Italian Table Talk: Torrone sardo, the perfect homemade gift

It’s crept up on me this year. Here I was still thinking it’s October, but suddenly it’s December. Time to start preparing gifts and thinking about the Christmas table, though my mind is elsewhere as I’m really trying to plan my baby’s first birthday! I knew having a Christmas baby would make the holidays different and I have this feeling that from now on my Christmasses are always going to creep up on me and the birthday... Read More

Frittelle di Riso

They have a saying that I love in Tuscany, “Fritta è bona anche una ciabatta,” which means even a slipper is good deep fried (in other words, anything is good if it’s deep fried). Fried foods are a beloved part of Tuscan cuisine, whether it’s the fritto misto of the seaside (a “mix” of calamari, baby octopus, prawns and little fish, usually), the fritto of the countryside (rabbit and seasonal vegetables like artichokes... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Carnival & Berlingozzo cake

For a celebration known as Fat Tuesday, you might think that the traditional recipes would be a chance for gluttons to gleefully stuff their faces with, well, fatty things. Mid-week, no less. Well it’s sort of true. Martedì Grasso (also known as Mardi Gras in French), or Fat Tuesday, which just happens to be tomorrow, February 12, is probably the most well known day of Carnevale, Carnival. It represents the end of that lavish, drunken, festive... Read More

A Tuscan Christmas

Christmas is a personal event that changes from household to household almost anywhere you go, but an Italian Christmas is always about being with family and keeping up age-old traditions, especially when they have to do with the food. This Christmas more than other is one where we’re thinking about being with our families, near and far, as we’re about to become new parents. Although this Christmas for us is likely going to be an extremely... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Holiday traditions & Cavallucci

I’m not the first one to say this but it must be pointed out that Tuscan cookies are not pretty. In fact, you could say the same for traditional Tuscan desserts in general. Preferring salty to sweet, Tuscans don’t have a huge repertoire when it comes to desserts, but the sweets that exist usually play an important part during holidays, from the biscotti for All Saints Day, to this traditional bread made at Easter. Another thing you’ll... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Chestnut biscotti for Ognissanti

Food is such an integral part of culture – it’s something that I’ve been thinking about lately especially after contemplating whether or not food writing was important. In the article, Michael Ruhlman (author and charcuterie/salumi-maker extraordinaire), poses the question with some pretty convincing points and quotes, such as this one by George Orwell, no less, written about 75 years ago: “I think it could plausibly be argued... 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

Tuscan Easter: Schiacciata di Pasqua

“Variety is the spice of life. Italy has infinite variety and infinite spice.” Professor Mario Pei in 1950 was right on the money when he wrote this in reference to Italy’s strikingly diverse regions and cuisines. Not only are Italian regions so different that language, food, habits, rituals and culture change from border to border, but – in a smaller and no less distinct way – this happens even from town to town within a region. This is... Read More

Valentine’s Pigeons, a recipe for lovebirds

There is a legend that recounts that Saint Valentine miraculously helped two young people fall in love by rounding up a pairs of amorous pigeons to fly around them, inspiring the Italian term for lovebirds, piccioncini, which more precisely (and aptly) translates as ‘little pigeons’. Since then, lovebirds (or little pigeons as the case may be) all over the world have been celebrating the Saint’s day on February 14th all in the name of love and... 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