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

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

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

Blood & Chocolate

My old boss in Florence once recounted to me, full of nostalgia, that when he was a child, his small hometown near Foggia, Puglia, would hold a pig festival. Essentially it was an age-old tradition where the town pigs would be butchered and celebrated by using the whole beast, right down to the very last drop of blood. The fresh, warm blood would be collected and then, on the spot, mixed with milk and chocolate and cooked into a dark, decadent, custard-like... Read More

Ben venga il Minestrone

The Italians are brilliant with words, especially when it comes to food. Take that most humble of dishes, soup. In English, we pretty much have the one word to describe it. Oxford Companion to Italian Food author Gillian Riley makes the point that Italians have many specific words for the dish while English is rather limited, “Soup and stew are easygoing, almost interchangeable words in English, used to describe many recipes, anything from a thick... Read More

Memories of Rabbit

I’m always in awe of the power of food to revive memories, especially faraway childhood ones. For some it may be the smell of warm spices, baking bread or sizzling butter. Or it’s the texture of comforting creamy pudding or crispy roast potatoes. Sometimes it can just be the idea of a dish, long forgotten, that will bring back a rush of the smells, taste and rituals. It happened the other day, unexpectedly to my father. I had been waiting... Read More