1) Though his dried fruits and nuts are wonderful, DO NOT buy spices from the guy at the top of the stairs in the Mercato Centrale.
The only coriander he had available was packaged in a mix with black and white peppercorns. Husbear bought it, thinking he'd just sort it when he got the bag home, but when he dumped it out on the table he discovered little pantry bugs.
Much, much sorting ensued. All the bugs are now squished, thankfully, leaving perhaps 40 pieces of coriandolo intero (whole coriander, we hope).
This place was unlike any other gelateria we've ever seen! Most striking is the lack of big bright displayed gelato tubs with pieces of fruit sticking out. I guess Grom is confident enough in their product that they feel they don't need overstuffed mounds of gelato to entice the tourists? (Plus, I imagine it keeps the gelato fresher and stops that icky skin from forming when it melts and refreezes.)
Plus, they have a mission statement! A gelateria with a mission statement! And seasonal gelato- monthly, even!
We ordered mirtillo, or blueberry, which was the flavor of the month and actually tasted like fresh blueberries (!), in a tri-flavor cup with cassata (a sicilian treat, with a ricotta base and candied fruitbits) and fior di latte, which is normally a type of mozzarella cheese but here denotes a type of gelato that tastes - kind of like mozzarella cheese. (But like good mozzarella cheese, not that dried yellowy crap people throw on pizzas.)
Wow. I think that's the best gelato we've had in Italy.
It was so good, we agreed very quickly that we absolutely needed to order another coppetta. Slightly smaller this time, with only two flavors.
I have to try all of their chocolate flavors!
This coppeta, we took outside, so as not to be seduced into ordering a third.
3) Eating gelato by the duomo is awesome and we should do it as many times as we have a chance to.
4) Because, good as gelato is, you can't live on ice cream alone: sammiches at I Fratellini are not only tasty and cheap, they are also a good time.
You know how some places describe themselves as holes-in-the-wall, and you get there and they're enormous? Well, I Fratellini (The brothers) is actually a hole. In a wall. With two brothers, a counter, a pile of bread, boxes of meats and cheeses, and lots and lots of wine. The sammiches are 2.10, unless you want to fancy it up and get the one with truffle oil - then you're set back 3. Glasses of wine start at 1.60, and little shelves outside the counter are numbered so you remember where you put your glass.
I got a tasty combination of mortadella and melanzane, or bologna and pickled eggplant. The vinegar kick of the eggplant cut right through the fat bologna, making for a terrific combo. Husbear got a veggie option, with pecorino cheese, arugula, and truffle oil.
5) For now, electric cars have to get plugged in somewhere, and that somewhere is apparently available on the streets of Florence.
Yes, that thing on the right side of the picture is a large outlet box, and the cord you can see coming out of it is attached to this teeny car.
I need to find out what the deal is with these, as we've seen quite a few around town and they only seem to seat one.
6) My husband loves me and wants me to be happy. That's the only reason I can think of that he put together this wonderful meal last night.
We went to Standa, our local supermarket, and picked up some of their ready-to-eat antipasti. These are tasty little marinated anchovies (not salt-packed, like the mouth-puckering ones you get on Greek salads at home) over which Husbear poured some garlic he heated in a little bit of olive oil. Then he added some red pepper flakes and flat-leaf parsley (prezzomolo). We had this with grilled bread. Yum.
A little later, we ate our main course - a panzanella made of cubes of grilled bread tossed with marinated artichokes and eggplant, fresh tomatoes, red onions, and this amazing lightly aged goat cheese we found.
Delicious, along with being nice and light and vegetable-filled.
And, since we have to cram as much gelato into our gaping maws as we can before it starts to get cold around here:
7) Gelato from Gelateria Veneta is nice, but not knock-you-out-of-your-pants-and-leave-them-in-an-ugly-pile-on-the-street like Grom's.
This seems like much more of a local hangout, where teenagers come to talk about boys and girls and smoke. And eat gelato.
Now, I will say this for them - their gelatos are the right color, with the possible exception of the mint gelato. The pistachio is a (still appealing) muddy green, the banana is light gray instead of day-glo yellow, et cetera.
Because this is what we do, man, we ordered a three-flavor cup. This time, we got lampone (raspberry), buontalenti (some sort of bread pudding/rum dessert flavor) and, again, fiordilatte.
I am pretty sure that Veneta makes all of their gelato by hand, and not from a mix, though I can't pretend my tastebuds are sensitive or well-trained enough to know for sure. These particular flavors were a little sweet for me, though the buontalenti (if I'm spelling that right) was totally outstanding.
8) Tribal tattoos HURT, especially if you get them on your face.
O.K., FINE, you're right, it's just that the light was behind a bush. I like my explanation better.
In an effort to make this blog a little more user-friendly, I am going to try to start listing addresses, etc. for these places we're going. If I forget, well, tough cookies. I like you guys, but I like not spending hours hunting down random stuff in Italian on the internet too.
Gelateria Grom: Via del Campanile/Via delle Oche, Firenze, 055.216158
I Fratellini: Via dei Cimatori 38r, Firenze, 055.2396096
Gelateria Veneta: Piazza Beccaria 7r, 055.2343370