Did you go and want to re-live the euphoria? Did you miss it and and can’t forgive yourself? Do you have no idea what we’re talking about? This is your photo article.
We went to Pitti Taste (twice) and actually made it out with some pictures! Let me explain why that deserves a medal. This high profile artisan food fair brings the best – from nearly all 20 regions – of Italy to Florence, three intoxicating days a year. And I chose that last adjective accordingly because, besides major league edibles, there’s plenty to drink, as well. Tempted by 280 tasting stands in a sea of 13,500 sample-grabbing visitors, would you keep one hand on a camera?
You can give me my medal at Taste 2014.
By the way, this list is not exhaustive or in any particular order (except for #1). And it only includes the favorites we discovered before drifting into complete enogastronomic delirium.
Taste 2013 Favorites:
Perlage di Tartufo (Truffle “Pearls”)
Adding a jellifying agent to truffle juice (from the underground mushroom, not the chocolate) creates the tiny globes that won “Most Innovative Product In The World” at the 2010 SIAL food exhibition in Paris. They have the texture of caviar but taste like an intense explosion of pure truffle extract. Our #1 favorite of the favorites.
-By Tartuflanghe in Piobesi d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy
Blu ’61 (Blue Cheese with Red Raisin Wine and Cranberries)
This particular cheese won “Best Blue Cheese in Italy” at the prestigious Caseus Alma competition, 2012. But way more impressive (and adorable) than that, is the fact that the company founder invented it for his wife on their 50th anniversary. Smart guy. The pungent, sweet, and tart harmony of flavors would make anyone fall in love.
-By La Casearia Carpendedo in Treviso, Veneto, Italy
Dolcezza di Pistacchio (Sweet Pistachio Spread)
This delectable spread tastes like pistachio ice cream without the brain freeze. It’s a bit creamier than Nutella or peanut butter, but used in the same way (bread, principally). It’s also known to be good spooned straight out of the jar, which why I wasn’t allowed to take any home.
-By Villa Reale Campo d’Oro Licata in Sciacca, Sicily, Italy
Pepperoni Cruschi (Dried, Fried Sweet Peppers)
Drying and then frying peppers in olive oil magically turns them into potato chip’s cousin? Sign me up! They’re just as crunchy and addicting, but eating a whole bag is more socially (and medically) acceptable.
-By Masseria Mirogallo in Matera, Basilicata, Italy
La Ricetta dei Monaci / Pecorino Pera
(Monk’s Recipe / Pear Sheep’s Milk Cheese)
Upon rediscovering a recipe from the 1800s in a library manuscript, this company brought back the Benedictine Monk tradition of preserving food in beeswax. The technique allows air to enter, but not escape, producing the softest, most aromatic salamis and cheeses you’ll ever taste. Besides taking a dip, some of their other cheese are aged in caves, wooden vats, or earthenware jugs, where they are turned, washed, and “cuddled like babies” – EVERY. DAY. – until reaching optimum maturation. My favorite was the milky rich Pecorino Pera, which melted in my mouth and left a lingering sweetness.
-By Romaniae Terrae in Gambettola, Emiglia Romagna, Italy
Pesto alla Salvia / Pesto Rosso Con Basilico Genovese D.O.P.
(Sage Pesto / Red Pesto with D.O.P. Genovese Basil)
You know what’s better than pesto? Sage pesto and red pesto. The former is a little more peppery and earthy than it’s traditional counterpart, the latter gets its color from sweet Italian tomatoes and its ambrosial minty-ness from Genovese basil D.O.P (certified specific to the region). Both tasted so fresh, if I hadn’t seen it myself, I’d never have believed they came out of a jar.
-By Di Gusto Anfosso in Chiusavecchia, Liguria, Italy
Cioccolato di Modica (Chocolate from Modica)
Organic cocoa from Ecuador is made into chocolate following the ancient Sicilian cold-process method. The production temperature never exceeds 45°C (113° F), fully preserving its beneficial properties and every last fragrant note. My favorite flavors were blood orange, white pepper, and mandarin zest, but I never got to try the one they chose to call sesso (sex); that sample tray was always empty 🙂 All varieties had a unique sugar-sand texture that sweetly dissolved on on your tongue – or in your cup. The chocolate covered spoons melt into hot chocolate when stirred into steamed milk.
Birra La Tonda (La Tonda Beer)
The name of this craft brew loosely translates to “the round one” as it was specifically created for our favorite “round” home delivery sandwich shop in Florence: Panino Tondo (Meaning even if you missed the food festival, you can get your hands on it in Firenze all year round.) While there were a lot of great artisan beers at Taste this year, this blonde ale stood out for its crisp simplicity that didn’t overpower the flavors of everything else we were stuffing in our faces.
-By MOA (My Own Ale) in Florence, Tuscany, Italy
Il Segreto dei Medici (Secret Recipe Tea)
I definitely didn’t expect tea to make our list of Italian food fair favorites, but then this company went and named their blends things like: “The Medici’s Secret,” “The Mystery of Venus,” and “Appointment on the Ponte Vecchio,” …which intrigued me to read the flavor descriptions: “a secret recipe of chocolate and jasmine flowers,” “flavored with figs and almonds,” “strawberry green tea,” …and ending in me falling in love with them all. They’re so popular, the company is opening its second location in downtown Florence (one at Piazza Ghiberti 22R, one opening on Via della Condotta, 26/28 – right by the duomo). My favorite? Only the Medici family knows.
-By La Via del Te’ in Florence, Tuscany, Italy