Paninis are great to grab while sightseeing as they are filling and sumptuous. Paninis are available at all times of the day and with lots of different fillings like tuna, ham and cheese, mozarella and tomato. Very often you can find some fresh salad like aragula tucked inside as well. These delightful sandwiches are normally placed in a glass topped food case from where you choose what you want.
Another popular snack is the Bruschetta which is a thick slice of bread topped with fresh tomato,mozarella and basil and drizzled with a generous amount of Olive oil.
While in Florence, I was advised to try some stuffed foccacia at the Cantinetta dei Verrazzano but unfortunately I didn’t have the time to do so and will have to keep that for another time
Actually I found that in some trattoria there are actually a lot of dishes to choose from and you can make your own meal with a main course of pasta and with different side dishes. Since I didn’t know a word of Italian and had no idea of the portions, I would stick with just pointing to one dish and eating that quietly while I watched my fellow diners having far more interesting fare.
I realised then that the Italians order course wise : the first course being appetisers or anti pasti which they have with their drink. Then comes the Primo or first course which is the normal pasta, or rice . Secondo is the Main course which is normally a meat dish ( which includes chicken and fish) . To this you have to add the vegetables as sides and wind down your meal with Dolce or dessert.
The Italian desserts too were not quite sweet to the Indian palate and I found they looked far prettier than they tasted. So I preferred to go with their Gelato which are simply to die for. This time round I discovered that there are three kinds of gelato, the regular ice cream or gelato, the fruit flavoured ice cream or and the mousse or semi freddo which is pure whipped cream! I also binged on the Stracciatella which is drizzled chocolate in an ice cream flavour which hardens and gives a nice crunch between the smooth ice cream bites. I had one striped zebra vanilla ice cream with chocolate pieces reminiscent of the chocobar which we are familiar with. But what I loved best was the chestnut semifreddo which was pure velvet that ran down the tongue. The Semi freddo is semi solid and is lighter than air with the consistency of a mousse rather than an ice cream.
But what is pure delight is the assorted little sweets that one can see in coffee shops , little candies and marzipan, tarts , macroons, jujube,chocolates and biscotti……
There’s so much to this delightful cuisine that varies from region to region. Proscuitto, carpaccio the different kinds of breads and sea food……..a variety that is truly mind boggling