The Taste Festival: The Foods (and Beverages) of Italy
Sat. 4, Sun. 5, Mon. 6: TASTE Food Festival. Fortezza da Basso. Open to the general public Saturday & Sunday from 2:30 – 7:30 pm, Monday 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. Admission: €20; children under 12 free.
This year’s 16th edition of Taste, a food fair showcasing the fine ingredients that make any Italian meal complete, will welcome over 500 participating producers and companies. It will showcase a wide variety of food and drink products including but not limited to cured meats, fish, cheeses, pasta, organic olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, bread, jams and spreads, farm fresh produce, bitters and digestives, gin, craft beers, wine, chocolates, biscotti, cakes, and coffee.
The festival will be open to the public, buyers, and the press at different times to prevent an overlap. Taste will provide an unforgettable experience of food and beverage tastings and give visitors the opportunity to meet the producers, build connections, and hear about the products in a detailed, personable way.
The food fair will be divided into five different sections: Taste Tour, Taste Arena, Taste Special Area, Taste Tools, and the Taste Shop. The Taste Tour, which will give visitors the option to indulge in and learn about many food and beverage products, will begin on the top floor of the Central Pavilion of the Fortezza with savory foods. The tour will continue down to the ground floor where sweets and beverages will be featured.
The Taste Arena, also located on the top floor of the Central Pavilion, is the area where special presentations and talks open to guests will take place touching on issues and topics in the industry. The Taste Special Area will be held on the ground floor of the Central Pavilion and will spotlight amari (plant-based digestive liquors) and their “Made in Italy” excellence.
Visitors will also have the chance to purchase products and kitchenware during their time at Taste. Taste Tools is a section that features kitchen and table accessories to purchase from leading companies, and the Taste Shop will wrap up the festival experience by giving visitors the opportunity to look through the products they have discovered and purchase the items of their choice at the Taste Shop.
The food festival will be back in person this year after being held online through Pitti Connect, which brought in over a million page views. Taste is not only a food fair, however. Along with tasting new products and meeting the producers, the fair will host presentations, debates, book readings, themed dinners, and workshops in relation to modern trends of the table.
Jazzy Taste is this year’s theme, presenting a metaphor between food and music. Jazz and cooking are both innovative techniques that explore new ideas and combinations, whether it be new sounds or new flavors.
Another focus of this year’s edition of Taste is a staple food in Italian cuisine, pasta. With a long and rich history in Italy, pasta is a simplistic yet integral part of Italian culture. On Feb. 5 at 3 pm there will be a talk dedicated to pasta entitled “The Comeback of Packaged Pasta” which will touch on how packaged pasta is becoming more acceptable and increasingly trendy in Italy as opposed to fresh pasta. Frescobaldi, premier winemakers in Tuscany since the 1300s, will be unveiling their premium pasta capsule collection. The ancient varieties of durum wheat pasta will be used to make as spaghetti, fusilli, penne, and linguini in a product line called Tirrena.
Several other presentations will be held during the food festival to enlighten visitors with important information regarding the food and drink industry in Italy. Two of the talks, “This is What Pasta Women are Made Of” and “The Origin of the Raw Materials on the Label: a Must to Defend,” will highlight topics regarding how women are succeeding in the pasta- making industry as well as emphasize the importance of knowing where the materials in popular products originate.
This year’s festival includes an entire floor dedicated to digestives, including bitters and amari, traditional digestives that are consumed after a big meal; however, Taste is aiming to make consuming one of these drinks popular, even before the meal begins. There are many different types of digestives that can be taken alone or mixed into cocktails.
Thirteen artisanal amari are being served in this section of the festival are made in Italy. Typically, these drinks have an intense herbal or spicy quality, a varying degree of bitterness, and a high concentration of alcohol.
Two awards will be given at the Taste food festival: the Forchettiere Awards 2023 and the Premio Tavoletta d’Oro 2023. The Forchettiere Awards, or the Fork Awards, will spotlight the best Florentine and Tuscan restaurants, the dish of the year, the most sustainable restaurant of the year, the signature cocktail of the year, and the person of the year. The second award, the Premio Tavoletta d’Oro, will be given to the best Italian chocolate makers. These events will take place on Feb. 4 and 5 at 12 noon, respectively.
A complete schedule of the Taste events can be found at https://taste.pittimmagine.com/.
Additionally, there is a calendar called “Fuori Di Taste” that will not be held at the festival itself, but at restaurants throughout the city. “Fuori Di Taste” will comprise dinners and presentations. From Feb. 2 – 6, these events will emphasize tasting new products and visiting beautiful establishments around Florence. For a complete calendar of the program, visit https://taste.pittimmagine.com/en/infofdt. (Parker Hurley)