About Prosciutto, Culatello and other treats

Summer is around the corner, and we are convinced that some tips about Prosciutto, Culatello and other treats could be useful for your summer parties 🙂

From the green, gentle hills of the province of Parma, come some of the most refined Italian specialties: Prosciutto di Parma, the Culatello and last but not least, the Parmigiano.

Prosciutto di Parma

Prosciutto di Parma

The real Prosciutto di Parma is produced following a rigorous, traditional method where no preservatives are involved, but only salt, skill and care. The real one is not too salty, has a delicious perfume and melts in your mouth when you eat it…mhhh. To be sure that you’re buying real Prosciutto, check carefully the skin of the prosciutto that you’re buying and look for the crown-shaped brand PARMA.

On the other hand, the Culatello – the King of cured meats – which comes from the best part of the leg of the pig, looks similar to the Prosciutto but is drier, the slice has an oily surface and the taste is stronger. Also the production is different, since instead of being aged in dry places, is kept in humid, old caves and, believe us, all of it gives them the distinctive, unique flavor.

When you buy Prosciutto or Culatello, be sure that the host slices them fresh under your eyes, like it happens during our Milan Food Tour. And as we say to our guests:  eat them with hands, they will taste even better!

How to taste them

When you have such great ingredients, the best recipes you can prepare are the easiest ones.

Italian flair on a cutting board

There’s nothing better than putting some prosciutto, some Culatello, chunks of Parmigiano and black olives on a old-fashioned wooden cutting board…easy and tasty.  Ah, don’t forget crusty bread, a good glass of wine or beer (a good Bonarda or a fresh ale could be perfect) and a little bowl of aromatic honey to put on the cheese.

 

Prosciutto e Melone

Prosciutto e Melone

Prosciutto e melone

When it’s summer, buy a sweet orange melon, just slice it and wrap some Prosciutto around each slice..the sweet-salty combination is literally delicious.  You can serve them as an appetizer before lunch or dinner and accompany with a glass of white wine like a Vermentino or a Chardonnay.

 

Parmigiano reggiano

Parmigiano reggiano

Formaggio con le Pere

(Veggie option, go for cheese!)

In Italian there’s a sentence which sounds more or less like this: Don’t let the farmer know how good cheese is with pears. Seems obscure? Just try to pair Parmigiano chunks with ripe sweet peer slices and a glass of Sangiovese or Cabernet and then let us know.

Share your experience with us!

PS: If you want to taste Culatello and other treats, if you’re fallling in love with italian food, please, discover this 10 things to do and see in Milan ( there’s our Beer Tour, too!)

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 IN MILAN: PAOLO

Paolo, your guide in Milan

Come meet Paolo, your guide in Milan!

On our monthly interview we’ll introduce you to your guide in Milan, if you’re going to book a Food Walking Tour he’ll be the one showing you around!

Name: Paolo

Nationality and Hometown? I’m Italian, a genuine, native Milanese!

Name of tour you lead and where: I lead the Milan Food Walking Tour, to introduce you to our culinary traditions and history.

Why you chose to become a touristic guide? I am a tour guide because I love Milan and I want to share its history with you, who come to visit this wonderful city!

Your favorite part of the tour: I can’t tell which is my favorite, because each stop of the tour has its distinctive traits and the owners of the shops where the tastings take place, are nice and friendly and all with a different story to tell. Just walking about Brera district is an experience!

Pizza al Padellino

Favorite Local Restaurant in your city: The pizza by slice of Pizzeria Gaffurio, cooked in the “padellino” with a wood oven! Perfect for a quick meal at the end of the day or between tours.

One thing visitors to your city can’t miss: Milan has many beauties. The monuments and churches of the city are marvelous, but if I have to choose I’d say: the Duomo, the Sant’Ambrogio Basilica and the Navigli (canals, “i canali”) area

Favorite Travel Quote? “I am not the same having seen the Moon shine on the other side of the world” by Mary Anne Radmacher. The sky isn’t the same from everywhere but the only way to find that out is to travel the world.

What’s next on your travel bucket list? On my bucket list’s top is the Trip, with capital “t”: I’m planning to take the Trans Mongolian Express!

Lodi

What’s your best travel tip for those coming to visit Italy? Save a day to visit a small medieval town. People tend to admire only the visible, forgetting what is used to be like before the grandeur of the marbles. In Italy there are many medieval villages and all are beautiful and all are worth spending one of your days visiting.

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

Risotto Giallo (Zafferano)

The saffron risotto, without a doubt. Make sure to eat at least once the “risotto giallo” the traditional and most representative dish of Milano.

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had on one of your tours? Well, all the tours are unique so it’s hard to tell. What makes the tour worth leading though, is when someone tells me the they never thought that Milan could be so fascinating!

What do you like most about leading tours? What else but meeting people from all around the world, a refreshing experience to compare customs and tradition of one another’s country!

How do you like your beer?

Brewery” is a word that usually goes with the Germans or the Belgian abbeys, where the most famous artisanal beers were born. And it’s quite funny to think that they used it as a replacement for food, in their meditation and fasting periods!

All beers are delicious, and we all know that almost every country has its special golden nectar: from the delicate Blanche beers in Belgium to the Weizen beers in Germany, you will find plenty of flavors while travelling around: especially nowadays, beer is experiencing quite a renaissance: beer fairs, beer experts, beer lovers are popping out like mushrooms.

But… what about Italy? Italy is the land of wine, ain’t it? Why would we care about beer when we have this wonderfully rich acres of land?

We are probably known for our ‘pizza&birra’ dinners, possibly to consume while watching a soccer match: our beers, in the common thought, are light and sparkling, perfect to be drank in a warm summer night… “Una birra ghiacciata è proprio quello che ci vuole!”, you will hear that quite often when you walk around in town as soon as the sun starts to heat. And when the sun goes down, what’s better than a cool beer to drink with your friends?

Chair-Magazine-Birra-artigianaleAnd yet, during the last five years more or less, we assisted to a ‘beer rebirth’: in stores, just next to the most common brands – the big brown 66cl bottle, anyone? – it’s more and more easy to see some fancier package, to try some interesting taste. Italians re-discovered beer!

You don’t need anymore to dig deep to find a nice beer: stores are filled with strange bottles, but you can find also pretty cute ‘Birrerie” in town, who will let you try their own product.

These beers come usually from “microbirrifici”: if the subject was music here, I probably would have said that these breweries are indie, lo-fi, underground colorful experiences… And they’re experiences to be tried.

So, how are these new ‘indie’ beers? The styles are just the same as in all over the world, with a touch of creativity that makes perfectly understandable the idea of a beer with some typical Italian meal – yes, the one that you usually would pair with wine.

Let’s have a quick overview!

1) IPA

Screen-shot-2010-01-10-at-21.38.45-590x393Short for “India Pale Ale”, it comes from England, and it was originally meant to be exported in India: the long trip this beer had to take is the reason of its peculiar characteristics – like a higher alcohol graduation than the normal Ale, and the bitter-ish flavor of hops that comes right at the tongue.

Being not a delicate taste, goes very good with rich entrees and sauces: English like to drink it with red meat or strong cheeses, so why do not try it while enjoying a semi-old cow cheese (but pecorino will do as well) or some Parma? The bitterness and the slightly salty flavours will truly pop in your mouth!

2) SPICES AND CEREALS BEERS

Tired of the ‘normal’ beer flavors? What did these five girls say… Spice up your life beer! There’s a whole world out there where you can taste pepper-beers, ginger-beers, herbs-beer… brewers love to dare, and try interesting combinations.

Most of these beers are suitable for winter: imagine yourself walking on the cold stoney streets of our cities, desiring nothing more that somewhere cozy to go – then you’ll find a pub where they will hand you a nice pint of cinnamon beer and a warm hamburger sandwich. Suddenly it’s home!

3) LAGER BEERS

Yes, we do have our Lager: light alcoholic, golden and sparkling beer that goes perfectly with… pasta! Its moderate alcohol degree makes it good for a refreshing lunch with friend, a pic-nic, or a warm night on the beach.

It’s the most common beer in the world, that’s why it is so versatile. Have it cold, make a toast and enjoy summer!

pizza_birra…Wait! There’s something missing here, a very important question: after all this, what will happen to our beloved Pizza&birra?

Fear not, this is a pairing that will never disappear. To enhance the flavor of pizza, though, the common light and sparkling beer is not our best choice: pizza is still made of wheat, and its strong flavors may overwhelm the beer, and if the drink it’s too bitter it will ruin the dish.

Better will be try a stronger (in taste, not in alcohol, unless you don’t have to drive!) one: bocks or weizen will do their job. And, of course, we do produce them.

Thirsty after reading? Try some good beer with our Florence Beer Tasting, at the Beer House Club in Corso Tintori.. and discover which one best suits you!

 

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!

WHAT IS APERITIVO?!

Italians love their drinks and food and aperitivo is the prelude to our rich meals. Aperitivo is meant to whets your appetite by “opening” your stomach for the feast that’s about to take place.
This is a must do when in Italy and you can bring your kids too, because nowadays you can have it also non-alcoholic !

 

Aperitivo was born in the late 18th century in Torino with Antonio Benedetto Carpano who created the first aperitivo drink: vermut.

Carpano Label

Carpano Label

Vermut is a herbed flavored white wine that Carpano started serving as a pre-meal drink in the central square of Torino, Piazza Castello. Soon afterwards the Martini & Rossi company started a mass production of this white and spiced wine, that we all know now as Martini, but is no longer classified as vermut because not strong enough.

Aperitivo started to spread all over Italy in the 19th century and has reached us to this days, with changes and evolutions. The traditional drinks are: vermutNegroniAmericanoSpritzProsecco. On the non-alcoholic side you can have Sanbittèr or Cordino, strong and bitter in taste, but soft for those who want to enjoy the happy hour without the dizziness!

ALCOHOLIC DRINKS

As said before, the alcoholic drinks are meant to “prepare” your stomach for the meal, but don’t overdo it, you wan to have some wine with your meal too!

Campari Negroni

Did you know that Negroni was born in Florence? It happened in the 1920s thanks to Count Camillo Negroni, who used to drink Americano in his favorite bar until one day, bored with the same drink, asked the bar-tender to add a sprinkle of gin – instead of the seltzer – to give it a twist. As we know now, it was then renamed after the count itself.

Americano is another usual aperitivo drink, that was actually born in Italy despite the name. It’s composed with Italian beverages: Campari BitterVermut and seltzer. Apparently it’s named after a popular Italian boxer, Primo Carnera, who used to have matches mostly in the USA and was himself called “The American Boy”.

Spritz is a most famous drink, originated in Veneto and quickly spread in all north-east Italy. It descend from a custom of the Austria soldiers that couldn’t handle the strength of the Venetian wines and therefore added a part of soda to their wines.

Spritz “Macchiato”

This practice turned into a popular drink, especially from the 1970s when Aperol Soda started to promote the “Spritz Macchiato” (stained or dirtied Spritz) which is the original base of prosecco and soda, plus a hinge of Aperol that adds a touch of reddish to the otherwise pale Spritz and a little taste of orange. Now is called simply spritz.

NON-ALCOHOLIC APERITIVO

You might not get the blur from the fumes of the alcohol, but this drinks have sugar just as well so don’t exaggerate with this either.

Crodino Bottle

Crodino Bottle

Sanbittèr is the first non-alcoholic  Italian “cocktail” mass produced and became famous quite immediately; it’s a sparkling infuse of fruits and herbs, with a bitter taste that recalls quite well an alcoholic drink. Another famous non-alcoholic drink is Crodino whihc is an infuse of spices. The recipe is kept secret, it’s know that is has coriander, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg and also this is quite bitter in taste.

APERITIVO FOOD

Don’t think that you’ll drink on empty stomach! Aperitivo is always accompanied by some delis.

Maybe it wasn’t this way since the beginning: just a few years ago during aperitivo you’d drink and nibble on olives, chips or crackers. But this is no more, aperitivo has evolved itself into a more complex snack with crostini, cold cuts (ham mostly), cheese, bruschetta and so on.

The latest and ultimate form of aperitivo is AperiCena: you drink aperitivo while eating on a “buffet dinner”, which varies from bar to bar, but basically you get all sorts of pasta dish, meat dishes, crudité with dips, along with the classic aperitivo food mentioned above.

Apericena Buffet

Apericena Buffet

Apericena is more expensive than aperitivo – around 10€ per drink, food comprehend – but you eat almost as much as on a meal, that’s why it became so popular among youngster. In the past years it spread all over Italy, even if is still more common in north-center of the country, and within all ages and kind of people.

WHEN…?

Aperitivo happens later than happy hour – without excluding happy hour itself

Now, the apericena or aperitivo time starts from 7pm more or less, but you can still get a drink starting from 6pm, so you can start by “opening” your stomach in preparation for the aperitivo. Between 9pm and 10pm, apericena ends.

If you’re on holiday in Italy and want to try it, know that you can’t start eating before 7pm and check also the prices, because if you don’t want to eat you have to specify it to the waitress when ordering your drinks. In some places during aperitivo time it’s mandatory to have also food therefore pay full price.

Santo Spirito, Oltrarno, Firenze

Santo Spirito, Oltrarno, Firenze

If it’s spring or summer, you have to seat outside, most bars don’t have tables outside and you might end up sitting on a curb, bench or wall, with a plate in one hand and the drink in the other, wondering how you’re going to eat or drink without resting your plate or glass on the ground. After a couple drinks it gets easier. Or you can practice beforehand at home.

Worst part of apericena, are the smurfs-size plates: you can’t get much to eat at one time and have to keep refilling your plate, but the trays of food are stock up continuously and you won’t miss anything.

Now you know all that you need to know to have a proper Italian aperitivo, it is a must do when visiting Italy so make sure to plan it in your visit! And if you need a closer insight on Italian food a guided food tour is always a good start.

So enjoy your Italian holidays and be Italian for one night having Aperitivo or Apericena.

PASTA AL PESTO LIGURE

Pesto is a wonderful sauce, made with basil leaves and pine nuts. Mostly consumed in summer when basil is abundant, but much used in spring too.

This basic pasta dish, it’s an everyday meal: easy, quick and delicious, that’s why it’s a favorite.

The pasta that is used for the Pesto sauce are “Trofie” a short and chewy pasta that is hand-made and doesn’t come dried in packages as other types of pasta.

They might be difficult to find but the dried short pasta (such as fusilli, penne) work just as well!

 

What you need to serve 4 people:

  • 80gr per person of Trofie or short dried pasta (fusilli, penne..)
  • 2 Garlic cloves medium size
  • 50gr Basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp. of pine nuts
  • 6 tbsp. EVO
  • Sea salt
  • 70gr Grated Parmesan
  • Mortar

How to proceed:

First of all place a pot of water on medium-high heat adding 1 tbsp. of sea salt.

Peal the garlic and place with 1 tsp of sea salt in the mortar and work it until it turns creamy. Add the basil’s leaves and mash it until you see a bright green liquid forming at the bottom of your mortar. At this point add the pine nuts and smash it into the basil mixture; when it becomes creamy again, add  1 tbsp. at the time of parmesan (the cheese has to incorporate in the mix before adding more). Once you’re done with the cheese, add the EVO while you keep mixing. Your Pesto it’s ready!

Bring the water to a boil (it’s important that the water it’s boiling in order to cook properly your pasta) and pour the pasta in the pot.

If using fresh pasta, it’s cooked when it comes to the surface (all of it)

If using dried pasta follow the timing on the package, you can set a timer; before draining pick one pasta and taste it to make sure it’s ready.

Place your pesto into your serving bowl, add 1 to 2 tbsp. of the cooking water and mix.

NB: Add 1 tbsp. of water at the time; it has to lighten in color, remaining creamy.

Drain the pasta and place in the bowl, mix well (all the pasta should be green).

Let it cool down for a couple of minutes than add a handful of grated parmesan and serve!

You can make this dish a one meal, by adding cubed boiled potatoes and green beans to the pasta.

If you want a fresher alternative, instead of potatoes and green beans, you can use cherry tomatoes cut in halves

An alternative way of using pesto sauce, is to spread it on bread slices and serve it as appetizer, yummy!

COOKING TIP: using the blender might seams faster, but it could turn the pesto sour. If you’re short on time and need to use the electric mixer, place it for 1 hour in the fridge and pulse the basil for a few seconds at the time, to prevent the sauce from heating.

Use always genuine Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and Parmigiano, which are the core savor of this dish.

Enjoy you home made pesto: Buon Appetito!

Where to get coffee in Florence

Cappuccino <3 in Italy (wikipedia)

Cappuccino <3 in Italy (wikipedia)

Can we tell you a secret? Italy is one of the best countries for coffee. Ha! Not really a secret but sometimes it can feel like where to get the buzz-worthy stuff is kept secret amongst locals. In Italy, there are coffee bars literally on every corner. That doesn’t always mean that they are serving good coffee. What makes coffee good? There are a few factors: the bean, the water, the machinery, the milk and the barista. If a barista isn’t tapping the ground coffee just right, the espresso will pour either too fast or too slow and as a result compromising the extraction process of hot water through finely ground coffee beans. Making coffee is an art and while Italy has an unparalleled coffee culture, it still seems like a mystery to find the good stuff in popular cities like Florence.

Here are some places where you can get coffee in Florence which are really good and you won’t have to worry about if they are pulling shots or steaming milk just right- they just are and you can trust us!

1. Ditta Artigianale on Via De’ Neri- This is a more modern coffeehouse that you may find in a city like Seattle or Berlin. They take great care in selecting their coffee beans and they have several options for coffee extraction like cold brew, chemex, pour over and more. Sometimes they have cupcakes in the sweets case. No table/service charge either! It won’t be hard to find this place- it is on the same street as Gelateria De’ Neri- a Florentine favorite! Ditta Artigianale http://www.dittaartigianale.it/ Address: Via dei Neri, 32R 50122 Firenze

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

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

2. Chiaroscuro near Piazza della Repubblica– Meaning “light and dark”, this is one of the classic bars in the center where you find a large array of coffee bean varieties and have the possibility to choose your espresso bean. This is where our Florence Food Tour stops for a little coffee 101 and tasting. We of course may seem biased, but we didn’t choose this bar without good reason! This is also a great place to take home some Italian coffee as a sort of foodie souvenir. They have their own roasting facility and so the quality is controlled from the beans they source to the bean toasting the procure in-house. Another perk about Chiaroscuro is that they are a good spot for light lunches and early evening aperitivo. Chiaroscuro Firenze http://www.chiaroscurofirenze.it/ Address: Via del Corso 36R

Rivoire,_piazza_della_signoria3. Rivoire in Piazza della Signoria- Looking for a barista in a tux, a view of the Palazzo Vecchio and one of the best cappuccinos in town? Look no further. Rivoire is historical. It is one of the most classic bars in Florence and no matter how famous they are or how well located they are, they manage to never let you down for a serious coffee and pastry fix. During carnival time, they sell the traditional sweets associated with the holiday such as fried rice doughnut holes called Frittelle. Please note that to sit here costs a pretty few euros extra. Don’t wind up with sticker shock at the register. Either sit down knowingly with a view to slowly enjoy your coffee (and get your service fee’s worth) or stay at the bar to save a few euros. Extra tip: They are famous for their hot chocolate drinks. If you are traveling with the kids, Rivoire will be a hit. Rivoire Firenze: http://www.rivoire.it/ Piazza della Signoria, 5

4. The Cafe inside La Cantinetta di Verrazzano– This is mostly a wine bar and restaurant since it is owned by a winery out in Chiantishire, but inside they have a bakery case section with a coffee bar. They make some pretty mean cappuccini and some lusciously rich pastries to pair nicely. We recommend you enjoy pastries and coffee standing at the bar like the locals. It is very centrally located and is a good springboard breakfast spot for all the exploring you will be doing in Florence.  LA CANTINETTA in Firenze:  Via dei Tavolini, 18/r

Cibreo Caffe in Sant'Ambrogio (google images)

Cibreo Caffe in Sant’Ambrogio (google images)

5. Caffè Cibrèo in Sant’Ambrogio- One of the most famous chefs in Florence (Fabio Picchi) runs Ristorante Cibreo, Teatro del Sale and also this breakfast/cafe nook in the entrance to the foodie gates of Sant’Ambrogio. Inside there are old theater seats and classic vintage decor and furnishings, making it a characteristic stop for your morning jo’ and pastry. They bake everything from scratch from what seems like a corner of a culinary empire. Their cappuccino are okay but their espresso and macchiato are really their strong points. This would be a great coffee spot to put on your list for breakfast before exploring the foodie oasis at the market just a stone’s throw away. Caffè Cibrèo: Via Andrea del Verrocchio, 5r

Need more advice? Leave a comment or contact us any time! Interested in a private “secret Florence” foodie tour with our food bloggers? Contact us as well! We can take you to more secret foodie stops like these and introduce you to the best in the city’s food and drink scene. Our group Florence Food Tour will also be a good introduction to the city’s food culture. For any question, just let us know.

Easy Spring Carbonara Pasta Recipe

If you’ve ever been to Rome, or planning to go to eat around Rome, you will have had this delicious, creamy bacon-rich pasta.  This is an easy recipe to a classic Roman pasta dish that you can recreate back home.

Spring Carbonara (Google Images)

Spring Carbonara (Google Images)

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 pound Spaghetti

1 Egg and 3 egg yolks

4 ounces (or half-cup) of heavy cream

4 ounces of thick sliced, chopped bacon or pancetta

4 ounces of spring pea pods (While not ideal, frozen will do)

4 ounces of Freshly grated Parmesan

2 Spoonfuls of freshly chopped spring mint

Pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Set a large pot of water to boil. Tip: Salt the water once boiling.

2. Meanwhile, fry up the bacon/pancetta

3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and cream. Salt lightly and pepper somewhat generously.

4. Once bacon is fried, drain excess fat on paper towels if desired and once cooled, add to egg and cream mix along with Parmesan.

5. Once salted water is boiling, add spaghetti until cooked al dente.At the last few minutes, add the peas to cook a bit in the boiling water.

6. Drain pasta while reserving some of the pasta water.

7. In a large bowl, add drained pasta and peas and fold in the egg/cream/bacon sauce mixture. Don’t worry about the raw egg. The heat from the pasta will gently cook the egg. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of the reserve pasta water to make it slightly creamy but not sticky or runny.

8. Sprinkle on chopped mint and pepper- serve while hot!

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Meet Your Guide: Giovanna on the Pizza Tour in Rome!

Giovanna Rome Pizza TourAs described in our last article when we interviewed our Milan Food Tour Guide we are rolling out a periodic “Meet Your Guide” interview series for those of you curious about food tours and our foodie guides in Italy. As promised, this edition features one of our guides from Rome. Check out what Giovanna has to say about this pizza pie tour in the eternal city:
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Name:  Giovanna Di Furia
Nationality and Hometown?  ITALIAN – ROME
Name of tour you lead and where: ROME- PIZZA TOUR & SEGWAY TOUR
Pizza Tour RomeYour favorite part of the tour: FOOD TASTING STOPS!
Favorite Local Restaurant in your city: PIPERNO in the Jewish Ghetto
One thing visitors to your city can’t miss: The view of Rome by night Favorite Travel Quote? “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” – St. Augustine
What’s next on your travel bucket list? China
What is your favorite Italian city to travel to?  Naples
What’s your best travel tip for those coming to visit Italy? Do as the locals do, eat as the local eat!!!
What’s the food that someone must try in your city before leaving? Anything with artichokes and zucchini flowers in the Jewish district and Roman pizza!
Rome Pizza Tour 2What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had on one of your tours? One day I finished the pizza tour and returned to the office. At a certain moment I saw 3 guests of mine passing again by the office. They stopped at me to thank me again for the wonderful tour. In the feedback, the daughter (a teenager) wrote that it was the most memorable tour they had and they all felt like a family (in the group there were more people). .
What do you like most about leading tours? Sharing experiences, learning where my guests are coming from, why they chose Italy to visit, what they think about my town, talking to them about my experiences in USA, France, Germany, Ireland.
What makes your tour unique? I combine basic tourist information with tips and funny things they never heard before. .
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Pizza Margherita (Wikipedia Commons)

Pizza Margherita (Wikipedia Commons)

Want to taste and discover Rome with Giovanna? Book a tasty Rome Pizza Food Tour and in the booking process, make sure to mention this article.

Questions about Food Tours in Rome? Leave a comment below!