Food Adventures

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Today was a short day at school, but well worth attending. We made maltagliati (egg pasta cut into irregular shapes, literally 'badly cut') with a tomato-based sauce with cannellini beans, red peppers, and basil. My partner, Greta, and I had not evaporated the wine enough, so our sauce was a little acidic. Our other dish, stuffed zucchini, was pronounced 'perfect' by the instructor. This was high praise, considering that he always has suggestions for improvement. The zucchini were boiled and then hollowed and filled with a mix of zucchini pulp, ham, ricotta, egg, and pamiggiano. We could barely wait for the zucchini to get out of the oven, they smelled so good. As with any yummy recipe, they were gone in no time.

The meal we prepared in class was only topped by a wonderful dinner. It was Beth's last day in Firenze, and she wanted to have porcini mushrooms, so we went to Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco in Oltrarno (the other side of the Arno river). The Osteria specializes in cinghiale (wild boar), probably my favorite meat, but I had also noticed porcini on the menu, so we were hoping to try both. When I mentioned that they also serve fried zucchini flowers, Beth immediately suggested that we try those, too. Of course, it does not take anything to convince me to eat fried zucchini flowers.

Cinghiale Bianco is a very cozy and pleasant restaurant and the staff are very friendly and helpful. We had to wait a little while for a table, but that gave us a chance to stand on one of the bridges and watch the sun set over the river, a unforgettable sight. Our dinner was worth the wait, It was by far, the best meal I have had in Italy yet: it contained several things that we had not had and everything was prepared perfectly. We started with the fried zucchini flowers and fell in love at first bite. The flowers had been dipped in a think batter and were very light and crispy. I had never had zucchini flowers and was surprised by their sweet flavor. They were a perfect start to a meal that include cinghiale served with polenta and my first truffles ever, served over taglierini. The moment the waitress put the plate with the pasta and truffles in front of me, I knew I was going to taste something outstanding. The truffles that had been generously shaved over the pasta gave the most unbelievable smell that was only topped by the smooth, rich flavor. Those of you who have had truffles know what I mean; those of you who have not had truffles, I suggest you seek them out and try them as soon as possible. I am not sure how I have lived this far without having truffles. I must go back to this place before I leave because not knowing when I might be able to have truffles next would be too painful.

After our sublime dinner, we decided to walk around for a while and stumbled upon a concert in the Piazza della Signoria. The band sounded very interesting: the beat was Latin and they sang in a southern dialect. The music was very interesting, so we sat down at one of the restaurants and enjoyed their performance. The Piazza was full of people of all ages and everyone was moving to the beat. It was fascinating to be in front of a building like the Pallazzo Vecchio and be listening to a concert of popular music.

As we walked home after midnight, Firenze did not seem to be ready to go to sleep. There were people everywhere and it didn't look like anyone (but us) was going to bed soon.


At 10:23 AM CDT, Anonymous Erika said...

I now have truffle envy. Thanks for the detailed description of your dinner...sounds amazing!

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