It was pure carbohydrate overload for three days. I promised myself I would keep the pasta to a minimum. After all, I rarely eat pasta at home anymore. Walking down the streets of Florence, I felt very much in control. Beautiful pastas adorned the streets-dried, handmade and freshly made, smelling of garlic and basil. Then it hit me that I’m in Italy and it is my birthright to eat pasta while in Italy (no, I’m not Italian, but it’s still mandatory, right?). One plate should do it. With a glass of Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino. Then I’ll be fine and can move on to some of the beautiful fresh veggies and espresso.
My plate of ravioli stuffed with potatoes and a porcini mushroom sauce was over the top delicious. The ruby red Chianti Classico Riserva with its earthy and cherry flavors added to this ethereal experience. I savored every bit, even soaking up the sauce with the rustic Italian bread. I watched my husband conservatively consume his swordfish WITHOUT pasta. After days of watching him eat salads since we’ve arrived in Europe, I was getting slightly irritated. At least he didn’t order another salad, I thought to myself.
The next morning began with some healthy protein: a hardboiled egg, a bit of cheese and a piece of wonderfully moist and fresh apple coffee cake sort of thing that the hotel proprietor’s wife made. Oh, and some coffee. Caffe Macchiato. Coffee with milk. I was ready for the day. Veggies were in my future for lunch.
Today the streets seemed to be lined with all sorts of hams and sausages. And pizzas. We even saw a pizza made from French fries. I’m not so sure about that one.
Four Gothic churches, a couple of leather purses and some Renaissance art really seemed to stimulate the appetite. We were ready for some lunch. Our ristorante was in the Piazza de San Lorenzo and directly across from the parish church of the Medici family and where Michelangelo created the tombs for the Medici dynasty. Tony, the owner and chef is from Naples, but has lived in California off and on for the past 23 years and is a chef at the Beverly Hills Hilton. He was smitten by the fact that my husband hails from Southern California and the two hit it off immediately. Tony brought us two glasses of free champagne and quickly took away our menus, telling us he knew what we wanted…did he not know my day was to be filled with vegetables? He proceeded to bring us Chianti (can’t spend a day in Italy without a glass or two) and warm bread with olive oil and balsamic.
After the first glass was emptied, another one appeared and so did our mystery meal. Tony placed a large plate of tender gnocchi with a rich, burgundy mushroom, ham and Chianti sauce was put in front of me. My husband received an equally large plate of ricotta stuffed ravioli with arugula, tomatoes and freshly shaved parmesan. We must have been a bit too eager to eat, as Tony came over to remind us to eat lentamente-slowly.
Several grazies later, we were ready to walk and work off some of these carbs. Whew! That lunch was so filling….there was no WAY we were going to need to eat dinner. Not so fast. Hours and hours of exploring- evening came rather quickly. The smell of pizza wafted in the air and suddenly I needed pizza. Need is a rather strong word…let’s just say, WANT. The quattro formaggio –four cheese-Parmigiano-Reggiano, Gorgonzola, Asiago and Mozzarella- crispy thin crust pizza hit the spot perfect after the day’s adventures. And the glass of Chianti went down rather smoothly.
In the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “After all, tomorrow is another day.” I do believe it should be a salad kind of day.