Honey from a Weed, the world of Patience Gray

Honey from a Weed is one of those few cookbooks I could keep by my bedside. I like to open it at random and become absorbed by a recipe or a story, like the one about sharing a dinner with shepherds on Naxos, the differing views of a Milanese and a Salentine diver on what to do with the an octopus, or the “majestic” Catalonian feast that ended with a century old wine that tasted of chocolate syrup.  Published in 1986, it is more than just a... Read More

Easter Adventures in Tuscany and tackling Carol Field’s Colomba

Surely the best thing about colomba, the Easter equivalent to panettone, is the sugared, toasted almond topping that covers the whole thing and crumbles when you cut it, so you sort of have no choice but just to pick up the crusty sugary bits and eat those on their own. I’d always thought that colomba would make a very good baking project but was somewhat intimated by getting the right shape  — it’s vaguely in the shape of a dove,... Read More

Ricotta gnocchi, a recipe from Ostro

I have known, and admired, Julia Busuttil Nishimura, for many years now and always felt connected through our love of Italian food, Tuscany (Julia lived in Florence and in Orbetello, just 10 minutes away from where we lived in Porto Ercole while I was writing Acquacotta) and Japan. So I have been eagerly awaiting her debut cookbook, Ostro: The Pleasure that Comes From Slowing Down and Cooking with Simple Ingredients, and it is a beauty — it... Read More

In Venice with Valeria Necchio, author of ‘Veneto’

“This is a food memory for me,” Valeria said, as we podded fresh, marbled-pink, borlotti beans, “Not exactly cooking but they were one of the first activities I was involved in as a young girl helping in the kitchen during the summer months: I was on podding duty.” If you are a long time reader of this blog, then Valeria needs no introduction — we became friends, first via our blogs, years ago when we began writing... Read More

Acquacotta giveaway + new workshops and events!

I have been busy preparing and organising some new, exciting things, from cooking classes to a workshop in beautiful Puglia in southern Italy, even a little online shop of limited edition goodies (coming soon now open!)! I’ve decided to put it all in a blog post to have in one place. And to celebrate, I’ve also got some copies of my new cookbook, Acquacotta, to giveaway to five lucky (Australia-based) readers! (Would you like a sneak... Read More

Interview with Giulia Scarpaleggia on creating her new cookbook

One of my personal favourite food memories of all time was the first time I realised the potential of shopping at my local market in Florence and being able to speak to the other shoppers as well as the stallholders — only I didn’t think to write down all the gems I collected as I took in bits and pieces on what to do with artichokes or how to tell which fennel bulbs are the best. But my dear friend Giulia Scarpaleggia did. Not only,... Read More

Borage and ricotta crepes

I had seen it before, those fuzzy, furry leaves and stalks, with the pretty, star-pointed purple flowers, but up until that moment that I saw them sitting in a basket at the market stalls, I admit I had never taken notice of it as a food. It grow along cracks in stone walls and along the roadside near my home in Settignano, which is blooming with spring goodness right now: robinia (black locust) trees, wild garlic (three-cornered leek) and even... Read More

Robinia flower cake and fritters + a giveaway!

I have been dreaming about Mimi Thorisson’s black locust (robinia, acacia or false acacia) flower cake since I first came across it a couple of years ago, while searching for recipes using these bunches of white flowers with a strong, heady perfume similar to jasmine or orange blossom. I’ve been too busy frying them — dipping them in a runny batter, swirling them through a pot of bubbling oil, then eating them crunchy and piping... Read More

The Italian Baker: Remembering Carol Field

The Italian Baker is one of the few cookbooks that I own two copies of, so that I have one in Italy and one in Australia and I don’t have to worry about packing it in my suitcase with me when I travel back and forth. It’s one of the few cookbooks that I have sitting on my desk, in the kitchen, ready to be flicked through or cooked from at any moment. It’s a book that I have always found inspiration in, whether it’s for the... Read More

An inspiring list for the weekend

I’m about to embark on the Australian book tour for Acquacotta, my second cookbook. I’m guessing this is maybe what it feels like to have a second child, you’re just as excited, and a tiny bit more confident because you have been through it before, you promise to yourself to do all the things better, but the universe will likely throw in some surprises just to keep you on your toes! I’ll be on the road a lot over the next... Read More