Beans Cooked in a Tuscan Jar

“First you need good beans.” The good advice of Elizabeth David always goes straight to the heart of the matter. We arrived back in Tuscany a week ago for what should be a few good months of family time, visiting friends and research, all peppered with good doses of eating and drinking. No sooner had we arrived at my mother in law’s house, weary from traveling halfway across the globe, did the pantry and kitchen doors open wide in invitation... Read More

100 year old apricot jam

This is a 123 year old recipe for apricot jam. It comes from my battered and worn pocket sized edition of Pellegrino Artusi‘s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. I only bought it a few years ago, it’s just battered because I use it all the time. I carry it around in my bag and read it’s old fashioned Italian like a novel. It’s often held open on one page with one hand while the other whisks or stirs. I don’t... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Ragu di coniglio, a family recipe

It’s perhaps a tad stereotypical but the idea of the family recipe and Italian cuisine really go hand in hand – that idea of the Italian nonna, apron on, standing over bubbling, steaming pots, weaving magic without the use of recipe book, putting her secret touches here and there, getting ready to feed an army, even if there are only four of you eating. It may not be everyone’s nonna, but some still remember her like that. After much... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Pane con Pomodoro

So much of why we love food – eating it, making it, talking about it – is because it is emotionally attached to a memory, perhaps a fond ritual, perhaps a specific occasion. So easily triggered by the smell, feel or look of something, the nostalgia is instantaneous and even stronger when it is something to do with our childhood. This is what happens when you talk about merenda, the typical mid-afternoon snack that most Italians tend to associate... Read More

Smoked tuna and artichoke panini

This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a memory, brought back to life while going through some old photographs and toying with the tempting thought of a quick visit to Venice again. The memory happens to take place at the Rialto fish market, which I always love perusing even if I’m not buying any fish, just to satisfy my curiosity. To me, it’s as good as any sight to see in Venice, a living, breathing historical space of the city that... Read More

Back to Florence, a panino in one hand and a wine glass in the other

It’s been a year and a half since we left Florence ‘for good’ and settled into a new and starkly different life in Melbourne. A lot has happened in that time that probably wouldn’t have happened if we’d stayed in Florence, which is a reason why we left – so that things might happen. Marco has worked with three of Australia’s best chefs and their restaurants as a sommelier. I’ve been working as a freelance... 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

Artusi’s Semolina Cake

There are times when something sweet, comforting, even old fashioned, is exactly what the doctor ordered. For me, it could be a sponge cake with fresh whipped cream and strawberries, an apple and rhubarb crumble or a short, crumbly crostata with homemade jam. But some Italians might find that a torta di semolino, semolina cake, brings a smile of nostalgia as they recall their grandmothers making this delectable yet simple, humble cake. This cake’s... 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

Artusi’s Torta Margherita: 3 simple ingredients

This classic Italian cake is one of those things that every cook should have up his or her sleeve, especially when it’s Pellegrino Artusi’s recipe, a 120 year old recipe that is yeast-free, gluten-free and dairy-free, even without meaning to be. It’s made with just three ingredients – eggs, sugar and potato starch – for a dead simple, thrifty and light-as-a-feather cake. A genius recipe and one that should be committed... Read More