Hazelnut and Espresso cake for a Birthday

It’s the first time in twenty years that I get to celebrate my birthday at home. Home is a funny concept for me at the moment. It no longer means the home that I have known for the past seven years in Italy, or the one I’m going to make in a new city on the other side of the world. At the moment in this homeless state, “home” is actually a house I have never lived in, the house that my parents bought when I left the nest for good to... Read More

Orecchiette con Broccoli: The way to a man’s heart

The first time I ever cooked something for the man who is now my husband, it was an impromptu event where I managed to throw together a pasta dish with an almost empty fridge. We still didn’t know each other very well, were a long way away from finding out all the things there are to know about each other. We were still very nervous about what the other person thought, still trying to impress each other. And so it happened, during a cold and... Read More

Fig Frangipane Tart and falling for Florence

I have to admit that my love affair with Florence did not start with the typical “love at first sight:” But it wasn’t far off. I was a twenty-year-old art student when I had my first taste of living in Florence, exactly ten years ago. I arrived at the train station with my luggage and not much else – no where to stay, nothing booked, no contacts. I can’t imagine ever doing that now but I guess I was more of a spontaneous traveller... Read More

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

Plum wine Tiramisu masquerading as a Pavlova

My beautiful friend Giulia from Jul’s Kitchen has inspired me to take part in one of those hypothetical questions that everyone should stop and ask themselves one day: se tu fossi una ricetta, if you were a recipe, what would you be? I spent an entire week pondering the question. Some people can come up with answer without even thinking. My husband, without even blinking said, “Fegatelli.” A Tuscan dish of pigs liver wrapped in its caul... 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

Persimmon cake: The winter fruit

Persimmons for me have that special nostalgic power that certain foods or smells or tastes imprint onto children’s brains. For me, it takes me back to Japan, to my grandparent’s house just outside Tokyo. I can see these plump, orange fruits lined up along the wide windowsill, ripening, with the heater burning away underneath. They were taken off the tree before the crows got to them and would be eaten only once they had become jammy and you could... Read More

The Whole Hog

Winter in Tuscany is traditionally pig-butchering season, as nature provides the refrigeration that farmers have needed for centuries for this all-encompassing, family-involved activity. I’ve been waiting since the summer to be invited to Fattoria Poggio Alloro, a beautiful farm near San Gimignano, for a lesson in a centuries old tradition: making salumi – cured meats. I was already familiar with their delectable sausages and prosciutto and love... Read More