Food experiences to have in (or near) Florence: a guide

Quick street food; long, lazy meals; party wines and more

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March 2, 2018 - 9:52

Food lovers in Tuscany (and aren’t we all?) never see a shortage of events to attend or new eateries to try. The region overflows with top-shelf ingredients, but experimenting with how we enjoy them can make them even more satisfying. Picture a quick street food snack on your way to a meeting; a long, lazy holiday meal; or the thrill of the hunt for the perfect dinner party wine. Here we highlight a few unique food experiences to try in Florence and surrounding areas.

 

Cooking class at Good Tastes of Tuscany

 

Good Tastes of Tuscany

 

Dining in restaurants can only take you so far: truly tasting Tuscany means getting a healthy dose of home cooking as well. Hone your Tuscan cooking skills in the historic Villa Pandolfini in Lastra a Signa: Good Tastes of Tuscany offers numerous opportunities to choose your own culinary adventure. Count on taking away tons of new culinary knowledge to be applied to all your future gastronomic endeavors. Besides the delicious food you’ll learn to make—and later enjoy—good humor, good company and good old-fashioned fun are cornerstones of each class. Paired with the estate wine served throughout the course and the striking countryside as backdrop, it’s the perfect way to spend a half-day with your travel companions, or alone to make new friends, cooking seasonal dishes together in a jovial atmosphere.

 

For round-the-clock cooking

 

Adagio / via de’ Macci 79r

 

New on the Sant’Ambrogio scene, laid-back locale Adagio is a brick-and-mortar, real-life realization of its musical name: unhurried. What the name doesn’t reveal is the restaurant’s ‘round-the-clock commitment to Italian products and ingredients, served or sold at a variety of times (lunch, aperitivo hour) and within a range of templates (there’s a gourmet shop plus a packed calendar of tastings and presentations). It’s all the best of Italian eating—seasonal offerings from local producers, traditional dishes from an array of regions—enjoyed in good company in a room where “rush” is a bad word.

 

For drinking "au naturel"

 

Vino al Vino / borgo Ognissanti 70r

 

Whether you’re hosting a dinner and need a made-to-measure wine match, hunting for a gift or just testing out your palate’s preferences, selecting wines should never feel like a strain. Staffed by hospitality-focused experts committed to keeping wine approachable, Vino al Vino offers a boutique beverage experience without the hullabaloo that can so often plague trips to the enoteca. Small Italian producers are priority here, but setting the shop apart from so many others in Florence is its focus on natural, biodynamic and organic wines, perfect for sippers looking to really taste the terroir on their tongues.

 

For Champagne taste, beer budget

 

Schiacciata at Pugi / piazza San Marco 9 and via San Gallo 62r

 

Little indulgences go a long way in enriching everyday life—especially when you don’t have to spend big. Former TF editor Linda Falcone once quoted a friend’s quippy response to Florentines who wondered she stayed in Italy long-term: “I’m here for the schiacciata.” Taste Pugi’s savory rendition and you’ll understand why that’s a valid answer. Famous for its flatbreads and street foods since 1925, Pugi offers a range of quick and quintessentially Florentine pick-me-ups for just pocket change. Taste their top-of-the-line ingredients for yourself and you’ll see why Pugi’s slogan promises a side of smiles with their bread, schiacciata and sweets.

 

For modern urban menus

@thefinestfoodinflorence

 

SimBIOsi tasting dinners / via de’ Ginori 56r

 

SimBIOsis chef shows off his kitchen chops in a new series of organic dinners designed to please a variety of palates. The casual-chic, singles-friendly format includes a generous sampling of mains for 16 euro, paired with carefully-chosen beverages—craft beer and Brunello wines are next on the calendar. With a long dining table designed to get people talking, the main room is perfect for meeting and mingling.

 

For the best of the bar…at home

 

La Marzocco Linea Mini / www.lamarzocco.com

 

Long a symbol of espresso excellence, La Marzocco’s Mugello-made, industrial coffee machines are used exclusively in specialty bars and cafes where staff holds coffee to the highest standard. But coffee connoisseurs—or those just looking for a step up from pods and Mokas—can experience the everyday luxury of La Marzocco in the comfort of their homes. The brand’s high-tech Linea Mini machines are made-by-hand, come in several colors and have the same temperature-regulating components as the upmarket Linea Classica, intended for commercial use. For further convincing, pop over to La Marzocco’s Taste stand (March 10-12) or to the “Grand Prix Profili di Pressione,” (2-7pm, March 11, La Ménagère), an espresso competition between big-name Italian baristas.

 

For Easter lunch, Tuscan-style

 

Castello di Gargonza / www.gargonza.it

 

How about a homemade Tuscan-style Easter dinner—enjoyed inside a medieval marvel? Hill town Monte San Savino, just over an hour from Florence, is home to Castello di Gargonza, and its sprawling, elegant yet family-friendly restaurant. Being Easter, lamb and leisure are naturally both on the menu, but so are plenty of other tantalizing dishes: traditional Arezzo area Easter treats like panina aretina (this time with goat cheese flan and melt-in-your-mouth sbriciolona), plus fried veggie balls, cabbage spring rolls, chicken liver pate, a choice of primi, and a rosemary beef option with roast potatoes if lamb isn’t your bag. At a modest 43 euro per person (and half price for children, who can also enjoy an Easter egg hunt), it’s an accessible way to celebrate spring in style.

 

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