On the evening we arrived in Florence, we had an authentic tuscan dinner. The meal started with farfalle pasta and a bolognese sauce. It was delicious and not realizing that this was only the first course we accepted a second helping. Then the waiter brought the main course of roasted chicken and potatoes. It was very simple and cooked to perfection. Following that we had salad and bread. The bread was interesting and not what I expected. We later found out that the Florentines had been with war with another province that imported salt to other areas. During this time the people of Florence went without salt for so long that they became accustomed to it and still don't add salt to any of their breads. Our meal concluded with gelato for dessert.
We had the opportunity to tour the Gallerie dell' Accademia that is the home to Michelangelo's David. No photography was allowed in the gallery, but it is a place that I will never forget. I have seen pictures of all of these famous sculptures, but there is nothing like seeing them in person. I was amazed skill involved to create these works of art and by the amount of detail there was.
That first day in Florence we also visited the Galileo Museum. It consisted of many scientific instruments that Galileo invented and even housed one of Galileo's fingers that his students removed that the time of his death and put on display.
Right down the way from the museum is the Palazzo Vecchio that serves as Florence's town hall.
We enjoyed so many different kinds of delicious food on our trip, but by far the pistachio gelato in Florence was my favorite. I openly admit to being an ice cream addict, but this was so much better than ice cream! I've even read up on how I can attempt to make my own, but it is a lengthy process.
Here's a recipe if anyone wants to try it for yourself (and bring me some).
Italian Pistachio Gelato Recipe
4 cups whole milk, divided
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup Pistachio Cream (see recipe below)
In a small bowl combine 1 cup milk, cornstarch, and sugar. Using a wire whisk, combine the ingredients to form a flurry so that all the cornstarch is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
In a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 3 cups milk and the vanilla extract. Stirring occasionally, heat the mixture to almost a boil; stir in the cornstarch mixture and let simmer from 5 to 12 minutes to thicken, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, preferably overnight.
Prior to using the custard mixture, pour the chilled custard through a strainer into a mixing bowl to clear out any clumps that may have formed. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Prepare the Pistachio Cream (see below).
Whisk the prepared chilled Pistachio Cream into the strained and chilled custard. The gelato mixture is now ready for the freezing process.
Transfer the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Either churn your ice cream by hand or by motor.
When the gelato is done, either serve and enjoy (best if eaten and enjoyed immediately as gelato has a shorter storage life than ice cream) or transfer to freezer containers and freeze until firmer.
Makes approximately 1 quart of pistachio gelato.
1 cup hot water
7 to 8 ounces raw unsalted shelled and hulled pistachio nuts
2 tablespoons cup superfine sugar
2 teaspoons olive oil
In a medium-size saucepan, bring water to a boil.Place the pistachio nuts, sugar, and olive oil in a food processor. Blend/process, adding the hot water (1 tablespoon at a time to control the consistency of the cream) until pistachios are a smooth, creamy consistency that blends freely in the blender (I actually used 9 tablespoons of hot water).
NOTE: Stop the processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during this process.
When done, cover and refrigerate until ready to use in making the gelato.
Makes approximately 1 cup.