Insider’s Florence | Savor Florence

Florentine food tour? Count me in!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
My first treat of the day.

Syracuse University in Florence puts a big emphasis on students getting to know the city they’re living in. One of the ways they help with this is by offering a few trips called “Insider’s Florence.” Last Saturday’s Insider’s Florence was particularly appealing to me – it was a food tour. We were told to bring our appetites and a sense of adventure and to prepare to both taste and learn about some of the best that Florence has to offer.

We started the day with a trip to a local pastry shop for a “typical” Italian breakfast. We learned that Italians generally tend to choose sweets for their first meal of the day, and then we learned about the different types of pastries and how to order them in Italian. I chose a fruit and custard pastry (shown above). It was delicious!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
One student chose this delicious looking croissant. Looks like I’ll just have to go back and try it!

Then, we headed across the street to a coffee shop that takes particular pride in its coffee. Here, we learned about the differences between Italian and American coffee (espresso, anyone?) and at which times of the day it’s appropriate to drink which types of coffee.

We learned that the cappuccino – a favorite among American students and visitors – is traditionally never taken after noontime. Why? Italians suspect that warm milk is bad for your digestion after lunch. However, since it was still early, we were able to enjoy the foamy treat anyway. Plus – we got to see how it was made!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A flower!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Looks a bit like a fern to me. What do you think?
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The making of an artisanal cappuccino.

Now properly caffeinated, it was time for us to head toward Florence’s Sant’Ambrogio Market. The market’s been in operation since 1873 and is still a favorite among locals today. I can see why! The wide variety of fruits and vegetables, homemade pastas and sauces, fish, meats, cheeses and other specialty products – almost all of which are made or grown in Italy – was mind-boggling.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I’ll take them all, thank you.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
So many kinds of seafood!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Some grains, beans, and dried veggies.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Can’t forget the olives!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Potatoes, just in case gnocchi is on the menu.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Italian grapes are always so fresh and sweet! Beware of the seeds though – no crop modification here.

Having worked up a bit of an appetite after seeing the market, it was time to learn about another Italian tradition – appertivo. Appertivo sort-of like an extended appetizer, complete with drinks and small snacks. It’s usually enjoyed before dinner time, but since the tour didn’t last through dinner, we had it before lunch instead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Risotto cake and mussels.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Our appertivo snacks were paired with a bitter but fruity common Italian drink called a spritz.

A finished appertivo meant that it was time for lunch! We made our way toward the city’s center to a little restaurant serving up traditional Tuscan staples. Here, a healthy sense of adventure was almost more important than a healthy appetite.

Italian meals are almost always served in multiple courses. Our first course featured a sampling of Tuscan meats.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sliced salami, ground salami, and chicken liver pate.

Then came a sampling of traditional sides dishes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Pappa al pomodoro (tomato and bread soup), something featuring boiled vegetables, and thick noodles in tomato sauce.

Lastly, the main course.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Beef cooked in red wine for many hours, roasted potatoes, mushrooms, small onions and beans.

After eating all that, we were left wondering how we could possibly fit anything else in our stomachs. But of course, there is *always* room for gelato.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
We headed to Marco Ottraviano Gourmet Gelato, where got to see how everyone’s favorite Italian dessert is made.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
There it is! After churning for 10 minutes, the gelato is scraped out of the machine and into a small bucket.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
We were making stracciatella  – a vanilla based gelato with chocolate flakes inside. The chocolate syrup goes in as a liquid and hardens as it comes into contact with the gelato.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I tried three flavors – white coffee, “Duca’s Delight,” and honey lavender.

Nothing like a sweet treat to end the tour with!

(They also gave us each one of those little cards that you get stamped every time you go to eventually get a free gelato. This might be dangerous.)

 

 

Gelato Count: 21

Advertisements

One thought on “Insider’s Florence | Savor Florence

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s