Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why Dieting is Not an Option

I'm surrounding by amazing food, much of which I happen upon but most of which I have scouted and scoped out for almost 10 years. 

(Note: practice makes perfect. I have a bunch of places catalogued in my mind for all occasions). 

I was starving today after saying good-bye to my tour group (you guys were awesome! Happy anniversary to William and Kathie). 

There aren't many places to get good food at 4pm, since most restaurants close from 2:30-7:30 in Florence.  Luckily, Uscio & Bottega was open. I always know I'll get something unique, fresh and original when I stop in.

Today, they prepared pinzimonio, fresh veggies to dip in the new olive oil with a bit of salt and lemon (note: the oil is really that green!)

followed by a healthy little number: thinly sliced turkey filled with Valeriana and a blend of ricotta, walnuts, basil and a touch of sun-dried tomatoes. The walnuts add a great touch to this mix.
Of course, I had a glass of wine to wash it all down: a sparkling white from the hills of Bologna. 

After my lovely late lunch/early dinner combo, I headed to Enoteca Alessi for a chocolate tasting.

The producer is named Claudio Corallo, a Florentine who's been on Sao Tome and Prince Islands for over 30 years. He first cultivated coffee beans, but eventually added cocoa beans to his cultivation. (I met him and he kind of told me his story in between serving other guests so I don't have all the facts...)

...Plus, with chocolate staring you in the face, anything you hear just sounds like the adults on Charlie Brown (blah, blah, blah...) How does one concentrate when being tempted by what is obviously some hard core, high quality chocolate?

First, I tried a toasted cocoa bean. Claudio took off the outer shell, then removed an inner root (he said it is too crunchy). Before tasting, he explained that his cocoa is intense but NOT bitter. I totally agree. In fact, I noticed an oily sensation, which he told me was the cocoa butter.

After the bean, he had me try different chocolates, his 75% and his Chocolate with Liberica coffee (a type of coffee bean not widely available since it has a low yield and is hence not very profitable- but it is delicious in his chocolate! Claudio mentioned there are about 70 types of coffee beans, but Arabica and Robusta rule the market due to their ease and higher yields).

After the chocolate tastings he offered me a hot chocolate, made by melting pieces of his 75% in hot water and adding sugar. 

This is indeed some of the best chocolate I've ever had. I usually prefer more elaborate chocolates, like Vestri's pralinati and ganache options. This is the first time I've eaten pure chocolate and gotten truly excited about it.

If you'd like to get your hands on anything I've mentioned, here are the stats:

Via Santa Elisabetta, 7/r
50122 - Firenze (FI)
Hours (approx!) 11am-8pm, more or less... 

Via delle Oche, 27  
50122 Florence, Italy
Monday-Saturday, Hours vary but closes at 7:30pm-ish
Phone 055 214966

Get all the facts I missed during the tasting!

Happy Trails to All,



  1. I just passed by Uscio & Bottega today, I had never noticed it before, it looks wonderful! I'll definitely have to check it out now! Thanks!

  2. Sara,
    My absolute favorite thing they make is a crostino with bread from Bolzano, taleggio and apricots and a little honey, all toasted and perfect balance of savory and sweet.
    Their wines by the glass are high quality, too.