“Mangia Salvatore!!”

For some reason my dad always says “Mangia Salvatore!!” whenever he sits down to a huge Italian dinner.

FHFB and I have been busy downsizing our ordering out at restaurants –  feeling less anxious if we don’t always order a primi and second – knowing  we can always go back and try the other dish next week, or tomorrow!   As you can imagine, managing the restaurants and trattorias is truly a challenge here in Firenze.  By manage I mean getting to all of them, which is quite impossible since there are thousands already in existence and new ones opening all the time.

Having a large apartment with a complete kitchen was one of the things we were looking for when we found this apartment.  Our kitchen is small, but it has everything we need to make some delicious local recipes, as well as a quick cappuccino, although it is much more rewarding to walk across the street to Cafe Mingo to have a chat and caffè with Pasquale and his brother Antonio.

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We have put together some very delicious dinners for two as well as some welcome lunches for friends and family.  After going through all of my photos this morning, labeling some and deleting some, I thought it might be fun for you to see some of the food we have been enjoying here in Firenze.  Sidenote: Florence is for foodies…you must savor everything with as many senses as possible!

Let’s begin with some of the meals we have enjoyed in the apartment.  Right down the street there is a wonderful little pasticceria where we found some small but delicious little handmade – fatto a mano – pizzas.  They make an interesting addition to our store bought cheeses and salamis. IMG_3319As you can see, there are several different toppings:  grilled zucchini, green and black olives and roasted red peppers.  These are just a few of the options – other toppings include onions, chicken liver – “crostini di fegato” – a Fiorentine staple – as well as many other toppings.  Strawberries are just coming into season here and get sweeter with every purchase.

Our first welcome lunch was created for Frank’s niece Nerina.  She visited for a few days, all the way from Sicily.  Our table included melon wrapped in prosciutto, burrata with honey and almonds, a tomato salad and our go-to chicken breasts over crispy arugula greens.  Flat Italian green beans and some panini from Cafe Mingo were also included.  This type of lunch is great because the leftovers make for great pickings later on with a Spritz or bottle of delicious local red wine.

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Our second welcome lunch was made with love for Chris and Katie’s arrival from London to Firenze.  Nerina was already visiting from Sicily so we put her to work with us that morning.  Together we put together a menu with homemade pasta with a marinara sauce, chicken breasts, salami and cheese, a tomato salad and some Tuscan bread.  It’s been a little difficult getting used to unsalted bread, and if you want to learn more about why the bread is unsalted, check out this link:http://www.charmingitaly.com/article/tuscan-unsalted-bread-origins

One thing that isn’t pictured was the dessert that Nerina made, with cannolli shells all the way from Sicily.  She simply combined mascarpone cheese with Nutella and almonds and created the most delicious cannollis that were enjoyed by everyone for the next days.

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The morning here has moved quietly into the afternoon, and after a small lunch here FHFB and I will head out to the San Ambrogia area, to explore some of the streets and shops that are past the San Ambrogia mercato.  After that we are heading to the city’s archological museum to learn about some of the Etruscan history in Cortona, the beautiful little town from the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”.  Cortona is only a short train ride away from us. There is so much that is nearby – and so far the trains and buses have been a reliable and fairly inexpensive way to travel.  Our travel plans for the next two months include Panicale in Umbria, Bellagio and Lake Como, Rome and Sicily.  Ciao for now!  xxoo

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