Do you ever find that some days truly do not begin until the evening? I am finding that to be more and more of my groove here in Florence.
I knew today’s highlight was going to be the Tuscan Dinner Crawl I had scheduled with Curious Appetite, so the earlier part of the day was the “same ‘ol same ‘ol”…roaming streets, popping into chiesas, observing people (I promise I am saying “same ‘ol” wink a gleam in my eye) and then it was back to the appartamento to freshen up for the evening.
Our meeting point was just across the river, so although I did not have to be two hours early…I of course was…but I planned it this way. We were to meet at Piazza Santa Trinita which is just around the corner from my 2015 appartamento, right off Via Tournabuoni. There are two little trattorias I had wanted to try a Spritz at (research), so one of these was on the agenda.
The first I tried, “Solo Spritz?” “No signora.” Off to the next.
“Solo Spritz?”…”Certo, prego!” Perfetto.
Luckily I padded my timetable because it took quite a while for my Spritz to arrive. I busied myself drawing their oh so cool logo and listening to Italian conversations at the tables around me. Speaking of Italian conversations…I am pretty secure in my prediction that I will never be able to “converse”. As I have mentioned before…there is SO much more than knowing (clearing throat here) the “correct” word of an object. Per esempio- Remember the first night I arrived and I was at il Santini having a glass of wine? Well when Filippo called me on the phone, I answered it “Pronto”…and I swear I said it with authority and I even found a bit of roll in my “r”. Filippo’s response? “Wwwhhhattt?” Oh gee! Then when I followed with “hhheeelllooo?” I sounded equally confused.
Bottom line, I will continue to learn, continue to try, but saying “Schiacciata” when ordering my favorite bread will always, always throw me.
OK (which is Italian too…I got this one), il mio spritz e arrivato, and it is perfection.
The Spritz was presented with this perfetto little pizza. I am definitely going to try these when I return. It tasted like a small version of what my Mamma makes.
When the Spritz and the bite were gone, the drawing was complete, I was ready to meet my dinner companions.
With yesterday’s group, fresh in my mind, I was a bit apprehensive. However, during the Chianti tour I kept telling myself, with 2 times the money and WAY less people, the crawl experience was going to be bene.
Approaching Santa Trinita, I began my assessment.
I stood around for a bit, then approached the girl in the burgundy dress. Yes, this was Bianca, our guide. We had an opportunity to chat a little before the other four (yep, solo quattro) arrived. Bianca has been working for Coral (Curious Appetite) for about a year and a half. Bianca is from Australia and studied Textile Design in college. Bianca likes being able to dress “practically in a ball gown” to come to work each day. Picture a young Liza Minnelli…lashes and all.
The other four arrive, brief introductions are made and we are off. First stop, Aperitivo…due.
Il Borro Tuscan Bistro-
Wow! (I think that is Italian as well) What a lovely way to begin the evening. Il Borro is right off the Arno- Arno, via, Il Borro, and it is owned by the Ferragamo family…enough said.
As explained on their menu, “We do not offer simple dishes but emotions, believing that every moment deserves special feelings, that any moment could become experiences that involves our senses…” For more reading pleasure, check out their website.
They do not offer suggestions but “proposals”. Bianca’s proposals for aperitivo are; Spritz, white wine, Negroni…each of these will “open our palate enabling us to enjoy the evening and eat more”.
I choose what Bianca calls “double bubble”, the Spritz. I am tempted to try my second Negroni ever, but stick with what I know I like…and can handle. This spritz is a bit sweeter than my previous one at Da Florence. Bianca tells me that depends on the Prosecco used.
I also had an “Ah-Ha” moment when it comes to Goat Cheese. I did not know that goats only produce milk after having their young…not all year round like cows. So, late spring, early summer is the time for “fresh” goat cheese. Viceregal e Imparare.
“Crawling” with us this evening are, Rob and Robin, newlyweds from Ottawa, Canada. Robin works for the government…yes she’s met Justin Trudeau and Rob is an accountant. I believe he used to be a tax accountant and now works for a non-profit. And Odelia (Odee) and Andre from New York, via San Francisco and the mid-west I think. Odee has been in the Fashion Industry but returning to school to get a Business degree (see kids…we give good advice) and Andre is in Advertising. Samsung is his current client.
Early on, during introductions, I mention my blog and Odee says excitedly (by the way, Odee says EVERYTHING with an innocent excitement), “OOOhhhhh, YOU’RE Girl in Roam?” I definitely need to practice my response to this. Although it has only happened twice, I know I respond with this “no, it couldn’t be my blog you read” confused look on my face.
Throughout the evening, the conversation is friendly, light and I believe genuine. Topics range from Art to Human Connections to Food (certo). When politics are mentioned…it is like someone sticking the tip of their toe in a tub of undetermined liquid. Rob reminded us not to discuss Politics or Religion. But it is kinda fun to watch the eyes dart from side to side.
From Il Borro, we walk Oltrarno to Tamero Pasta Bar.
In 2015 I enjoyed a Spritz and Panzanella salad here. I am affirmed to learn this is where people in the know go. I asked Bianca how they choose which spots to bring clients to. She turns to me blankly and says, “We taste.”
And taste we do. Curious Appetite has Tamero bring us a plate of their best pastas. Each one delicate and perfetto. I think I will be returning for the pici cacio e pepe. Molto Buono.
As at Il Borro, Bianca lets us choose the wine we would like with dinner. I choose a nice, crisp Vermentino with her guidance of course.
Throughout the evening, I am educated on the late 20’s to early 30’s life. For example, Rob and Robin met “Speed Dating”. They enlighten me that Speed Dating is so much better than meeting on-line. And what they say seems true. One can sit, face to face for five minutes and pretty much decide if there is any connection. Rob says you can talk for months on-line and then meet a person and the realities hit hard. I ask Rob and Robin what they talked about for their first five minutes…”Trashy Reality TV” replies Robin, “The Bachelor”. (Shout Out to Avery!)
On the flip side, I often show my age…for example, writing in my little book as we go. At one point Andrea says, “I wanna read that book you’re writing.” I told them Bianca looks like Liza Minelli…blank stares. Andrea made me really laugh at one point connecting me with his mother and grandmother. “Thanks Andrea…” I say laughing as I grab my pencil, pretending to jot this nugget down. I tell him there is no shame in being 55. He tells me I’m “owning it”. Do I have a choice?
Next stop Club Culinario Toscano da Osvaldo Ristorantino.
For Bistecca alla Fiorentina, we traverse back across the Arno to the Santa Croce area. We are greeted at the door and shown to our own room. Here, Bianca orders for us and the vino is Chianti…certo. (No Rooster though.)
With our Bistecca, we have spinaci e fagioli bianchi.
During dinner we discuss how art was the first form of Social Media and I throw around a bit of my Medici “knowledge”.
At the end of dinner Bianca asks if we want gelato from a nearby spot or do we want to wander a bit. “Wander”, we all say.
We end up at Il Procopio. You can tell this is a local spot. Families take up the plastic chairs along the sidewalk. One little girl, takes her chair and places it smack dab in the middle of the via to enjoy her sweet treat.
Andrea and Odee are pleased with their choices, and the evening as a whole I think.
I choose una piccolo coppa of pistachio e panna cotta. This is the creamiest gelato I have ever had. The pistachio had a little saltiness to it, which is right up my alley.
After dolce, we begin to stroll back towards Pizza Republica, dropping Rob and Robin off near the Bargello. Bianca mentions how wonderful it is when groups can connect and enjoy each other’s company. I agree with her that those moments of sharing and connection are heightened with Buon Cibo!