In the spring of 2013, Henderson Productions was proud to travel with the experts from the restaurant chain, Olive Garden to explore as much about food and Tuscan life as possible.   We’ve created this series of blogs which, like the region, should remain relatively timeless.   Bon Apetito 

Ristorante Il Giovanni is welcoming

Paulo had pronounced we would be visiting “the third best restaurant in Tuscany”.    Goodness gracious, I would have thought we had certainly hit several in the last four days!    L’Osteria di Giovanni is walking distance from our hotel but a little more modern and off the tourist trail nestled in a family neighborhood.   “We are not easily found if you don’t know what you are looking for!   But if you look carefully, in these narrow streets where the roof tops almost touch, we are not alone.   Meet hidden Firenze in the back streets!”

We caught up on the days adventures and dug into antipasti – selection of salamis, tomato, grilled eggplant, buffato (a luxury mozzarella), crispy crackers and an awesome baked ricotta (flour a small pan, add a chunk of ricotta, drizzle with olive oil, bake and then slice).    A white bean soup in tomato base and a pasta with black olives and sausage were followed by sliced beef tenderloin, arugula and roasted potatoes.   Prosecco, a chardonnay and a chianti were liberally poured with no attempt to pair courses – most of us had three glasses going at the same time.   Four with the aqua.    Vanilla gelato was served and followed by amazing biscotti.

Fresh biscotti are soft and moist

Bistecca to melt in your mouth

Biscotti – I know what you’re thinking….dry, crunchy.    First off, it is DESIGNED to be dipped in a sweet after dinner wine or coffee.    Second, in America, we have been eating the Chips Ahoy version all these years.    But the real deal is more like Mrs. Fields.    Get the difference?    Look for soft and moist and skip anything that can be tapped on a table and make a noise or crumble.   Every one of us fell in love and every mound on the plate was literally pocketed for the journey home.

Exhausted, we fell into bed with a 6 AM wakeup call scheduled and a 7:30 departure for our final full day – in Rome.