Although I have only been living in Florence for just over a month and it has been frigid cold—not just winter-cold, but Antarctica-cold—I’m already a regular at Gelateria dei Neri. My sweet tooth just cannot be stopped. I have spent many nights bundled from head to toe in every article of clothing I can find in order to trek down the street to indulge in a cup of light, creamy gelato. And through my sampling, I’ve quickly learned that Gelateria dei Neri is one of the best. Every time I walk through the door, I head straight for the gelato, ecstatic to taste their homemade Nutella, Frutti dei Boschi, Straciatella, and even Cookies and Cream. I rush right past the fluffy cakes and pastries, despite their overpowering aroma that can be smelled from all the way down the street.
Last night, after a big dinner of spinach and ricotta filled tortellini and a fresh salad lightly coated with balsamic vinegar, my sweet tooth was craving a trip to dei Neri. Luckily, I wasn’t alone.
“Anyone else want dessert?” a couple of my roommates chimed in almost simultaneously. Yes, we all did.
So the five of us scrounged through our apartment for extra change, put on our coats, and set off once again for our favorite gelato. When we arrived at the Gelateria, however, the treats in the front caught my eye for the first time. Semi-freddi, the sign read above bins of creamy, non-frozen desserts. I was ready to break away from my usual gelato, to try something that was authentically Florentine.
After much contemplation, I ordered una piccola coppetta di bongo. Otherwise known as profiterole, bongo is a Florentine specialty. They are tiny baked puffed-pastries filled with vanilla cream and topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of melted chocolate. The moment my eyes laid upon the cup of tiny balls covered in all my favorite things, my mouth began to water. I could almost taste the chocolate, feel the whipped cream light on my tongue. A tiny gelato spoon was stuck right on top, and after struggling for a solid minute to balance one bongo on the little spoon, I tossed the piece of plastic in the garbage, diving in with my fingers and popping a bongo into my mouth.
An explosion of cream told me I was in heaven. It was cool and smooth and perfectly complimented the chewy pastry and rich chocolate. I couldn’t help but let out a sigh of pleasure before shoving the remaining contents of my tiny cup into my mouth. So much for savoring my first authentic Florentine dessert, I thought. But I could not have felt more intense satisfaction.