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All’ Antico Vinaio

Here begins my food blogging journey of my year abroad, in Florence, Italy! I am so happy I found All’ Antico Vinaio early on, because it is a gold mind of cured meats and cheeses. Tucked away on Via de Neri, a few streets up from the Arno river, this sandwich & charcuterie shop is anything but unknown. It has been rated by all the top food and travel websites as one of the places to get a phenomenal sandwich in Florence, which also means there is always a line. But, trust me when I say that not matter how long the line, it is worth the wait one hundred times over. All’ Antico Vinaio offers two types of dining; One were you can sit indoors in there intimate dining room with a antipasto platter of meats, cheeses, spreads, veggies, and jams while enjoying one of their many bottles of wine ( This is Italy after all, so I emphasize bottles).

…and this is the small!

Or you can venture a few meters across the street to their original claim to fame, and host of the infamous line, their sandwich shop. Here there are 2-3 men at any given time preparing the freshest, meatiest, cheesiest, most mouthwatering sandwiches with a sense of style and grace I never thought I’d use to describe sandwich construction. For starters, their menu consists of white writing on tall, thin chalk boards at the entrance to the shop. They make one thing, and one thing only which is Foccacia Misto, and rings in at 5 euro (7 if you splurge for the specialty meats). Listed below are all your cheese, spread, and vegetable options (which you can add as many as will fit in your sandwich for still 5 euro). Then listed on a separate board is the shining glory of your sandwich, the meats. It is stated very clearly at the bottom of the list that mixing meats is not allowed nor will it be tolerated. I believe they called it Blasphemy! There are at least 7 different meat options, 8 or so different cheeses to choose from, 6 types of spreads, and a variety of vegetable toppings. It may seem a little overwhelming at first but you will have plenty of time in line to decide, and even if you can’t, the guys behind the counter are super friendly and will even offer to build you their ideal sandwich. Also, while waiting in line be mindful and cautious of the men running back and forth between the restaurants with fresh stacks of their homemade foccacia.

For my first order, and I say first because I know for a fact I will be returning countless times, I went with proscuitto (freshly sliced as I wiped the drool from my face), pecorino toscano fresco, truffle crema, spicy eggplant, zucchini, arugula salad, olive oil, salt, and pepper. When the man handed it to me over the counter the only words I could muster in my state of pure awe and excitement were “It’s so beautiful!”

Now to put this in perspective for you guys, this sandwich felt like I was cradling a small, soccer ball sized baby in my hands. It was wrapped up just so, making  it impossible for any of those delectable ingredients to fall out of the bottom, but leaving every other part of the sandwich exposed for me to dig right in. I did just that, and never looked back.

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The flavors were amazing. The meat was perfectly salty, the cheese had just the right bite, and let me tell you, you know nothing of paradise until you have had this truffle crema. I couldn’t have been more satisfied with this sandwich.

Since I plan to become a regular at this place I will be updating this post every time I try a new combination of love…I mean ingredients…which in this sandwich’s case could very well substitute for love. So be ready, and try your hardest to re-create these back in the states!

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Luca & Bosco

Luca & Bosco is a local creamery pumping out ice cream flavors, sauces, and toppings that will make you reevaluate your entire outlook on the life! (Okay, well maybe not life, but definitely frozen flavor combinations) Sold in the Essex Street Market, this delicious gold mind is the workings of  Catherine Oddenino and Ruthie Vishlitzky and is made with all-nautral ingredients, organic whenever possible. Although Luca & Bosco is a small start-up, their flavors are anything but small. With exquisitely unique flavors like milky tea, goat cheese, and their superstar Drunk & Salty is impossible to pass by their cart without at least asking for a sample. They’ve also got some killer sauces which include Butterscotch Diablo, Cilantro Syrup, and the Drunk & Salty Caramel (match back to the ice cream flavor).

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Goat cheese ice cream w/ balsamic reduction

When I paid them a visit I was greeted by who I could imagine to be either Catherine or Ruthie, all smiles and willing to answer any questions. I sampled the Drunk & Salty and Goat Cheese. While the D&S was everything I could have wanted from a sweet and salty ice cream, the goat cheese had a unique and enticing, creamy, tangy flavor. The lovely lady behind the counter suggested I pair it with the balsamic reduction syrup, and I’m glad she did because it was fabulous! Even with my notoriously ginormous sweet tooth I was pleasantly satisfied with this tangy, savory treat!

Luca & Bosco is open Wednesday-Sunday to make all your artisanal ice cream dreams come true. You should also follow them on Instagram to get the inside scoop (sorry guys, couldn’t resist) on their newest creations!

Bistro Cassis Restaurant

Bistro Cassis is a lovely French bistro on the Upper West Side. The atmosphere is delicate and absolutely delightful with tulip chandeliers and an intimate, but not cluttered, dining room (which is quite the accomplishment in NYC). I went for Sunday brunch, which I believe is the only brunch they serve (You can also visit them for lunch & dinner every other day of the week). I’d highly suggest a reservation because it fills up rather quickly around noon. The service was impeccable and the knowledge of the staff was impressive and comforting in a city full of different fare.

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I ordered the Brie toast with fig jam and a poached pear salad. Decadent and sweet you’d think, right? Well, not quite! The crostini was perfectly toasted and had a nice crunch under the oozing, melted Brie. I sliced up the poached pear and put it on top, which gave the dish a nice, clean finish.
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For my main course I had the tuna tarare wrapped in a thinly sliced cucumber, with honey mustard, ginger, and citrus flavors. I was hooked on the texture alone. So smooth and almost buttery. There were capers and chopped green onions in there as well to balance out the sweetness.
Other delightful dishes:
– Croque Monsieur
– Crab & Avocado salad
– French onion soup