Ciao from Firenze!
I checked into my AWESOME airbnb apartment which is in a historic (but as I use that term, what isn't historic about this city??) section of the city according to locals. I took some pictures and they're basically ridiculous. Check out my kitchen/apartment views on my instagram. (Chacha_durazo) The first day I got here my hosts made me an amazing dinner of risotto (as is classic in Piemonte where the chef, Alessandro, is from) and rustic bread and a cheese from goat milk (specifically a type of cheese from where my other host, Maria, is from in Puglia). It was an amazing welcoming and made me immediately fall in love with this city.
Right after getting into the city I dropped off my backpack at my apartment and headed to the restaurant. When I got there I was surprised to find that the restaurant was literally in the side of a church that started being built in the 1200s. The restaurant, like all of Italy, has this amazing way of being modern amidst such rich history and ancient ways. For instance, there are amazing high vaulted exposed wood beams as a ceiling for the pastry/non-steamy section of the kitchen but in the other section everything is stainless steel and pieces of edible modern art are being made. The chefs are quite diverse with someone from Brazil (the nice girl my age who helped escort me to go buy my chef coat and pants yesterday!), from Canada, from Modena, Japan.... Obviously Italian is spoken in the kitchen but it's neat to hear the accents in Italian.
After the restaurant, I meandered around and found a gellateria, certo, where I had black sesame and pistachio. It was... Amazing. I sat on the wall that lined the main river in Florence, called Arno, and ate my gelato at 11pm whilst watching people. When I was done I sketched the scene in my notebook and took in the beautiful 21 degrees Celsius. Before I knew it, it was a little past midnight and I decided to head home... Which was like only a 5 min walk. I'm telling you, this apartment is great, city, and everything is so close together. Coming from Boston, I'm used to walking 5-6 km everyday which would lead me into the countryside here, ha!
Yesterday was my first day actually working. Daniele, the head chef, is the friend of a friend from Boston. He, as well as everyone in the kitchen, is incredibly patient with me and very very welcoming. I feel as though I couldn't have asked for a better professional kitchen to start in. Furthermore, there is infinite Italian coffee in the afternoon and I definitely drank like 3 within 45 minutes yesterday. So. Dang. Good. After reporting to the kitchen at 3pm, we took a break for dinner at ~7 then opened for dinner at 8. This place is so fancy though that we had to take off our shoes to get from the kitchen to where we ate dinner because the floors had been cleaned. Talk about detail. Love it. Though my feet were killing me by the time midnight came around and I was walking home, I couldn't help but feel lucky to be privy to a very different side of Firenze that most visitors didn't get to see.
Anyway I must go get ready for the day and eat some lunch before heading out to the restaurant. Below are some things you might find worth a read...
A few interesting things I learned yesterday:
-There exists vodka with gold flakes in it
-At this restaurant people can order the number of plates they want (5 or 7)and specify the dishes they want and the chef will fill in the rest. But it gets more impressive! If you've been there before, the chefs will discuss what you liked last time and what would go well with what you've chosen!!!! WOW. My mind was blown by that. They also write on the tile on the wall in the kitchen, like a chalk board, with each table's orders and yell out every time a new one comes in and a new dish is finished alerting the chefs to start on the next one. Way cool.
-To avoid the bitter flavor of lemon juice, DON'T twist the lemon as you juice it. Instead, if you're using one of those sombrero looking like juice devices, push the lemon down on the point of the crown but then bring your palm toward the center to squish the juice out without bruising the rind. The twisting action agitates the rind and releases a bitter taste. I've not taste tested this yet but hopefully I will today.
-To avoid seeds from lemons, cut in half and squeeze with the cut side up letting the juice drip over the lemon
-It is interesting how much more I observe not being able to understand ever conversation
-I saw the largest octopus in my life (tentacles about ~1.5" in diameter) as we were prepping after work last night for today. Curious how they will use it.
Thanks for reading!