Hope all’s well.
I don’t know why I refer to you as a first person each time I begin to write; when all I do is just vent out my words, smearing your pages with ink and a whole lot more. Barring the emotional anecdotes, let me share a Gobbletrot with you instead.
Today’s Gobbletrot is my tryst with hidden gems all the way in Florence, Italy.
Whenever we plan a trip abroad, admit it, we have all been guilty of only reading about iconic eateries associated with a particular place. We often fail to realise that there can be places that may just offer a whole lot more, but tourists are already sold with legacies, convincing them to try something new is a Herculean task.
Italy, though famous or its bags and shoes, is also world renowned for its food. Choicest and freshest of ingredients that require minimal seasoning is the highlight of Italian cuisine; not to mention that Italy is also the birthplace of Pizza, Gelato and Tiramisu.
However, if you delve in deep, you’d understand that each region in Italy has a local favourite. While Milan is more Gelato friendly, Venice is more seafood inclined, the city of Florence too has more to offer than what meets the eye. People here bask in what one calls the Florentine street food- which is quick, on the go and highly filling.
Here are some of the street food you must try whenever you visit the art capital:
Trippa (TREE-pah) or Lampredotto (Lamp-reh-DOH-toh)
This is the Florentine staple of street food and can be found in any given neighborhood at a local food truck. However, though it smells delicious it’s only meant for the adventurous, because Tripe in Italian translates to cow stomach. It is boiled in a seasoned broth and served on a plate, or in a sandwich, which is then called Lampredotto. The bread is crunchy, but the broth from the tripe softens it and it makes for a quick, warm meal on the go.
It’s ironical that most traditional dishes from around the world were nothing but the most filling meals for people in times of poverty. And just like Lampredotto, the Porchetta too is considered a wholesome meal in Florence. Essentially, it’s a simple sliced pork sandwich- pork slice on bread , no fancy condiments, additions, or flavors.
Staying true to the history and tradition of the dish even today, the pork that is used in Florentine Porchetta is a mixture of hearty meat and the less expensive cuts, while the bread used for the sandwich is a thick bun of hard crusted Pane Toscana.
Florence has a number of Panini or sandwich shops all serving a filling panino full of local cured meat and cheese. Sandwiches are different in Italy than what you’re probably used to where you’re from. Here, they’re made with minimal ingredients (in classic Tuscan style) and great quality, often with no condiments, although vegetable spreads are used. Tuscan sandwiches are definitely the highest quality street food that can be found in the city, and are made to order with fresh ingredients.
These on the go lunches are basically a wrap instead of a sandwich, made with the same ingredients and, like the sandwiches, can be served hot or cold. The piadina itself is a flexible flat bread, similar to a large tortilla, and can be filled with your choice of meat and cheese. Simple, easy, fast, and filling.
Where did I go for my tryst of Florentine street food?
SandwiChic arises from an old haberdashery in via San Gallo – a street rich in history and small businesses in the heart of Florence.
What’s a Haberdashery you ask?
Well it’s a tiny shop selling small items used in sewing, such as buttons, zips, and thread. The haberdashery turned Panini paradise was born in the early twenties and today has become a little icon of its own.
Not wanting to delete nearly a century of history, the owners of SandwiChic decided to enhance the premises along with all the little details that were left inside of the haberdashery. The wooden boxes to keep threads and buttons, the old numbers, the letters to customize garments: where every patron can discover a piece of history in Florence.
What’s more? Every customer leaving SandwiChic, is given a lucky charm button, as taking away a piece of the old haberdashery history.
SandwiChic primarily specializes in Panini’s that are prepared with handmade cured meats, atop their in-house spreads along with the traditional Schiacciata (flat bread made with flour, water, yeast, salt and olive oil) and real Tuscan bread.
What are their bestsellers?
Definitely the Baloney Sandwich and Tuscan salami sandwich, called Finocchiona.
Finocchiona (pronounced fee-noh-KEE-yona) is a variety of salami typically from the southern part of Tuscany. It’s made with pieces of fennel, which is what characterizes it from other salami. In Italian the translation to fennel is finocchio, hence the name finocchiona. As with most salami, the main ingredients are chopped pork (either cheek, shoulder, or belly), with added flecks of fennel seeds, red wine, salt, and pepper. It’s then fermented and dried for a minimum of five months.
The Finocchiona is then prepared with Pecorino cheese, and one of SandwiChic’s organic, in season spreads. It is usually paired with their cinnamon pear jam to balance the savory meat with the sweet spread, or the slightly sweet and sour red pepper spread.
Not just Panini’s , SandwiChic also prepares their own in-house beers, you won’t find anywhere in Florence.
Their beers have four basic characteristics: they are raw, not pasteurized, not filtered and they are obtained by natural fermentation, without the use of preservatives, antioxidants or stabilizers. Every step – from the malt grinding to the labeling, is in fact performed by hand and as a result, each beer has its own distinctive feature.
So dear diary, I hope you had your gastronomical fill for today aside the emotional drama I keep feeding you with.
Till next entry…..