The trattorie, osterie and ristorantes reflect that sensibility. As we walked the streets of Florence, we saw the same places we had been to 17 years before, serving the same variations on pasta and meats that are simply prepared, and simply delicious. Their enduring popularity is a testament to great food.
This time around we wanted to try new places that were old favourites. Our first night's dinner also happened to coincide with the Azzurri playing Paraguay in World Cup action, so naturally we wanted to both eat and watch the game. Trattoria dei 13 Gobbi, at Via Del Porcellana, seemed like the right mix of local flavour and flavours. "Tredici Gobbi" translates into 13 hunchbacks, and is typical of the off-beat names that one finds in Florence, especially at establishments that have been around for a long time (for example, Coco Lezzone means "smelly cook" but the food is anything but smelly!)
The next day was going to be a mix of culture and shopping: a stop at the famous Farmacia Santa Maria Novella and next on to the Pitti Palace.
If you are lucky enough to get fresh zucchini flowers, try this simple recipe. perfect as an appetiser, it is both easy and impressive - and truly a seasonal dish, a la Toscana.
1 egg, separated
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 c. all purpose flour
12 zucchini flowers, gently washed and dried, pistils removed
12 anchovies preserved in oil, separated and rinsed
12 small slices fresh mozzarella, about 2 inches long and no more than an inch thick
½ c canola oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges for squeezing
1. Beat the egg yolk until creamy, and slowly add the oil, water and lemon juice.
2. Slowly whisk in the flour, beating to form a light batter with a consistency like heavy cream. Add the salt and saffron, and set aside for at least one hour. Beat the egg white and fold into the batter gently.
3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-heat high. Fold back the petals and stuff each flower with a piece of anchovy and cheese. Tuck the petals back together so that they enclose the filling. Holding the flowers by the stem, dip into the batter, letting any excess batter drip off. Deep fry until golden on all sides, removing as done with a slotted spoon and draining on paper towels.
4. Serve the hot flowers on a platter, sprinkled with salt, with lemon on the side for squeezing.