Friday, January 29, 2010

Firenze; A tale of four breakfasts: part 3

After a pleasant encounter with Max and the crew at the little bar we stumbled across for our not-planned second breakfast, we make our way to the Mercado Centrale (Central Market). We find the butchery section over to one side of the market. Their are cases filled with all types of fresh meat including chickens and calves head & feet.

FirenzeFirenze

We know the infamous sandwich must be close .... We turn a corner and see the Nerbone counter deep with people. Old Italian men ordering their lampradotto, the tripe version, but just as many in the que for the bollito, the boiled beef version. We jump on in and place our order at the counter.

Firenze

We are then handed our tickets and proceed to the opposite end of the stall, where the heavenly morsels are being made.

Firenze

Firstly, the lamprodotto. The crusty bun is cut in half, with the cut side being dipped into the delicious cooking juices. Chunks of tripe are then removed and roughly chopped before being stacked on the bun. A precise ladel of fire-red chilli sauce and then another of vibrant green salsa verde are draped over the top.

Firenze

The bollito version see's the bun cut and dipped in the same way. It is then piled high with sliced of the boiled beef, which are sitting in the juice, and come apart with pull of a fork. The same bright green & red sauces are ladeled over.

Firenze

There is a reasonable sized seated area off to one side, which we noticed was home to many tourists, who also knew about the wonders of Norbone ...

Firenze

but what had our interest, was the counter at the end. All the locals perched here enjoying their breakfast, most of them with a glass of wine in hand. We jump right in and join them. 1Euro each sees a small tumbler placed in front of us, with bottles of house wine, mineral water and some soft drink there for enjoying. It's customary to do a "Salute" with whoever is close by, so there is "ching ching" all around.

Firenze

While sitting there savouring our delightful breakfast, we even see an Italian gentlemen a little ways from us, look to Salute with someone, but no one was in reach, so he just "ching ching's" the wine bottle.

Nerbone
Piazza Mercato Centrale
47/R, 50123 Firenze, Italy
Phone:055 219949

Frienze; A tale of four breakfasts: part 2

Well, happy with our little art cafe find we continued our wandering towards the central markets, then another side street and another glimpse of a possible something. Two old men and a puppet sitting either side of a doorway enjoying not-coffee at this early hour but a glass of wine.

Firenze

We walked past and looked in a few more old men standing at the bar drinking, well we had heard that the traditional breakfast for the Fiorentini gentleman was the legendary tripe sandwich, so we decided to see if these Fiorentini knew where we could get one. In we went and in our best smashed Italian asked for the lampredotto, the guy behind the counter said something (that's the problem of only knowing a few words of a foreign language, people tend answer back with more than you know of the same language) and disappeared around the corner a few moments later he was back and some more was said, we were kinda like uuhh ok when a voice from behind us said "He says it won't be ready till 12 o'clock, where are you from?" Surprised we turned to address the elderly dude sitting in the corner.

Firenze

His name was Max, we talked about Aus and living in Japan, he had been to both, he told us the traditional breakfast was and espresso, we said we'd already had one "so let me buy you a wine then" was the response. Sure why not a glass was produced and since we were here we had a little browse of the extensive crostini cabinet and selected a Nduja and butter crostini and a little bun with slices of fresh truffle and butter (YUM!!) as we were looking came Max's voice over our shoulder "let me be reminding you I'll buy you a wine but that is all" Heh heh yeah no worries Max.

Firenze

We sat and talked for a while, enjoyed tasty snacks and good wine, soon we had to move on in search of the Lampredotto we said our goodbyes and made to pay, but a few words from Max and the barman said it was all taken care of. Really? Thanks Max!

Breakfast number 2 and yet another promotion for walking down strange alleys.
And later on that day when we stopped back in to a wee five oclock snacky we had the opportunity to do the supprising, a young Japanese guy looking for chicken liver crostini was super suprised to being spoken to in Japanese in a little out of the way osteria in Florence.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Firenze; A tale of four breakfasts: part 1

We had jumped the early bus from Greve into Florence for the day. With a long list of possible eats it was straight off the bus and onto the streets, oh yeah, and if we had time maybe see some art or history stuff. As we wandered we passed an alley way with a giant pig sticking his head out, how could we not go down and investigate?

Firenze

Firenze

The pig led us into a paved courtyard eclectically set with bright red plastic chairs sofas and tables. No idea where we were but we knew what a coffee shop looked like so a quick decision was made to stop for a wee coffee and maybe a pastry or two.
The small shop was just as funky as the exterior, we ordered our espressos ( 50 cents up till three pm then a staggering price rise to 80 cents) and our pastries and had a look around, discovered we were in the Casa della Creativita or house of creativity, part school, part gallery, part performance space, all cool.

Firenze Firenze

A sweet little find and totally set the tone for the rest of the day. Yeah for walking down strange alleys.

Firenze

Friday, January 8, 2010

San Giamano, it's pretty pretty, problem is every one else thinks so too. The town is packed with people, for us the scenic views and picturesque towers are secondary to a good place to eat.

San Gimignano

We wander through the maze like interior of the walled city heading for the far side to find Il Pino. Unfortunatly, they were all full up so we wandered aimlessly through the tourist aimed gift shops had a look at a few scenic sights, and then as seems to be the case with much of our wandering we came across a little something something.

Gustavo Enoteca

A showcase full of cured meats and cheeses and a tres cool female cook in six inch heels and mesh top whipping out what looks like some tasty treats to a mostly local crowd, we grab a couple de-rigueur glasses of wine (it's Italy people) and order some snacks.

Gustavo Enoteca

The carparccio of prosciutto is simply shaved proscuitto, parmasean, and rocket some Tuscan bread on the side and it's good to go and oh so good.

Gustavo Enoteca

The first crostini of pepperocini and pecorino is spicy chessy goodness and the second of grilled eggplant and scarmorza is untious and very more-ish.

Gustavo Enoteca

Gustavo Enoteca

We even end up buying a bottle of one of the wines we started with to go along with our afternoon grazing. . . . . . .la vita รจ dolce.

La Petraia, Agriturismo di Qualita

La Petraia

La Petraia is another place that caught our attention immediately when researching Tuscany. La Petraia is an Agriturismo located in Radda in Chianti. An Agriturismo is an Italian country inn on a working farm. La Petraia differentiates itself from the thousands of Agriturismo around Tuscany, and Italy, by means that can be summed up in 2 words - quality and sustainability.

Petraia begins and ends with the land itself. The owners, Susan and Michael, don't view themselves as owners of the property, but as the lands current custodians. The property has been inhabited for over 2,500 years.

La Petraia

The great Pesa river begins it's life at Petraia and so they are blessed with natural spring water year round. An environmental study was commissioned, and in their planting they have taken great care not to disturb the native flora & fauna that call this place home. Over their 55 acres of forest it is rich with wildlife - wild boar, hare, deer, muflon, pheasant, foxes, wolves and countless other species. All the vegetables, meat, fruit and honey are produced on site, and grape vines & olive trees have been planted for producing wine, vinegar and olive oils. Animals are being raised at Petraia like the Cinta Senese pig and Val'Darno chicken, rare Tuscan breeds that teeter on the brink of extinction. In 2006 they also embarked on a project with the province of Siena to grow several varieties of heirloom fruit trees, once indigenous to the area, but now almost extinct.

La Petraia

And all of this passion and love for the land and everything it has to offer, we had summed up in one delightful Autumn lunch at Petraia.

We arrived quite early. It's a fair drive up a dirt road, but you are then greeted with the large stone gates, in which we are immediately buzzed into this little paradise.

La Petraia

As we drive in, the scent of fresh lavender is mesmerizing .... all the hedges have been tied into bunches.

La Petraia

We see 2 men coming by and slicing them off at the base, the bunches then carried up the hill into a little stone hut.

La Petraia

Perched up on the top of the Tuscan hills, looking down over all the native tree's, fields of olives, vineyards and animals, it's a quite surreal moment ... it's as if we've had a glimpse into heaven. We both pinch ourselves before turning around and walking up to the entrance. We are greeted by one of the farms dogs, who just wanders towards us ... with a rubber chicken in his mouth! So cute.

La Petraia

We are quite early, but head on into the dining room. It's such an intimate dining room, today set with only 6 settings.

La Petraia

We're quick to jump at the opportunity of aperitif on the balcony. After we are seated, we are presented with a Apperitiveo Della Casa, which is prosecco with a Petraia blackberry perfume. Then 2 little ramekins, filled with fresh baked crackers. The first, a crumbly seeded version, that has surprises throughout - poppy, caraway, pepper. The second, a parmesan cracker - parmesan and sesame smeared into paper thin wafer. An intense flavor that just melted in the mouth.

La Petraia

Next we are graced with a few fried sage leaves. The quality and preparation elevated this dish to something out of this world. We found out this particular variety of sage is bred just for frying. The batter, thin and crisp, all served on a little slab of slate.

La Petraia

We're still being treated to tasty morsels on the balcony, the next to arrive little pieces of fried mushrooms, that one of the chef's foraged for in the forest that morning, and 2 perfect little cubes of pigs head cheese.

La Petraia

It's as though even if the lunch finished now, we both would have been more than content. But it's only just begun ... we are lead through the back door, and through the kitchen, before being seated at our table.

La Petraia

House wines were included with the lunch menu. We start with the house white, which is poured from the bottle, which we manage to finish only half way into our meal. Then the amuse arrives. It's a squash flan with parmesan fondue. Each mouthful fills the mouth with excitement, so much intensity packed into each little bite.

La Petraia

Susan's fresh baked bread arrives just in time to mop up any of the parmesan fondue that sits left in the plate.

La Petraia

The next course is simply detailed as Serra & Selva on the menu. This translates to 'Greenhouse & Forest' so everything on our plate has come from either one of those. There are steamed potatoes, roasted pepper, mashed carrot, cucumber slices, wedges of cabbage, little pomegranite pearls, baby silverbeet and an assortment of herbs, leaves and flowers. Drizzled with house vinegar and oil, each crisp bite was so fresh and invigorating.

La Petraia

Prosciutto di Cinta con Fichi - farm raised Cinta Senese proscuitto with fresh figs, arrives on a slab of wood, and is just that. Farm raised local Tuscan pig prosciutto, that is so sweet & salty at the same time & plump, fresh, green figs, that just explode with each bite.

La Petraia

Tortelli di Zucca con Burro & Salvia - squash tortellini with butter and sage. Another fine example of simplicity in all it's glory. Beautifully made pasta, filled with sweet autumn squash topped with fine Italian brown butter and garden picked sage.

La Petraia

Gnocchi di Ricotta co Erba Cipollina - ricotta gnocchi with chive oil. Or perhaps this here was the finest example of quality execution ... Little pillows of soft ricotta gnocchi were coated in a rich chive oil, and all encased in a parmesan hay. Delightful!

La Petraia

A little sorbet with lemon and melissa herb cleanse the palate ... although I could have sat for days with those flavors.

La Petraia

Prosciutto di Capriolo, Estro Dell' Orto - grilled venison prosciutto with a medley of fresh vegetables from the garden. As well as fresh vegetables, there was a house-made wild boar sausage, a creamy mash and Tuscan white beans that we are told cost, if you are lucky enough to be able to buy them, around 60euro a kg. Wow! The venison and sausage have a lovely charcoal aroma, and are cooked to perfection.

La Petraia

The vegetables on the side are some satueed chard and roast squash,

La Petraia

as well as beetroots sliced with olive oil and borage flowers.

La Petraia

A glass of sweet wine wets the appetite for dessert ....

La Petraia

Semifreddo al Panpepato Cioccolato Amarillo di Siloe - panpepato semifreddo hot chocolate with panforte. Each bite is rich and succulent ...

La Petraia

A glass of walnut liqueur arrives at the table in perfect time. The flavor combination with all that chocolate, divine!

La Petraia

Some coffee and petit fors to finish off, and it's a surprise we even made it out of our chairs.

La Petraia

But we did ... and got a tour around the property. We first are lucky enough to go out into the kitchen, which is pristine.

La Petraia

Before heading outside. We walk past the little outisde woodfired stove, which is where our venison and boar sausage were cooked.

La Petraia

While walking through the vegetable garden, we notice the 3 varieties of sage.

La Petraia

Before heading on further down to meet all the animals.

Oh, Cinta Senese piggy, may we bask in your beauty again.

La Petraia


You can stay at La Petraia, partake in various cooking classes, foraging classes or tastings, or simply pop by for lunch or dinner. Full details can be found on their website.



Agriturismo la Petraia

53017 Radda in Chianti (SI) Italy

T: +39 0577 738 582

info@lapetraia.com

www.lapetraia.com