Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cold Coffee & Company in Florence

It's August in Florence, and 100° in the shade.  It also happens to be your (lately) less-than-faithful Beautiful Florence blogger's birthday.  Where has she been?  Well, launching the publishing company
website (, getting out a summer issue of our English-language magazine,
Vista, Florence & Tuscany, and returning to having an English language column ('Day')
on Florence's local edition of the daily La Repubblica, this time on the web site
(  What better way to celebrate that with an "ice cappucino,"
at one of our office hangouts, Chiarscuro on nearby via del Corso?

Chiaroscuro invented "ice cappuccino" a few years ago, and it was copied--spelling and all-- by a number of cafés in Florence.  As I do not like knock-offs, with my ideas and words at times imitated or downright plagerized, in this case I returned to the source.  The Chiaroscuro "ice cappucino," consisting of cold espresso, frothy milk and sugar, is served with straws, but is so thick that it can be scooped with a spoon like a dessert.
Marguerite Mannix, author of the photos, compared it to a frosty at Wendy's,
if I am reading my notes correctly.

Our host, Massimo, exemplifying Italian hospitality, insisted that we try one of the café's latest creations, an iced mango-lemon granite (below).

Well, I hesitated in publishing this picture because it clearly shows how tired I am.  Taking notes in my Beautiful Florence hand-made diary, after the first sip, I wrote, "Oh my God."
Massimo explained that the his Chiaroscuro partner, Franco, has been abroad and come back to Florence with the idea of heating lemon juice, lemon rind and sugar together (which sounds like homemade lemonade to me), cooling it and adding it to cold mango tea.  I leave the taste sensation to your imagination--my comment said it all.

Massimo was so pleased at my reaction and as well as those who were present from the office, that he came out with something else, always on an iced beverage theme, a strawberry granite.
Again characterized by a chilled lemonade base, it is topped with froth, a dash of whipped cream,
strawberry purée and strawberries.

Alto che Starbucks
(this is:  forget Starbucks).
I have only been at this American non-competitor once,
on a business trip to Boston, for what purported to be a cappuccino, weak coffee topped by
 a lot of airy foam...

In an earlier post "Comfort Food:  Neapolitan Pizza in Florence," my partner in crime was no other than Emilia Gambardella (right), an American student at the Smith College study center in Florence, whose father is a Neapolitan immigrant waiter and restaurant owner turned
Wall Street stockbroker.

She was present on this occasion, and with Neapolitan savvy, decided to try something else at Chiaroscuro,
ice mocaccino.
When choosing cold espresso, we found the ice mocaccino the clear winner at Chiaroscuro on a hot summer's day, less sweet, more densely coffee-flavored and less thick than the ice cappuccino,
which, to our mind,
is a great dessert.

For the record, Emilia ordered this off the menu without having tried it first.
Morale della favola, food-wise, Neapolitans--even American ones--always know best.
Buon Ferragosto!

Reporting live from Beautiful Florence