Zucchini flower recipe: Frittata-style (fiori di zucca)

zucchini flower frittata (fiori di zucca)

zucchini flower frittata (fiori di zucca)

My love affair started with Italy 10 years ago. My love for food started as soon as I could say spoon. For those of you new to my blog, it is called “curious appetite” because I wanted to write about all the things I was curious about: food, places, drinks, cultures and such. If something is unique, I want to order it. If I see something new and/or seasonal in the market, I want to cook it. Like finding fiori di zucca/zucchini flowers. I’ll try anything at least once. Seize the day- there are millions of flavors out there in the world waiting to be loved and loathed! One of the intentions of my blog too was to write about restaurants I was curious about. I wanted to write about places that did something different and with grit. And to give my humble opinion about eateries that were on everyone’s lips and yelping finger tips. So here it is- a mix of experimenting in the kitchen and at eateries around the world, mostly the US and in Europe. Continue reading

In defense of food in Florence

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take note.

I realize that for foodies from countries like America, Tuscan food in Florence can seem confusing. Recently, I took a quick stroll through common criticisms on sites like yelp and tripadvisor and decided to respond. These misunderstandings can be avoided, and I question the information out there educating people about what real Tuscan food and Italian food culture is about. Yes, Italian food includes plates of creamy gnocchi, carb-rich lasagna, pillow-y charred pizza and silky tagliatelle pasta and rich ragu’. But it is also a culture of regional foods, simple eating with little condiment. People eat out somewhat frequently in Italy, whether for a panino on the go or a quick plate of sliced roast beef and vegetables on lunch break. These meals are consumed casually at simple local cafes, hole in the walls or neighborhood trattorias. The grey area is that everyday Italians rarely go out for nicer, gourmet meals at atmospheric restaurants raved about in culture and leisure publications/blogs which travelers tend to chase after, giving a false impression of what the local eating culture is truly like. Continue reading

Where to go for the best gelato in Florence (Summer 2015 Edition)

my sugar gelato

Where oh where does one find the best gelato in Florence…(beside my instagram page virtually dripping with gelato). It’s more difficult than you think for finding the good s***, albeit being among a sea of gelaterie in the city. People sometimes ask me “Why is there so much gelato in Florence?”

In general, there is a lot of gelato in Italy. However I must say that Florence has a particular fondness of gelato because it is said to be the birthplace of gelato. On food tours, we chat about the key figures of gelato’s beginnings: Cosimo Ruggieri, Bernardo Buontalenti and Francesco Procopio (Francesco was actually from Sicily and this is where the gelato origin wars start to ensue). As one of my guests said recently “basically we’ve learned that Florence invented everything.” Exactly. I mean, how can you not boast a city that gave the world the Italian language, gelato and the negroni? Continue reading

Tuscan Recipe- Panzanella Bread Salad

panzanella blog

Bread salad? Yes.

I wonder if people coming to Florence or other destinations in Tuscany realize what Tuscan cuisine is and what it isn’t.

Tuscan cuisine is a complex yet simple beast. Frankly put, it is not pizza and pasta. There are flatbread pizzas (schiacciata) and ancient recipes for some pastas (maccheroni alla cacciagione). But pizza is native to Naples and pasta is home in the Emilia Romagna.

If I had to sum up Tuscan cuisine, it would be the art of not wasting anything- down to the last stale bread crumb and 4th cow’s stomach, drizzled with local fresh olive oil. Continue reading

An alternative guide to the “best” restaurants in Florence

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If you see these words- please keep on walking.

“Stuffing feathers up your ass does not make you a chicken” is one of my favorite quotes from Fight Club. Just because a thousand people with unproven enogastronomic credibility reviewed an eatery on tripadvisor as the best pizza in Florence, does not make it the best pizzeria in Florence.

I’m not saying 3rd party sites like tripadvisor don’t have their place or worth- it just seems to have become gospel for some food hunting travelers. I find that the people worth trusting online 1st are bloggers who live, have lived and/or continue to spend time/visit that place (and stay in the good graces of the locals there) or those who actually know good food either by writing about food, knowing cooks, having taken culinary tours or classes and who aren’t bad cooks themselves. Like pasta- how can someone really recommend the best pasta if they’ve never made it themselves or understand the curious anecdotes behind al dente? Continue reading

Events in Florence July 23rd & 24th: artisans, wine makers and snacks

Dear readers,

I was recently in the French part of Switzerland and my full intention was to write all about it first thing upon my return. As the wonderland of Florence has it, that post will have to be next on the roster because there are a couple really cool events happening this week that you can’t miss if you’re in town: Artisan Party on Thursday July 23rd and a Gourmet Vertical Wine Tasting on Friday July 24th. 

1st up is a Summer Pop-Up Festa by my lovely friend Nardia of Lost in Florence.

(credit: Nardia of Lost in Florence)

(credit: Nardia of Lost in Florence)

Lost in Florence is joining forces with a few very talented, local contemporary artisans in Florence to host a Summer Pop-Up Party at the stylish, chic La Serra studio space in Florence. The artisans present will be MK Textiles, Tinka Loncar and Officina Lab.

The details: Thursday 23 July 2015: From 7pm, we will be celebrating summer over a crisp cocktail, mingle with the artisans and check out their handmade goodies all on the gorgeous historic Palazzo Pandolfini secret garden. RSVP via the facebook event page.

The 2nd event you can’t miss in Florence this week is another Gourmet Vertical Wine Tasting Event in Florence presented by the Winemaker this Friday July 24th at 9pm

Me and guests from last gourmet vertical wine tasting event in Florence

Me and guests from last gourmet vertical wine tasting event in Florence

I have exclusive invites for a small handful of my readers (and pals) to join my table for a Vertical Wine Tasting presented by an Umbrian Winemaker at my favorite wine bar in Florence. Included in the tasting event are 6 wines and each wine will be paired with a generous array of finger foods such as gourmet crostini, truffle panini bites, organic artisan cheeses and local meats such as wild boar fennel salumi. This is not an event to miss if you are a serious food and wine lover visiting Florence. You will be at a private wine tasting at one of Florence’s most revered wine bars, served by the city’s best sommeliers and surrounded by locals (no tourists, except us:) Since I speak 3 languages (English, Italian and Wine), I’ll be able to translate and guide you through the whole tasting event in leisure.

Info on the wines:

Winemaker: Leonardo Bussoletti. Considered by local wine journal publications as one of the most important, emerging winemakers in Italy whose craft wines have “Oscar-award winning” caliber.

Wines presented: Grechetto (white wine), 3 different “vertical” vintages (i.e. wines of different years to demonstrate contrast) of the Brecciaro line (Ciliegiolo di Narni) and ending with a vertical of 2 vintages from his “old vine” Vigne Vecchie Riserva line (also Ciliegiolo di Narni). All wines from Umbria, the nearly undiscovered “green heart” central region of Italy.

Time and place: Friday July 24th at 9pm. Skip dinner. You won’t need it. Cost: 25eu. Since this is an exclusive, private event, you will need to contact me to RSVP for location details.

As with previous events, I have the privilege from my favorite wine bar in Florence to invite a few of my readers to join my table for this private vertical wine tasting event. This is a private event with only local attendees from the wine industry and personal contacts of the wine bar owner. This is great way to experience something different on a Friday night in Florence…with me as your date!

I look forward to seeing you in style (and taste!) this week in Florence.

Staying cool in the Florentine summer,

The Curious Appetite

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New Wine Bar in Florence- Uva Nera

Drinking and eating (and documenting it all) at Uva Nera with Nardia of Lost in Florence

Drinking, eating (and documenting it all) at Uva Nera with Nardia of Lost in Florence (check out her travel website: http://www.lostinflorence.it)

Last year, I discovered a pretty chic gourmet nook in Florence smack dab in the historical center yet in a little backstreet that the massive hoards would have difficulty in finding. Everybody wants “off-the-beaten-path in Florence” in one of the most heavily stomped cities in Europe. If there was a literal representation of a quality food & wine bar off the beaten path in Florence, it was Uscio e Bottega: http://thecuriousappetite.com/2014/07/28/uscio-e-bottega-florence-food-wine/ Continue reading

Gourmet Wine Event in Florence July 9th 2015

Artisan Food Pairings and Brunello Wine Tasting? Yes, please!

Artisan Food Pairings and Brunello Wine Tasting? Yes, please!

Hello, all! Whether you’ve google’d me or follow me already (hopefully no trolls)- I got some news to share! I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front but I wanted to let you know that this Thursday July 9th, I’m inviting a few of my readers to come drink wines and nibble on food pairings with me at a private vertical food and wine tasting in Florence. The tasting is hosted and organized by a very well-respected wine bar by winos and industry pros world over, and I am lucky that one of the owners extends me an invite for a private table- which spots I offer to my readers. The event is in Italian and I will be translating for the guests at my table if need be.

The details!

We will be doing a vertical tasting of wines from the precious area of Montalcino at a very secluded wine bar in the heart of Florence, both Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello di Montalcino. There will be food pairings with each wine pouring (5 total) and will include local artisan cheeses, cured meats (like fennel wild boar salumi), gourmet crostini and truffle panini. Wine and snacks will be plenty- bring an appetite and thirst!

Apart from the Langhe, Montalcino holds a special favored place in my wino heart. The night will showcase a very unique producer Agostina Pieri, who do very traditional nearly perfect reds from Montalcino- hand-picking every bunch from the region’s nearly perfect satellite in Castelnuovo dell’Abate. Reds are still divine in summer- especially if you know how to store/serveAgostina Pieri them well!

Their wines are considered sensational across the wine journalism world- and has received considerable accolade from Wine Advocate and awards from Italy’s own Gambero Rosso food and wine guide publication.

Why come? This is a private wine tasting event that is by invite only, hence a very exclusive opportunity to experience Italian wine tasting culture in Florence with locals. The bar that hosts this event specializes in small batch wineries and producers off the mass produced map. All of the snacks they serve come from local farms and artisan cheese makers, for example.

More details!

July 9th 2015 at 9:30pm. The cost is 25eu and includes 5 wines and snacks. Contact me to RSVP and to receive info on the venue. Since notice is so short- please only e-mail if you are sincerely interested in joining. Spaces are limited! RSVP now!

p.s. No trolls allowed!

In your summertime wine,

The Curious Appetite

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Where to get cow gut sushi in Florence for Vice Munchies

That's my article!

That’s my article!

Hello, readers! I’ve been really busy this summer well with leading tours, battling mosquitoes, traveling (I owe this blog a post on Venice) and other amazing things like living life!

I’ve also been getting things done while no one is looking such as starting to write for Vice’s food channel Munchies! In short, I’m pretty stoked to write for them. Mario Batali recently shared his favorite foodie blogs and instagram accounts and listed Munchies as a regular food account he follows.

As the name of my blog denotes, I have a curious appetite. I am not shy to try anything (I picked up and moved to Italy ferchrissake!) and am curious about everything authentic, including the bizarre. In Florence, there is a restaurant I really love for its strange offerings of Tuscan fare twisted with all things offal (ahem, animal innards). Read up on my article for Vice Munchies to learn about this offal eatery in the center of Florence and where you can get cow gut sushi in the former red light district: http://munchies.vice.com/articles/the-offal-osteria-is-putting-the-guts-back-into-florences-former-red-light-district

sushi il magazzino 2

In your offal trust,

The Curious Appetite

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Lo Sverso in San Lorenzo- new craft bar in Florence

Rum and Lime on the left, Negroni on the right and an awesome barman lurking in the back

Rum and Lime on the left, Negroni on the right and an awesome barman lurking in the back

Ah! Yes! The craft bar scene is finally making a decent presence in Florence! Since I moved in 2012, I have noticed craft brew pubs pop up and that made my Seattle soul glimmer with hope. Hope in that this over-termed “Renaissance Pearl” is getting with the times. In Seattle, I was constantly charmed by craft cocktail spots like Canon Seattle and Knee High Stocking Co. and that love affair with bitter imbibements came to a screeching halt when I arrived in Florence. I missed my bitter old man drinks for my tortured gluttonous soul. Little by little, I discovered bitter bars but only to be heartbroken when one of my favorites (THE Bitterbar, where I actually practiced performing a wedding at) closed their doors to a likewise closed city of Chianti sluggers. Florentines have their habitual ways and it has been my observation that they are not very warm to anything beyond the ordinary. Unless they are the artsy, hipster type. Even then, these kids got lots to learn about living “avant-guarde.” Pardon the extremely opinionated banter, I warned you of my bitter old man ways. Continue reading