Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Travels: Osteria iO Personale (Florence, Italy)

Admittedly, it was with a pretty high expectations that I went to this restaurant. I had read the chef is a young talented 20-something year old who already had amassed experiences at top restaurants in Spain and his modern take on Italian cuisine and ingredients.

The restaurant was situated across the other side of Florence, a comfortable 15-20 minute walk from the Santa Maria train station. It is pretty small, but comfortable.  We were served complimentary white wine very soon after we sat down.  The aperative was leaning toward sweet and very easy to like.  On the side we were served little savory muffins, cute little things they were, that tasted of cheese and herb.  What a great snack to begin our meal for the night.

The menu was a slightly unconventional (to traditional Italian cuisine) and forward thinking approach where it does not follow the order of courses (i.e. primo, secondo, etc).  It was sorted by the Category (i.e. Meat, Vegetables, Fish, etc), but no issues with me.  In addition, the tasting menus were soo affordable at Euro 10 / course and one gets to choose between 4 or 6 courses off the ala carte menu. 

Great, great pity our stomaches could not ingest much food or tolerate greed very well nowadays.  Sigh, perils of aging.

After placing our orders, we were served our amuse bouche proper, a petite serving of silky, warm soup of pumpkin.  Little cubes of olive oil toasted croutons added a lovely crunchy texture and a fruity floral flavor.

Next, I had the raw pink prawns, scattered with thinly shaved seasonal mushrooms and dill vinaigrette. A generous dousing of olive oil all over the dish added a slippery and added smoothness texture.

To share, we got an intriguing "lukewarm spelt with finferli mushrooms, lemon potatoes cream and green sauce".  A mouthfull to order but it was essentially a risotto made with spelt.  If you are curious, spelt has a slightly chewy texture similar to boiled pearl barley.  The lemon cream sauce was just hint and the mushrooms were really good with a meaty texture.  It was not a huge portion, but heavy enough to validate our choice to share.

With just enough room left to share a dessert, I gravitated toward the basil sorbet and tomato jam with the chocolate soufflè.  Interesting combinations just attract me like honey to a bear.  


Individually, the tomato jam was sweet and spicy (yes, chili spicy) and it had a bit of oil oozing out so I suspected it was confit'd or stored in oil.  The basil sorbet was unusually smooth and creamy.  How clever to add a sweet twist to the usual savory combination of tomato and basil.  Here, the iciness of the sorbet tempered the chili spiciness of the jam and together, the sweetness balanced out the slightly bitter molten chocolate cake. In combination, it was an explosion of flavors and textures and temperatures in the mouth.

Even as I am writing this post, I could just taste the dessert in my mouth all over again.  

Simply amazing.

Savory cheese muffins
cute little savory muffins
I feel like a picnic
table setting
Amuse Bouche
Amuse bouche
Bread platter
Bread platter

Raw Prawns and Seasonal Mushrooms
Raw Prawns

"Risotto" of Spelt, finferli mushrooms, lemon potato cream and green sauce
Spelt Risotto

Chocolate souffle with basil sorbet

Osteria iO Personale (Florence, Italy), a set on Flickr.

Osteria iO Personale
Borgo San Frediano, 167 r, 50124 Firenze
Tel 055-9331341

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