La Pentola Dell’Oro means “A potful of gold.” I live in Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance (consider the museums like the Uffizi, The Accademia, THE DUOMO, the Boboli Gardens, etc) and of the Italian language (remember Dante Alighieri and L’Inferno? Dante was Florentine and Italian was born from his laments on hell and society.) I overheard about La Pentola from a group of locals cooing over their recent experience with renaissance inspired fare describing spices from the orient and other exotic posts that influenced Florentine society during the Rinascimento, Italy’s cultural “rebirth.”
Mostly what I’ve found eating out in Florence is either Tuscan “delicacies” of animal guts (such as la tripa and il lampredotto, good thing Italian is such a pretty language because these are all words for offal), pizza or pasta or some other variation concerning tasteless Tuscan bread, tomatoes, pork products and pecorinocheese. Delicious, yes. But not exactly intense culinary technique (excitement) compared to foods of the south.
This “Pot of Gold”was indeeda worthwhile venture. Consider the following:
And wine? A Chianti Classico with notes of herbed violet and tobacco tannins to cut through the fat and protein pleasures of the boar in order to radiate this plethora of layered savor.
After this imbibement, my belly was also feeling like a pot of gold. This is definitely off the beaten tourist path and thankfully undiscovered but frequented enough by locals (am I a local yet?) to stay churning slivers of rich, historic gastronomic bliss.
I am pretty bummed that I haven’t been writing as frequently as I would like, I tend to have a good reason or another but ultimately- I’ve been too busy stuffing my face and keeping my glass full to bother typing away. 🙂
The first thing I must speak upon is my ungodly obsession with gelato. It’s pretty sick and twisted, at this point I should be considered a gelatochocohawlic. There is good reason, too! First off, I live in Florence where gelato was supposedly born. However, ask an Italian where anything was born and it will just so happen to be conveniently original from their hometown. Secondly, I live right above one of the best gelaterias in the city. Is it the best in my opinion because I could practically crawl spiderman style down these ancient walls to arrive at such delectable wonders? Who knows, and let’s be honest- no one cares. I live above a gelateria and it’s become a problem. Thirdly, to make matters worse than being haunted by a gelateria every 100 meters, apparently during renaissance times women were forbidden from eating ice cream. Well, it wasn’t like they got a fine but it was a huge social faux pas for a woman to be seen licking an ice cream. And even today in some silly male and dogma dominated culture it is still heavily discouraged. SOOOOO naturally I MUST make up for all these years of ice cream oppression!!!! I mean, it’s my duty as a free western WOMAN of the 21st century!!! And yes, you’re welcome! 🙂
My wine studies went really well at Apicius and I feel very confident about my command of knowledge concerning wines in Tuscany. Moreover, you can depend on me to ace any challenge on a food and wine pairing with a wine from this beautiful region. For studies sake, I had to really understand and study a pair with a chianti classico (which makes up a good chunk of the Tuscan sangiovese-based line-up) with a nice Tuscan aged prosciutto and a hard umami loaded pecorino cheese. I mean, it was rough work but I finally figured it out, for the sake of my grades.
Back to gelato. My go to flavors are generally anything chocolate and something nutty like pistachio, coconut or nocciola (hazelnut) but sometimes I get a little tutti frutti and venture with fresh watermelon, apricot or cantaloupe. I’ve even ventured into the fusion realm with saffron rose and then walnut gorgonzola (gelato?! yes you can!)
I have yet to meet a gelato I didn’t like. Today I had a realization that I may need to go on a diet if I continue at this drink wine at every meal that consists of cheese and cured meats pace/lifestyle, but how could I live without gelato?! Well, thankfully today I found a gelateria that has “skinny” yogurt gelato and apricot sorbet so that crisis seems to have been averted. Or wait, maybe I could go on a gelato diet! In fact, some Italians DO have ice cream for breakfast! I was having lunch with a Sicilian friend and I casually mentioned my gelato obsession and pondered the possibility of having it for breakfast and she said I could in theory as this is practiced in Sicily. (?!?!) Basically, since it gets rather warm down there in the summer, it’s not uncommon apparently to have a lemon granita (like a sort of slushie) with a piece of bread. Alright, so turns out it’s in my genes to want gelato for breakfast! I knew it!! 🙂
Macaroooooons! a perfect cookie for an ice cream sandy!
Oh! one more thing! So eating in Venice can be complete crap! I know you can find little hole in the walls and restos off the beaten path, but you know some people (tourists, you know those who are making a lot of commerce possible with their hard-earned money) should be able to sit near the canals, watch the gondolas pass by and have a bloody good meal too and not get ripped off just because they want to visit a new place. GRRR! That mentality really pisses me off about some resto owners to rip tourists off for the immediate financial boost but really, they are creating a crap reputation and then some people write home about it. 🙂 But nevertheless, Italy is the only place where you can eat complete crap but it still looks lovely on a plate (like these wretched fishy freezer burned gunky shrimp and razor sawed salad with sulfuric over boiled eggs:)
So moral of the story is: when in doubt, eat gelato!!! 🙂 🙂 CIAO!
In route to Italy, I first landed in Munich and Berlin- both new cities for miss curious! Germany was shocking in so many ways in terms of efficiency, accessibility and style of living (in comparison to Italy). I know not one lick of German, and there was little time to learn key phrases before I left. Life before leaving was like trying to escape bowels of fire while trying to keep my body in one piece. It seems that many Germans speak English and I felt I’ve done my duty as a traveler by learning at least one, albeit somewhat useless, European language. I was also visiting friends who speak German so I felt like I could get a bit lazy. I will say, on one day that a friend was at work and there was a desperate jet-lag inspired need to find a coffee shop which I expected to be on every corner like in Italy, why I expected that I don’t know. Rather, you should expect to find a Bierstube on every corner. Anyways, so like a complete child walking around streets, which I can’t read or pronounce, looking for a coffee shop. So what did I do? I stumbled into an Italian resto and asked the guy, in Italian, where one could find a coffee. He put me in the right direction but also very confused I imagine, that some random foreigner with an American accent is asking him directions. So I guess Italian is not all that useless outside of Italy:)
In Germany, I got to enjoy some dirt cheap beer that you can walk in the streets freely with, fantastic hendel (roast chicken), fresh warm PRETZEL, Bavarian yogurt, falafel + doner and my then obsession: WIENER ART! Okay, so I am pretty childish. I was obsessed with the word “fahrt” and “wiener” which are on signs everywhere in Germany because “Fahrt” means journey, way, via, pathway, etc. And Wiener…I don’t know all I know is that it’s a type of Schnitzel. And it’s not a hot dog- but rather like a veal cutlet. So I tried to take shots of any signs I caught with those words so I could create a “bloggage.” A food I did not enjoy was beef phở bò at a Vietnamese resto. It was not as cheap as in the states (considering the currency) and it was salty, void and empty of ingredients. Jagged thin short slices of chewy beef and cilantro that was just thrown in with some spaghetti noodles. My pals got some sort of coconut milk based curry noodle dish that seemed worthy, but I felt duped and naive to have expected consistency in beef phở in Germany coming from Seattle where phở’ is pretty damn good. Something to note about eating in Europe is that you have to ask for tap water explicitly to avoid getting charged for bottle water. So here I asked for tap water and they brought out water practically in shot glasses. When we asked for more, like 2 seconds later, they said the policy was one per customer. Jerks. I totally am trying to overcome the whole American customer service/entitlement thing since that doesn’t exist anywhere else, but I find it truly rude when people get cheap and stingy providing basic human necessities like water and using the bathroom- especially if you are a paying guest! Arg! Anyway, another thing I noticed in Germany is that they love Italian food. I was boycotting Italian food as long as I could since I knew I was moving there and in Italy the restos mostly serve – you guessed it: Italian. So it was actually pretty hard to avoid Italian food in Germany, but I still managed to get some German/Italian fusion pizza at a sweet place in Berlin. Also worth noting, Germany is famous for it’s white wines- especially Riesling. And I was lucky to find a wine on tap shop that not only had several German whites but also of course Italian reds for like 3 euros a liter! This shop,called Vom Fass, also had several barrels of whiskey on tap straight from the ageing barrel as well as dozens of flavored liquors! Oh man, I wish they had something like this in Italy! (or the U.S. for that matter!)
Enjoy the sights from Monaco and Berliner- baby!
Okay, enough with the wiener shots- here’s some food porn 🙂
schnitzel wiener art + frites and a Hefe!
Halben hendel (half roasted chicken) and fresh pretzel +more beer in one of Munich’s many beer gardens (cost? like 6 euros each!)
A night of Mexican food- actually more descent that I expected!
and more beer of course- Dunkel, danke!
Whiskey and wine on tap!
Pizza- German style with sausage, herbs and mushroom cream
Oh, food trucks you say, America? Well check this out! A fresh fish stand!
11 euro smorgasbord brunch BUFFET!! SCORE, Berlin!
In the last few months, I sort of dropped off from updating posts and such. I was definitely out and about tasting curiously around Seattle- but I also was preparing for the biggest move in my life. Long story short, I got up and moved to Italy. Or at least I will try to. I always dreamed of one day living in Italy for more than just a few months as I had done in the past and now I discovered an opportunity of a lifetime to help me get started on that desire. I have been taking food and wine pairing courses at South Seattle Community College (Northwest Wine Academy) and I applied to a summer program in Italy (that my school works with for “study abroad”) to do a course on Italian Wines which also includes a hands-on internship. So here I am, in Italy, about to study wine from the masters themselves and attempt to follow my dream to live here. It’s pretty lofty, but what’s the point of living if we don’t follow our desires?
I have been in Germany for the last week and finally arrived in Piedmont which is a sort of hub for all things ‘Slow Food’. And let me tell you, I feel like a kid in a candy store- but in addition to candy imagine 3 euro wine (Piedmont DOCG stars like Barbera, Dolcetto, Arneis, etc) by the liter, buttery burrata , delicious salumi by the kilo and for less than any deal you can try to groupon our way into.
Pictures and posts to come- stay tuned to Curious Abroad. Salute!
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