Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Ok, so I lied. When I wrote previously that Cannara was our home, I lied. Today we came home. To Florence.

For us, Florence is the place where the love affair began. Where two decades ago a young couple figured out, without the aid of the internet, how to rent an apartment in this birthplace of the renaissance and managed to move themselves, their one year old son and an au pair and spend three glorious months immersing themselves in the Italian lifestyle. Where they discovered la dolce vita.

Florence is where we discovered schiacciata, red wine, Michelangelo and Brunelleschi. Where we learned to take a passaggiata after dinner. Where our eyes were opened to old truths that spoke much truer than new ones (like the fact air conditioning is not necessary, even in 100 degree heat, if your walls are made of a foot thick blocks of stone). And Florence is where we fell in love with bistecca.

La bistecca fiorentina, the enormous hunk of flesh and bone from the local chianina cow, is to steak as the concorde is to airplanes. It is simply without parallel. Chewy, sinewy and fatty, it is barely cooked at all, seared on the outside and red on the inside, it is a study in contrasts, delivered tableside sliced from the bone into rectangular chunks, each one possessing different characteristics, each bobbing in a red brown juice that you don't even want to think about where it came from, but which adds immeasurably to the experience. Served possibly with a few wedges of lemon and somewhere on the table a bottle or can of the finest tuscan olive oil, an indispensible addition that your cardiologist could not endorse but would greedily slather on himself.

And don't forget a light sprinkle of salt. Just to kick it up a notch.

We have found the perfect place in Florence for la bistecca. And due to complete selfishness we are not going to tell you its name. We want to make sure we can get a table there next time we go. But secrets like these are impossible to keep, and so each time we dine there, which is every time we pass through Florence, there are a few more tables filled with Americans, Japanese. And on every visit the two brothers who run this little slice of heaven speak English just a little better.

It matters not. We are greeted every time by name, with the same smile and genuine warmth that we experienced when we returned our first time. The food has not changed one bit over those years. The decor is the same. Even the brothers seem not to have aged.

And the experience remains the same. Pure Florence. Pure fiorentina. Pure pleasure.

This time, we brought our good friend Simone, a restauranteur himself from Bevagna, in our native Umbria. Although it is only a two hour drive from our corner of the world to the shadow of Brunelleschi's dome, Simone has only been to Florence a handful of times. But he knows food and he knows bistecca. Words were not necessary to find out if he agreed with our assessment of the experience. You could see it in his eyes. You could see it on his glistening fingers. You could see it in his smile.

Pure pleasure. Pure fiorentina. Pure Florence.

Enjoy the video and fire up the oven.

Ci vediamo!
Bill and Suzy


Jeff Gilleran said...

That video is killing me. The bovine blowout in Florence! Glad to see la famiglia gathered for a fine feast.

Anonymous said...


And the wine's not shabby either !