FROM THE DESK OF: Aiza
Everyone goes through those moments where we search for the deeper purpose in life. What’s it all about? My process included a trip to London and Florence, Italy to start 2016 with a renewed spirit. I admit a small part of me thought I would go through this “Eat, Pray, Love” realization as I adventured in Europe. I even re-played the movie right before the trip to inspire me.
Now that I’m home and back to reality, I know I just ate my way to a renewed spirit! I don’t have any inspiring words for the deeper meaning of life, but what I can easily share is the best meals I had during my way too short visit to the mesmerizing, magical, enchanting city of Firenze. (Honestly, the perfect adjectives to describe this city).
Credit: Nina and Steve-the best couple to travel with and my foodie soul siblings.
Conad is just a typical Italian grocery store. Pretty much Italy’s equivalent of Ralphs or Stater Brothers. To an American like me though, it was heaven. If Conad were located here in DTLA, it would be that fancy gourmet grocery market that I can never afford. But in Italy, it is cheap!
Once we arrived in Florence, Nina and Steve smartly made a visit to the local grocery store our first stop. I was in a dream state as I walked all the aisles and searched all the shelves. Here we bought eggs, bread, cheese, drinks, pasta, butter and anything else to stock up the fridge in our Airbnb.
For breakfast, we would just nosh on whatever we bough. I want to emphasize, everything we purchased was unbelievably delicious and fresh.
The underlying quest of our daily adventures involved at some point finding places to drink wine with great ambiance, hopefully a view and a working bathroom. We just wandered around and stopped anywhere.
After a day of walking over 10 miles, we had a couple hours to kill until our late dinner reservation. We stumbled upon this hip little wine bar on a charming hidden street. The sweetest local gentleman and his daughter own the spot. He proudly bragged that he was born within the walls of the historic city and gave us recommendations of wines to try and local places to eat.
One more thing: His playlist was amazing! I’m always a sucker for a man with song selection skills.
Without any shame, I admit I ate gelato at least twice a day. If we weren’t hunting for our next round of wine, we were looking for gelato. Our day basically alternated between drinking wine and grubbin’ on gelato.
This place is so good. We intentionally walked to the other side of the Arno river just so we could go here again and again. It is worth it.
There is a ridiculous long line for this place and also its sister location directly across from it. I didn’t want to believe the hype about a sandwich shop but then I ate here. Changed how I will forever compare a sandwich going forward.
Nina requested her own sandwich combination: Fresh pecorino, olive oil drenched zucchini, roasted porchetta and fresh basil leaves. Get this sandwich. The workers may try to convince you otherwise, but order exactly this. Exactly this.
The charming owner at Enoteca Bellini recommended 13 Gobbi as his favorite restaurant in Florence. This dinner was by far the best meal we had in Florence and just might be one of the best meals I have ever had in my life.
We originally used tripadvisor reviews for ideas on where to eat. A local’s opinion definitely made the difference though. Notably, this restaurant did not rank so high on tripadvisor but almost everyone eating dinner here was a local, which speaks volumes. To make the experience even more memorable, the service was also incredible. Our waiter gave us all kinds of delicious suggestions.
We ordered the steak, an incredible side of spinach and pasta with boar that was perfect. And I can’t forget the wine. I need to find that wine here in the States.
Go here. Please go here so we can reminisce about the amazing meal and service together.
Now that I think about it, ‘Eat, Eat, Eat’ was exactly the purpose I needed to start this 2016.