Okay, we just returned from three nights in Florence and we walked around a lot of this city with my chowhound itinerary (well actually I left it on the plane so had to try and remember where a lot of this stuff was-with plotkin and willinger I made it through)
Today we shall talk about one of if not the greatest culinary day of my life Thursday 13 Nov 2003
Snack 1: Nerbone in the Mercato Centrale the boiled beef sandwich with salsa verde and a glass of cool chianti. This is all I can say about these sandwiches "This is something you HAVE to try before you die" if you ask (or point) they will dip half of your fresh-crusty-yet-soft-inside-delicious-roll in the juices that the meat sits in, the cold cheap wine in little glasses to wash it down. My wife started laughing at me as I coughed and nearly choked while trying to talk, eat, look, gesticulate and drink at the same time. There can be quite a line but wait and be patient it is well well well worth it.
Snack 2: Gelato at Caribe, you pass it on the way to see David on the via Ricasoli from the Duomo. This was our first gelato experience and it was very good at the time, but we didn't try the fruit flavours and we didn't know what else was out there in gelatoland. Not bad but don't go out of your way.
Snack 3: I finally get to recommend (I think) someplace for all you chowhounds. Possibly the best slice-well rectangle-of pizza in my life. This isn't a pizzeria, it's a bakery and it is all good (well all we tried was excellent) Pretty thin crust (but still has some integrity of its own), a little soft on the inside, smeared with a nice light layer of sauce and then a fair covering of cheese, not too much but just enough and then smothered and I mean smothered in fresh porcini mushrooms (that seemed to have been sauteed in wine and olive oil and herbs) . Yeah and I thought snack 1 was good. Ask for it caldo and they'll throw it in the oven for a couple of minutes. Everything is priced by weight so a 4 x 6 piece cost about 2.20 euros. Incredible taste and value. Don't overlook the little biscuits and cookies and sweets as well, they are truly scrumptius.
This place is undergoing a renovation but they are still open, it looks like it used to be a mechanic's garage, huge roll-up doors no decor. No seating as of yet. On the corner of via Palmieri and via Pandolfino (palmieri turns into via delle stinche a couple of blocks toward the river) The napkins say 'Il Forno' on them so that is what we assume the name of the place is.
Dinner: Il Ritrovo a wonderful experience exactly as we pictured it. Two other tables who left shortly after we arrived so an empty dining room. The chef, Marco waited on us and cooked our meal. We had the homemade spaghetti with rabbit sauce, very good, the tagliatelle with porcini, delicious, veal marsala, equally delicious, the baby lamb grilled was even better, very delicious, the best dish of the night was the side of white beans with garlic and sage (and olive oil). The third dish of the day that I could not get my head around. Thankfully (for the wifes sake) there were no other patrons to see me sucking on the sage leaves to get the last bit of olive oil/chicken stock heaven off them. Absolutely delicious.
The Tiramisu was very good as well.
When I told him about this amazing sandwich we had earlier at the mercato centrale, he just smiled and said you definitely enjoy food.
For the price, just under 100 euros with a reasonably good bottle of wine, bottle of water and a coffee...Incredible value. And Marco is very nice. I said "Burke and Wells" and he said "Chowhound" Pound for pound...I am still enjoying thinking about it today.
Well that was Thursday and it is definitely a highlight but Friday and Saturday had their own gastronomique treats awaiting us....AJ