Our Italian Vacation, part 2 (Florence)

Continuing on from Part One of our trip, our late afternoon train from Venice to Florence was late – history buffs make of that what you will – and so by the time we got to our hotel, it was a bit after 8 pm. Checking into The St. Regis Florence is a rather unique experience, and if there was ever a hotel that fit the description of anticipating your needs and fulfilled them, before you even knew you need it, the St. Regis is it!

As the hotel clerk was showing us up to our room, Lynn & I looked at each other and both of us said, “Why don’t we just eat in the hotel this evening?” The clerk then walked us into the restaurant, introduced us to the Maître d’hotel and told him that we would like to dine here this evening. “Certainly. What time would you like?” Looking at my watch, I asked if 9:30 pm would be alright, was told “absolutely,” and that was that . . .

Upon arriving in our room, there was a bottle of Italian sparkling wine (not Prosecco) waiting for us, which we enjoyed while freshening up and changing for dinner.

Dinner at the Winter Garden by Caino was, in one word, “amazing!” It is a 1-star Michelin restaurant, but we honestly had no idea until the next day. Arriving in the restaurant, we were shown to our table – in a private room, cordoned off by sheer floral curtains. The piano player kept things lively without being raucous. Service was spot-on and effortless, attentive without being smothering.

Started with hors d’oeuvres of veal carpaccio with beetroot ravioli stuffed with goat cheese, beef tartare with pistachio mayonnaise; and gambrel rosso (red prawns) with a purée of tomato and a basil sorbet – simply stunning . . .

We then shared a plate of Tortelli stuffed with Tuscan Pecorino cheese, broad beans and crispy bacon that was sublime.

For our main courses, we had a Bronzino prepared with whelks, brussel sprouts and quinoa scented with citrus; and a dish entitled “The Young Rooster Game” – Leg of rooster glazed with honey and vinegar served in fresh tomato sauce; Roasted breast with spinach; Drumstick dusted and deep fried in an olive, spring onion and lemon sauce; and head cheese served with liver pate and a chile pepper jam.

SO GOOD! Words cannot adequately describe these dishes, but suffice it to say the joy we experienced in dining here makes this one of our finest dining experiences ever . . . and certainly one of the most romantic!


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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr