Top 5 Gelaterias in Florence, Italy

I tried a lot of gelato from countless gelaterias during our 88-day stay in Florence. It was a tough job, but I was happy to do it. Recognizing not everyone gets that much time to explore the gelato scene in Florence, I figured people might appreciate a list of the best gelaterias, according to my opinion. Disclaimer: I haven’t been to every single gelateria in Florence, so I can’t claim this to be a completely exclusive list. Having said that, I’ve been to many underwhelming gelaterias in Florence which are easier to find than the impressive places, so I hope this helps steer people in the right direction. And I went to each of these gelaterias more than once, so I know I didn’t just luck out with a one-off positive experience. This list aside, if you’d like tips on picking a quality gelateria, see the post for Florence: Day 56. Enjoy!

1) Gelateria Vivaldi – Via dei Renai 15

Flavors pictured: pistachio and chocolate chip with pieces of candied orange (and a watermelon granita)

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2) Gelateria della Passera – Piazza della Passera 15

Flavors pictured: cioccolato e arancia (chocolate and orange) and Zabaione (egg yolks, sugar and marsala wine)

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3) Cantina del Gelato – Via de Bardi 33

I foolishly don’t have any pictures of their gelato, but I will never forget the whiskey cinnamon flavor. It was so good I had it twice.

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4) Edoardo – Piazza del Duomo 45R

Flavors pictured: moscato and peach sorbettas

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5) Gelateria il Magnifico – Piazza della libertà 29R

Flavors pictured: ricotta e pera (ricotta and pear) and biscottini

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Minneapolis Food Truck Festival

On June 29, we headed to Uptown in Minneapolis to join my brother and his fiance (Kyle & Lindsay) at the Minneapolis Food Truck Festival. It was a beautiful day to walk around and try a variety of food and we had such a great time! Luckily the whole group wanted to try a bit of everything, so we all operated on the same strategy: we decided what to get as a group and split it all four ways (well, four and a half with Emily).

Our first stop is probably one of the best known food trucks in Minnapolis, Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen. My expectations were high for this truck with all of the hype around it and I can say, it did not disappoint! We ordered the special that they were making for the festival which was a crispy smoked meat sandwich with maple hot sauce and vinegar slaw. There was such an amazing combination of flavors going on (spicy, smoky, sweet) combined with a variety of textures (soft bun, chewy meat, crunchy slaw). It was so good! And we washed down the sandwich with a Jamaican hibiscus punch. This was most people’s favorite dish of the day (my second favorite).

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Next, we stopped at the Tollefson truck for a midwestern staple that Joe and I were both craving after being in Italy for three months: a brat! Joe took the lead on this dish and topped it with ketchup and raw onions. There was nothing terribly unique about the brat, but it was delicious and exactly the back-home comfort food Joe and I were craving.

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Our third stop caught our eye because they were serving arepas, a kind of cornmeal flatbread/cake that originated in South America. Kyle and Lindsay’s favorite Minneapolis food truck Hola Arepa specializes in these, but was not at the festival. So we decided to try this truck, which was called Cafe Racer, to compare. We ordered the balsamic vegetable arepa with a side of rice. The vegetables were delicious, the arepa was a bit tougher than I like and the rice was not very notable. This was probably everyone’s least favorite dish of the day. But it was nice to have a few vegetables worked into the mix.

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Our fourth stop wasn’t an actual food truck, it was a tent that was put up by a cookware store/cooking school located on the street of the festival called Kitchen Window. They had three massive paella pans working to cook a variety of meat, seafood, vegetables and rice and it was just too tempting to pass up. This paella was incredible! It was packed with flavor, the seafood was tender, the rice was perfectly al dente. This was my favorite dish of the day!

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Last but not least, we tried the Anchor Fish & Chips truck. And we ordered the namesake fish and chips. The piece of fish they served us was HUGE. It was so big (and we were all getting pretty full at this point) that we couldn’t quite finish it. The fish was so tender and juicy with a delicious crispy coating. The fries were okay, but nothing outstanding. But the fish made up for the fries.

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Joe and I really enjoyed getting back into a city, and it was such a fun afternoon sampling a variety of food with family in such a fun setting!

“Welcome Home” Family BBQ

A few days after we returned to the states, my mom hosted a “welcome home” family BBQ. She provided ribs which we cooked on my Big Green Egg (which I am so excited to be able to start using on a regular basis!). And then each of my siblings and I were in charge of bringing a side dish to share.

My mom did specifically request from me a dish that was inspired by our time in Italy. I decided to put together an antipasto platter for everyone to snack on for an appetizer. I included olives, cheese, grilled zucchini (which took on an amazing smoky flavor from the Big Green Egg), a carrot and zucchini frittata, melon and prosciutto, and roasted red peppers.

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I also bought some multi-colored heirloom tomatoes which I tossed with some chopped shallots, torn basil, and Tuscan olive oil for a quick bruschetta topping.

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The ribs turned out beautifully smoked, and were juicy and delicious!

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The ribs were accompanied by a couple pasta salads, a lettuce salad and cornbread muffins.  It was a fabulous spread and a delicious way to be welcomed home to the US, combining some Italian and some American food favorites!

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Florence: Day 87

I squeezed in a tenth cooking class during the morning of our last full day in Florence. It felt appropriate to go back to Giglio Cooking to learn a little more from Marcella before heading home. The focus of today’s class was vegetables and we started out with one of my new favorites – fiore di zucchini friti (fried zucchini flowers)! IMG_1034 These turned out so wonderfully. They were crispy and decadent but still light and fresh. I never had stuffed zucchini flowers here in Italy, but I think a just a touch of a ricotta, goat cheese and herb filling would be absolutely incredible. IMG_1036 Next we made a couple of dips. Marcella commented that dips are not at all an Italian thing to eat. But with the increasing popularity of aperitivo buffets at bars where they provide such a huge spread of food, dips are slowly starting to catch on in Italy. So she came up with two recipes highlighting vegetables. First, we made salsa di avocado which was like an Italian guacamole.  The ingredients were just avocado, garlic, ricotta and yogurt seasoned with salt, pepper, and tobasco.  It was so creamy and delicious, but full of nutrition as well!IMG_1038 Next we made crema di melanzana which was an eggplant dip, like an Italian baba ganoush.  This one was even simpler than the avocado dip.  The ingredients were just eggplant (which we roasted, removed the skin and pureed), garlic, olive oil and a touch of mint.  Mint never sounds great to me in savory recipes, but when I finally try them they are always delicious.  And this recipe was no exception.IMG_1039Next we made two pasta dishes.  The first was farfalle con pesto e ricotta.  Marcella called this a pasta per bambinas, or pasta for babies.  This can be made with any shape pasta and the sauce is simply ricotta cheese that is slightly thinned with some pasta water and combined with any vegetable of choice.  For this class, we decided we wanted to try it with pesto, so we picked basil out of Marcella’s garden and made pesto.  Her tip for great pesto using a blender was to start by making a paste with the garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and parmegiano reggiano cheese.  The key is to not pick the basil until the paste is made because the basil starts oxidizing the moment it is picked.  So you will get a brighter green color if you wait to pick the basil until the moment you need it.  We then simply added the basil, a little more olive oil to the consistency we wanted and blended it just enough to combine the ingredients.  It was beautiful!  And combining the pesto with the ricotta mixture made the flavor a bit milder and creamier.  It was really delicious.IMG_1041

The next pasta dish we made seems extremely simple, but is actually very difficult to execute correctly.  The dish was spaghetti aglio e olio, or spaghetti with garlic and olive oil.  The trick is to not overcook the garlic or the pasta.  Timing is everything with this dish.  You start by boiling the spaghetti and when almost done, you heat chopped garlic and chili flakes in a generous amount of a high quality extra virgin olive oil.  Drain the pasta and once the garlic is floating in the oil (but not browned), toss in a large bowl with the pasta.  Top with chopped parsley and grated pecorino romano cheese.  This dish is so simple, yet so incredible!IMG_1043

The last dish we made was a real show-stopper.  It was a tortino di carciofi, or artichoke tortino.  There’s no real english translation for tortino.  It is somewhere between a souffle and a flan.  We cleaned, cooked and pureed several artichokes and a few porcini mushrooms with garlic and parsley.  This is then mixed with parmigiano reggiano cheese and egg yolks.  Whipped egg whites are then folded in and the tortinos are baked in ramekins sitting in a water bath.  We served these over a mornay sauce made with butter, flour, milk and shredded cheese (we used a combination of fresh pecorino and parmigiano-reggiano).  It was then garnished with a parmegiano-reggiano chip.  This dish was rich, decadent and delicious!IMG_1045

Although I wasn’t terribly hungry for dinner after my multi-course lunch, Joe had the great idea to eat at the pizzeria La Delizie for our last meal in Florence and order the exact dishes we ordered for our first meal (see Florence: Day 1).  We paired the porcini mushroom soup and tomato and sausage pizza with a small bottle of Chianti and again, the food was delicious.  It was the perfect ending to our trip!  Our time spent in Italy was so incredible, it is hard to put into words.  Unfortunately Emily won’t remember the experience, but Joe and I will never forget it.  And I’m so thankful for the technology available to us today so that we have so many ways to capture the experience and share with Emily again when she is older.  Viva Italia!IMG_0976 IMG_1047 IMG_1048

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