This place is meat heaven. Seriously. Any meat you want, you can get it here. And, the skin there is especially prized…
In Old Town’s Plazzo Vecchio, besides housing Michelangelo’s David (the fake one; the real one is in Galleria dell’Accademia) and other graphic and erotic sculptures, it’s the home of the biggest open market of good to high-quality leather goods, Loggia del Mercato Nuevo, which is also where a famous bronze sculpture of a boar (Fontana del Porcellino) waits for visitors to rub its nose for good luck and to feed it coins.
I didn’t get anything from Loggia del Mercato Nuevo today; I did go back the following night and rubbed Porcellino’s nose after dinner, after the crowds had died down.
No, my mind was on meat, not leather.
In our first day in Florence before the tour of Old Town, lunchtime was held at Antica Trattoria Il Giardino (dal 1939), across the street from our hotel (on Via della Scala, 61/r, 50123 Firenze, Italy). It’s a cosy and comfortable place with excellent food. I ordered the Florentine steak (Bistecca alla Fiorentina); it was simply grilled with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. It came with green beans, (and I stole some roasted potatoes from Olga’s plate). The bread was Tuscan-style: hardy, baked without salt, and served with parmesan cheese. House red wine (a nice bouquet, reminds me of pomegranate essence), and espresso to finish the meal.
I am slowly getting used to the two-hour lunch. The WTT ladies are delightful and funny, and we were all glad to be finally off the train from Venice. And, the meat was epically good, it was fantastic!! So simply made, so clean, so fresh, so tender. It’s a steak to keep dreaming about. The char on the beans was great, and Olga’s potatoes were very tasty.
My first espresso…wow, now I know what taking crack feels like. I was up and raring for the rest of the day, which was needed for the 3-hour walking tour after lunch. For the reminder of the trip, I drank some every other morning, with two packets of raw sugar, so I could stay alert. Espresso, it’s a hell of a drug ;).
The one Florentine meat product I didn’t try on the first day was Lampreditto = the 4th stomach of a cow, boiled with tomatoes, onion, celery and parsley, served on a bread roll. It looked like a piping hot, wet, fleshy, and gray accordion tailored by fashion seamstresses. I’m not having that…it sounded so gross, like zucchini or lutefisk. (Erin tried to eat some the next day…she described its texture “interesting”) . Still, no.
The real saving grace of the day (2 hours into the tour) was Perche non?, the oldest (del 1939) and the best gelato place = Gelateria in Florence, perhaps in Italy, according to our adorable tour guide Eliza. After eating both the chocolate and strawberry flavors, I seriously thought I had entered Heaven, or Nirvana. This is the best gelato in the universe. I’m not kidding. Please go there, I beg you!
I mean, perche non? = Why not?