Years later and living in Rome, I happily watched as tripe began to disappear from trattoria menus,. But that didn’t phase my mother dragged (and still does) me all over the city to find her favourite dish. By principal, I refused to taste it, insisting that I was emotionally scarred from tripe, boiled pig’s feet, anchovies and mozzarella, and foraged greens ruining my elementary school social life. Get over it, she’d laugh. But I wouldn’t try it until I encountered trippa in insalata by Fabio Picchi of Cibreo.
Reign of Terroir
Maybe it’s his eyes, or his food, Fabio Picchi is captivating. He’s a standout- from his bombastic personality to his shock of white hair. It’ s no surprise that he is Florence’s 21st century emperor, reigning over Piazza Sant’Ambrogio neighborhood with a firm wooden spoon.
Via dei Maccio is Fabio’s empire. The busy residential street is lined with boutiques, shops and Fabio’s restaurants. Yes, plural. Google” “Where to Eat in Florence”, and the results always include any one of his Cibreo restaurants – the white tablecloth Cibrèo, the cozy and casual Trattoria Cibrèo/Cibreino, the charming Caffe Cibrèo, the unexpected Asian-Tuscan fusion Cibleo and the organic market/deli C’ Bio. Dig deep and you’ll find that Fabio even has a supper club mixing food and entertainment.
Where I find myself enjoying tripe is at the tiny, no-reservations Cibreo Trattoria (aka Cibreino). For the culinary detective, Cibreino is the trattoria-side of Cibreo, Fabbio Picchi’s historic establishment literally connected to the fine-dining establishment by the the kitchen corridor. While Cibreo is cloth napkins, table cloths and reservations, Cibreino is walk-in and wood tables. The menu is hand-printed, and the prices are deliciously economical. Just like Cibreo, Cibreino’s seasonal menu is seasonal.
My new-found love for tripe is thanks to the delicious Cibreino’s delicious antipasti. The budino di curcuma, a soufflé-like yogurt pudding infused with turmeric, is delightfully savory and a forkful embodies the turnover between fall and winter. The trippa in insalata, traditional Florentine tripe, is nothing like trippa alla romana. In fact, the dish itself appears like an abstract collage. Thin, white strands of tripe dotted with orange, and green bits- Celery, onion, carrot and parsley lightly cooked in olive oil, garlic and vinegar. I make note to apologize to my mom for years of eye rolling and complaining. I lap up a pumpkin soup whose (Tuscan) olive oil garnish looks like a Rorschach inkblot. And I’m hooked on Cibreino.
“I’m searching for saints”, Fabio tells me as we sip coffee at C’Bio, his chic bio market just around the corner from Cibreo. This is Fabio’s showcase, a line up of food items hand selected by him, along with some other kitchen-adjacent items like bags, aprons, clothing. C’Bio stocks artisan breads, olive oils, pastas and more along with Picchi’s signature sauces, confits and other gourmet delicacies.
It’s all about the chilometro italiano, Fabio stresses, the Italian kilometer where products ~ whether Tuscan olive oil, Mugello beef, Sicilian capers ~ are from local culinary artisans. And by local, we mean reared, raised, farmed and produced in Italy.
As Fabio explains how he chooses producers (which includes a long discussion on repeat visits), an olive oil producer walks in with two 5-kilo barrels. It’s time to try and as we sip, I find myself caught up in a heated discussion about Matteo Renzi, Italy’s former PM and political upstart. Fabio knows every thing from production and farming details to personal lives As Fabio explains how he chooses producers (which includes a long discussion on repeat visits), an olive oil producer walks in with two 5-kilo barrels. It’s time to try and as we sip, I find myself caught up in a heated discussion about Matteo Renzi, Italy’s former PM and political upstart and it’s these conversations and relationships that are just as important as the quality of the product.
I get back home and I’m counting kilos, too. Not grams but meters. I am watching where I eat- as in where it comes from, who is bringing it to the table (and how) and what it means to me and Italy. Fresh produce is practically constitution law in Italy and every social scene is tied to food, whether religious and secular. Italians love food- where it comes from, how it raised and how it made.
via de’ Macci 122, Florence
Lunch from 12.50
Dinner from 18.50
Fancy some tripe?
You don’t need to sit down at the table to enjoy some tripe. Epic Trippaio, tripe kiosks, are in key locations all over Florence, where my new favorite dish is served up sandwich-style. The culinary connoisseur knows that another storied offal is the more tender lampredotto (the fourth and final cow’s stomach), boiled in a broth of herbs and vegetables, then finely sliced and as served inside a sandwich. Traditional toppings are salt and pepper, green sauce and hot sauce.
Tip: Ask for your panino “bagnato”: sandwich bread soaked in the broth.
For the culinary explorers, here’s a great map of all the tripe kiosks in Florence.