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Experts Share Tips About Italy With Journeywoman

 

Eating and drinking in Florence...

I have lived in Florence since 1984. I'm a Florence Market Maven, writer, foodie and culinary guide. My tips for Journeywoman are all about food and wine.

Living in Italy is like living in a candy store for wine lovers! Every region of Italy produces wine. The best way to sample regional wines is not by touring the wine country and stopping at wineries, as we do in California, but by sitting down at a local bar and having wine by the glass. Coffee shops also pour wine, usually a local table wine, called vino da tavola. It is what the locals drink, a light wine to have while eating. For more important wines, or for a larger selection, try stopping by an enoteca or vinaio.

Remember Gelateria Le Carrozza (near the Ponte Vecchio). What better place to have a light lunch or meal than at an ice cream parlor. Located just on the Duomo side of the Ponte Vecchio, this is one of my favorite traditional ice cream parlors. Moreover, it has a small dining menu too. The banana splits are a big favorite here By the way, Marco Polo did not bring the banana split to Italy. The banana split was invented in 1904 at Strickler's Drug Store in Pennsylvania.

This is one of my favorite bakeries in Florence. When I tire of unsalted Tuscan bread and need some flavorful fun breads, I go to Pany Da Lory Di Maestri Lorena (inside the Mercato di San Lorenzo) Lory is from northern Italy where the variety of breads is fabulous. Her stand in the central market is filled with great breads--whole wheat. pumpkin, rye, and many more. Her small baguettes are perfect for a picnic. Ask for a sample. She is a ray of sunshine and loves her job and it shows! She also sells fresh pasta, cookies, breadsticks, and sometimes cheeses from Alto Adige where she is from.

Eating at Il Latini is like being in a Fellini film. Come hungry and let them take care of you. Often you won't even see a menu, just say "Basta!" when you are full! An institution in Florence where tradition rules-Pappa al pomodoro, ribollita, as a well as great grilled meats. It is a fabulous meal as well as entertaining! It is hard to find but worth the search. Via dei Palchetti, 6R (off Via del Moro, near the Arno),Tel: 055-210-916, closed Monday.

Judy Witts is the owner of Divina Cucina Cooking School Website: http://www.divinacucina.com Blog: http://divinacucina.blogspot.com/ Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/divinacucina

 

Ice cream etiquette...

Think of Italy in the summertime, and you think of ice-cream. Having a gelato, whether seated at a café, or while strolling the streets, is a delightful treat that is synonymous with sunny weather and leisurely days. But what to choose? The average Italian ice-cream shop, or gelateria, offers between 20 and fifty flavors. These are divided into cream-based (creme) and fruitbased (frutta). You will see this distinction made on the menus when you are choosing your coppa, or ice-cream sundae. If you are opting for an ice-cream to eat in the street, you will notice that the display is divided into two: fruit flavors on one side, cream-based ones on the other.

Among the classic fruit-based flavours, lemon (limone) and strawberry (fragola) are always popular and work very well together. Other ideas could be peach (pesca), melon (melone), and fruits of the forest (frutti di bosco). In terms of cream-based ice-cream, there’s coffee, hazelnut, cream, as well as chocolate, which, incidentally is the Italians’ favourite flavor.

When to eat ice-cream? After lunch as a dessert, mid-afternoon as a cooling pick-me-up, about 7pm, when it is not yet dinner time but you feel like a little something, and after dinner.

How to eat ice-cream? Either seated or walking around. What you choose depends on how you feel. Tired feet need a rest at times. Sitting under a shady umbrella, watching the world go by on a café terrace as you savour a delicious cup of ice cream -- brought to you on a silver tray by a waiter -- is what memories are made of. But you pay for the privilege. If you have bought a cone or a cup of ice-cream from that same café, and you want to sit and eat it, then you are expected to make your own arrangements. Find a convenient wall on which to perch, or a park bench, or just keep strolling. There’s no rush. Just enjoy.

Just in case you were wondering… what happens to those delightful ice-cream shops (gelaterie) when the sunny days become few and far between? Well, that depends. Some bars where you can buy fresh ice-cream, just shut down that section between October and April. Other places keep a small selection, because ice-cream is a welcome gift when one is invited to someone’s house for lunch or dinner. Rather than buy a cake, or even an ice-cream cake, you can take a box of ice-cream. Now, isn’t that a nice idea?

Roberta Kedzierski writes as http://twitter.com/robertak on Twitter, where she reports from Italy, on Italy, and a lot more, besides.

 

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