Curious Appetite

Brunches in Italy

Gilda’s Bistrot- my favorite coffee and pastry bar in Florence

There is nothing more than I love than character and quality. One may say a cappuccino is nothing more than milk and espresso, but for me it is a coveted pleasure that I partake in at few places. There are a few things that can put me in a funk and one of those is a bad cappuccino, and you may think that could never happen in the country of coffee culture but I assure you it does and it does for many reasons. 1. The method in which milk is steamed is fundamental. 2. How it is poured over and weaved into the luscious dark espresso and 3. How much the barista actually cares about their job. Anytime I have been into Gilda’s, it has been like walking into a friend’s home. There is no high pressure. There are no overwhelming crowds. There is not some hungover barista annoyed by your caffeine feening existence. There is a little spread of homemade pastries welcoming your arrival into this little peaceful nook into the heart of the very Florentine Sant’Ambrogio, one of the most special neighborhoods in the food-loving world. Continue Reading

The Diner in Florence- a pseudo American fix

I have never been so aware of being American in my life. I am defined as “The American.” In Italy, of course. Which is funny, because at home, I don’t actually think about my cultural identity as an American. If anything, I feel more rebellious and self righteous towards America’s culture and want to cling to my Sicilian/Persian heritage for dear life. But when I am in Italy, I sing America’s praises. I am completely insatiable. Always looking at life through an anthro-analytical glass, trying to identify the inconsistencies and paradoxes.

So the point is that I went to The Diner in Florence craving a weekend brunch fix of eggs benedict with some fellow anglo pals who decided to be guest Americans for the day for the sake of bagels and pancakes. The irony of it all is that in America, I turn my nose up at most “diner-y” places and anything that isn’t local, gourmet, foodie and has marketing which pleases my west-coast profile as a liberal “foodie” Seattlelite who read “The Omnivore’s Dilemna” in college. Or! If it isn’t a cutesy “bistro”, it has gotta be a complete dive run by scary (or cute) men with tattoos and piercing who are probably more hungover than me.

But I went to The Diner with hopes to have an American fix- not just greasy spoon brunch but to order in English and for someone to not glare at me as if I just slapped their mother every time I order a café americano. And what did I get instead? Awkward service, burnt eggs and some stupid side salad that didn’t come with the advertised ranch dressing. I got two words: Faux. Paux. I have a question: HOW DO YOU SCREW UP EGGS? College kids straight off their mamma’s milk and undocumented nanny’s 3 square meals could have made a better scramble than this.

1st offense: “Can we order coffee?” Oh, we only bring drinks with food. <— how can you call yourself an American Diner??? Not only is that a huge no-no in the American code of service, but that’s just not what a diner is like!

2nd offense: “May I have the eggs benedict?” (mind you, there are 4 different kinds which made up at least 20 percent of the breakfast menù) Um, we don’t have any bread. 

??? You ran out of BREAD on a Saturday brunch? Are you guys idiots?

3rd offense: “Okay, I’ll have the western omelette.”

DO YOU NOTICE BREAD, HERE? Yes. They MEANT to say that they did not have English muffins. AND even so- PROBLEM SOLVE IT! Use your people skills and ask me if I mind TOAST as a sub for English Muffins since your kitchen manager is too much of a knob to keep english muffins in stock on a Saturday which make up the essential base of at least 5 menù items!

The omelette was terrible. All the filling slid to the ends and was completely tasteless. I felt like it was like smashing a piñata and having to dig through all the crap candy to find the one piece of (tasteless) cheddar cheese. Almost inedible. But I ate it. Why? Well, I obviously moved to Italy because I wanted to torture myself so what’s a little burnt egg going to do to any remaining dignity I have left? And what the hell was up with this salad and side of hamburger lettuce??? What am I supposed to do with that?

They were busy with other pseudo Americans desiring similar pseudo experiences, I get that. It is not easy to run a business in Italy. But c’mon- you guys really really need to step it up when you’re in a city practically colonized by Americans. It took a lot of akward glances and hand waves to ask for the bill and even longer to get it. I was tempted to leave a penny as a tip for this whole s**** show. So ridiculous. I will probably never return.

Yours in irony, honesty and sassy sarcasm,

Curious Appetite

p.s. I’m going home for a visit. I may or may not be posting for a while:) Too busy with oysters, bubbly and REAL brunches to bother glueing myself to a computer. Kissesxoxoxo

Brac Florence- Libreria Caffè

Jesus Christ, Florence. You’re beautiful. You’re a gem. But you’re stuck in a moment. And that moment is the Renaissance. 

Brac is the embodiment of the anti-renaissance, pro-hipster movement of Florence. It bleeds with contemporary “we’re so alternative but artsy organic homey Anthropology-store front displays”, it hurts. Even the menù is a collection of food porn- taken with a Polaroid camera all pinned up on the bar wall. Jesus, if this was the antimony of Renaissance…well it would be.

You might be asking…so what the hell is it…BRAC?

It’s a restaurant caffé that has a bunch of books in it so it’s called a “literary caffè.” Barf. Europe, how pretentious you may can be. So I have books in my bike sometimes…so does that make me a literary biker??? Those books I generally don’t read but accumulate in order to look educated and like I give a damn about anything else but hooch and hot butchers.

I digress… Basically, it’s a little bistro style resto in some random alley that serves up some gourmet, fancy frilly vegan and vegetarian food. Despite all its sickening cuteness and “cool,” you can’t beat Brac for wicked solid vegetarian meal. Or vegan at that.

Vegan Tartare- the world is a big fat paradox!

I’d been here for dinner on a pair of occasions. I highly recommend the piatto unico and it’s basically a mix of all their fancy savory mains like Sardinian flatbread pie, lasagna and fagottino style cheesy pasty.

This time recently however, I was here for brunch (pronounced “braaaaanch” by moi). I came on a Yelp-event occasion and most people were pining for pancakes…and I knew better than to order pancakes from some fru-fru bourgeois literary caffèpancakes are for hungover American wolves of the indulgent excessive palate. It’s quick risen lazy man crepes with some blood sugar roller coaster-inducing syrup doused on top…to me pancakes are like diabetic sponges that only lead to stomach aches and cavities.

My theory is “when in Rome”…and when in some snooty vegan bistrot, you are best to order the snobbiest thing on the menu and for me- my dear readers- was the wild fennel and citrus vegan tartare (oxymoron, right?) atop a crema di spinaci which was fancy foodie talk for blended spinach. 

For €8, it was a fab-bo deal. Beautiful presentation, lovely flavors, crunch consistency and a mark in my “I’m an adventurous eater” book of brags.

So word to those who need an escape from the grandma house decor of Renaissance Florence for an equally revolting overdose of all things modern, hipster and contemporary Brac is your man. Or woman. Or whatever.

With a smile,

Curious Appetite

p.s. Here is your BRAC info:

via dei vagellai 18r 50122 firenze http://www.libreriabrac.net info@libreriabrac.net +39 055 0944877

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