Taste Florence 2010,
Tuscany, Italy
The Regional specialties of Italy, an event to showcase the cultural and organic diversity of food: Splendid olive oils, pastas, spreads , Genovese pesto, aromatic truffles from Pietralunga, cheeses....
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by Simone Zarmati Diament

We headed to Florence after midday, leaving our little home at the Castello on top of a Tuscan hill in Chianti region where we had just arrived and would spend the next three months.

We drove down the steep road with hairpin curves flanked with meadows dotted with sheep, vineyards still weeping - the first step in the annual life cycle of the vine before it gets warm enough for bud breaking, fruit trees - cherries , peaches or apricot - shrouded with pink and white blooms, olive groves, lofty poplars lining the roadway to different estates: frantoios (olive oil press), wineries, cheese mongers, agriturismo inns¸ castles and land owners´ homes silhouetted against a bright blue sky dotted with white clouds that seem to have escaped from a Renaissance painting.

GPS programmed¸ we arrived to the Stazione Leopolda where  Taste of Florence 2010  was held. .. Organized by Pitti Immagine, it is the brainchild of Gastronaut Davide Paolini to emphasize the cultural and organic diversity of food.

dsc06816tasteflorenceSeminars, cooking demonstrations went on for three days – March 13 to 15. Approximately 50 to 60 exhibitors mostly from Tuscany but also from Umbria, Sicily, Puglia and other regions were showing their goods. Italians love their food and throngs of people filled the hall and lined up to judge, taste and comment on the products.


dsc06823tofSplendid olive oils, pastas, spreads from olives and tomatoes, Genovese pesto, aromatic truffles from Pietralunga, cheeses – lots of sheep cheeses from uncooked and cooked milk, prosciuttos and salamis, some organic wines from Chianti Classico and Chianti DOCG, high-end vinegars and the famous bread from Matera in Basilicata – from the Consorzio of Pane di Matera – which, like the bread in Puglia is made from wheat grown locally and baked in wood burning ovens into massive loaves that are sold by the weight.

Unexpectedly, I met with the Caponi brothers, the pasta makers I had met in Miami at an event of the Italian American and Pisa Chambers of Commerce and written about after tasting their product: truly, some of the best pasta I remember having.

Then a late afternoon stroll through Florence. The awesome Piazza della Signoria packed with statues, Piazza della Repubblica with its legendary caffes, the Duomo left us for the first time relaxed - after all we now live here and can come back whenever we want - but with the dilemma: aperitivo, gelato or coffee with a dolce . We opted for the later, the dolce being a crocantino di mandorle made with freshly toasted almonds held together by a simple caramel.

What a welcome to Florence and Tuscany...

Taste Florence 2010
Some of the exceptional products tasted:   
Pesto:       Genovese di Rossi,
Pasta:        Pastificio Caponi,
Fresh pasta: La Sfoglia,
Organic Wines: Fattoria San Michele a Torbi,
Truffles:    Giuliano Tartufi,  .
Olive Oil: Aziende Agricola Ferrara¸
                  Federici, Foligni, Umbria:
Olives:      Fratepietro, Azienda Agricola Cerignola,
Vinegar:  Sopraffino degli Estensi, Aceto Sopraffino,
Bread:      Pane di Matera Consorzio,