Italy Weekend - The Flavors of Florence

The best part about Florence is the scenery, but if there was a second, I would have to say it is their food. Besides basking in the reputation of having the best gelato in the world, Florence boasts some other delicious dishes too.

Since my first day in Italy, I have refused to eat gelato in any place other than Florence, simply because if that's where the best is, that's where I want to try it. My friend D* and I asked Chef to recommend a place for us to try our first bites of gelato, and we set off to search for it. After about an hour of searching down the wrong streets and checking the map, D and I got tired of looking like blatant tourists and decided to stop at the next gelato place we found, which happened to be the one pictured above. Not very imposing, and the outside simply says "ice cream", so we decided to give it a shot. Once inside, the little bar offered about eight different options, and I decided to go for a combination of mixed berry gelato and lemon. Now, I know what you're thinking: do they have cream in them? Can they technically be considered gelato? I couldn't tell based on what I had, but the texture seemed to be creamy and rich, even if it didn't have any milk in it (which is probably better for me anyway since I'm lactose intolerant).

For dinner, after D and I found our hotel, the concierge desk recommended a restaurant called Enzo Piero Trattoria. I don't know which was more impressive, the food, or the fact that we had a waitress named Crysta from Texas who moved here to marry the chef at the restaurant! Pictured on the left is a simple presentation of pasta noodles cooked in olive oil, with tomatoes and white wine. There are also some rather beautiful shrimp in this pasta. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to eat the shrimp whole, shell and all, but she brought a small plate out on the side with my dish, so I assume I was supposed to take them apart. It was a little messy, but the end result was delicious. 

On the side I opted to have a vegetable because, much as I'd like to, I can't allow myself to have too much starch without some sort of vegetable. I had sauteed spinach with olive oil and garlic, which was a little soggy, but still good. It took me some time to finish getting the photos I needed from my meal, so by the time I got to them they were cold. Moral of the story: dig in! Don't wait!

The following day, we went for the other suggestion, Za-Za's, to have lunch and this place was quite a bit more expensive than the other place. A recommendation is a recommendation, however, so we went for it. I ordered a Greek salad (with olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, onions and oregano sprinkled on top) and on the side I had bruschetta. What made this bruschetta different from others I had was the sheer size. They took an entire slice of bread, not just little baguette-size slices, and topped it all with tomatoes, basil and olive oil. It was good, but hard to cut and eat. I like the smaller size; easier to tackle. What really stood out from our meal was D's risotto. It was a mushroom risotto that was super creamy and totally delicious. I expect that the mushrooms were dried to begin with because they had that dried and rehydrated mushroom texture to them, but the flavor was unbelievable. I was jealous. I wish I had ordered that instead of my ridiculous greek salad.

Florence was fun, but I was glad I was only there for two days. It gets loud and very busy and it can be just too much to take in. The churches there were ridiculously gorgeous, and the Academia Museum with Michelangelo's David is as impressive as it sounds like it would be. The Academia is an unimposing structure, and you wouldn't even know it was there without a map because the sign is sort of hidden and small.

Tonight is our pizza party, and unless its something mind-boggling that I've never seen before, I'm not planning on blogging about it (and I think its safe to assume that if I did write about it, you probably wouldn't be interested in reading about pizza).

Ciao ciao!



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