Posted by: francescacoviello | December 9, 2010

Cantinetta Antinori

December 8th was a very memorable day for students in Florence. The date has been imprinted in our minds since the beginning of the semester. It represents la fest della concezione immacolata, celebrating the belief of the immaculate conception of the blessed Virgin Mary. Very few American’s studying in Italy understand the importance of the day, but rather recognize the 8th of December with NO CLASS, National Holiday printed on every syllabus. Initially, my roommates and I had plans to travel somewhere in Tuscany for the day, either Volterra or San Gimignano. As the long-anticipated day arrived, our itinerary kept changing when we finally decided to visit Pisa for the obligatory leaning tower photos. But when we woke up to yet another rainy day and figured that it wasn’t the best weather for a day trip, so I went on a solo mission in Florence instead.

The last full week of classes have come to a head. For my final food photography portfolio, I was assigned to come up with some sort of a theme represented through 10 photographs. My pictures will convey the message of tradition, which I had a difficult time approaching when it came to shooting. Matteo, my professor suggested going to Cantinetta Antinori, a very well known, family run establishment in Florence. After taking pictures of Lampredotta food carts (cow stomach sandwiches, a Florentine/Tuscan favorite), I took Matteo’s advice and went to Cantinetta Antinori. I finally had a vision for my project – one extreme of tradition to another… street meat with wine in a plastic cup compared to the finest Italian dining, and everything in between.

Marchesi Antinori Srl is an Italian wine company that can trace its history back to 1385. They are one of the biggest wine companies in Italy, and their innovations played a large part in the “Super-Tuscan” revolution of the 1970s.

Throughout its long history, spanning over 26 generations, the family has always maintained the same unwavering respect for tradition and for the land, establishing strong ties with the countryside and its rhythms. This passion, together with the enjoyment of hospitality and good food, can be found and rediscovered in special places, rich in tradition, such as the Cantinetta Antinori.

The manager at Antinori was willing to set up an appointment, but during the day instead of night hours when it’s busy. This made more sense anyway because the restaurant is very dark (located in the Antinori family Piazza) and I needed to utilize the natural daylight. When I arrived at 12:30 on December 8th, Daniele Benci had a small table set up for me in the middle of the tiny dining room. He explained that they would bring out a typical antipasti, followed by two traditional soup dishes. The server poured a glass of red wine, then placed the bottle as well as bread and olive oil on my table. The scene was set. An intricately decorated plate presented 4 different types of crostini, individually covered with fagioli, black cabbage, chicken liver and sausage. I snapped several close ups with different angles, then I dug in. When I took the first bite Daniele and I made eye contact – I paused because I wasn’t sure if I was actually supposed to eat the food, but why not!? He asked… “tutto bene?” And with a mouth full of crumbs I nodded in excitement, “si, grazie!” The ribollita was next on deck – a hearty vegetable soup with bread and a healthy drizzle of olive oil. I treated the soup courses as a tasting because I didn’t want to come across as overindulgent. Papa al pomodoro is a tomato based zuppa, also prepared with bread. The thick, red consistency was toped with the most flawless basil leaf to compliment it’s pleasantly intense savor.

As the restaurant began to fill out, I relocated to the bar where I was surprised with dessert. Daniele suggested that I quickly take a few pictures then eat, because the cake is best enjoyed while warm. It was super dolce… farm apple cake served with a glass of Muffato Antinori –  one of the best sweet wines in the world. I browsed through my camera with a smile on my face, then asked for the check. Daniele refused my offer, rather insisted that I send him the photographs – which I planned to do all along. I told him “vorrei paggare!” (which means I want to pay!) Then he said “ci vediamo ancora” (we see each other again). He invited me back to have a glass of wine, which I most definitely will – with a CD in hand: containing over 100 traditional photographs of quality Tuscan cuisine.

 

(Pictures will be posted in a separate food photography/portfolio entry)

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