You have no clue how happy I was to get to Florence, Italy.
I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy ourselves at the Colosseum or the Vatican, I was just glad not to be in Rome anymore. The chaos of Italy is concentrated there. I can understand why people love it but I needed something a little more calm.
So when we arrived to the pristine streets of Florence, I knew I would love it.
We were lucky to be in a tour of 2 (Shaun and I) with super foodie Fadi on the Florence Food Tour with Walks of Italy. (Keep in mind that the tours are always changing – keep your eye out for the 2013 food tour itinerary!) Not only did he make us feel part of the tour, but we weren’t afraid to ask questions. The homestyle cooking of Tuscany made it very easy to understand as it’s the same philosophy shared in my family. Like Mexican cooking, much of the food in Florence are “poor” recipes. Or in other words, required ingredients that were easy to come by and cheap.
Our first stop was at a homestyle cooking restaurant named Il Cernaccino. Your stomach starts growling the moment you walk in the door and the deep fragrance of the food fills your nostrils. When you look at the selections, you start drooling.
Like I’ve said many times before, we are not vegetarian. More power to you guys who are but I can only imagine how hard it is to find food abroad. That and I would miss the magical beauty of pork.
Pork and I are good friends.
We had a white bean and bread soup (made of stale bread soaked in this delicious broth), penne pasta with a cheesy meaty sauce, a pork and garbanzo beans stew, a meat and cheese plate (with cured meat and pecorino cheese), and this glorious pork concoction. Allow me to explain. Imagine all imaginable cuts of juicy pork wrapped in the pork skin and fat layer and baked to allow the fat to flavor and seep through.
OMG I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Sure, I may have an affinity for carnitas in Mexico, but this came a close second. With the herbs and spices involved, I was even able to eat liver – and like it! A first in my culinary adventures.
And when I thought it couldn’t get any better a sort of blackberry cobbler was placed in front of us. After a hiss of disdain from me while the boys started to dig in before I got to take a picture, I scooped a piece heartily and it melted into my mouth.
Homestyle cooking is the main reason I’ve started trying to Master the Art of French cooking at home. It will be able to open my palate to what is possible!
Our next stop? Wine tasting.
After becoming obsessed with red wine in Buenos Aires after a wine tasting, I was looking forward to this one. We were trying both reds and whites all from the Tuscany region. I felt a little dumb because when I think of Italian wine, for some reason I think of whites.
This is when I’m looking down at the notes I took on the food tour and realized I must’ve been enjoying myself a bit too much because there is next to nothing in regards to any of the tour. OOPS?!
We started out with a Suoave. A pinot grigio alternative, this wine was super light and refreshing – an instant favorite.
“You guys are new to wine tasting aren’t you?” asked Fadi politely and without judgement.
This choice apparently showed our novice wine tasting. We like the wines with a more fruity taste. I just don’t have my tastebuds trained to taste much more than that with the wine experience I have!
The wine continued to flow with Amarano from the Amalfi coast, Alberia from San Gervasio, Brunello, and Vida. The Brunello was tasted with a blackberry jam and pecorino cheese. I’ve never had a thought out pairing before and it BLEW MY MIND.
We got the opportunity to try more balsamic vinegar and olive oil but nothing impressed me more than the sneaky bit of olive oil Fadi got us on the fly – with the smallest bit of white truffle at the bottom. Truffles filled our nostrils and I couldn’t believe that such a small piece could pack a punch! I wanted to munch on that all day.
Our night was rounded out in true local Florence style – at Vivoli’s – for gelato. There is nothing more Italian to me than the sheer amount of ice cream/gelato that these guys eat. Smooth, sweet, and a bit on the heavy side (so sue me, I worked in a gourmet ice cream shop for 5 years), it hit the spot and a warm and humid summerish-not-really-autumn-weather night.
We ended up our tour wandering around sunset on the cobblestoned streets of Florence chatting away with Fadi as he told us his off-the-record favorite places around town. The day made us feel good. If there is anything that I’ve loved more than anything about Italy, it would be the food.
With a full stomach and a grin on my face, I’m not sure I could have been happier.
Disclosure: We were guests of Walks of Italy, however all opinions are our own.