Tuscan food is the equivalent of standing in front of the gates of foodie heaven. It relies on simple ingredients–things like olives, garlic, unsalted bread and tomatoes. And of course, olive oil. Olive oil is on every table. Have a spoonful, seriously, you might live to be 120 years old if you consume enough.
Surprising to many visitors is the fact that pasta does not hold pride of place in Tuscan kitchens. It’s just not traditional enough. While Columbus was busy discovering the New World in 1492, Florentines were discovering the joy of pasta. Though it is believed to have originated in Sicily, 600 years of pasta in Florence is child’s play.
Unlike other more daring cuisine styles, chefs in Florence and Tuscany are not afforded the same opportunity for experimentation in their creations. Tradition reigns supreme here.
Finding the Perfect Restaurant in Florence
Like all Italian dining experiences, you’re looking for restaurants that are hosting lots of locals; usually, they are at least a little off the beaten track, and in the age of Yelp and TripAdvisor you’re a little insane if you don’t do a little due diligence to make sure you’re getting some top quality food when visiting Florence.
You’re Crazy if You Don’t Try…
To get your palette, excited, here are some classic Tuscan dishes to be sure to consider:
Before the meal – Antipasti
Crostini, the classic Tuscan antipasto, lightly grilled slices of unsalted bread covered with chicken liver pate.
Your first course – Primi Platti
Panzanella is a cold mixed salad. Tomato, cucumber, onions, stale bread, olive oil, vinegar and basil…mix it up and you’ve got Panzanella.
Your second course – Secondi Plati
Bistecca alla florentino is always popular. Translation: florentine beef steak, grilled. The standout dish of Tuscany, this thick juicy steak comes from the Chianina breed of cattle. Frollatura is the key to the game; this means the meat will soften for seven days after butchering. Even for a wine novice, it shouldn’t be surprising that hearty meat dishes are important here – after all, the food was really designed with their majestic red wines in mind.
Desserts – Dolci
Certainly, you can skip the house dessert of your restaurant and do gelato. Many Italians don’t actually like gelato, viewing it- like Americans view standard ice cream – as a treat for kids.. Tiramisu is considered a Venetian specialty, but you’ll find plenty of it Florence. (Here are some tips for finding the best gelato in Florence.
It has rocketed to worldwide fame in the last 20 years. For authentic Tuscany, you’re looking more at things like biscottini di prato.
Get there with EF College Break
Get to Florence with EF College Break on our Grand Tour of Italy.