Ashley Boykin 2015-08-26 01:50:32
Sometimes, improvising leads one to discover something incredible.In my case, it was a last minute decision to venture to Florence, Italy, instead of my original plan to stay in Vienna, Austria. One of the great hallmarks of Europe is the ease of transportation across the continent. Thus, I was determined to take advantage of that and add an excursion to the seat of the Renaissance. Upon landing, I was immediately smitten, but I did not anticipate how my quick decision would lead me to one of the paramount memories of my lifetime. It was there, in the midst of the city's captivating history, renowned architecture and impeccable fashion that an unassuming storefront would hide one of the city's best secrets. One night, after a fantastic meal at a place in the Piazza del Duomo, I headed towards the Arno River to find an enjoyable spot to have dessert. As fate would have it, I stumbled across an unassuming storefront that is ground zero for Tuscany's culinary Renaissance. Upon entering the establishment, I was greeted with a sleek yet rustic design. I knew that if the food was as good as the decor, then I was in for a treat. It wasn't long before my cheese plate appeared and I met Fabio Gerini, the managing director for Il Borro Tuscan Bistro. Il Borro, which means "deep gorge," is a Florentine gem and Mr. Gerini and the executive chef, Andrea Campani, are the men making the magic happen. The restaurant is owned by the dynastic Ferragamo fashion family, which has called Florence home for generations. Il Borro Toscana is a stunning Relais & Chateau property, which the family also owns. As a result, with that illustrious DNA, it is no surprise that that the bistro's interior is well appointed.Yet, its aesthetics are only the beginning, because the food holds its own. Il Borro's menu is unlike almost anything would find anywhere in Tuscany. The restaurant takes rustic Italian cuisine and transforms it into an upscale, yet welcoming experience. The menu is simple, the portions are perfect, and it has just as many locals dining there as it does tourists. Some of the most popular dishes include local chicken in eggs and sour sauce, roasted Chianina beef, and fried codfish. "We are going for innovation, excellence and simplicity," Mr. Gerini said. Nothing at Il Borro is overwrought.Instead, the restaurant's focus is on locally sourcing its produce with an eye on sustainability, all to maintain the high quality for which it is famous. Naturally, no good Italian restaurant worth its salt neglects wine, and Il Borro is no different.The staff meticulously selects every wine, most of it from the surrounding region, before it is permitted to enter the cellars. The Tuscan vintners are renowned for paying close attention to the soil, because the wine reflects the soil. Poor soil yields poor wine.Thankfully, Tuscan soil is hearty and produces some of the best wines in the world. The vino I had, one on a long list of premier Italian wines, was a perfect complement to my cheese plate, and I was thrilled when Mr. Gerini invited me back the next day. I arrived after an early morning shopping excursion to take in the full beauty of the establishment.It was during this meeting that I was able to delve deeper into Il Borro's concept. Now, if one is familiar with the Ferragamo family's aesthetic, one will understand that Il Borro is an artistic viewpoint in culinary form. Mr. Gerini states: "The aesthetic is there to enhance the taste of the food. Everything is simple, yet cosmopolitan, just like our food." Il Borro is an experience that cannot be summed up without appraising all of its parts. The beauty of Il Borro is within the senses. You have to see it, you have to taste it, you have to touch it, and you have to smell it to completely understand, savor and appreciate its culinary excellence. Sometimes we discover adventure and memories where we least expect them. In my case, one small choice led me to a place that is unlike any other in Florence and possibly the world. Next time you're in Florence, take a walk by the River Arno, between the Ponte Vecchio and Ponte Santa Trinita. Look for the simple storefront with "Il Borro Tuscan Bistro" on it. If you're lucky enough to see Mr. Gerini there, stop by and say hello. Then prepare to be enchanted by what you find inside. People come to Italy for the art and the architecture, the history and the deep human touch of its inhabitants. But it's the excellence of the food and wine that keeps people coming back, again and again. In Italy, the word "typical" means "true to itself" and "authentic," and it is the reason why so many become so easily addicted to Italian food. And Amarone wine is one of the most typical expressions of the Northern Italian culinary culture. Also known as the "King of the Valpolicella" region of Veneto in northeastern Italy, Amarone is known as strong-yet-smooth, sweet-yet-bitter, easy-to-drink, yet highly sophisticated red wine. The word literally means "great bitterness." But don't let that fool you: The sweetness is right there with it. The scenery in these famed vineyards is equally spectacular, with lush hills covered by meticulously organized vines. Valpolicella makes for a perfect opportunity for (fit) cyclists with a nose for good wine or anyone willing to pull off the road and take in the panorama. Amarone is arguably one of the prime actors in the rediscovery of the made-in-Italy wine movement that has now swept the world, and is an example of vintners who combine artisanal know how with artistic expression. The variety was commercially used by the winemaker Bolla for the first time in 1953, and was produced on a widespread commercial basis in the late 1960s, when the Italian winemaking underwent a real transformation to satisfy the global market. But the technique for making this bittersweet spirit and the importance of its grapes is documented in writings that date back at least to 1000 A.D. At the time, Amarone was considered equal to money for the payment of feudal rights. Prob.
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