I have this theory that you should never eat in mediocre restaurants while traveling. That means you either go super low-end, market turo-turo food, street-food, make your own meal from grocery/deli purchases or go high-end, fine dining. Tourist traps serve mediocre food at ridiculous prices and though you get nourishment, they usually disappoint. Convenience, quality and reasonable prices rarely go hand in hand. Except at some of the spectacular markets around the worldâ€¦you can usually find pretty good food where the locals buy their produce or where the market workers eat their lunch. Hence, this post on Fabulous Meal # 1 in Florence. After wandering around the market for about an hour, The Kid and Mrs. Marketman were ready for lunch and we passed an aisle of the market that had all of this cooked food and lots of folks from truck driver types to tourists milling about. We took one look at the displays and sat ourselves right down at an ice cream chest freezer turned into a table (the only space available) and ordered four dishes. The first was a simple yet spectacular caprese salad made of ripe, sweet cherry tomatoes with little balls of bocconcini (mozzarella) drizzled with green olive oil, with shredded basil and some salt and pepper added. So simple, so sublime. The quality of the tomatoes and cheese surpassed anything I had tried before, even though this classic salad is served globally with often appalling results. Yum.
Next, we each ordered a main course that we ended up sharing. The Kid ordered a plate of meat filled ravioli with a creamy tomato sauce. It was a substantial dish, not the thin artsy fartsy raviolis you sometimes get. The Kid loved it. We also got a plate of eggplant parmigiana that is swimming under all this grated cheese. Despite being made in huge pans for carinderia style serving, this was flavorful, meaty and delicious. Finally, we ordered a polpette of ground beef which is sort of like meat loaf with a tomato-ey sauce on top of it. All of this we had with some decent bread and although it seems like we were drowning in tomato sauce, it was exactly the meal we were hankering for. Take note of the totally empty plastic plates down belowâ€¦
With three softdrinks/waters the entire bill was just Euro 27 or about PHP600 eachâ€¦one of the best value meals we had on the trip! It is worth mentioning that our ultra efficient waitperson served about 40 folks (Italians, Germans, Japanese, us, etc.) without ever writing anything down. She and the large Italian momma behind the counter covered both a standing bar and the 40 seated guests with such efficiency they would put most fast food joints to shame. We sat down, ate, paid and were out of there in about 20 minutes total! We didn’t even mind the chest freezer as dining table… Amazing!