My husband and I just celebrated 20 years of marriage.
Being a romantic kind of guy (and needing to use some of his gajillion frequent flyer miles), he took me to Florence, Italy, for a couple of days. (He also squeezed in a dinner in Paris, but more about that later …)
We toured the Italian city’s galleries, explored its markets and gawked at the ornate Renaissance architecture.
We also ate.
Foccacia. Prosciutto. Pecorino drizzled with truffle-spiked honey.
Cookies. Pastries. Chocolate- and fruit-studded gelato. Was it any surprise that by our second evening, we craved something lighter?
“Can you recommend a restaurant?” my husband asked Ricardo, the charming concierge at the Hotel Davanzati.
“Of course!” Ricardo answered. “What are you in the mood for?”
Fish seemed appropriate. Yet Ricardo informed us that because Florence lies inland, ordering seafood at most restaurants is a crapshoot.
“You must go to a restaurant that serves only seafood,” he told us.
And that is how we found Trattoria Vittoria. Nestled in a neighborhood just outside the tourist hustle of the Renaissance district, Vittoria is a quiet, blue-drenched respite from the hawkers and crowds.
A display of the evening’s offerings greeted us as we arrived — glistening and with nary a whiff of fishy odor. I decided on the tuna (“It will be raw inside,” the waiter informed me. “That is all right, no?”); the husband went for a platter of lobster, langoustines and crab.
My tuna was delicious: Simply seared and seasoned with a ruby-red interior.
But my husband’s entree was exquisite:
The seafood sat atop barely cooked carrots and fennel, all subtly seasoned with olive oil and lemon and studded with tomatoes, basil leaves and fat, meaty olives.
We’re home now, but I keep thinking of that beautiful dish of fish. So last night, I paid homage to Florence and Trattoria Vittoria with a dish of fish and slightly cooked carrots. The fish was moist; the carrots al dente. Paired with a glass of Prosecco, we could almost imagine Florence and the Arno River outside our door.
I don’t know when — or if — we’ll go back to Florence. But with my brand-new dish (“Fish a la Firenze”?) I can conjure the memories anytime.
Fish A La Firenze
- 2 carrots, peeled
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, minced (I used chives and dill)
- 4 mahi mahi fillets (I like Trader Joe’s)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the carrots in half, then slice them lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick pieces. (The slicing disk on your food processor is perfect for this.)
Toss the carrots with the shallots and 1 tablespoon each of the olive oil, lemon juice and herbs. Season with salt and pepper, then lay in a single layer in a greased, glass baking dish:
Pat the fish fillets dry, then place them on top of the carrots:
Season with salt and pepper, then drizzle the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and herbs over them. Bake for 12 minutes.