(More) Florence Foreign Food Finds

Ciao Readers!

As I mentioned in my New Years’ post, over the holiday break we took time to try out (or re-try-out) the local ethnic dives (Rosticceria).  Also as I’ve mentioned in a much earlier post, Rosticceria are Italy’s answer to fast food.  However, the ethnic food places are a bit different than the Italian ones.  Unlike the spic-and-span take-away-only Italian Rosticceria downstairs about which I have written, these places usually have tiny tables and are total hole-in-the-walls (and are usually more frequented by other immigrants than Italians/tourists).

After reading a sign on the wall of our new favorite Chinese place, I learned that technically Rosticceria aren’t suppose to offer you table service (the sign, loosely translated, said that the tables are there as a courtesy, but by law they cannot serve you at them).  I guess this puts them in some more affordable/less regulated category than a restaurant (and explains why you have to get your own drinks from the fridge and can get an entire plate of Sri Lankin food for 3.50 euros!).  (After I read the sign I also felt better about/understood why when I tried to hand the owner our empty [plastic] plates she shook her head and walked away in a way that made me feel like I had asked her to commit a crime.)  The amenities and service are spartan (putting it nicely), but if you’re willing, there’s a world of delicious and cheap ethnic food to be had (if you can find them)!

For example, we passed the Sri Lankin place on several occasions before daring to enter, the delicious smell finally winning over our fears about its less-than-welcoming appearance (and lucky us – it’s delicious!  kinda like less heavy/more spicy Indian food).  We were even more pleasantly surprised when our entire bill for lunch and drinks was only 10 euros!  Let’s see…we had Indian, Chinese, Sri Lankin (fun fact, Sri Lankin food is customarily eaten with your hands [though we used a fork]), and Peruvian (the last two being foods we had never tried before Italy).  Here are the Sri Lankin and Peruvian Places:

Okay, now I think it’s time for lunch….

Happy 2013! (While you were away….)

Ciao Readers!  Happy New Year and Welcome Back!!!  I missed you!

I hope everyone had happy, warm and safe holidays.  How were our holidays?  Well, thanks for asking…

Over the past couple of weeks Steve and I took time to relax (yay!), tour Italy a bit, and eat (too much, as required this time of year).  We started off on Steve’s first weekend off by finally having our “Thanksgiving” meal (hey, it was only about 3+ weeks late).  Since I already made a pumpkin pie in a test-run, I decided to go for my s’mores pie instead.  I made the crust from Filipino graham crackers I got at Vivi Market (also where I got the [Swiss] marshmallows).  It wasn’t 100% spot-on, but delicious nonetheless:

smores pie

We did the usual “Thanksgiving” ritual – eating while we watched holiday movies (less traditionally, on a lap-top).  Here’s one of the cats enjoying Pee Wee’s Christmas Special:

holiday movie

In addition to celebrating “Thanksgiving,”  we tried out (or re-tried-out) some local ethnic dives (Rosticceria), which are so yummy they get their own post.  We also went on a “road trip” to Venice (and are planning one to Lucca this week), and those will also get their own posts in the near future.  We took time to revisit and newly visit museums covered by our cool Uffizi card as it expired Dec. 31st.  (And, of course, we did less exciting things (read books, cleaned house)).

Finally…for the first time in about 20 years (O-M-G, I am O-L-D!) we left the house on New Year’s Eve.  As I’ve mentioned before, it feels entirely safe here walking around just about any time of night (well, any time we’re still awake).  At about 9:00 p.m. we ventured out to walk the various piazzas and take in the live music that was scheduled.  Little did we realize that 9:00 p.m. was way too early for the festivities to begin.  As you can see from the empty band stand behind me, not much was happening at that time (not sure what I was thinking, 9:00 p.m. is barely dinner time here!).

hope new years

So, after strolling a rather quiet city, we returned home.  We did discover that there are fireworks all over town at midnight (though from what I understand, not sanctioned) and from our roof terrace we got to watch the city alight:


All in all, putting aside a few days of my being under the weather and the fact that it was cold and still raining much of the time (seriously, enough with the rain already!), we had a lovely few weeks off.  Here’s to the new year!

Fast Food, Italian Style

Ciao Readers!

I think now that ferie is over and delectable things to eat are popping up all over town, I will stick with the food theme for a bit.

For the past 2.5 weeks we have peered in the empty window of  the neighborhood “Rosticceria,”  anxiously awaiting their return from ferie on Tuesday, August 28.  In way of explanation of our waiting-with-baited-breath: 1) this particular rosticceria is directly below our apartment on the ground floor of our building (can you say convenient?!) and 2) a rosticceria is Italy’s gourmet answer to fast-food.  Rosticceria have all kinds of prepared foods – from salads to pastas, to a wide variety of fried foods, to meats slow roasted on an open grill – most of which are cooked on the premises.  This is the go-to place for busy people without time (or people without the space) to cook.  The quality of course varies, and we had no idea what to expect from the humble/empty looking space downstairs.  And then it began…

Early Tuesday morning we could swear we smelled someone already cooking…and we had… And boy, did it smell good….  Now, according to one of the proprietors, the selection we saw today (Tuesday) was nothing, because it was their first day back from ferie and they are just getting up and running.  To give you some idea of what “nothing” consisted of – they were roasting whole chickens on a spit, there were all sorts of pasta dishes, including a rich and scrumptious-looking lasagna, and there were several different salads (veggies, cous cous, and more).  Those were a few of the things we did not try today.  The things we did try included a delicate fish filet that was divine (poached in oil I think), roast beef that was perfectly rare, oven roasted seasoned tomatoes and savory cooked (but still dark green and al dente) spinach.  Admittedly, we ordered in Italian-sized portions (1 “etto” of each – 100 grams or about 4 o.z.), but this entire spread was only 12 euros.  I had earlier picked up a loaf of fresh-baked bread (didn’t know they also sell that [though I suspect they get that from a bakery]) and we had the most fabulous lunch!   Now, I was trying to make a good impression on these folks (who I am guessing we’re going to get to know well over time), so I suppressed the urge to photograph.  However, I think by the third or fourth time we go back this week, it should be okay…

So, today I returned downstairs and had a nice conversation with the proprietor.  I told him (in my baby-Italian) that I could smell the food cooking in my sleep (this morning we could smell roasting onions, and sure enough, there were whole roasted onions today).  I went on about how delicious everything was and he commented about how hot it must be on the top floor of the building (and as you know, it is; and, in case you are wondering, no – the a/c repair men still have not come).  I asked for a suggestion of something new to try today and ended up with a delicious piece of spinach-ricotta pie (think spanikopita) and some sauteed broccoli-cauliflower mix.  By now I felt comfortable enough asking if I could take a few photos, which I did.   Enjoy them, and your weekend!  Ciao!

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