Curious Appetite

Italian food

Gilda’s Bistrot- homestyle coffee & pastries 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. While Gilda’s isn’t some hipster coffee haven doing flat whites, the coffee is light years ahead most bars around Florence.

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

Trattoria Mario in San Lorenzo, Florence (Italy)

As much as I enjoy a fancy cave aged, herb crusted goats milk and a oily, aromatic glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the Dolomites, at the end of the day I simply adore a good rustic Tuscan greasy spoon hole-in-the-wall with house wine that could pass just as easily as oily gasoline…

This is what I ACTUALLY adore most about Florence. It’s the family run, health department renegades, the hole-in-the-wall where you sit elbow to elbow with strangers at your table, the Tuscan peasant food oasis that has absolutely ZERO pretension…Italian food is this to me.

Fancy name brand chef restaurant serving shot glasses of heirloom tomato coulis and vanilla pod risotto with some equally pretentious mystery “foam” that lacks not only soul but the ability to make you break a sweat when you’ve eaten a little too well. Put it away. I don’t want it. Unless a gorgeous Mediterranean man is insisting on taking me there (happens ALL the time! ugh- lay off, Fabios!), I will snub it just like it snubs me with its out of reach menu prices. Continue Reading

Food and wine pairing- Tagliata steak and Chianti

Before I moved to Italy, I dabbled in food and wine pairing classes in Seattle and in certain ways I feel like it was easier to play and experiment around with food/wine pairing at home than it is here…WAITAMINUTELETMEESPLAIN!

Because in Seattle we have amazing shops that shelf a huge variety of wines including little boutiques that specialize in hand picked small selections and big mega stores that could be the mall of wine for all I know. Which means, international wines. In Florence, you can find everything under the Tuscan sun (sorry, I couldn’t help it) and maybe a few labels from other parts of Italy but a Spanish wine? A Washington wine? Forgettaboutit! I’ve been lucky to find a few international labels in wine shops here, but mostly French. So. Typical. Continue Reading

Making fresh pasta in Seattle

Making fresh pasta is ridiculously easy as long as you have a machine where you can roll out dough and cut the sheets. You just need time and patience. Fresh cut pasta can keep in the freezer for a while (but why would you store it if you could…eat it) or the fridge for like 5 days.

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Into the wild- a truffle hunt

Dog is a man’s best friend- even more so for truffle hunters in Italy.

My wanderlust in life is directly called from food. Like a child listening for the ocean in a seashell, I pay attention to how I can get closer and closer. To understand the fabric that makes global consumption tick. How and where food originates. And recently, I was able to follow the whispers of my inner wanderlust by going into the wild for a truffle hunt in San Miniato, Tuscany.

Truffles are as precious as gold, sold for hundreds on the ounce in some cases. They are wildly debated as a tuber or as a mushroom. To me, they seem like a little of both. They grow underground like a tuber, but grow spores wildly like a mushroom. Their taste is hunted for by umami seekers worldwide. In Italy, they are a serious business. I saw some dogs in the woods sniffing around with muzzles, not because they could bite, but because other hunters plant booby traps of poison. In just a small village in Tuscany, the size of 39 square miles, there are over 1000 registered truffle hunters. Of that 39 miles, perhaps just a quarter of that (maybe less, maybe more I couldn’t be bothered to check.) has woods where the prized truffle can flourish.

It is said that in order for an abundant truffle season, it must rain between the 1st 2 weeks of August. If there are few truffles, the competition grows fierce. If you attempt to hunt in an area where you usually don’t hunt and are unknown by locals, you may return to your car with slashed tires. So they say. Dog poisoning and vandalism all for the sake of umami.

We spent a great day in nature, with our hunter’s best friend (a pup!) following the wise olfactory guidance of this little pup, Titta.

At the end of the day, we found SEVERAL white truffles!

We paused for an aperitivo of wild (gathered) porcini crostini and prosecco (I love Italy for moments like these) and went on to wash them.

White truffles found from a recent truffle hunt

After they were washed and the prosecco was finished, we headed to a local trattoria to bask in the jewels little truffle pup had found. Truffles on prized Lardo della Colonnata.

Lardo di Colonnata- lard cured on marble slate with herbs

Truffles on eggs over easy

Lonely, fresh buttered and pepper Tagliatelle

fresh egg pasta

Made into pure sensory bliss with our fresh, grated white truffles on top

If there was a such thing as food heroin, I think this would be it.

And dessert. Of course. No truffles were harmed in this course, sadly.

caramel and pine nut semifreddo

If you are interested in experiencing what I had the joy and inspiration to experience, contact me for booking and pricing. This truffle hunt excursion is offered by the lovely leaders of an organization I collaborate with whose aim is to connect the public with small producers that are dedicated to traditional, sustainable Tuscan Italian gastronomy and agriculture.

Yours in food wanderlust,

Curious Appetite

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