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food history

Bronzino’s Panzanella

Summer wouldn’t be summer without that perfect salad, a must when it’s simply too hot to cook and all you crave are the season’s fresh offerings. Things like this caprese salad, made with heirloom tomatoes straight out of the garden and torn hunks of buffalo mozzarella. In Tuscany, it’s always and forever, panzanella, a rustic bread salad born as a way of using up day old bread and the abundance of fresh vegetables straight... Read More

The simplest dessert

When it comes to choosing a recipe, length does matter. Short, simple recipes always appeal to me. Carefully chosen ingredients that you can count on one hand. A gentle tousle, a sprinkle of this or some other straightforward preparations and it’s done. The good ones are balanced, even elegant, and seemingly more elaborate than they are. These are worth having up your sleeve. The second thing that matters to me when choosing a recipe is authenticity... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Gelato, affogato & some history

There is one thing that I don’t miss about Florentine summers and that is the searing, stifling heat. It seems a strange thing to say from Australia, a sunburnt country if there ever was one, but the heat in Florence is one that simply takes over your entire day. There is barely any relief from it. I’m writing this from the end of a particularly bearable Melbourne winter, but I can feel and taste those hot, sticky Florentine summer days... Read More

Slow-braised stuffed squid & The Jewelled Kitchen

They say that whatever country the Arabs passed through, they left a part of themselves in its kitchens. Although this references trade routes and voyages of over a thousand years ago, I like to think that this is still true in a more modern sense, like picking up a Middle Eastern cookbook or discovering a certain spice that you then cannot resist using in everything. I think these days it’s taken a bit for granted but much of the foundations... Read More

The Art of Eating Well – A Tuscan Getaway this Fall

I’m very pleased to announce a new and exciting collaboration coming up in October this year – an incredible, six–day gastronomic getaway in Tuscany and the opportunity to be immersed in age-old traditions of Tuscan cuisine following the lead of the great-grandfather of Italian cuisine, Pellegrino Artusi, whose nineteenth century cookbook Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well is one you’ll still find in practically... Read More

Polenta and Elderflower Cookies

Every now and then along comes a recipe that you may have glanced at, skimmed through, perhaps even mentally bookmarked, but between one thing and another maybe you’ve never found the time, the inspiration or the energy to actually make it. Maybe you’ve even forgotten about it. And then one day you remember it, you’re in the mood for it or something else spurs you on. You go out and look for the ingredients or realise you have them... Read More

Classic Tiramisu

Whether it’s an anniversary, a holiday or simply a family get together (excuse enough to celebrate), there is one thing that is ubiquitous on my Tuscan in laws’ family table when they want to celebrate: tiramisu. If you ask me, there is really only one way to make tiramisu – this perfect proportion of eggs, sugar, mascarpone; strong coffee; savoiardi biscuits (not Pavesini, which my Tuscan mother in law is a fan of, they are too... Read More

Spiced walnut linguine, a recipe that tastes of history

It goes without saying that Florence is a city that lives in its past. In every nook and cranny, history – a fantastic, unique history that influenced the way the entire world saw things – seeps out onto the well-trodden stone streets and into the every day. On some occasions all it takes is walking right through the centre of town, passing over literal layers of history in a square like Piazza della Reppublica, the spot where the medieval mercato... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Breakfast in Florence & Crostatine

Breakfast is such a cultural eye-opener, at no other meal time do you get such a view of a place or a person than through their first meal of the day. For some, it’s a strictly savoury affair, often resembling lunch or even dinner, for others it’s always sweet or perhaps all it consists of is a cup of coffee. We’ve decided this month to make breakfast the topic of Italian Table Talk with Giulia whipping up a fresh batch of cornetti... Read More

A 19th century lunch for Good Friday

One of my favourite things about Artusi’s cookbook, the 1891 bible of Italian cooking, is his suggested menu at the back for seasonal and traditional dishes, listing recipe suggestions by the month (see some of them here), with additional menus for special holidays. It’s not only is a quick way to glance over some of the nearly 800 recipes in his book, but it is also an incredibly interesting indication of what a meal consisted of in... Read More