As most readers may know, I stay away from the sweets in my everyday life. All that really means is that I really binge when I’m on holiday. And Italy is a perfectly reasonable place to binge.
We discovered Grom (the gelaterie) in Florence, which really is terrific stuff. And even the totally generic gelato places made me very happy. So when I saw the Ben & Jerry’s right near the Duomo — and then when I saw some asshole eating it — I was just floored. I mean, dude, I like Ben & Jerry’s. But what the fuck, man. You’re in Florence. Ben & Jerry’s isn’t gelato. Okay, so maybe not everyone loves gelato. But still, I was so confused, I took a photo.
I’d also been told to make sure I try gelato on a brioche. Well, you don’t have to twist my arm. This is technically a Sicilian treat, so there aren’t that many places in Florence that make it. But after a giant meal, I found a place, and got myself a second dessert. Forgive the darkness. It’s hazelnut and dark chocolate gelato in that there brioche. And yes, it was all you imagine it would be.
Crostini is very big in Florence, particularly if you frequent enoteca and need snacks to go with your wine. I don’t drink alcohol at all, but the missus does, so I’m usually pretty desperate for food to go with her wine. Crostini are just what they sound like. Small bits of toast with stuff on top. The Crostini Toscana is a very delicious, rich chicken liver topping.
But the best little wine/snack bar we found was called Le Volpi e l’Uva, which you should totally go to if you find yourself in Florence. It’s removed from the madness, just across the Ponte Vecchio on the south side of the Arno. In addition to the wines that the missus enjoyed tremendously, they had what had to be the most delicious crostini in the world: lardo. So yeah, I think that’s pig fat on top of that cheese.
Our first meal in Florence was also one of our best, much to our surprise. We’d just arrived, still confused about the time, and we wandered to the nearby Mercato Centrale to check out the scene. Nerbone (also where we got our tripe sandwich) was serving up bowls of decent looking pasta. It was inexpensive, and the sheer volume of pasta coming out from behind the counter was impressive.
It was an ideal entry into Tuscan eating. So simple. So delicious.
The Slow Food movement began in Italy, so we were keen to try out a Slow Food restaurant in Florence. Ristorante del Fagioli (which I believe means Restaurant of the Beans) is a good option. Everything we had there was satisfying, but the best dish of all was a ravioli with ricotta, spinach, and lemon. We were wearing socks, but they got knocked off by this dish.
Finally, while in Florence, I probably drank enough coffee to kill a man in his 80s. But good goddamn, the Italians do know how to serve a delicious shot of espresso.