There’s loads to tell you about Florence, I promise. In fact, you’ll be sick to the back teeth of hearing about it in no time. I have to go through my photos properly first though. In the meantime, here’s a little bit about eating and drinking in Florence.
So, where do I start? Well, our apartment (we decided on an apartment since there was three of us and it was more comfortable than a hotel. Great decision. I’ll write more about the apartment in another post) was in a fantastic part of town. We were literally two minutes walk away from the gorgeous church of Santa Croce. We had a coffee shop and pizzeria beneath us, a panini shop across the road from us and an osteria on the next corner from us. On the last night we headed down to the little osteria for dinner.
When we got there we were seated by an open window. The place was buzzing with chat, music and the very loud singing of one of the staff, a tall, older gent- possibly the chef- wearing a long apron who burst into song at any opportunity he could find. He had a very deep, booming voice. He brought us our wine and when we said thank you, sand a loud, “Prrrrrrrrrregoooooooo!” in our ears. We ordered half a litre of house red which came in a rustic little jug.
The restaurant had a €15 menu which I decided to try on our last night in Florence. First course was the usual, bruschetta with pomodori.
My pal finally got through to me about the pronunciation. For years I’ve been pronouncing the “sch” the German way. Nuh-uh. It’s Italiano, baby. “Broosketta!” Anyway, it was lovely. My Swiss pal said, “Why is it that these tomatoes taste of tomatoes? Not like the ones we get in Switzerland, they’re watery and taste of nothing!” It’s true. The tomatoes in Italy just taste better.
And ever now and then we’d get a blast of garlic from the clove they’d rubbed on the toasted bread. It was heavenly, fresh and delicious!
But oh, the next course was even better.
Gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce. I don’t normally eat gnocchi because I find it kind of sits in my tummy like a lump of lead (too much info?) but I really, really wanted to try the gorgonzola sauce. I love blue cheese and I love creamy sauces. What’s not to like? I’m so glad I ordered this because it was truly, the best thing I tasted in my whole time in Florence (and believe me, the competition was stiff!). Salty, creamy, blue cheesy flavour with light, fluffy gnocchi, I was in heaven. And the portion was huge. Even I, with my incredible eating capabilites, couldn’t eat all of the gnocchi (If I’d not had another course coming, I’d have found some more room.) I loved this dish so much, I’m going to try making it myself (or the sauce at least) very soon.
And then my last course came. Grilled Tomino cheese with grilled vegetables. Served with a basket of bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I’d never tried, of even heard of, that kind of cheese before. It was lovely though. A bit like an Italian Camembert. I was stuffed full by the end of the meal, I was so pleased I’d tried the set menu. The whole experience was the perfect last supper for our trip to an amazing city.
Other nights we ate in Florence: on the Monday evening we tried another restaurant in the Santa Croce area, one in the same building as our apartment. I ate a delicious Florentine cannelloni– canneloni stuffed with ricotta and spinach. Tuesday and Wednesday evenings I ate pizza. I reckoned I might as well eat as much pizza as possible while I could. Another thing I learned, along with the “Florentine = spinach” was that “Toscana = chicken liver“. I learned that the hard way. Crostini Toscana? Really not my favourite thing on the menu. In contrast, however, what they did with porcini mushrooms on crostini was perfetto!
We ate panini at lunch time. Italian sandwiches. When I get to heaven (arrogant, much?) I know I’m going to be served panini for every meal and I’ll never get sick of them. We ate panini with varying degrees of deliciousness from the worst up at the Piazzale Michelangelo to the absolute best from the wee panini shop across the road from the apartment. We even got take away panini from there on Friday, to take to the airport with us, they were so good.
And so to coffee. I didn’t drink a lot of coffee. Well, ok, I drank a bit of coffee but, really, it could have been so much more. I drank a cappuccino in the Uffizzi Gallery, out on the terrace, in the shadow of the Palazzo Vecchio. It cost me a whopping €5 and it was fairly ordinary. I took away a cappuccino from a coffee bar near the Piazza della Signoria. It cost me €4 and was ok, for a cup of takeaway cappuccino. I had yet another cappuccino around the side of the National Central Library. It cost me €3 and was one of the best cappuccinos I’d ever had. The foamed milk was thick and delicious and the chocolate on top may even have been a sort of syrup. It was also a decent size.
But the best cappuccino was to be found in the coffee bar directly underneath our apartment, in the Cafe Michelango on Via Verdi. We were due to check out of the apartment at 11am. I’d decided that for the morning, I was going to lie in bed a little longer than we had for the week, get up and pack and then head downstairs to the cafe for a cappuccino, “Just to say I did it.” When I got downstairs, I ordered a cappuccino from the smiley barista who showed off by making one of those swirly patterns in the foam in front of me. I also ordered an apple pastry. He asked me for “due venti, per favore” €2.20 for a cup of gorgeous coffee and an apple pastry. I sat down and enjoyed the atmosphere, watching the barista argue with the cleaner, chat loudly in Italian to the locals and making espresso after espresso. I kicked myself that I hadn’t gone there for coffee or an evening drink every day. But, that’s just another thing to put on the ever-increasing list of “things to do next time.” I told Mr Mac, there has to be a next time and I hope it’ll be soon.