La Bombetta: Butchers do it Better

The bombetta. Little, innocent-looking morsels of joy. We came across them for the first time in a butcher shop in the pretty, white-washed town of Cisternino, in Puglia’s Itria Valley.  In these parts, a butcher is not just a butcher. He’ll also grill the meat for you and you can eat right there at tables in the butcher shop or out on the street. They are known as Fornelli Pronti (literally, ‘ready ovens’). We were there for a taste of the... Read More

Artusi’s May: Tuscan Chicken Liver Pate

If there was one defining Tuscan recipe for me it might just be the recipe for chicken liver pate served on crostini, otherwise known in Italian as crostini di fegatini, crostini neri (‘black crostini’) or crostini toscani.   This favourite Tuscan antipasto is rustic, tasty, cheap and sensible, reflecting the peasant roots of Tuscan cooking where nothing was thrown away (this makes good use of day old bread and cheap chicken livers)... Read More

Artusi’s February: Agnolotti

I noticed that this month’s list of Artusi’s suggestions for the perfect lunch included Agnolotti (Artusi spells it “Agnellotti”), a traditional meat-filled pasta from Le Langhe in Piemonte, a gorgeous region in the north western corner of Italy for which I have a soft spot. Home to famous red wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco, the hearty, country dishes speak of the land, the hills and the traditions of the area. The restaurant of the historic... 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

La Scarpetta: when you want to lick the plate clean

You know when you have that irresistible saucy goodness on your plate at the end of a meal that makes you seriously consider licking your plate like a starving maniac in public? Well the Italians have come up with a great solution for that. It’s called la scarpetta. Fare la scarpetta, roughly translated as “to do the little shoe,” is the very charming act of using a small piece of bread to mop up the wonderful sauce on your plate that you cannot... Read More