot of people who travel to Italy and France for food-wine focused trips) so I feel I also always do my part to help them get further business.
My visit to I Due Falchett: a super small producer (Francesco)who owns 11 cows and produces cheese on his small property and simply has a small cold cheese storage room where he keeps, tastes, and sells his cheeses (although normally he delivers the cheese orders to drop off points where customers pick them up). Nothing fancy. No fancy villa. Pretty scrungy looking dogs outside. But... he has some beautiful cows. And really well made cheeses and he is in business truly doing what he loves, and just trying to get by as simply as possible. (if you need contact info I can provide)
If anyone has had similar experiences here I'd be very happy to know.
I plan to add a section for artisan food producers onto my website in future (including U.S producers, Italy, France, and any other country I visit and have enough experiences in, to feature).
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Hello from Tuscany,