Thursday, March 25, 2010

Il Giardino di Barbano, Florence, Italy

Finocchiona e carcofi

After finally getting out of Rome for a change in pace, we got into Florence tonight and popped on down to this shop for a quick and cheap but properly local meal (Piazza della Indipendenza 3, 486-752). It didn't look too encouraging from the outside: it almost seemed like a Denny's meets Domino's Pizza counter when I first saw it, complete with American diner booth seating and paper placemats with the menus printed on them. Fortunately, this didn't really have an impact on the food, which turned out to be very enjoyable.

We got a full selection of Florentine specialities, including the cuts of finocchiona sausage above to the requisite bistecca alla fiorentina below with some local white beans on the side. They were all just as good as they looked, if not better. The steak after all was my ultimate objective given how it featured a unique local breed, and I loved the aroma emanating from that seared fatty meat seasoned with nothing but just olive oil and salt. Oddly, it almost reminded me of Morton's meets Original Joe's, but arguably with an even better taste.

Bistecca alla fiorentina and fagioli

The only thing that I was let down with was the pappardelle al cinghiale, another local speciality that we had to get. It wasn't anything bad, but the wild boar meat really didn't taste like anything that special; if anything, the tomato base just made it seem a bit like Bolognese sauce. And frankly the steak here was a bit difficult to cut as well, so I'm assuming that other shops around here might do it a bit differently. But this place was definitely an affordable, friendly, and fast way of getting us started on the Tuscan leg of our journey.

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