Not that we weren’t getting enough to eat in Lucca, but a vacation in Tuscany just doesn’t seem to be complete with a day in Florence. Of course you could spend weeks on end exploring this amazing city, but unfortunately we didn’t have that much time. History, art, architecture at every turn, but as you might have expected we were there for the food. You could certainly amble around on your own, but why not get the real scoop from an insider and taste your way around town with a pro.
Meet Toni, owner and founder of Taste Florence. An American of Italian descent, Toni has made Florence her home and turned her passion for food and wine into a business. Talk about the job of my dreams-leading small groups around town and introducing them not only to the food of Florence, but also to the locals who make it happen.
The day began at a local forno (bakery for breads) where we tasted Florence’s spin on focaccia called schiaccciata. They do sell some sweets too, but it’s their breads which they are known for. We also sampled coccoli, a tasty puff of fried dough that I instantly fell for. The baker, Remo, was out and about when we visited the shop, but we ran into him later as he was making his deliveries around town.
Now that we had a little something in our stomach we moved on to a small enoteca and toasted the day with a glass of franciacorta a sparkling wine, similar to prosecco about with a little more body, produced in the Lombardia region. Now we ready for some serious eating!
Into the Mercato Centrale (Florence’s premier food market) we went and Toni led us to her favorite spots. We made stops for cheese, olives, balsamics and olive oils. The pecorino cheese topped with pear mosatarda hit the spot for me and I made certain to pick up a jar to stuff in my suitcase.
On to salamis and crostini with various spreads and toppings. I loved the cream cheese (yes Italians eat it and they call it “Philadelphia”) mixed with a cream of tartufo (truffles) but at 25 euros for a tiny tube, I decided to pass on that purchase.
Are you getting full yet? We had a wine tasting down in the cellar of a well know Florence wine shop and sampled a Prosecco and a few local reds. Our day was winding down, but there was one more stop-Vestri Cioccolateria (I’ve written about Vestri here). There we tasted about six different chocolates and ended the day with a gelato. Not everyone knows that this shop sells gelato as it’s kept under the counter, not piled high as you see in many gelaterias. This is the real deal and it’s one of my favorite spots in town.
Some of you participants from last year’s tour might remember Leonardo, son of the founder of the company who runs this location. What a nice way to end the day!
Don’t be fooled by the impostors out there. Toni at Taste Florence is the real deal and I guarantee that a day spent with her will be full of fabulous food, lots of great information and a lot of laughs.