Gastronaut rides the whirlwind into Italy
David Rocco’s Dolce Vita 8.30pm, Discovery Travel & Living
DAVID Rocco is young, slim and good looking. He is also into his third series of Dolce Vita ( the sweet life), which debuts tonight on Discovery Travel & Living, a cable channel mainly dedicated to the pleasures of travel and eating. This is a liberation, because instead of being stuck in a kitchen somewhere, banging out yet another recipe for risotto while trying to make pan shuffling and adding ingredients entertaining, the world is Rocco’s oyster.
The show fairly belts along, with a poppy, world disco soundtrack that seems perfect for the whirlwind tours of places and people he brings to our screen. Tonight our man has been asked to come up with an insider’s food guide to Florence, Italy. ‘‘ You know, a tour of Florence, the food, the whole works.’’ So we are passengers on the tour that will eventually become the book. Talk about crossover marketing.
So there we are — just Rocco, his cheeky photographer mate Chris and us, hanging off the top deck of a tourist bus as it combs the sights of Florence.
First stop: the produce markets. I have to say that produce has never looked so appealing. Using a winning blend of video and Chris’s still shots, the sense you get of being able to smell and handle the fruit and veg is palpable.
Everywhere they go the guys bump into engaging characters, starting here at the market with all the colour and vibrancy you’d expect of Italian produce vendors.
After a few tips on how to work an Italian market to perfection, it’s back to the kind of Florentine apartment that will make you want to relive
The sense of being able to smell and handle the fruit and veg is palpable
sections of E. M. Forster’s A Room With A View . In this gleaming white tiled, well- lit cooking space, it’s time to do the traditional Italian cooking thing, starting with fagiolini in umido. Green beans in a tomato sauce never looked so fine. To go with that, how about some insalata carciofi? Rocco tells us this is something most people wouldn’t have thought of — a raw artichoke salad. I certainly haven’t, but it looks great, especially with the fagiolini frying in onions in the background, and with the sound of the church bells of Florence seeping through.
Soon enough, it’s time to feed the photographer. But before the show can settle into a male equivalent of Nigella Feasts , it’s back to the streets to find out what coffee means to the people of Florence.
Done no harm by Rocco’s authentic Italian background, this fast- paced flight ( 21 minutes) through the sights and tastes of Florence will leave you hungry for more.
The world’s his oyster: David Rocco comes up with a food guide to Florence