Sky Does Florence
Mom came to Florence! She was only here for a few days, and it was during the week, but we still managed to cram in SO MUCH FUN MOTHER DAUGHTER BONDING TIME! The first day she was here, we set up for the morning in the school courtyard to do some work - its great that we were on the same page about it. We relaxed with a few espressi and some delicious sandwiches from the school cafe. They have always had inexpensive prosciutto (both 'cotto' or cooked, and 'crudo' or smoked), turkey, salami and vegetarian panini, but recently they started making these great panini with a sort of spinach and egg thing in the middle... a perfect focaccia with strata (omelette) and a bit of mozzarella, toasted until its warm and the cheese is all goopy. It goes perfectly with a new condiment I discovered called Harisa. Its North African originally. The best way I can explain it is kind of (please excuse the gourmand vocab that is about to go everywhere) a tomato and onion confit, but with definite middle-eastern and mediterranean spices mixed in.
For those of you who don't know, I am the QUEEN of condiments. Ketchup? Put it on everything: scrambled eggs, chicken, shepards pie... Nutella? Puh-scuse me. I eat 1/2 toast, 1/2 Nutella breakfast every morning. Peanut butter? The only food I've smuggled across international borders... several times... really, too many times. Dijon Mustard? Call me a freak, call me French, but I eat it plain on a spoon. Honey? Spread it on everything, actually, savory or sweet, and dump it in tea. Olive oil? Well, that is certainly newer on my list, I can't get enough of it! When I discover a new condiment, its a little like Christmas. Then again, if you didn't already know that I was a condiment nut, you probably haven't seen my Christmas Crazy Eyes... they are coming...
Getting back to the days with mom! Michele, my host mom threw a giant dinner party for my mom and me, and Chelsea and her parents. The food was amazing, par normale: penne al pomodoro (in tomato sauce), fennel au gratin (baked), salads, roasted peppers, roasted potatoes, meat... delish. The maestro came, which was lovely. He is the funniest! We get along really well, and I'll miss him loads when I'm back in the States. After dinner, my mom proposed that she take my host family out the next night. Michele picked the restaurant - Perseus. Let me say, if you are EVER looking for an amazing Bistecca Fiorentina, go to Perseus - It was great. We also had "Fegate" - liver, cooked on bread slices - potatoes and salad... and of course, a giant flask of Chianti! A bit of explanation on Bistecca Fiorentina:
"A favorite of Tuscan cuisine, bistecca alla fiorentina 'beefsteak Florentine style' consists of a T-bone or porterhouse steak (traditionally taken from either the Chianina or Maremmana breeds of cattle), grilled over a wood or charcoal fire, and seasoned with salt and, sometimes, black pepper, and olive oil. Thickly cut and very large, steaks are often shared between two or more persons. Bistecca is invariably served very rare, sometimes garnished with lemon wedges if not accompanied by red wine; Tuscan beans are the usual side dish.
I LOVE THIS STEAK. Seriously. A lot.
Look! A "T" for Thea!
Well, after the steak and chianti, all of us were in a pretty spectacular mood, so Michele decided to take us out for mojitos in the Piazza. This little stand is known for 2 things: deliciously strong drinks and loud salsa music. I don't know why it didn't strike me right away why I felt so at home with Michele, but I finally figured it out. While at the piazza, mojito in hand, I looked to my left and saw my host mom - an outgoing French blond woman who is sassy and charismatic to the extreme. Then, I looked to my right and saw my real mom - an outgoing French blond woman who is sassy and charismatic to the extreme. WHAT THE WHAT?
They are best friends now, just so you know. After a night of steak and booze, they exchanged numbers and email addresses because they had a blast. I skipped school Friday (surprise, surprise... I missed NOTHING in any of my classes. Every TV show that shows the day kids skip school as the day when the school secretly has a giant fair or whatever was LYING... Yea, Hey Arnold, thats not how it is in the real world. You skip school, you are fine) and we went to the Salvatore Ferragamo (shoe) museum. He was a genius! We also saw the pair of 24-carat gold shoes he made. CRAZY!
We went to a gelateria after the museum, and I tried a black sesame seed gelato.
For lunch, we visited this great place - Trattoria di Ginone, near Santo Spirito. This is my favorite restaurant in Florence - they remember me and my story, and the food is unbelievable. First we tasted the new olive oil - it was pressed 6 days before we tasted it. Its green from the chlorophyll, and tastes a bit like plants, and is kind of nutty and bitter.
We had a great salad with brie, fennel and olives for a primo:
For lunch, my mom had a rabbit carpaccio and spinach, and I had pork chop under a pile of sweet onions.
We went to the giardino di boboli after lunch, and it was just so beautiful!
Finally, we had one more dinner as a family (that is to say, me and my mom and my whole host family). Delicious! Pesto on ravioli, beans and peposa - a beef stew with wine and peppercorns - and raw artichokes. Dessert was cheese, and chocolate cake with homemade chocolate sauce!