Torta Fedora: the best of Tuscany

Italian culinary tradition is wide and varied: all kinds of pasta sauces, the many versions of lasagne, tasty meat stews, pizzas, and last but not least: the desserts. There are so many of them that there is always something new to taste. One of the less-known ones is Torta Fedora, a real delicatesse of Tuscan cuisine. A soft heart of puff pastry, whipped cream and sponge cake covered up with a crunchy layer of dark chocolate.

Torta Fedora

Torta Fedora

I bet we already made you drool! No despairs though, you’ll get the chance to try this tasty dessert of our cuisine during our food tours in Florence!

And in case you like it, and we bet you will, here is a simple version of this recipe that you can try at home. The only thing that you might struggle to find is the alchermes liqueur, which you can replace with any another kind of gentle and
Alchermes and Maraschino

Alchermes and Maraschino

sweet liqueur. Some versions of this cake is with maraschino, a liqueur obtained from the distillation of Marasca cherries.

Here is what you will need:

1 roll of puff pastry

1 disk of sponge cake

550 gr whipped cream

Icing sugar as required

Few spoons of milk

For the chocolate crust:

150 gr: dark chocolate

1 spoon of water

2 spoons of honey

Icing sugar as required

For the bagna (to soak the sponge cake):

65 g of water

35 g of sugar

50 ml of alchermes liquor

It would be better to prepare the sponge cake the day before or – don’t tell anyone we suggested you-  you can buy already-made one. First thing, you’ll need to bake the puff pastry. Before doing that make sure you poke few holes on it using a fork, gently brush it with some milk and sprinkle it with some icing sugar. Bake at 180° until golden brown.

While you wait for the puff pastry to bake, prepare the bagna, with which we will soak the sponge cake. Pour the water together with sugar in a small pot. Once it boils, you can leave it cooling a bit and then add the alchermes liqueur.

At this point, take the puff pastry out of the oven, cut it the same size of the sponge cake and lay the sponge cake on it. Pour the bagna all over the sponge cake and now our base is ready to be topped with a thick layer of whipped cream. Let now rest the cake in the fridge for at least few hours.

Cioccolato a pezzi

Let’s now prepare the chocolate topping. Cut the chocolate in pieces, put it together with 2 spoons of honey and a spoon of water in a small pot and let it melt in a bain-marie. Let it cool, sprinkle some icing sugar on a clean surface where you can pour the chocolate. Add icing sugar until it gets thick enough to make a ball out of it. Let it rest a bit until it becomes a malleable dough of chocolate.

At this point, place it on a long piece of baking paper and roll it out using a rolling pin. Now it is all up to you: decorate your Torta Fedora as you wish with the “chocolate papers” you made! You can also add some icing sugar if you want it to look nicer!

Torta Fedora

Well, if Torta Fedora doesn’t sound easy to make, we can assure it tastes good! Don’t miss our food tours in Florence next time you are around, during which you’ll have the occasion to ask more tips for this recipe to the local “artisans” of desserts!

Autumn in Tuscany: the traditional Mushroom Soup recipe

Autumn in Tuscany is marvelously colorful  and smells like mushrooms and chestnuts. Imagine how cozy could be to savor a hot, fragrant soup looking at the foliage outside the window…it really warms body and soul.

Autumn in Tuscany

Autumn in Tuscany

Mushrooms are typical in traditional cuisine and bring us back to a time when the ingredients were the seasonal ones and when people used to cook what the nature had to offer. Also that’s why the original recipe uses mixed mushrooms, since this is what you find when you go pick them! A mixture!

Still nowadays in countryside, grandparents go to find mushrooms in woods with their grandsons and they teach them how to recognize the good ones (if you’re not an expert, do what we do, go to a good shop and buy safe mushrooms ;-)).

Mixed mushrooms

Mixed mushrooms

Here there’s an easy and tasty recipe for you, to enjoy this special comfort food with your family and friends. The ingredients and the preparation are simple, like in most of the traditional Italian recipes.

What you’ll need (4 servings)

  • 800g mixed mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 ripe red tomatoes
  • chopped parsley
  • 1l vegetable broth: face the truth,the secret is in the broth, if you’ll prepare it fresh, your soup will  taste far better. It takes a little longer but at the end you’ll  say: I made it!
  • home-baked sourdough bread (I’m pretty sure that your favorite bakery sells it ;-))
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

How to prepare it

First of all, mushrooms should never been washed, but gently wiped using a damp towel.  They’re spongy and washing them under running water means spoiling them since they’ll absorb the water and will lose their aroma. After that slice them thin. Boil for few seconds the tomatoes, peel them and remove the seeds.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, sauté the garlic, then add mushrooms and pepper. After sautéing a couple of minutes , add chopped tomatoes and all the broth. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 15 min.

How to serve it

Toast the bread slices and settle them at the bottom of the soup-tureen, pour the hot soup on them and serve it!tuscan-mushrooms-soup

Give your soup a twist ;-)

To make it extremely lavish, pour your mushroom soup into single soup-tureens and cover the surface with some grated Parmigiano, put in the oven and wait until it makes a crispy, golden crust then serve it…hot and delicious!

Like many traditional recipes, the traditional Tuscan mushroom soup is 100%  vegetarian, have you noticed it? And if you serve with gluten free bread is also enjoyable by who needs a gluten-free diet, a truly delicacy for everyone!

And least but not the last, let’s talk about the wine! As every good meal deserves, also the mushrooms soup needs to be paired with a good red wine and our option goes for a bottle of red Chianti, the king of Tuscan wines. It will soothe the palate and the soul.

If it happens to you to come to Tuscany, grant yourself a treat and join our Food Tour in Florence, a real dive into the food tradition and a chance to visit traditional places spotted by locals!

Meet your guide in Florence: Angela!

Meet your guide in Florence: Angela! Learn about Florence food and history!

This August we want to introduce Angela, she is one of the “oldest” guide at Italy Segway Tours! Be prepared to have the best fun on the tour while Angela tells you the history of her marvellous city!

 

Meet tour guide in Florence: Angela!

Name: Angela

Nationality and City of residence: 100 % italian, from Sicily originally…but Florence has stolen my heart!

Name of tour you lead and where: Food tour in Florence, but also Segway, Bike and walking tours to the top of the Duomo!

If you are not from the city you are based in for tours, what originally brought you there?
I came here the first time when I was 16 during a school trip. I really fell in love with Florence and with all its beauty so I decided to come here to study Art History: I moved here when I turned 19 and never left since!

Your favorite part of the tour: I love when I’m asked a lot of questions because it means that I managed to arouse interest in my customer about what we see and taste on the tour, and perhaps that I was also able to lit up some more curiosity!

After wine tasting, everyone’s happier!

Also, the best moment of the food tour is right after we start tasting wine…everybody suddendly turns happier and more sincere!
Favorite Local Restaurant in your city: This is a tough one! There are so many good restaurants in Florence…But if I have to pick one I would say the one where It feels like home: “Sabatino”, in the Oltrarno district. It’s not a fancy place and the menu it’s almost always the same but everything is genuine and it’s like going to dinner at my grandma’s house! If you’re looking for a place where only locals go, that’s the one!
One thing visitors to my city can’t miss: The view of Florence at sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo and the San Miniato church on the top of the same hill: it’s the most romantic place in the city! Be aware you are at risk to falling in love!
Travel Mantra? “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind”, words by Seneca, a Latin philosopher and writer, that really knew what traveling means!

 What’s next on your travel bucket list? I’d love to visit Turkey or to take a trip to Iceland to see the Northern Lights!

What is your favorite Italian city to travel to? Not just a city, an entire region: Sicily, my birthplace!

What’s your best travel tip for those coming to visit Italy? Try new things, don’t be scared by our, sometimes strange, habits and always ask when you need help: you will be surprised by the kindness of (most) Italians! ;)

Bistecca alla Fiorentina - thick and raw!

Bistecca alla Fiorentina – thick and raw!

What’s the food that someone must try in your city before leaving? The Fiorentina steak, the best beef I’ve ever tried! But remember it has to be rare, so don’t ask the chef to have it more cooked, otherwise you will offend him!

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had on one of your tours? Once I had on a tour a man with my same last name; he was American and his grandparents emigrated to the States from Sicily. It was like having a new uncle…he even started talking Sicilian dialect with me!

What do you like most about leading tours? I believe that tourguides are the ambassadors of our culture so what I like most is to introduce to people from all over the world with very different backgrounds to our history and food, and almost always with the same result: they fall in love with it!

 

Angela the Cook!

Angela the Cook!

What makes your tour unique? The fact that the places where we go are mostly just for locals…it would be very difficult to find them on your own!

And personally I should also say that I really love to cook so I always spend time to explain what are the ingredients of the things we taste and how they could be made at home to continue the food tour experience!

 

Won over by Angela already? So, what are you waiting for? Conclude your booking and ask for her!

 

Till next time!

MEET YOUR GUIDE IN FLORENCE: VERONICA

Meet your guide in Florence!

This week, we’ll meet a new entry in our Segway Tours in Florence. She’s nice and kind and she do love her job very much! After reading her words, I bet you’ll book a tour immediately!

bria3

Hi there, what’s your name?

Hello!!! My name is Veronica!

What are your nationality and hometown?

I was born in Florence and I live in the so called Oltrarno, “the other side of the river”, but I left my heart in the Santa Croce district where I grew up.

Name of tour you lead and where: 

I lead food tours, bike, segway and walking tours in Florence and surroundings areas.

Why did you choose to become a touristic guide? 

I chose to become a tourist guide because it’s the only job that gives me the chance to do everything I really love: meet people from different countries, share ideas and knowledge, make people fall in love with my city, just as much as I am.

bria2

Your favorite part of the tour: 

What I enjoy the most in my job is seeing a dazzling smile or a sparkle in the eyes of our customers tasting something they never tried before and they really like!

Your favourite recipe:

It’s hard to say, but one of my favourite recipy is the “Gnudi”, a tasty typical dish easy to prepare that fully represent our cuisine. “Gnudi” are little dumplings made of poor ingredients: spinach and ricotta cheese. Actually the Gnudi are the filling of the ravioli and Gnudi in the fiorentine dialect means “naked”. Therefore, we could say that ‘Gnudi’ are similar to ravioli, but without clothes/dough!

Favorite Local Restaurant in your city: 

One of my favourite restaurants is Il Ghianda in the Santa Croce district. The menu changes quite often and they offer a great selection of typical dishes cooked like the tradition says. If you want to immerse yourself in a local atmosphere, I suggest to going there during the lunch time when the restaurant is crowded by many florentines.

One thing visitors to your city can’t miss: 

When visiting Florence you can’t miss the stunning view of the city visible from the Michelangelo terrace, a wonderful hill-top panorama which I recommend at sunset.

Favorite Travel Quote? 

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” (M. Proust) Sometimes our customers are my “new eyes” pointing out something that I had not noticed yet.

What’s next on your travel bucket list?

It’s still a dream but I want to do the Trans-Siberian, the famous route from Moscow to Vladivostok. I’m really fascinated by the amazing nature and the fact that you have to change 12 different time zones.

What’s your best travel tip for those coming to visit Italy?

Italy is well known all over the world especially for its good food, so I definitely suggest enjoying it as much as possible. Also, keep in mind that the dishes are different from one city to the other!

bria1

What’s the food that someone must try in your city before leaving?

I use to say: “If you haven’t tried the Lampredotto with green sauce and a glass of red wine… even two, you haven’t been to Florence!” It’s the most famous sandwich in town. Only for strong people!

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had on one of your tours? 

One day, on our first stop at ChiaroScuro, after the coffee tasting, the typical elderly florentine customers of the cafeteria stopped us and started to talk to the beautiful women I was leading. It has been an hard and fun work to take them away and reach the next stop!

What do you like most about leading tours?

The thing that I prefer the most is to share thoughts, ideas and good time with all our customers. I feel so lucky to know a lot of people coming from so many different places and distant spots on the earth.

Meet your guide in Florence: “la Vale”

Meet your guide in Florence: “la Vale”, she’ll lead you thru the city’s  alleys to discovery Florence and Tuscany flavors.

valentina

Valentina

Name: Valentina

Nationality and Hometown? I’m a genuine Florentine.

Name of tour you lead and where: I lead the Food tours of Florence, as well as Segway and Bike Tours!

Why you chose to become a touristic guide? Because I simply love Italian art and history and I want to spread my knowledge to the world.

Giulia

This is the famous Giulia

Your favorite part of the tour: I like the fact that our tour introduces my customers also to the shop owners who participate in presenting Florence culinary traditions, making the tour an unconventional one because it isn’t only the guide who speaks. But, to tell the truth, I enjoy too much teasing Giulia at the “balsamic vinegar tasting”, I always drive her mad :)

Which is you favorite local restaurant: Mmm…If i have to pick one, I choose “Buca Lapi” I love it especially because is one of the historical restaurant in town. I like best of all their hand-made pasta, the Florentine steak and the great wine selection they offer. Make it a stop of your trip!!

One thing visitors to your city can’t miss: One must-do thing in Florence is to get lost and wander in the Oltrarno area, the side out of the touristic shops and attractions, where one can meet the authentic Florentine spirit and people. Santo Spirito

Favorite Travel Quote? “Be the change you want to see in the world” which is more a life mantra, but is applicable also to travelling.

What’s next on your travel bucket list? First place on the bucket list is Mongolia, since I want it to be special, I’m taking extra time and care to plan this journey. As for next trip, it certainly is to Greece to the complex of Meteora, I just can’t wait!

What’s your best travel tip for those coming to visit Italy? Interact with the locals! Florentines are very amusing and you can learn a lot from everyone as well as having fun with them. Do’t be offended if they play you jokes all the time, it’s just the way we are.

Lampredotto

Lampredotto

What’s the food that someone must try in your city before leaving? Easy question: lampredotto! You might wrinkle your nose at hearing what’s made of, but believe me when I say you must it try before criticize! And I won’t say what it is, for you have to come here and taste it.

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had on one of your tours? I remember this one time I was on a Bike&Food tour of Florence with a female volleyball dutch team, who were very beautiful girls and everyone would turn their head to look at them. I convinced them to sing Holland’s national anthem while we were pedaling along the city’s boulevards, by the end of it even ambulances and police drives were honking at us for appreciation!! It was hilarious!

What do you like most about leading tours? I take satisfaction at interacting everyday with people from allover the world, who teach me new facts about their country while I stand as a channel between their culture and mine.

When you’re coming to Florence, book your tour and ask for Valentina if you want a tasty introduction to the city and a good laugh!

Meet your guide: Federica on the Florence Food Tour

On this month’s “Meet Your Guide” we’ll introduce you to Federica, a nice and sweet florentine guide, who’ll teach you all about Florence and its’ fantastic culinary traditions. She leads the Florence Food Walking Tour so make sure to book a spot for yourself!

Federica and Mr Marconcini

Federica and Mr Marconcini

Name: Federica

Nationality and Hometown?
Italian, originally from Incisa a nearby town in the country-side of Tuscany.

Name of tour you lead and where:
Food Walking Tour in Florence!

If you are not from the city you are based in for tours, what originally brought you there?
I moved to Florence because I love it and decided to become Touristic Guide because I want to teach people about this wonderful city.

Roasted Coffee Beans

Roasted Coffee Beans

Your favorite part of the tour:
My favourite part of the Food tour is the Coffee Tasting, because most of the people don’t know what an Espresso really is; or what type of coffee you drink everyday: Arabica or Robusta? And I bet you don’t know what Kopi Luwak is..?!

Favorite Local Restaurant in your city:
In the historical center my favorite place is “Sasso di Dante” a restaurant that’s right next to the Duomo, worth even only for the view on the Cupola, but the pasta and meat  dishes are good too! If you want to stay away from the city center and want to go for a characteristic Florentine restaurant than you place is “Il Papero Rosso”, beware:  you’ll have a fantastic time!

One thing visitors to your city can’t miss:
In Florence? Nothing can be missed! If I have to choose, I’d say the Santa Croce Church! It’s a most fascinating place, full of history and representative of the people that made Florence know and important throughout the world. It’s also the place where Michelangelo is buried!

Favorite Travel Quote?
“People don’t take trips… trips take people” by John Steineck, who really nailed it with this quote. It’s the travel itself that elevates one’s soul and character, every time you travel you change, because you experience another country’s lifestyle, another culture and other traditions.

What’s next on your travel bucket list?
I have Australia as first on the bucket list destinations….and this year I’m going to go! I have already everything planned out, this is like a dream that comes true, I can’t wait!!

What is your favorite Italian city to travel to?  
More than a city, I love to travel to Sicily- Sicilia. The places and history are amazing, the people are wonderful, welcoming and fun. Food it’s ecstasy and if you pair it with the sea view, it’s heaven! Nothing’s best that a nice restaurant at sunset, with view on the seaside.

What’s your best travel tip for those coming to visit Italy?

That’s a hard one. One thing that I’d like to recommend is to enjoy every aspect of Italy, good and bad.

Handcrafted Gelato

Handcrafted Gelato

What’s the food that someone must try in your city before leaving?
Gelato! And mind, I’m not speaking of ice-cream. We are talking about GELATO hand made by artisans, with fresh milk, fruit, cocoa, cream! Stay away from the high mountains of ice-cream on display in the bars, choose instead the real “Gelateria” (gelato shop) the ones that have flat trays of gelato, or those with covered Gelato bulks. Those are the ones you want to eat!

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had on one of your tours?

Every tour has it’s memorable experiences so it’s hard to tell. Certainly the most curious time, was when one of my customer had her first taste of coffee ever in her life! She made a face, that probably was due to the bitterness, but all-in-all she liked it!

 

Typical Tuscan Cold Cuts and Cheese

Typical Tuscan Cold Cuts and Cheese

What do you like most about leading tours?
Ha, this is easy: meeting people from all over the world. It’s cliche, but’s the truth: people literally come from everywhere and food is indicative of one’s culture, and on this tour I present my traditions and tastes to people who compare it with theirs’ and it’s always a rich exchange of facts. Customers are not the only ones learning something new!

What makes your tour unique?
You’ll have to do it to know! J Well I tell very good stories and food facts that’ll make the tastings even more enjoyable.

 

If you’re planning a trip to Italy, book your food tour and we’ll take you to taste our country! See you in Florence!

Meet your guide: Coral on the Florence Food Tour

Italy Food Culture  is here to promote and educate the cornerstones of Italian food with Italian recipes, useful articles, as well as various food tasting cultural tours in Italy. We are rolling out a monthly “Meet Your Guide” section so you can get to know your friendly, knowledgeable food tour guides and tour leaders before you take one of the food tasting tours offered in Florence, Milan or Rome. If you have any more for us- let us know! Or ask us in person on one of the Food Tours in Italy.

Coral's hobby is wine.

Coral’s hobby is wine.

Now….meet your guide: Coral on the Florence Food Tour!

Name: Coral

Nationality and Hometown? American, from Seattle!

Name of tour you lead and where: Florence Food Tour in gorgeous Firenze!

If you are not from the city you are based in for tours, what originally brought you there? I originally came to Florence on a wine studies program and since Florence stole my heart I stayed. Now I stay busy with leading food and wine tasting tours.

Your favorite part of the tour? I love when people learn about something for the first time, especially when they learn about the intricacies of Italian coffee culture at the coffee tasting stop.

learning the difference between Arabica and Robusta on the Florence Food Tour

learning the difference between Arabica and Robusta on the Florence Food Tour

Favorite Local Restaurant in your city? Sabatino’s in San Frediano. It’s a totally traditional family-run trattoria with so much soul and extremely affordable food and house wine. I love taking guests from out of town there so they can experience the real Florentine dining culture.

The first Duomo climb in 2005!

The first Duomo climb in 2005!

One thing visitors to your city can’t miss? Climbing the Duomo. That is how I fell in love with Florence 10 years ago on my 1st visit.

Do you have a Favorite Travel Quote? “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it” by George A. Moore

What’s next on your travel bucket list? That’s a toughy! It’s currently split between Argentina and Turkey.

What is your favorite Italian city to travel to?  It’s so cliché but I love going to Rome. Living in Florence is laid-back but sometimes I miss a big city. There is always something going on in Rome in terms of art, music, festivals, food and drink which makes me feel a bit at home since Seattle is also very happening.

What’s your best travel tip for those coming to visit Italy? Be adventurous- live like an Italian for a bit. i.e. Please don’t expect bacon and eggs for breakfast with a big cup of America coffee. Instead enjoy a fresh baked pastry and a cappuccino at a local bar/cafe. Let your normal habits take a vacation, too. Repeat often: When in Rome!

What’s the food that someone must try in your city before leaving? In Florence, please try lampredotto or some sort of offal. If you can’t stomach it, at least have something typically Tuscan that is not pizza or pasta: i.e. Pappa al Pomodoro or Panzanella.

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had on one of your tours? That is really hard because all of my guests are so memorable (I’ve hosted an array of inspiring professionals like fashion journalists and chefs) but it’s usually memorable when I have guests who taste and learn about truffle for the first time and of course love it.

Truffle panino- found on our Food Tours in Florence

Truffle panino- found on our Food Tours in Florence

What do you like most about leading tours? I might have already said, but there is a deep satisfaction I derive from seeing a guest learn something new about Italian food culture and remarking that they want to bring that home with them. I think countries like America really have something to learn from Italian food culture.

What makes your tour unique? I love illustrating contrasts and noting differences between Italian and American food culture since I generally understand both of them as an American-born food blogger with an unreal love for Italy.

Stay tuned! Next month we will introduce you to one of our food tour guides in Milan!

Would you like to take a Food Tour in Florence with Coral on your future trip to Italy? Just send us a request!

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