I know. I promised to post about this food and theater experience on Thursday, but time seems to get away from me. So now, I will tell you as much as I can about the Teatro dell Sale.
Have you ever found a new place to eat, or a new store, or something that is totally new to you, but in familiar surroundings? This is exactly what happened to us this past week. For years, I have been coming to Florence: sometimes with Frank, or sometimes with a group of travelers, sometimes by myself. On any trip, since I am such a “foodie”, a trip to San Ambrogio mercato is a must. I usually go to that mercato several times during each visit to Florence.
After we finished shopping at the market, and started toward our apartment, Frank and I stopped at Cibreo caffe, which is just steps away from the market, to have a cappuccino. I will tell you now that there are three different Cibreo establishments right on the same block: a ristorante, the caffe, a trattoria. Yes, I had seen these before, but other than having cappuccino at the caffe, I had never eaten in the other places. Right across the street from the caffe is the Teatro dell Sale. I have seen that, also, over the years, and never checked it out. Little did I know last Saturday that not only is the teatro a Cibreo establishment, the main kitchen for all the restaurants is behind the Teatro lobby.
We saw a flyer on our table at the caffe, advertising concerts for a Flamenco guitarist on Wednesday evening, and a jazz group on Thursday. We took the flyer home, and I called for reservations for Wednesday evening.
“Come to the Theater by 7:00 p.m.”, I was told. “You must register and become a member, and sign the papers. The doors open at 7:30.” I was told that the price for Wednesday would be 37 Euro per person. We would pay when we arrived.
The price sounded cheap enough to us, as concerts back home usually cost more than that. So I told the young man on the phone to reserve two places for us. I still had many questions in my mind. The time for the concert was right at dinner time: hmm. Do we eat before or after the concert? How long does the concert last? All these questions I never asked. I never even considered that there was food to be served at the concert.
On Wednesday, we went to the theater. We had not had dinner. Earlier in the afternoon, we had a snack that we felt would hold us over until after the concert. Once we got to the box office, we checked in, filled out the forms to become members of the theater group for one year. That was 7 Euro. The concert tickets were 30 Euro. Since we were early, the hostess invited us to pour ourselves a glass of wine and relax until 7:30. She led us to a comfortable couch, right next to the wine box. Yes, it was a wooden box, with red box wine inside, but the wine was quite tasty. We could help ourselves to wine all evening, as well as get carafes of either still or sparkling water, and make our own espresso.
At 7:30, we entered the dining hall, which was a large room next to the kitchen. That kitchen had large windows, where we could watch the action. When we found places to sit, we then headed to the big table, where bowls and platters of salads, cooked vegetables were, and helped ourselves to this appetizer course.
Next, came more dishes, but now, each time a new dish was ready to go out to the table, the chef stuck his head out the window of the kitchen, and loudly announced what the dish would be.
Being newcomers to this meal, we nearly got trampled, as en masse, the crowd surged toward the table. The only analogy I could come up with was to liken this to what happens in an aquarium when you drop food pellets in: the fish all swim to get the food, without caring who gets pushed aside. Same here: there was supposed to be a line, but there wasn’t. One just had to try to reach in a get a plate of whatever was being offered. Fortunately, two ladies were dishing up the food, so servings were appropriate.
We had mussels, then clams in a spicy broth, meatballs, several types of pasta for the course right after the appetizers. And of course, bread, hot from the oven, which was consumed greedily by anyone lucky enough to snag a few pieces.
Finally, the chickens came off the rotisserie, and they were served with roasted potatoes.
Then came dessert. They served a banana ice cream the first night, and had small chocolate brownies the second night.
At 9:00 p.m., they announced the dinner was finished. We all got out of our chairs and the staff arranged them in theater fashion in front of the stage.
The concert lasted about an hour. The first night was a solo flamenco guitarist from Spain, who was awesome. There were 3 women flamenco dancers, and they were very good, also.
Finally, somewhere between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m., we left the theater and walked home. It was a balmy evening, and a lovely walk home.
So, the next night, as I told you, we returned to hear the jazz group. The dinner crowd was not as large as the first night, and we were able to get our food without being trampled.
The menu changed slightly, as the owner of these restaurants is dedicated to serving only what is in season, what he can get fresh that day, from local sources, or at least from known sources, similar to our “Farm to Fork” program in Sacramento.
The food was delicious, the musical programs were very good. I am so happy that we found this unexpected delight, right near our Florence home.
I hope, those of you who are going to come to Florence, will give this theater a try. They are open every day except Sunday and Monday. Darn! I was hoping we would get another meal there, but, sad to say, we will leave Florence on Tuesday. But next year. My Theater Membership is good until July.
I hope you have enjoyed our food experience. I just wish you had been here to enjoy it in person with us.
Arrivederci. I will be back with more posts soon.
Ciao for now,