Florence

If upon hearing I’ve returned from three nights in Florence you were to ask me:

“How many paintings of the Baby Jesus did you gawp at?”

Or:

“How many marbled penises did you fondle?”

I’d be forced to shout, “NONE,” at you. I’d then explain that instead of queuing up to stumble, chin-strokingly, around art galleries I instead took to the streets, eating and drinking – an endeavour I proudly take on just for you, the avid reader.

Italian food consumed:

Pasta, cheese, meat.

Italian drink consumed:

Red wine, espresso.

You simply cannot argue with my choices.

History

I used to not really be into Italian food because I’d always eaten it at crap restaurants. Then a few years back I got a job which entailed eating and drinking in Italy quite a bit and I, quite sensibly, fell in love with it.

Italians

Italians can be right funny fuckers when it comes to food, everything has to be done a certain way and use certain ingredients and ‘nonna first made this 4,000 years ago’ etc – but I’m starting to get it.

For example, the pasta sauces I had in Florence were all so rich and beautiful they could have made a lesser man weep. One I had at an Italian in Birmingham recently was watery and soulless and actually made me weep. Honestly, they had to drag me out of the place kicking and screaming.

Where and what

On our first day we popped over the river to get away from the tourists. We ended up spending most of our time over there in the Oltrarno area, and frankly I want someone to buy me a flat near Santo Spirito. Do email me if you’d like to take up this opportunity

We first stopped off at Il Santino wine bar for a glass of wine and a snack.

A couple of glasses of Brunello Di Montalcino and a plate of crostini later and I could have died a happy man. The crostini, of what was essentially sausage meat on toasted bread with slightly melted, truffled pecorino on top, was every fat man’s dream.

If you visit Il Santino it’s worth also popping into their bakery S.Forno which is the most Instagramable bakery you’ll ever see.

We also ate in their restaurant on our last night Il Santo Bevitore. My wife tells me she enjoyed it, however I can’t comment massively as I was pissed. You see, she only wanted a glass of wine with dinner but I accidentally ordered a bottle of some fancy fizz and a bottle of red which I had to finish to myself because I am a dedicated drunk.

Unexpected lunch

One day it actually bloody rained, a real kick in the teeth for this staunch Remainer. I’d planned most of our eating destinations but my wife, mentioned above, suggested we get out of the rain and just go into a restaurant for lunch without even letting me Google it. It hardly bears thinking about, horrible, reckless behaviour.

Annoyingly, it was really good. La Ghiotta doesn’t look like much, and it’s full of actual Italian people which was somewhat disconcerting. Half a litre of house red wine was €4 and a delicious plate of parpadella with duck sauce was €8.

One of my planned meals was a slight curveball – Io Osteria Personale is more tasting menu district than big bowl of hearty like mama used to make land. We went for the 6 courses chosen by the chef. The standouts were beef tartare with an intense mushroom powder on top, slightly torched mackerel with sea vegetables and a bergamot broth and an octopus dish – which was almost fantastic. The octopus cooked to perfection on a celeriac cream but then ruined with a lime sauce dotted on the side that tasted like it would unblock your kitchen sink.

And finally, the one thing I’d really been looking forward to eating – bistecca alla Fiorentina. Massive, big manly meat.

A big, ol’ Porterhouse steak arrived at the table. The cut we got was without doubt a bit fatty, however, the meat (and most of the fat frankly) was divine. Like, so good I keep thinking about it..

We also had a pasta starter made up of lampredotto and salsa verde – lampredotto being the fourth stomach of the cow. Great work, cows.

We had this at Osteria dell’Enoteca washed down with another fantastic Brunello – these chaps also run a wine bar which we tried out – Enoteca Pitti Gola E Cantina.

If you want a more traditional lampredotto head to Simeone’s for it in a sandwich.

If sandwiches served to you by lovely, Italian men is your thing you should also head to Semel. A tiny, one-man shop serving up an array of ‘panino’. The stand out one for us was the pear, truffle and pecorino.

So, in summary, if you want to spend too much money on great food and great wine you might enjoy Florence. I do hope this information is helpful to you.

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