Zia Nerina’s Ragu alla Bolognese

Bologna is only 100 kilometres from Florence yet it is a food-world away. The home of mortadella, tortellini, lasagne, cappelletti and tagliatelle pasta – served of course with the most famous pasta sauce in the world, ragu alla bolognese – Bologna is in many ways the centre of Italian cuisine. It helps that this food-centric city is in Emilia-Romagna, a region also blessed with other staples of good Italian food including the balsamic vinegar... Read More

Sugo Finto with Handmade Pici

This age-old Tuscan dish has a name that illustrates that wonderful connection between food and language that Italy is so good at. Sugo finto, literally “fake sauce” or, more appropriately, “fake ragu” (as ‘sugo’ is used as often if not more than the borrowed word ‘ragu’ in Tuscany), is so-called because it is a meatless ragu. Born of the poor peasant kitchens when meat, particularly beef or veal, was a rare and special ingredient,... Read More

Braised pork cheek ravioloni

I’ve been a bit obsessed with pork lately, especially since organising a dinner party for my fellow pig-loving friends using a different cut of pork in each course and writing about the results in a series of articles for Food52. My husband Marco and I created a menu featuring a fair bit of offal in hearty, traditional southern Italian and Tuscan recipes (an unusual mix, but oh do they know what to do with pork!). One of the best things about organising... Read More

Calabrian Simplicity: Bucatini alla Reggina

At first I didn’t hear the staccato sound of the double ‘g’ when my Calabrian friend Anna suggested she would make me bucatini alla reggina. To non-Italian speakers, it may not seem like much but it can make all the difference. I heard bucatini alla ‘regina’, which would mean the ‘Queen’s bucatini’. It made sense to me at the time, there are plenty dishes named after the Savoy Queen of Italy, including two old classics, pizza... Read More

Squid Ink Pasta and the Man Behind it All

Here and there I’ve mentioned something about the man who cooks many of the dishes on these pages, but maybe I don’t credit him enough: my husband, Marco. Anyone who knows him is always surprised to hear that when we met he had never cooked a thing before in his life. Now, we argue over who gets to have more bench space in the kitchen. Born in San Miniato, a hilltop town between Pisa and Florence, surrounded by vineyards and forested hills that... Read More

Artusi’s December: Ricotta Tortelli

At some point between Christmas and New Year’s, in a haze of inevitable over-indulgence, I find I begin craving a night in, perhaps mostly spent on a cozy couch, with a steaming mug of herbal tea and my ideal comfort food. Tortelli or their littler versions, tortellini, have to be one of the ultimate comfort foods. They hold a place in the hearts of many Italians, especially at this time of year where this pasta often makes an appearance at the... Read More

Artusi’s October: Chicken gnocchi for the soul

It’s been a long summer in Tuscany this year but finally the temperature is dropping with this perfectly crisp, cool autumn air. Where in the summer heat I wilt, I feel at the same time invigorated and comforted by autumn. I like to lie in bed for a few extra minutes just to enjoy being warm under the fluffy covers. My morning ritual now begins with putting the kettle on for a big, steaming mug of herbal tea to warm up. And I begin craving soup.... Read More

A wine harvest lunch

There are two things that I love about the vendemmia, the grape harvest: the conversation between the vines and the lunch that follows. The vendemmia in Tuscany usually begins in that magical moment between the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, when the grapes are ripe but not too much and perhaps a bit of rain has swollen them nicely. I have always wanted to do a vendemmia and finally jumped at the chance when some friends who have a beautiful... Read More

Artusi’s September: Duck Pappardelle all’aretina

I look forward to September after the relentless, humid Tuscan heat of July and August. I love the heat, I do, but Florentine heat is something else. The stones of the piazze and palazzi heat up like a pizza oven and keep the city sweltering well into the night. The Florentines, rightfully, leave the city and escape to the seaside but I prefer not to sit packed like sardines on the sand in the hot sun either. So I patiently wait for September, when... Read More

Late summer mushroom pappardelle

By the end of the summer I’m ready for a change. Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than being barefoot. I love eating fresh peaches and melons, jammy figs, tomatoes and eggplants, but after a particularly hot summer I’m ready for a change. I’m ready for autumn, for a chill in the air, for a warming cup of tea in the afternoon. I’m looking forward to wearing woolly hats and choosing scarves for outfits. And I’m... Read More