Curious Appetite

Where to eat and drink in Bologna, Italy (2017)

if you are a first time visitor of my blog, I’m a Florence-based American food blogger but recently spent a month in Bologna to research the local food scene, cuisine and to develop a new culinary walk of Bologna to add to my bespoke gamma of small-group, 3 hour tasting tours that are primarily focused on Florence. This Bologna food tour was my little passion project. I sweat over many bowls of tortellini and slices of mortadella to make it perfect!

If you’re planning a visit, check out the latest food tour in Bologna I designed! (Led by a team of local experts! I wish I could commute there every day to eat pasta and mortadella.)  Continue Reading

Simple Tuscan Kale and Chickpea Winter Soup

Just add grated cheese!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe and have been reluctant to do so amidst all the chef-quality blogs and professional food photographers out there! But I thought hey! why not? There is no end-all, be-all food blog, right? There’s space even for humble soups!

I used to hate soups and hate making them, until I learned some secrets and tips that one of my dear chef friends (Melissa Miranda, who used to cook at Vivanda in Florence and now does fascinating Fillippino/Italian fusion pop-ups via Il Vizietto) and Florentine cooks taught me. Mostly, I learned to bundle aromatic herbs and throw into stock pot and/or Parmesan rinds (Heather of Merry Feast recently wrote a great post about not wasting Parmesan rinds), not tossing kale stalks, using sale grosso (chunkier, kitchen salt) to help make a soffritto sweat out flavor, and if adding dry cannellini beans, to not cook them at a roaring boil otherwise they’ll blister/wrinkle. Also, another trick I love to making a better textured soup is to use an immersion blender to blend a corner of the soup, not all of it but just enough to give a puree’ base.

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A different take on Trattoria Sostanza (Il Troia) in Florence

sostanza florence room
inside Trattoria Sostanza (il troia) Florence, Italy

Thank ***ing goodness, 2016 is about out the door! It’s been a doozy and despite dystopian nightmares coming to fruition, my eating career has definitely had some highlights! I’ve decided to make my last post of the year dedicated to the heavily praised Trattoria Sostanza (il troia) in Florence. I’ll cut to the chase, I don’t agree with all the praise out there. Although the service was genuine, the staff sweet, the interior and ambiance totally authentic- I found the food mediocre, overpriced and some of the dishes to me didn’t scream pure Florentine/Tuscan albeit having the status of a local relic. Hear me out! Continue Reading

Where to eat in Florence on Christmas Day (2016)

photo credit: Silvio Palladino photo credit:[/caption%5D

I’ve received some e-mails for restaurant suggestions for Christmas day, and I volunteered that I’d make a list post on the matter. I should preface that I am currently in NYC and have been for several days so finding this info hasn’t been easy, calling restaurants at odd hours and makeshift signal service asking the same question “are you open Christmas day?” So please bear with the results I’ve found and I’ll add more once I return to my dear Italian soil.  Continue Reading

Last week in Bologna: pasta, palates and chefs

Appetizer: Parmesan Flan with local white truffles
Appetizer: Parmesan Flan with local white truffles

The last days in my month stint in Bologna were solid, mostly because I finally figured out how to get around without looking at a map and ate some of the best food to date. But also I made some final assessments of this town and the culture of life in Florence. My palate changed, my attitude towards Florence’s dining scene even more critical.

My lasting impression is this- in Bologna you eat better than in Florence, period. The food in Florence can be extremely disappointing and there are only a handful of eateries left where you eat truly well. It’s not that Florence doesn’t have amazing food from it’s traditional culinary repertoire, the problem is that the city doesn’t showcase it. Read old Tuscan/Florentine cookbooks like “Il Libro Vero della Cucina Fiorentina” by Paolo Petroni and you’ll find delicious dishes, most of which are non-existent on the majority of menus around town. Florence overall has sold out its dining scene to mass tourism, instead of saying “hey- we are proud of our cuisine and people should eat it or leave it!” These Florentine restaurateurs have underestimated the curiosity of foreign diners OR have surrendered to the incurious. Accept my apologies for constantly comparing Bologna and Florence, as it’s almost unfair, but allow me to indulge. Continue Reading

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