The art of being frugal

There aren’t many of us who couldn’t do with saving a bit of cash, especially around this time of year when, leading up to Christmas, money seems to fall between the gaps in your fingers like water. For us this year, the count down to Christmas is also taking on another meaning as we’re about to become parents. It’s an exciting time but the thought of also not being paid for the next six months or so is daunting, to say the... Read More

Schiacciata all’uva – Florentine grape bread

This is one of those things that you crave for many months of the year but can only find for a fleeting moment. Then you have to wait patiently for the rest of the year before they will appear again in bakery shop windows. You can of course make it at home (that’s what the recipe is for!), but grapes – and the best ones to use for this delicious treat, local Tuscan wine grapes such as canaiolo or American concord grapes, called uva fragola... Read More

Pan di Ramerino – Rosemary & raisin buns

These lovely little buns with a delightfully sticky top, fragrant with fresh rosemary and studded with sweet, zibibbo raisins, have always been a little indulgence of mine. Often written also as pandiramerino (which looks like you’re saying it so fast that you don’t even need to take a breath), pan di Ramerino, means literally “rosemary bread”: pan (pane or bread), di (of), ramerino (rosemary, which is actually rosmarino in Italian... 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

Artusi’s Nocino – a spicy walnut liqueur

Saint days are not only times for rituals, celebrations and traditions but they are also handy seasonal reminders, like a bookmark in the calendar. San Giovanni or St John the Baptist day, June 24, is a perfect example. Being near the summer solstice, it’s a day that signifies midsummer and celebrates the bountiful summer season. St John the Baptist is Florence’s patron saint so on June 24 the Florentines are gearing up for a day off with... Read More

Italian Table Talk: The Longevity of Tuscan bread

If there were one defining ingredient in a Tuscan kitchen, one absolutely essential part of every single meal, it would have to be bread; not just any bread, but pane toscano, Tuscan bread. It’s a large, rustic, usually oval-shaped loaf baked in a woodfired oven with a hard and crunchy outer shell and an inside of bland (yes, bland), springy white bread. It has the physical characteristic of only staying soft for one day, but once stale it lasts... Read More

Gelato in Florence & Fior di Latte al Rosmarino

There are many rituals closely associated with Italian eating habits – the morning espresso or pre-dinner aperitivo, for instance, the post-dinner digestivo or post-dinner, post-coffee ammazzacaffè, ‘coffee killer’. But one of my favourites is the post-meal passeggiata, gelato in hand. It’s a ritual that’s hard to keep up living outside of Italy, unfortunately. For one, there’s not enough strolling that goes on these days on a regular... Read More

Top 25 Tuscan Food Finds

Who doesn’t love a “top” list? I think they can be really useful to give a quick rundown on what’s on offer when you visit a place like Tuscany that has so much to offer for a foodie. It’s not easy compiling a list like this, I have to say, it could have easily grown to 100! But I wanted the list to include things you haven’t necessarily heard of before, all the places I love and frequent when I’m in town. I’ve... Read More

A Spicy Slice of Panforte

I love finding old cookbooks, hand-me-downs from relatives or books found rummaging through second hand bookshops. Once, I even carted home a box full of old cookbooks waiting for the recycling truck. There are treasures in these books, even little ones, like a dog-ear and stained page from that well-used recipe, or – my favourite – a handwritten recipe tucked away in the pages. An old book on Tuscan cooking borrowed from my husband’s aunt had... Read More

A Florentine farewell: Panini di Lampredotto

If someone were to ask me for the most typical Florentine dish, my answer would be simple: panini di lampredotto. Round bread rolls, opened up and filled with steaming hot lampredotto, topped with salsa verde. It is a dish and a tradition only found in the city of Florence. Lampredotto (the fourth stomach of a cow, technically known as the abomasum in English) is not easily found in other cuisines, but the Florentines have been preparing it for centuries... Read More