Gluten Free in Italy? No Problem.

Gluten_free_recipeWhen it comes to food in Italy, my rule is: “try everything!” This becomes a bit harder once I learn what certain things are (sorry trippa and lampredotto, you never had a chance), but in general, I try and stick to it. I often feel a little bad for vegetarians traveling in Italy (Pancetta! Supplì! Bistecca!), and extra sorry for vegans (in Italy this eating concept is now generally recognized though not totally understood). However, there is one unexpected faction of diners that should have no fear eating their hearts out in Italy: visitors with celiac disease. Your immediate thought may be: “I am sorry, but are we talking about the land of pasta and focaccia?” And I say to you: “Yes, yes we are.”
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Time out: What have we been eating in Florence?!

Italian_food_Florence
We realized the other day (in a moment of utter shock) that we had not put up a single photo of the amazing food we’ve been enjoying here in Florence. This is a travesty. We would like to remind family and friends that this by no means implies that food is not being consumed. On the contrary, some of us are upping our weekly workout routine to accommodate these amazing meals.
As a remedy to this serious oversight on our part, we would like to dedicate this special blog post to one recent meal, a particularly special meal in which we all ate like true Italians. What does that mean exactly, you ask? Oh nothing much, just 4-hours, 5-courses (not including wine and digestivos!) and as much talking and laughter as we could muster in between. It was a proud moment for us all.
The best part about the meal that is about to unfold before your eyes (warning: drooling may occur) was that it was a complete surprise. It was the brainchild of Davide Samà, owner of our favorite restaurant, Cesarino. We have mentioned Davide before (here and here). He is a very special part of Florence for us. When we go to eat with him, we never know what will come out of the kitchen and this night was no different. Enjoy! Continue reading…

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Top Ten Tips for Americans Traveling in Italy

Florence_italyThere is nothing worse than a cultural misunderstanding, especially if it has the potential to ruin a trip. I find these incidents especially painful in Italy simply because they can so easily be avoided if you’re properly prepared. Every time I happen to overhear an American traveler recounting some miscommunication, I make a mental note. There are, of course, your classic repeat offenders, but there are also some that stand out because they represent the points at which these two cultures differ. Hence, they are the same things that Italians misconstrue when they’re on American soil. So instead of letting another potential mix-up ruin even just one afternoon of someone’s long awaited adventure, I thought I’d jot down ten of the most common cultural disparities specifically for Americans traveling in Italy. Knowing these before you leave will save you headache and heartache, I promise!
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What is in Season: Zucchini Flowers (Fiori di Zucca)

This month I tackle: Zucchini Flowers.
Before moving to Italy I had never even heard of zucchini flowers (aka fiori di zucca), let alone seen one. Perhaps I missed them at the grocery store. Perhaps they were in a special aisle. Perhaps they were too implausible for me to comprehend. Or, more likely, I thought they were simply decorative and not edible and conveniently designed for stuffing with cheese. Had I known this, I assure you, I would have made every effort to find them. Luckily, once I moved to Italy, these decorative AND delicious treats became a reality and one that I looked forward to every late spring and summer.
These yellow and green flowers grow out of the side of the zucchini like enormous claws. When they’re in season, you can either buy the zucchinis with their flowers still intact or, at certain stores and markets, just the flowers. Since I cannot imagine getting through the quantity of zucchini required to yield the quantity of flowers I desire on a daily basis, I usually go for the pre-separated flowers. Quality-wise they are roughly the same and cost less without all the extra zucchini attached. Once you’ve found them, purchased them, and brought them home, the question is, of course, how to make these beautiful blossoms into a delicious dinner.
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Sandwich Wars: Il Cernacchino

Battle No.5
The Challenger: Il Cernacchino
For rules, regulations, and a fascinating review of sandwich history, see here. For our current rankings, see this blog’s side bar.
 
Just when you thought I couldn’t eat another panino…Sandwich Wars returns!
Quick review: The ranks didn’t change much after last month’s battle with Gustapanino. All’Antico Vinaio is still in first place with their outright ridiculous Finocchiona panino. Da’Vinattieri remains close behind with their super salty, and downright addictive, porchetta sandwich. I think they’re getting a little cozy up there at the top, don’t you?
Florence_paninoThis month I needed something new to shake things up. I started asking my friends established in the gastronomic scene here in Florence where they were getting their panini these days. Someone mentioned a place called Il Cernacchino, on Via Condotta, right in the center of Florence, just off Piazza della Signoria. I had never heard of it and I was skeptical. My first thought was, it will be crazy crowed. Nope. Ok, well then it will definitely be overprized. Not at all. Alright then, get ready for a disappointment taste-wise. Wrong again.
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