Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Tell me everything about Florentine steak

Tell me everything about Florentine steak

Old Jun 11th, 2009, 08:54 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 10,471
I would characterize this thread as well done no matter how you slice it. Kobe, Florentine, Omaha, rump roast, chuck, flank or hanger.
J62 is online now  
Old Jun 14th, 2009, 07:16 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2

My advice, don't ask for a well-done Florentine steak:

1. You will insult the chef in most cases. Italians take food very seriously and don't like messing with good ingredients, in this case a perfectly beautiful piece of steak that is best served rare. In the U.S., customer is always right. This is culturally not the case in most of Europe and certainly not in an Italian restaurant, and most certainly not in a good restaurant that serves Florentine steak (the chef is always right!). Hence, you have to accept the culture and go with it. If visitors come to the U.S., you would expect them to follow American customs/etiquette, so best to do the same in other countries.

2. Cooking a Florentine steak well-done is pointless as it will taste like cardboard. This is a thick piece of meat so it would take them ages to cook it well-done and by the time it's done, the outer layer will be very dry and hard.
toddtran is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2009, 10:02 AM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 39
I realize this discussion has run its course, but I want to add one point. Tuscans insisting that steak should be cooked rare is just one conspicuous example of a more general phenomenon: in restaurants in Italy, the customer is not always right.

The prevailing mindset is that you go to a restaurant to sample that particular place's take on the local cuisine. You're not there to tell them how you like it -- you're there to see how they do it. (My guess is that many Italians at some point during a restaurant meal will have the thought "Not as good a what Mom makes," but that doesn't mean they're going to tell the kitchen where things went wrong.)

In the thread above some people have taken the idea that you're "insulting the chef" by ordering a steak well done to mean that you're somehow insulting the chef's virtuosity. which has led to a discussion of how much skill it takes to grill a steak. That's not the point. The chef is insulted because you're telling him to cook something incorrectly -- which is to say, against the principles of his cuisine. It's not a personal thing ... it's actually worse than that, because you're disrespecting the culture. You're not just insulting the chef; your insulting the waiter, and the dishwasher, and the person sitting at the next table.

That may sound overblown, but I think that it's accurate. The upside is that you're eating in a place where everyone cares about the food. (While at Peter Luger the chef will just roll his eyes and scrape a charred piece of beef off the back of the grill, the waiter will be too busy thinking of other reasons to belittle you, and the dishwasher won't have a clue.)

My point is, no matter where you are or what you're ordering, you'll be better off not trying to "have it your way." The standard response in Italy (whether actually expressed or not) will be, "If you wanted it the way you get it back home, you should have stayed there." Accept things the way they're customarily done, and at worst you'll find out there are some things about Italian cuisine you don't like (and if you know going in you won't like something, don't order it, as many above have advised re Tuscan steak). At best, you'll discover new pleasures you never would have experienced otherwise.
Matt_Lombardi is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2009, 10:11 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,755
We had the most beautiful steak I've ever eaten in Milan this year. Raised the bar and now I'm forever going to lust for that particular moment. It was Chianina (?).
Not that I'll be able to reproduce it, but what american cut roughly translates to a florentine steak?
pdx is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2009, 10:27 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 22,153
ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2009, 01:05 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2
Forgot to mention - if you order a steak well-done in the U.S., the kitchen of most restaurants are quite happy in a way because they always have a couple of poor quality or about to be expired beef they need to get rid of by overcooking it to hide the poor quality. It saves them money when a few people once in a while orders well-done beef. It's a win-win-win situation. The restaurant saves money and doesn't waste food. It makes me happy because I don't get served the crap beef leftover. It makes the person who wants well-done steak happy because that person get their well-done steak and won't think it's bad quality because ...well, you the type of person that likes well-done steak - enough said.

Also, many times, it takes too long to cook a steak well done so American restaurants kitchens use the microwave to finish it off. And again, if you're one of those who eat well-done steak, you won't notice the difference anyway. You can read all about this from Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.

This is not the case in Italy, as they 1) don't have poor quality beef lying around 2) they take too much pride in their cooking to serve well-done steak or microwave a steak.
toddtran is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2009, 03:26 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 25,193
This belief that somehow all Italians care about food and that every American waiter or chef is willing to serve sub-standard food to make a quick-buck is EXACTLY the myth I am trying to puncture here. It is beyond naive. The fact of the matter is that there are plenty of people putting out lousy food in Italy and plenty of folks putting out great food in the US.

Some people care, others don't. Taste is not a birthright. To suggest that, somehow, Italians (or Frenchmen or Americans or Japanese) have a monopoly on taste is exactly the kind of arrogance that I have been erroneously accused of by a few here. And it is the sort of silliness that has seen Paris become a pathetically stagnant dining scene - the sort of place where you can get the classic dishes expertly prepared, but which no longer sets the bar for cutting-edge cuisine.

But, of course, as is par for the course for anyone that dares attempt to point out that there is a whole culinary world beyond Italy or France, one that even extends to <gasp> the US, I am labeled as the one that is arrogant.

My suggestion, to all those sanctimoniously telling people that they should experience local food is to do so everywhere they go (including the US), but also to do it critically. Don't just assume that, because the chef is Italian, that they are always right. They aren't. An open-mind is, according to many here, all-important, yet so many seem close-minded to upsetting the sanctity of Italian cooking.

And I also call on people to have a sense of humility. I know that this is hard for some of the pompous, self-important, hypocritical windbags (cough - JayG - cough) that have decided to appoint themselves arbiters of both how steak should be cooked and who is or is not a "gourmet", but why assume that someone who likes a well-done steak isn't fully aware of the fact that it produces a tougher steak? I mean, do you normally assume that everyone is an idiot? Have you never had a burnt end? Was it not tasty, and in a way that a rare steak wasn't? Why assume that, much like all those people that go to Starbucks, which (of course) (cough - JayG - cough) has been alleged to objectively stink, they may LIKE it that way? Of course, we all "know" better.

And that is the sort of arrogance - that you know better what someone likes than they do - that has been elevated here into a virtue. Please. There are a lot of other ideas embedded in Italian "culture" that are pretty dubious, so why make this one sacrosanct?
travelgourmet is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2009, 03:55 PM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 21
I must disagree with toddtran,s statement about poor quality or expired beef. Steakhouses go through so much beef that it is always fresh. Some cuts have more nerve fibers in them and we choose them for the well done orders. One end of a New York strip is more tough because it has more nerve fibers, so it is perfect for a well done order. The same is true with Top Sirloins and Tenderloins, Porterhouses etc. Yes, even the mighty Tenderloin has sinewy inferior segments used for well done orders.
cherylgirl is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2009, 04:11 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 25,193
cherylgirl: Don't waste your time. People like toddtran don't really care about reality. They only care about proving that they "aren't American". Not sure when this became something to be ashamed of, but it wasn't something that serious chefs ever paid attention to.
travelgourmet is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2009, 05:44 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 709
Getting back to the OP's question regarding good restaurants in Florence (and I apologize for derailing the arguing), I just found an article entitled "Secret Restaurants of Celebrity Foodies." Here is the rec in Florence...sounds pretty good, but sorry, doesn't address steak specifically:

Trattoria Sostanza Florence, Italy I adore the artichoke tortino (pie), the rigatoni with beef ragù, and the chicken that's pan-fried in butter—it sounds so simple but has amazing flavor (via Porcellana 25r, 011-39/055-212-691, entrées from $11.75). —Alessia Antinori
Kyliebaby3 is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2009, 05:47 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,755
ekscrunchy - I'm glad this came back up. Thank you for your information. I'm so looking forward to a big porterhouse on our grill.
You've probably mentioned this before but what does your name mean?
pdx is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2009, 02:59 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 22,153
PDX: It is too stupid to recount! And embarrassing. Something to do with being facially expressive (I don't know the better way to say that--having an expressive face?)
ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2009, 03:37 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,755
A crunchy expression? Like your face crunches up when you laugh? It sounds like a good thing!
pdx is offline  
Old Jul 1st, 2009, 04:30 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1
Interesting thread. I have only one thing to stress. A "real" Steak Florentine from Chianina Cattle is worth its weight in gold. I've eaten nice dry aged steak from Mortons, Chris Ruths, and some of the finest steak houses in Chicago, New York and Kansas City. None of them hold a candle to a "real" Steak Florentine. The people that have posted, that their Steak Florentine was "no big deal" are probably correct. Many Italians restaurants are serving mass produced steak and calling it Steak Florentine. The massed produced steaks are no better than many of the better steak houses in the US.
But, anybody, that has had a "real" Steak Florentine from Chianina Cattle, will be spoiled forever. There is so much flavor, that your taste buds will thank you for days. Be warned though, you will never truly be happy eating a good steak again. There are many good/great restaurants in and around Florence serving the real deal. Ask, bribe, beg and find them. Don't look at the price, because when you are done, you'll think the price was worth every penny.
mojoe is offline  
Old Jul 1st, 2009, 05:50 PM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 22
We're just back from Tuscany. If one night you don't want steak and you've never tried wild boar before - it is a must - very delicious - tastes nothing like pork. Get a wild boar and olive dish - yummy!!!
zeddies is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Jun 14th, 2008 02:34 AM
Mar 10th, 2007 11:02 AM
Oct 17th, 2006 07:34 AM
Mar 26th, 2006 03:34 PM
Feb 28th, 2005 11:06 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information