Viva Italia.

So firstly, to my adoring fans who wait by their computers every day in hope of a new blog post from me, I do apologise for the massive time between drinks. I have been busy (no excuse) and recently, have been galavanting around Italy for a month.

I know the whole ‘JP and Melbs’ thing doesn’t really make you think Italy, but I thought I’d share some of culinary snaps with y’all as I was such a tourist when it came to meal photos and posting it on here, makes me feel better about it.

I am in love with Florence. Let me just say that off the bat. Florence is my meca. My baby. Yes Melbs you’re still my no.1 but the beautiful city of Firenze is snapping at your heels. I lived in florence for a couple of months when on exchange through high school 10 years ago (wow feelin’ old) and have also visited whilst doing THE ‘Euro trip’ a few years back. This time around, I spent 3 weeks in Florence and one week in Sorrento (Italian Sorrento) with my darling Nana P.

I drank a ridiculous amount of coffee and ate an incredible amount of well, everything. My portion control issues were in over drive. Well it’s Italy, so you definitely have an excuse JP. I thought so.

We ventured to a number of different restaurants but we had our favourites, and if you’re heading to Florence any time soon, make sure to check them out.

First fave was Osteria Del’Olio…hmm address would be handy but sorry don’t have it. It’s near the Duomo (massive church in the middle of Florence)….not that that realllly cuts it down, but if all else fails, google it. The waiter Nico became our bestie and he loved having a chat to me in Italian whilst my nan sat there smiling and not understanding a word. Bless.

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Bruschetta with a twist – Mmmm Mozzarella

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Fettuccine Boscaiola – pasta cooked to perfection

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Spaghetti alle Vongole

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Zucchine e Calamari – simple chargrill, mighty tasty

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Tonno alla griglia – seared tuna steak mmm

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Carpaccio di Manzo

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Calamari Ripieni – stuffed with a gazillion flavours that worked so well.

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Mozzarella di Buffalo, Prosciutto cotto e Asparagi

Side note here, this ‘salad’ above, is easily creatable (yeah that’s a word) at home and I definitely intend on it. Get some good quality olive oil and balsamic, swirl it over some mozzarella, prosciutto and asparagus….winning. So simple but delicious. Perfect starter to a meal.

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Pesce al forno

Our cheeky lil’ waiter Nico treated this fish with such care. It was brought to the table whole and he delicately removed the filets in front of us. I love my fish and this was up there.

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Fusilli Β Capesanti – well cooked scallops, always a fave.

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Tiramisu

The good old Tiramisu was Nana P’s fave dessert to try. A few were sampled and although this was deliciously creamy, it didn’t top the list.

1. No I did not consume all of that food in one sitting. It was more than that in one sitting. Ha oh JP you’re so funny. Favourite dish there was probably the Spaghetti alle vongole. Can’t go past brilliantly cooked pasta.

Most of our meals here were finished off with a cheeky limoncello from our cheeky waiter. Oooh it burns, but god damn it’s good. When you get over there and try it, make sure it’s uber cold and served in an icy shot glass.

Other fave in Firenze was Coquinarius. A favourite in the guidebooks which deterred me initially as I didn’t want to be surrounded by the backpack-toting, sneaker-wearing crowd, but it surprised us and there was a mixture of the locals and tourists alike.

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Our host at our B&B didn’t even hesitate upon mentioning this place and raved about the salads, the pasta (oh the pasta) and the wine selection. So we of course had to head there a few times to get a good sampling of what it had to offer.

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Zucchini Ripieni – from memory twas stuffed with taleggio mmmm

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Pate Love.

I think Nana P thought she had found heaven when she first tried the Chicken Liver Pate. This came with a caramelised onion jam and it really was incredible. I do believe this was Nana P’s dish of choice for the entire trip. As you might have noticed so far, Coquinarius doesn’t just serve ‘typical’ italian food. They concentrate on such fresh produce and everything on the plate adds to the overall flavour.

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Pesce Affumicato

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Raviolini

I can’t remember what this raviolini was stuffed with and although it was Nana P’s dish, I sampled it…a few times. The pasta at Coquinarius is second to none. I’d travel to Florence for the sole purpose of eating pasta at Coquinarius.

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Melanzane Rotolato

This was very close to being my favourite dish in Italy. Yeh, I know, it’s just eggplant and taleggio, but ermagherd it was tasty. Seasoned so well and a few herbs and sneaky spices makes this sing. Ha oh wow I sound like a tool, but it was delicious (had this twice…or maybe 3 times).

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Pappardelle con Ragu di Corniglia

Pasta pasta, take a bow. This was incredible. Pappardelle has always been a favourite of mine and so it was a no brainer when I saw this on the Coquinarius menu. Rabbit ragu was rich and complimented the pasta so well. Ah I’m salivating just looking at it. I recommend this above all else. Coquinarius, take a bow.

If you’re on the go in this great city, there’s a teeny tiny hole in the wall in the city centre that makes delicious panini for 2-3 euro. Fresh warm bread and about 30 choices of fillings. I ventured here 10 years ago and a repeat was well worth the wait. The name? Due Fratellini. Two brothers. Two good looking brothers at that. Making all the ladies blush as they order a sanga. If you could dare call it that.

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Panini con Pancetta e Peperoni Arrosto

My personal favourite, crusty panini with pancetta and roast capsicum. Although a close second was the spicy salami and goats cheese. Gah I’m so hungry now. I once ventured there twice in one day and upon my 2nd visit, lied and said the sandwich was for my friend. He could definitely see right through that one.

I think if I had stuck around in Italy I would have soon turned into a leg of prosciutto. The amount I ate really was absurd but you just can’t help it! It’s just SO good. I should have also counted the number of macchiato’s I consumed. It’d be a very large number.

As I mentioned, we also travelled to Sorrento and found a brilliant Trattoria that I had visited on a previous trip. The service at Trattoria del Gigino was fantastic and we must have eaten here 4-5 times. What I loved about it was the seafood. Sorrento is right on the water in the south of Italy and the seafood is soooo fresh. More food pics below so if you’re hungry, proceed at your own risk.

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My artistic photo – I call it ‘Lemon & Chili’

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Insalata di Mare

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PIZZZZZA (Ortolana)

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Carne Miste

Now this is on the menu as a “Mixed Grill Plate”. When you order mixed meats, get ready. You’re going to get a whole lot of animals on ze plate. Don’t be wrong, I’m a carnivore through and through, but the combo of cow, chicken, rabbit and baby deer was probably a tad too much.

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Zuppa di Pesce

I’m a sucker for a Fish stew, or if you’re in France, a Bouillabaisse. So when I saw this I was in seventh heaven. The dish was about 40cm in diameter. Every cm covered in seafood and a light yet flavoursome tomato broth. Β Cray fish, mussels, calamari, fish, prawns….you name it, it was on the plate. Amah-zing.

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Tiramisu.

Let’s just take a moment and admire this. Oh the coffee. Oh the layers. Salivating. Again. This was to so good. It was the best dessert we had in Italy and we had ALOT of goooood desserts. The tiramisu ratios were gonna-perfection and wow. just wow.

The trip was a fantastic experience and I loved travelling with Nana P. Bonding galore and although I came back to magnificent Melbourne the size of a house, twas well WELL worth it.

Grazie Mille Italia. You were indescribable.

Italy gets a 10/10.


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