Autumn in Val d’Orcia

It’s no secret that autumn is my favourite month in Tuscany. It’s partly the relief from the relentless heat of summer, that feeling that you can finally breathe again, and partly, well, mostly, it’s the food. The cooler weather finally lets me get back into the kitchen (in particular the oven, which I usually avoid at all costs in the summer), to do the things I really love, like slow cooking and baking. And autumn’s ingredients... Read More

From the farm: Eggs poached in tomato sauce

One of the places that I can truly call my happy place is a farm in San Gimignano. Partly it’s because of the wonderful Fioroni family who run Fattoria Poggio Alloro, who I feel are like long lost family because of the way we are embraced (literally and figuratively!) when we arrive, the way we are fed (as if we must not have eaten in weeks), and the familiar way that this place somehow feels like home (we also always stay in the same room,... Read More

Mascarpone and blackberry chocolate tart

Two things happened last month just before I was getting ready to head to Tuscany for 3 months. One was a visit to a wonderful farm where we picked fresh hazelnuts and wild blackberries. The other was that I made mascarpone at home for the first time. A lot of it. What to do with a fridge full of freshly made mascarpone after recipe testing a few times? Well, it certainly can’t go to waste. And there are only so many tiramisu one can eat (really).... Read More

An autumn risotto from San Gimignano

I was hooked at my first meal at Poggio Alloro. The family-run agriturismo and organic farm sits on a hill looking directly at the town of San Gimignano. It is one of the most stunning views of Tuscany, one of those views that you only dream about or see in postcards and wonder if there are really places that exist that look like that. The Chianina cows graze on the hill side, the vineyards follow the rolling hills surrounding the property and the... Read More

The Perfect Bistecca Fiorentina

Whenever someone asks me about the quintessential Florentine dish, two things immediately come to mind, which should also be an indication of the carnivorous Tuscan diet. The first is panini al lampredotto – tripe sandwiches, which are not everyone’s cup of tea (but they should be!). The other is the colossal bistecca fiorentina – Florentine steak. Curiously, the Italian word bistecca is actually borrowed from the English “beef steak.”... Read More

A lesson in Bruschetta

One of the world’s simplest of pleasures – fresh bread and tomato – is also one of the most mispronounced. La Bruschetta is a much loved menu item in places far and away from Italy’s peninsula but it suffers from being misspelled and mispronounced to the point where the mispronounced version is becoming the accepted norm. Even well-known chefs on well-known television shows who ought to know better are using the wrong words and there should... Read More

Recipes from a Tuscan Farm

For the past twelve months, I’ve had the pleasure of taking photographs for the cookbook of Fattoria Poggio Alloro, an organic family farm in San Gimignano, Tuscany. A record of family traditions, the farm’s seasonal produce and rustic, hearty dishes, the book is arranged month by month, season to season. A Family Farm in Tuscany: Recipes and Stories from Poggio Alloro by Sarah Fioroni will be released in the US on March 31, 2012, [and... Read More

La Tegamata: Celebration of a family ritual

I recently had my first experience eating Tegamata, a dish which is the ultimate celebration of an old fashioned family ritual: slaughtering a pig. And not just any pig, but a pig that has been cared for and raised by the family and whose death is now going to be honoured by the simple fact that not one single scrap of this animal will go to waste. Especially when we’re talking about the animal I have in front of me today – a cinta senese. The... Read More

The year in food

2010 came and went. Going back through the year’s photographs I was able to retrace a very memorable year indeed, especially when it comes to food, travel and the people I shared these things with, as most of the time I think what makes a memorable meal is actually the company. So here’s the run down of my “Best of 2010″ food memories, from left to right and down…. Tomato sorbet at Le Pain de Sucre in Corsica; my mother... Read More

The Whole Hog

Winter in Tuscany is traditionally pig-butchering season, as nature provides the refrigeration that farmers have needed for centuries for this all-encompassing, family-involved activity. I’ve been waiting since the summer to be invited to Fattoria Poggio Alloro, a beautiful farm near San Gimignano, for a lesson in a centuries old tradition: making salumi – cured meats. I was already familiar with their delectable sausages and prosciutto and love... Read More