Vini and Panini in Florence
25 April, 2016
The capital of Tuscany is a striking city packed with appeal which is well worth spending a few days in. Awaiting you, among other inducements, is Michelangelo’s famed David, Spring by Botticelli, the Ponte Vecchio, the famous dome of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Piazza della Signoria with its bold Perseus by Cellini. A highly manageable city which lends itself to strolling about and can be enjoyed both day and night – the latter has a charm of its own. And, of course, it has to be tasted and savoured.
Wine is part of the city’s DNA, as is art, and you are duty bound to stop and have a drink in any of the salumerie (delicatessens) or wine bars, where they also offer boards of local sausage, cheeses and panini, which spice up the drink experience even more. There are loads of them but, to help put you on the right track, here are some recommendations:
Hidden in the back streets near the Uffizi gallery is this eatery – a must-visit – run by chef Alessandro Frassica, who you will see behind the bar counter or dancing in front of it. Panini made on the spot, with a long list of more or less classic options. When we were there we wolfed down one with bresaola (a cured beef), ricotta and zucchini, and another with mortadella e salsa al tartufo (mortadella and truffle sauce) which tasted divine. The food is freshly cut, the bread is good, a great atmosphere and a very trendy ambience. Needless to say, you have to wash down your panini with two glasses of local red wine.
A delightful store with just three tables where you can purchase wine and drink it on the spot for an uncorking surcharge. To go with it –tastings of cheese, sausage, olives and a delicious homemade sobresada.Behind the counter is the helpful Alessandro, ready to guide you successfully through your culinary choice. Pure produce.
One of Florence’s oldest wine bars, now run by a group of youngsters who have set a new seal on the business while maintaining its centuries-old essence. Chalked up on the blackboards are a host of panini options with seasonal ingredients which you can combine at will. Don’t let the queue in this eatery put you off, as it is well worth the wait. Order some wine and enjoy – it is sited in one of the liveliest streets for “wine crawling”. Apart from wine, they also have anosteriaif you prefer to eat at a table.
A Special Dinner at Il Santo Bevitore
We left the panini behind – but not the wine – and sat down in a restaurant offering Italian specialities in order to taste regional Florentine cuisine. And we made the right choice! A young, lively atmosphere and a cuisine that soars above the Italian standards we are used to, as well as a wine list with hundreds of Italian varieties. We followed their recommendations and ended up with a table full of terrina di fegatini de pollo (a tasty, typical Tuscan paté on a bun), tagliatelle alle castagne and risotto ai porcini (field mushrooms). The menu changes with the season and their wine bar on the same street is handy for whetting one’s appetite.
Shopping at Il Mercato Centrale and Sant’Ambrogio
So, we went shopping. The Central Market, located in the heart of San Lorenzo, is the most important market in Florence. Their display ranges from pastas of all types, cheeses, wines and olive oil to fresh delicatessen, fruit and vegetables, as in any market. One of their main draws is the food area on the first floor, influenced by street-food culture, where you can find all kinds of snacks. Another must-visit venue that will delight even the most seasoned foodies is the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio. Located on the Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, it features both inside and outside stalls where locals crowd around in search of the best titbits. Genuine and lively – before you leave, make sure you buy at least some olives and a birra (beer). Have a seat in the surrounding area and soak up the atmosphere. And, while you’re at it, head for the Trippiao Pollini street stall and pluck up the courage to try their tripe sandwich – you won’t regret it!
Let yourself get carried away by the flavours of Florence – check out your Vueling here.
Text and photos by Silvia Artaza of Gastronomistas.com
25 April, 2016