In the last week in Florence, I have been overwhelmed by flavor. Overwhelmed by the beauty of my surroundings. I have decided, being in Seattle for the last several months was nothing but good. Now, I can appreciate my surroundings (and tastes) with a clean slate or yet- a fresh palate. It is good to take breaks from monotony. Think of places which have summer year round due to being near the equator, do you think people there appreciate the beach and sun as say those living in Germany?
Without further rambling, here are some new food findings I have discovered in Florence thus far:
1. Bagno a Ripoli. Last Saturday, I had the pleasure to be apart of a bloggers/instagram tour of Bagno a Ripoli: the countryside of Florence in essence. We went around to historic churches and sights but more importantly- we got to eat. We were taken to an olive oil mill/farm where we were given a guided olive oil tasting by one of the local representatives of Slow Food. While I have my thoughts about Slow Food, I did appreciate the message they were trying to convey to us- that is, pay attention as to how you consume olive oil. There are many industrial tricks and shortcuts, and this year won’t be any easier. Interested in Italian olive oil? Contact me to arrange an olive oil tour the next time you are in Italy.
The olive oil component was stellar- they incorporated their oil into various products they had us taste like cacciucco stew made with chickpeas and kale instead of seafood, homemade breads doused in their olive oil. The lunch included local wines of the area (not fantastic, but a nice table wine for simple Tuscan meals like these for sure) and breads and pies made with the ancient grains produced on site in addition to their craft olive oil. A curiosity I found delightful was a sort of dark chocolate made with their olive oil. Either the 2014 harvest made for a lighter olive oil or the olive oil they produce is light in itself, because the chocolate tasted nothing of that pungent, grassy green grease I am usually used to.
2. STREET FOOD! Oh, how I love my street food. And not because street food is trendy, it is because I am a chaser of SOUL. You can give me Michelin star-level food, but if it was made with an emphasis of perfectionist techniques rather than soulful intention, you might as well 3D print it. I love the feeling of being at one of these food carts, overhearing people jabber and giggle while bonding over simple comfort food under a blanket of sunshine. I am no doubt, a romantic person. And that is why Italy is for lovers. My street food fixes included:
Pasta Pici e Cacio Pepe at l’Trippaio di San Frediano: Pici are a thick, round spaghetti-like pasta originally from Siena. Cacio e Pepe is a sort of Roman-style Pecorino sheep’s milk cheese sauce for pasta and it’s a poor dish rich in cheese and fresh cracked pepper. I was intrigued to learn that Pici are not just for wild boar ragù and that regions like Tuscany and Lazio can intersect like this. And quite deliciously.
Offal. Man, do I love my offal. There is a food cart I recently tasted at L’Trippaio Fiorentino in the Beccaria zone which has sort of gourmet twists on lampredotto and tripe (basically, cow guts) including lampredotto con fagioli all’uccelleto (A totally Florentine mash-up of cow guts and a typical bean + sausage dish) and fancy crostini with slivers of tongue and cow teat. Yeah, that’s right: cow teat aka POPPA.
3. Aperitivo! Swoon! How I have missed thee, my communal food and drink habit! There is a deli in Sant’Ambrogio (Pizzicheria Lombardi) while one of the owners is very unpleasant (the husband, not the sweet wife), they offer a pretty valid aperitivo for 5euros. This one is particularly ideal for vegans and vegetarians because their offerings usually include bean salads, veggie-based crostini, eggplant caponata, and other salads and pastas which are vegetarian friendly. They have this sort of fried bread salad that I think follows a southern Italian recipe that is rich in olive oil, garlic, onions and savory herbs that I think is worth the 5euros itself with the (table) house wine. Nothing sophisticated, but that’s what I like. You don’t have to chase down trendy foods and eateries all the time- the hole in the walls are sometimes my all time favorites.
I then was delighted by the modern beer scene and its absolutely indulgent aperitivo. In Via Faenza, near the San Lorenzo Market and the SMN train station, is a pretty tasty craft beer pub Brew Dog. When I went for aperitivo, they had a rich spread of freshly fried coccoli breads, excellently savory, buttery soft and high quality Tuscan prosciutto, house-made fegatino liver/heart spread (A totally Tuscan thing- not for the unadventerous eaters) sweet and savory sauced RIBS, correctly cooked pastas although probably way over-sauced of bechamel, fresh tomato salad and veggie spreads. Holy crap- with the meaty, soft and saucy ribs and craft beer I was in heaven. Good think I have to climb 5 flights of stairs every time I come and go from my abode.
That is it for now! Stay tuned of my eats in Florence via my Instagram page and twitter feed. Interested in tasting around Florence with me? Contact me for either a private or group tasting tour!
In your quest for the best,
pssst! Like my food blog? Please vote some love for The Curious Appetite- currently in the running for Best Food Blog nominated by Italy Magazine: http://www.italymagazine.com/blog-awards/2014?field_blog_category_tid=44499