Saturday, 13 October 2012

Eating Florence

I love when a new city is a complete and utter surprise. I fell in love with Florence almost instantly.

Staying in an apartment built in the 1400's (thanks with a wonderful piazza on our front doorstep with markets, cafes and bars to the wonderful city itself with a gorgeous labyrinth on windy streets, fantastic food markets and gelati as far as the eye could see, what's not to love about the capital of Tuscany?

Catching trains is so easy in Europe, and my preferred method of transport for short to medium-haul trips. And when first class is usally only 20-30% more, why not? Extra comfy seats and more-often-than-not complimentary treats. Like my espresso and shortbread fingers.

I was famished when I got into Florence, or Firenze to natives. So straight off the train, I caught a taxi to the piazza (public square) that our apartment was on and pulled up a table in the sun.

My main came out before my starter, but I was not bothered when it looked and tasted so amazing. Risotto con zucchini and parmisan.

THIS... This was a revelation! Melty, oozy mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto, fried with a crispy outer, served on a salad of rocket leaves. I am so stealing this recipe.

Dinner was a fantastic swordfish carpaccio served with the lovely bursty pink peppercorns that I first tried in Civitavecchia. So fresh and clean and yum.

My partner-in-crime ordered a tomato soup and let me have a try. It was unbelievable, pure taste of ripe, home-grown tomatoes, garlic and seasoning and nothing else. The tomato soups over here have bread though it, which gives it a real deep richness, but as J found out- also makes it very filling.

Wild boar ragu with tagliatelle. Wholesome, meaty, rich, definately hug-on-a-plate type stuff.

I have to mention (even with out pictures) J's choice which was such a little star of a meal: squash ravioli with duck in an orange sauce. What a sensation!

Room for dessert? NO! Ordered it anyway- YES! Creme Caramel gelati. My first try of gelati in Italy... it's good- take my word.

Brunch: gnocchi in cream with prosciutto and radicchio- very sinful and wonderfully delicious start to the day.

Side of grilled med-veggies.

Here I am torn. J and I stopped into a place which was chock full of tourists #warningbells but we were hungry and it had food. I had a Margarita as an apertif- it was very good. I asked for an ash tray, it never came. We shared a 4 cheese pizza for a starter which was exceptional. I had pork with spinach, it was pre-cooked, re-heated and flavourless, J had to struggle through his main too. The service was terrible and we left feeling hungry. Don't worry, I reviewed it on and found that I was not the only one who had these feelings!
Who garnishes with dried herbs anyway???
If in Florence, steer clear.

After such an average dinner this 'After Eights' gelati more than made up for it!

Firenze Central Markets

And this wonderful antipasto of meats- it went really well with afternoon beers.

There was a wood fired pizza place at the end of the piazza that always had lineups out the door, so we decided we'd try it for ourselves. They looked so good I dug in before I remembered to take a picture.

Simple, amazing pizza.

 A picnic in the park.

On our second-to-last night we stopped into a bar on the piazza and they had a sign up which we tried to figure out over cocktails. It said something along the lines of 'Apertif Buffet' 7pm-9pm. Was It an all-can-drink buffet? Foods? The answer came when we asked our waitress... for 1 euro with a drink pruchase we could help ourselves to the buffet they would lay out. Seemed like a good idea.

We certainly weren't expecting the layout in front of us... salad, ham, roast pork, roast potato and lasagne.

What a sensational idea. Were had just been thinking about getting some dinner and we stayed and bought several more drinks because of the great deal. Very clever marketing.

Florence really stole my heart, both the city and the food. If you get to Italy, I can not recommend it enough. Just try to steer clear of the made-for-tourist cafes.

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