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Easy Going

Travel stories + tips from seasoned explorers

Say “Si” to Florence – Wine and Food

April 21, 2015

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Final days of my stay in Florence

I decided to travel a piedi (by foot) to meet Chef Marcella on my last day in town. This is the best way to make your own discoveries in Florence, especially as you put a little distance between yourself and the Duomo. After about 30 minutes, I spied a small wine shop called Enoteca Bonatti. The shop has been in the same location and run by the same family since 1934. I found their selection to be rich without being overwhelming, with good respresentations of up-and-coming wineries. I brought home a Tercic blend (50% Tocai Friulano and 50% Malvasia) from my favorite part of Italy, the Collio. This wine was extremely satisfying and reasonably priced at Euro 12/bottle. Enoteca Bonatti holds wine tasting events on a regular basis; check their website. I will return.

Scuola di cucina (cooking school)

I’ve found her. She’s right around the corner from my new favorite wine shop. Marcella is my answer to the search for a maestra di cucina right in Florence. In an intimate setting. Away from the crowds. Marcella was born on the tiny Tuscan isle of Giglio, off the Silver Coast in the southernmost corner of Tuscany. She has all the right “degrees”, ran a renowned restaurant on her island for 12 years, and successfully taught cooking at the Hospitality Institute in Florence. A few years back she started her own venture, the culmination of 25 years of experience.

Her offerings are so vast it’s hard to summarize, so I’ll cherry pick. Think: a course called “Italian Cuisine in Time and Space”, in which students analyze and adapt ancient recipes to the current season and modern tastes. Dishes like fuchsia gnocchi and burrata salad and “Tuscany meets Maine” (Lobster with Blueberries). Marcella also offers theme-based seasonal courses. How about “Food, Movies and Music in the 50s” in January? Escape the damp weather in her pristine yet comfy lounge to watch classics like “Un Americano a Roma”, then cook and dine on the dishes from the film! Or “Confetti, Fregula and Couscous” in February? This course focuses on confetti-like foods, in honor of the tradition of launching confetti in the air during the February Carnivale. Especially for Adagio Travel, Marcella offers such fanciful recipes as salmon with curly strips of marinated egg. She has an intense appreciation for raw ingredients, and a wonderful fantasy in the planning of her cooking courses. Marcella offers many different class formats, running from 3 hours to several days. Of particular interest is her culinary sojourn back to her island of Giglio, where you’ll meet many of her friends and truly see raw ingredients at their source.

QUIZ: What is the giglio? Giglio means “lily” in Italian and is the symbol of Florence. But it also derives from the Greek word aegilion, meaning “goat”. The name of Marcella’s native island derives from the herds of wild goats that once thrived there. She loves the link this symbol provides between her current and native homes.

Marcella and I had one of those “Six Degrees of Separation” moments right at the end of our meeting. Descending the stairs of her chic little loft/kitchen, I glanced at an article (one of many) on her wall. It talked about a woman in my hometown of Charlotte, N.C. who was a huge fan of Marcella’s and who had invited her several times into her own Charlotte kitchen to share her marvelous culinary knowledge with friends. The world is indeed piccolo.

Consider adding a few hours cooking with Marcella to your Tuscan itinerary!