Destinations, Europe, Italy, Journal

Italian Eats

July 24, 2014
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Even though Dennis and I cooked most of our meals in the apartments we have rented while traveling, we had try a few Italian classics and treats. We have been here for a week, and I have a couple food highlights.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we have tried to save money by doing a lot of cooking, and then going out to just a couple meals in each spot. We then will then get coffee and some local treats [France we had to try the pastries and in Italy—obviously the gelato!].

We went out to dinner at a restaurant called Zaza’s, which was recommended to us by two different sources [Boomer and Brittney & @kmaenglund—thanks guys!]. Boomer had told Dennis that it was “the best meal he has ever had.” and Katie told me she was a regular there during her study abroad trip.

With that—we made the trek to Zaza’s.

En route, we passed many beautiful buildings and some squares that were sprinkled with giant statues. Florence is the home of Michaelangelo’s “The David” statue and there are lots of other statues of similar influence scattered throughout the city. The statues are pretty incredible, and all seem to be telling a story.

You can sometimes tell what the story the artist was trying to tell in creating the statue…and others were rather confusing. I understand that I am completely illiterate to the historical context of pretty much everything in this city, but honestly—what is going on here? I swear it’s the first rendition of Jenga.

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Another statue caught my eye on the way to Zaza’s.

This one reminded me of my sister Kelly.

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To me, this one says, “HOOHA YOU WISH YOU WERE A LION.”

She is a Vanguard University Lion, going into her senior volleyball season, and this statue seems to scream “victory” [minus the pigeon on his head]. I mean…he’s even palming a volleyball [yes, that is 100% historically accurate……..maybe]. Go Lions! :)

Once we made it to Zaza’s we sat down and started to flip through the menu. A waitress walked by with a giant plate of different meats and cheeses, and Dennis said—“Yup. We are getting that.”

As we waited for the antipasto appetizer, we munched on some homemade bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar–amazing.

The antipasto plate came filled with different kinds of salami, procuitto, cheeses, orange marmalade, olives, marinated artichoke, sweet & soft [yet crispy on the outside] tiny rolls, and a little piece of octopus.

I’m willing to try most meats…but I let Dennis take care of the octopus.

For the meal, I ordered the tomato basil gnocchi and Dennis got a mixed meat plate with potatoes.

They. Were. Divine.

We shared the goodness and were both really impressed with the meal.

There’s something about freshly made Italian food, where you can taste the individual ingredients—the basil and fresh garlic made it perfect!

We ended the night sharing a piece of flourless dark chocolate cake. It came with powdered sugar on top, and a dollop of sweet cream and strawberries. Amazing!

Another day, we tried a recommended sandwich place called The Oil Shoppe. I got a turkey, pesto, sun-dried tomato and arugala sandwich.

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I wanted to add onions, but Dennis said, “NO. Don’t tell them how to make your sandwich…they KNOW how to make it in Italy.”

Fine, fine. I didn’t ask him to make the addition….And it was bomb.

But—it could have used some onions :)

We also had to try some pizza. I mean, come on, of course we had to! There’s a pizzeria on every corner!

It’s amazing to me that the margarita pizzas are only between 4-6 Euros depending on how nice the place is [that’s pretty much like $5-7 for a pizza about as big as a beach ball!].

Lastly, we tried a couple treats and sweets along with the incredible coffee. Gelato. Obviously. But we also tried some baby biscottis and the cutest little chocolate tart.

I was upset because the fork hit the tart before I could get a good picture.

Dennis was upset because it took me five minutes to figure out how to focus the camera to take a picture of the stupid tart.

[I don’t know how to use the manual functions on my camera yet…still a newbie. Who wants to teach me how to use it!?]

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I was very impressed with the Italian food that we had. It definitely made it feel like an authentic experience!

This has sparked a little inspiration to try and make some of these things when we get home… So, I’m starting to gather recipes and ideas! Sure, they aren’t Zaza’s recipes, but I can give it a whirl!

I can’t promise my cooking will have the same positive impact [it almost never does], but a girl sure can try!

Here are some recipes that I want to try:

1. Tomato Basil Gnocchi Gratin

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2. Antipasto Plate

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3. Flourless Chocolate Cake

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4. Chocolate Tart

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So, there you have it. My top picks for Italian eats in Florence.

I’m sure we barely even scratched the surface of everything that city has to offer… It makes me super pumped to go back there someday!

Beautiful [and delicious!] city.

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xo Kelsey

 

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