Fuori TASTE event Florence, Italy (part 1)
Extra points for effort: riding my rickety bike---with its dilapidated front-basket---across Florence. That was me this past Monday (March 15), on my way to the TASTE event in Florence. The 5th annual food event was a 3 day affair, full of newbies and icons of food. It included wines and oils, cheese and chocolate, jams, salamis, cookies and crackers, chutneys and pasta, tomato sauce and coffee. (I would have gone more than one day, but was out of town for kiddos' soccer in Arezzo).
I was there for five hours---and the time flew by.
I have to make notes NOW lest I forget all the faces and places, tastes and flavors, and new favorite vendors. (Can I say: bonus points to vendors who took them time with me despite 'Non parlo italiano bene---mi dispiace.' AKA 'I don't speak Italian well, I am sorry!'). Fortunately, the few words I knew here and there---and the few words of English Italians knew---made all the difference. But words aside... it really was about the TASTE:
1. most memorable chocolate: pepper & chocolate bites by Ingredients (couldn't find exact product on page... need to email later).
2. fave cracker: erbette di campagna (Biscotteria Bettina), also loved the fettine al kamut (if ever I were to open a store, her crackers and biscotti would line my shelves). She was lovely.
3. stand-out condiment: Marmellata di Madarini from www.scyavuru.com (Sicily---where the fruit gets lots of sun); I also loved their Confettura extra di Pesche, Confettura Extra di Fragolina di Ribera, Gelatina di vino IGT Sicilia Nero d'Avola (red wine) and Gelatina di vino IGT Sicilia Zibibba (white wine)... perfect with cheese!!!
5. coolest label: BEER from www.32viadeibirrai.com---this guy so did not give me the time of day... but I tried two of the beers and they were fantastic. As was the posh label. (And I get to keep looking at it, because I have one in my fridge).
6. slow food stand-out: rice. www.acquerello.it (near Livorno); I loved this gal---Maria---she walked me through the whole process of making this rice. 23 steps alone to ensure they remove the germ and add it back to the rice then seal it. In other words, white rice with all the benies of brown rice but with authenticity. She and I agreed: you have to start with great ingredients for the outcome to have a chance. As my chef at school used to say: "bad food doesn't get better."
7. easiest on the eyes:Oliveri (the most beautiful jars of olives, artichokes, pepperoncini's imaginable... though admittedly, I wasn't knocking people over for seconds).