Good Eats

11 Sep

I have already become accustom to the idea that I will probably return to the USA as an obese woman, which normally I would not be ok with, however, since I am presently surrounded by all this amazing food I simply can and will not say no, therefore I have accepted it!

Today I had the most amazing day I went on a culinary walking tour of Florence, I met up with a group of amazing girls for the evening, and I had the most amazing burger of my entire life (yes there are burgers in Italy and yes they surpass those in the U.S.A)! All in all i’d say today was a pretty great day!

During my semester in Florence I am taking two culinary classes about traditional Italian cuisine! In class we learn about unique food products, the cultural origin and importance, and then we learn how to prepare traditional dishes by following a traditional Italian recipe and then sitting down to sample our concoctions, yes I know my life is sort of amazing, essentially I am getting college credit for eating! Today I walked into class especially anxious for our assignment, a walking culinary tour of Florence! First stop on the tour was il mercato di San Lorenzo, an amazing indoor food market containing a plethora of stands which sell everything from organic produce, fresh meats and cheese, oven baked bread, and unique gourmet items, a paradise for any food lover!

Our professor walked us through the market showing us her personal favorite places to buy meat, and fresh produce (side note, I learned that none of these stands are overstocked with goods, instead they have just enough inventory for the day, they then return the next day with new fresh inventory to sell). Our first official tour stop was  then made at a panetteria (also know as heaven) there we began our first sampling!

We started off by trying several different versions of schiattata, a flat bread similar to a focaccia. We tried schiattata with olive oil, schiattata with olives, and schiattata with herbs. All were delicious! We then sampled two types of biscotti also known as cantucci which are made in prato a neighboring town of Florence. We tried cantucci made with chocolate and cantucci made with almonds, both were excellent! Next we sampled a delicious apple strudel which was perfectly soft, moist and delicious, we drank a delicious organic apple juice made purely from apples along with the sweet dessert! Finally we ended our sampling by tasting several types of mustard including a pear and apricot mustard, some fruit jams made using purely organic fruit without any extra added sugar or preservatives, and several different types of vinegar including a chocolate vinegar…yum!

Next on our culinary adventure we made a stop at Grom, an original gelateria here in Florence. You know that age old saying you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, well the same theory can be used for gelato! Typically we judge food based on presentation but the same rules don’t apply with gelato, the gelaterie that have high domes of gelato piled high are purely intended to entice tourist (the thing most people don’t know is that the vendors of those gelato shops end up piling new gelato on top of the old gelato but they scoop the gelato on the bottom “the old gelato” for the unsuspecting customers), real Italians don’t need to be impressed with mile high domes of gelato instead they care about the quality and taste of the gelato which is surprisingly much better at shops which use up the entire tins filled with gelato before replacing them, this way they can easily stir and mix the remaining gelato and attend to it with the proper attention to ensure each scoop is delicious and creamy.

There I had chocolate and raspberry sorbet which was incredible and so flavorful! The thing I’ve noticed since living here in Italy is that everything has a stronger more enhanced flavor here, probably because unlike in the USA products in Italy are made from natural sources and contain no artificial flavoring or preservatives!

Last on our stop we went to a small (and I mean the size of my bathroom small) saulmeria, there we tasted delicious prosciutto cotto and salami prepared right in the Tuscany regions, very good but quite different from the prosciutto produced in the Emilia Romagna region (parma ham)!

I also found out this cute little salumeria offers customizable lunch panini.  With options like marinated artichoke hearts, roasted zucchini and tomatoes you can be sure that I will be making a return visit there!

Although my tour ended at 2:30 my day of discovering good food wasn’t quite over! I had dinner plans with friends and fellow foodies for the evening! “where should we go” we wondered aloud amongst ourselves. In the two weeks that we have been here we haven’t yet managed to find our favorite restaurants, so instead we decided to walk around and look through menus, we opted to go for a less touristy route and headed down through the more residential part of town. The nice thing about Florence is that there are restaurants everywhere even in most unsuspecting places.

We stopped at one restaurant/bar it seemed to be pretty popular amongst the locals and had outdoor seating, one look around the group and I knew we were all on board! We set down and opened the very unique menu which consisted of traditional primo piatto, and secondo piatto choices, stuffed omelets, unusual but creative salads, and several different types of burgers! In unanimously decided to get burgers, now the only question was which one to get, there were so many options.

I decided on the burger which came on top of a piece of lightly browned toast and fresh sliced tomatoes and  topped with grilled onions, and an over easy egg, accompanied by a fresh mesclun salad!

This has by far has to be the best burger I have ever had in my entire life. The burger was juicy and tender and so flavorful! I will definitely be returning to this restaurant for another burger, quite soon!

Ask anyone and they will tell you that I am a bit high strung, yes typically I am a nervous, anxious, and overly stressed mess, but being here I found I am starting to change and really it’s because I have no choice. Life is a lot less stressful here in Italy, people move at a slower pace, they know how to relax and simply enjoy life and for once in my life I find myself going with the flow instead of fighting it. For example after receiving our food we didn’t see the waitress again until we were ready to leave, not once did she come over to refill our glasses, or ask how our meals were, or inquire whether or not we needed anything, after finishing our meals we stayed seated enjoying the last of our wine and having in depth conversations for an additional hour and a half and not once were we asked to leave or hurry up! I have to say I am enjoying this carefree, stress free life, I feel I must warn you I am not a completely carefree, laid back girl, not yet anyways but how does that old saying go “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, so cut me some slack and give me some time!

Ok so no night would be complete without gelato, and it’s pretty much now expected amongst all of us students that the only way to end our night is to have a cup of creamy gelato! So off we went to Perche` No, my new favorite gelateria in Florence. I love this gelateria because the flavors are always changing and they have a specific case filled with non dairy products (perfect for anyone who is lactose intolerant) including delicious and naturally sweet sorbets and creamy gelato made with soy milk!

I got a cup with chocolate sorbet, fig sorbet, and hazlenut “gelato”…..YUM!

By far today was one of my best days in Florence. I ate the most delicious food, and spent time with the most amazing people. I finally feel like I am beginning to find my way here, I have managed to find girls who are similar to me because we share similar morals and opinions and I truly enjoy spending time with them, I don’t get lost QUITE as often, and I even have a favorite gelato shop….looks like I am on my way to becoming a real Florentine!

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3 Responses to “Good Eats”

  1. Joan September 11, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    Sounds like you are fitting in just fine. Life in Florence sounds so fun and relaxing. Where do I sign Up?
    Joan

    • Franco September 12, 2012 at 10:36 am #

      Wow, sounds like you are learning the inner secrets of Florence. I’m sure your Dad would be proud.
      Franco

  2. sue September 11, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    I love that you are having such an amazing time..exploring foods like you probably never even imagined..your mom is probably cringing every time you talk about all the “condiments” you are testing out..never mind the eggs! Just keep exploring and sharing… xxoo SUE

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