This semester in Florence, I have registered for a “Current Trends in the Italian Cuisine” class. Let’s just say I may never have to eat out while I’m here because the meals we have been creating throughout the semester have been absolutely amazing. Unfortunately the class is at 9 in the morning. I know you’re all thinking, isn’t that just so difficult to eat a full meal that early in the morning? To which I answer, absolutely not.
Last week, we took a trip to the San Lorenzo Central Market. The market is enclosed within a huge building which lies behind rows of leather vendors that line the streets, making it difficult to spot the entrance on ones first attempt.
Inside the market, our professor spent an hour taking us to various different counters such as the fresh pasta area, fresh produce, the fish counter, and the butchers area. At each of these, she went into depth on how Italians can tell which foods are the most fresh in order to cook their meals and which foods are typical for particular seasons. She gave us countless pointers that I can most definitely use in my daily life as I some how try to become a “cook”. I put this in quotation marks because I somehow think that my ability to cook a pot of pasta, some brownies, and an occasional pancake does not constitute as an actual cook. As you can see, even after an hour of pointers I’m sure my abilities have increased twofold. I would share with you some of these tips, however, they mostly apply to fresh food markets which I’m sure none of my American readers actually attend on a weekly basis nor do they care if the fish they are buying is truly fresh based on it’s ability to wiggle or the lack there of (exactly). But when I do get the time to reread through my notes I will throw out a few tips here and there but obviously in a casual manner so as not to appear to have built my complete knowledge of cooking within one semester in Italy.
As I had mentioned before, we have been cooking meals each Wednesday and a few weeks ago, the Involtini di Tacchino al Prosciutto, has still stuck out in my mind as one of my favorites. I won’t make you go Google that so I’ll explain. It was cooked artichokes and cheese rolled in flattened turkey breast which was then rolled in prosciutto and then baked over cooked spinach (in garlic) with a tiny bit of cream drizzled on top. All in all, IT WAS AMAZING and the most amazing thing I have actually contributed to cooking, besides my moms baked macaroni and cheese, but we all know that’s on a higher level than any dish I can get here in Italy (hopefully she’s reading this =]).
We then cooked Panna cotta with strawberry and blackberry sauces. This was a type of cream custard, which was absolutely amazing as well.
I’d thought I’d share the wealth and give you my class recipes from week to week which you can find in my next post. Buon appetit!
Before ending this glorious post about food, I thought I’d also take a moment to inform you all about Florence’s annual Chocolate Festival which just completed it’s week long run this past Sunday. Some of you may know, I have a problem when it comes to chocolate. No, I don’t mean like I just eat too much of it, I mean I actually crave it on a daily basis. Fortunately, this festival was set up only about 10 minutes from my home which enabled me to swing by and pick up a new treat pretty much every day on my way home from class; indeed, it was also convenient enough to run there at 9:30 pm right before they closed at 10pm. Now you can see the actual problem I speak of. Here are some of the major items the festival is famous for that I FORCED myself to eat just so that you can all see what the festival is all about. I essentially became obese for the better of this blog, you’re welcome.
#1 A cup of fresh strawberries with melted chocolate drizzled on top and finished with a scoop of homemade whip cream:
#2 A cup of hot chocolate with Baileys. This needs a little bit more of a description because the hot chocolate here in Florence is absolutely nothing like the hot chocolate sold in the US. What you see here is basically a melted solid hot chocolate bar poured into a cup. Honestly, this is the only thing I can compare it to because I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what it actually was. To some this may be disgusting and hard to eat. My cup was empty in a good 5 minutes:
#3 A chocolate kebab sandwich. Shavings off of an actual chocolate kebab sandwiched between slices of pound cake with a Carmel drizzle on top:
#4 A freshly baked flakey croissant stuffed with rich dark chocolate and topped with powdered sugar:
Each was different in their own way but just as amazing as the next. Most definitely a reason to visit Florence in the future. The chocolate festival is where its at! Well, stay tuned for future posts about the amazing food here in Italy!!