Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fabio Picchi, Florence's Babbo NataleFabio Picchi is a large, broad man, with a large white beard and a mass of white hair who looks about 7 foot tall, probably because I felt like a mini beside him, even in my kitten heels! He looks like Babbo Natale (Father Christmas). Big, cheery, white hair and white beard. It looks like it would be great to have him as a grandfather as he seems so jolly - I bet you would get a good view from atop his shoulders.

The kitchen view from our table- the buffet table is to the right of the pillars.

He has a loud, theatrical voice which bellows out descriptions of food that is served on the buffet table at Teatro del Sale. The man has an intense presence and his passion is clearly visible in his three establishments in a corner of Florence (Cibreo Restaurant and Trattoira, Cibreo Cafe and the Teatro del Sale). The pics are from his establishment called Teatro del Sale (theatre of salt).

Fabio said once, not an exact quote, I read this somewhere via his PR lady, ‘food is a bit bland without a bit of salt, salt is the spice of life,’ and I agree that without a little theatre, music and dance – one’s life can also be a bit bland.
The establishment is a restaurant/ theatre. There is a hectic pre-theatre buffet service where Fabio calls out dishes and people rush to a little wooden table to claim a few dollops of greatness, depending on how quick they are (we had amazing clams, bbq’d meat, pasta, soup, tripe, freshly grilled sardines and lovely deserts).

Fabio believes in the slow food movement and buys local produce and supplies for his restaurants – nothing shipped in from China or Japan, so you eat seasonally – which is how it should be.

After everyone is done scrambling to and from their table to the kitchen area (see pic), the red curtains are drawn on the kitchen (the chefs should take a bow as the whole time you are watching them perform their magic on your dinner), all the tables are removed and seats are arranged in front of the stage. The venue used to be a 13th (?) century convent so there are lovely domed ceilings and a great historic feel to it. I am not a music expert but the acoustics seemed fantastic in there.

After all the shuffling there is a show, we saw a jazz quartet perform, which were lovely. My partner who was full with wine & food had a mini snooze when the lights were turned low, but the conditions were perfect for it - the music was relaxing and if I could’ve got comfortable I would’ve had a mini kip too.

The experience kind of reminded me of Christmas at our house when we were young; loud, noisy, lots of food, theatrics by my aunts and uncles –then tables shifted aside and kids entertaining the adults with tricks and songs. Teatro de Sale is professional –none of us could really sing and dance well, unless you count my sister and I’s short lived ballet lessons!

Get there if you can – it is a great experience and you will eat well!

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