The Florentine’s Top Ten

Christmas treats worth dieting for in the new year

Adriana Varela
December 15, 2005

10 Vino Novello

 

You’ve probably seen wine shops and restaurants advertising the arrival of the newest wines and maybe wondered what the fuss is all about. Vino novello tends to be quite fruity and has a very distinct sweet flavour, but is worth trying and pairing with hearty winter dishes.

 

9 Ricciarelli

 

If you have a sweet tooth and love almonds, these delicate Sienese cookies are perfect for you.  They’re made with almond paste and thinly sliced almonds and are usually eaten in the holiday period.  They go wonderfully with vin santo or a moscato.

 

8 Castagne

 

Praises sung in Christmas carols just don’t do them justice. I’d never tried castagne until coming to Italy, and it was only then that I realized what a wonderful holiday treat they are. There’s something comforting about their texture and flavour. They’re easy to roast at home, but the many stands in the centre, like near Piazza della Repubblica are convenient and yummy.

 

7 Holiday Hot Dogs

 

Yes you read that right, one of the best holidays foods in Florence is a hot dog. Not just any old dog will do, the ones at the Heidleburg Christmas Market in Santa Croce are unrivalled. The market will be in town until December 18th so don’t miss out!

 

6 Fruitcakes Italian Style

 

Many of us dread the arrival of the infamous fruitcake as part of our holidays, but the Italian version, panforte, gives our long-standing joke a run for its money. Sure the basic ingredients are the same: candied fruits, nuts and liquor, but the Tuscan version, is dense and absolutely delicious. It goes well with spumante and other after-dinner liqueurs.

 

5 Zampone and Lenticchie

 

Italians have some interesting foods that they traditionally eat on New Year’s Eve.   One of these is cotecchino and lenticchie: marinated pork leg and lentils.  Eating these will ensure good fortune for the following year

 

4 Mulled Wine

 

Whether you’ve been skiing on the slopes for hours or running holiday errands, this warm, fragrant drink is sure to relax and sweeten your day.  Many bars in the centre serve it, but it’s easy to prepare at home: mix and heat red wine, orange zest, cinnamon, coriander and a drop of honey. This is great for holiday parties.

 

3 Vin Santo and Cantucci

 

Vin Santo and Cantucci are a Tuscan establishment. The thick, sweet dessert wine is best paired with these crunchy cookies made with almonds.  To avoid a dental emergency, dip them into the wine and enjoy they’re the perfect dessert after arich winter meal.

 

2 Panettone

 

The enormous Christmas cake that originated in Milan, has become a nation-wide holiday tradition. Supermarket shelves are lined with colourful boxes boasting every variety imaginable, but the classic recipe has candied fruits and nuts baked into the spongy fragrant dough, which is baked golden brown.  It’s traditionally paired with a dry spumante, and often is the main dessert after a holiday meal.

 

1 Cioccolata Calda

 

My favorite holiday indulgence after a day in the cold and shopping for gifts is a thick Italian hot chocolate at Rivoire in Piazza Signoria, especially on a Sunday afternoon.  I have it with panna, it’s so dense you seriously need a spoon to finish it. And sometimes it’s worth spoiling yourself : get a table and pay the coperto true decadence!

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