Curious Appetite

“Street” Grub

Where to get solid panini (and carbs) in Florence.

May I confess something to you? I love all things that are baked. I think baked goods are an expression of love- so much works goes into making the stuff and it creates so much joy as a result. I go crazy when I find either a shop full of owners with passion and love to make delicious food for good pricing. Continue Reading

Where to get Mexican Food in Seattle (which is not terrible)

See recommendation #4

I will be taking a short break from writing about my food memories in Florence to make the most of my time left in this food obsessed city. Stay tuned for the next few weeks, Seattle. The next posts are inspired from F.A.Q’s my tour guests in Seattle hit me with. I get my brain, prodded, picked and tested for food recommendations like a target at a firing range, with the hopes of hitting me right in the stomach for the best tips for eating around Seattle. A sort of “people’s request” response, I decided to start with Mexican Food since strangely enough, it is on the top 5 for the most common question. I must say, I am almost embarrassed to talk about Mexican food in Seattle because A. This isn’t Texas or California. and B. I am not an expert on regional Mexican cuisine. But you asked for it. Continue Reading

Street food with Malay Flavor: Kedai Makan Seattle

Pastry filled hand held lamb pockets

Brace yourself, Seattle. I think I found the one hole-in-the wall that is not a one-hit-wonder. The street food that really involves something besides pretentious “sliders” and “authentic” tacos.  Let me preface this post with the fact that I have never been to Asia. I am nothing close to an expert in tasting exotic Asian foods. However, have faith in my palate and critical eye to suggest to you what I think is the most heavenly street food that 8 dollars can buy in Seattle, and that is: Malaysian-style food at Kedai Makan. Continue Reading

First Floor of Mercato Centrale in Florence

(photo from google: Top Floor of Mercato Centrale)

Mercato Centrale is a historic food market in the San Lorenzo district of Florence, Italy. The district itself is utterly famous for the leather and tourist trap stands (selling mostly overpriced souvenirs and sometimes poor quality leather goods) lining the streets wrapping around the market. The reason I don’t particularly like these stalls is that they block the way of some truly legitimate foodie joints like Casa del Vino and the historical carb-oasis Forno, not to mention amazing cafes, wine shops and kitchen gadget shops. I think in someways, the mercato centrale is a huge sellout to its historical roots. There still remains some rustic Florentine spirit, amazing fruit and veg vendors, fish mongers, butchers, bakeries and wine shops…not to mention the always valid Nerbone comfort food pitstop which melts my heart with its luscious boiled beef sandwich with hearty Tuscan men serving it up to match and solid greasy spoon primi  (like a rich, ragu’ smothered lasagnole pasta) which washes away any cynicism I may have walked into the market with. Continue Reading

Mangia Pizza Firenze- new street food on the block

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I recently discovered a new street food spot called Mangia Pizza Firenze on a recent route planning trip for a gelato tour I have on the agenda. As I was passing by on my bike, this Mangia Pizza joint caught my eye- with its modern, humble aesthetics and open pizza making station. With an awning “street food” written on it, I let my curiosity lead me inside.

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The very sweet owner Melania invited me to sit at the bar. I notice they make thin(ish) ciabatta style pizzas- one with black truffle especially makes me wish I hadn’t (almost) just had lunch. Also, they have very gourmet combinations with local gastronomic identity- a ciabatta pizza with local sheep’s milk pecorino cheese and baccelli di fave  (like fava beans.) It is a super Tuscan snack/appetizer to nosh on baccelli di fave, pecorino with a glass of Chianti. Meanwhile, a couple tourists came in and she had just sent her English-speaking colleague out for an errand and asked me to translate a quick word. Another couple came in who spoke English, and by that time I was explaining to them the menù, how the word ciabatta means “slippers” and that’s why ciabatta are shaped like so.

Ciabatta: a slipper of pizza :)
Ciabatta: a slipper of pizza 🙂

Also, Mangia Pizza boasts that its dough risen with “pasta madre” and the 48 hour slow-rise, natural fermentation process. To show her appreciation, she offered me a little snack and then we got on more to talking and I was really impressed (not only with the pizza and focaccia) but with the shop  itself. Melania has an extensive background in the restaurant world and started out working in a bakery where her passion for naturally leavened and risen breads as well as exquisite desserts was born.

Naturally, risen breads. After you eat this, you will snub sliced bread forever.
Naturally, risen breads. After you eat this, you will snub sliced bread forever.

Obviously not busy enough having just opened a street food pizzeria, she also cooks up a storm at Mangia Enosteria in Prato.

The little snack I enjoyed was a tiny pizza panini (crispy, soft salty and oily bread) with a buffalo milk mozzarella and homemade pesto and another little pizza panino with mortadella ham. And of course some bubbly. My new favorite food and wine pairing: Pizza and bubbles.

Not a bad snack.
Not a bad snack.

I was impressed that for a little pizza shack, joint what-have-you, Melania seems to be pretty keen on producing quality food with a placed importance on ingredients and locality. For instance, she was telling me she only uses jarred, not tinned, tomatoes which are organic and come from the Maremma (the Tuscan south and the land of fabulous agriculture) which means rich flavorful tomatoes that are bright red, thickish and not super watery which makes the crust all soggy. You can get a half ciabatta pizza for like €3-4 if my memory serves me right. Plus, they have half-bottles of wine (including their own private label Chianti), strictly artisan Italian craft beers and of course delicious, creamy sharp palate cleansing bubbly by the glass.

I am pretty fussy about pizza and I really don’t like how everyone in Florence goes gaga for Gustapizza just because they toss some dough in the shape of a heart. (Ahem, Grinch alert). This along with La Divina Pizza are thus far my top picks for gourmet pizza in Florence. If you are fussy about portions, these places are not for you. I am quite into quality over quantity and I’m willing to pay a little bit more for fancy figs, artisan cured meat, finely selected tomatoes or burrata cheese on a naturally risen dough- not stomach ache inducing, industrial/chemical yeast breads. After all, eating out should be a treat not solely for stuffing your pie-hole.

Interested to taste a more artisanal Florence? Check out my very bespoke food tours! 

When the moon hits the sky like a big pizza pie,

That’s a curious appetite….

pssst: Mangia Pizza Firenze Via Lambertesca 24/26r tel: 055 287595

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