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

Stinging Nettle Tortellini

The great thing about being part of a big Italian family is that if you need to find something, someone will always have it or will endeavour to find it for you. In my case, a few weeks ago it was untreated roses to make rose petal jam. Marco’s cousin came to the rescue. She had a wonderful fuchsia-coloured rose bush growing against an old tin shed. Going back to her garden again for my second batch of jam, she had something else waiting for me:... Read More

Unwinding with Tagliolini al Limone

We all need time to unwind and relax, to get away from the usual routine and leave the “to do” list at home. A weekend by the sea is my preferred technique at the moment, while the Spring weather is still not too hot yet not too cool, sometimes stormy, but mostly gloriously sunny. We are blessed to have a place where we can always stay in a little beach side village on the Etruscan coast, one of my absolute most favourite parts of Tuscany. The... Read More

Artusi’s April: Gnocchi alla Romana

As Easter normally falls in April, Artusi‘s reliable suggestions for this month’s Italian menu consist of plenty of dishes that you could traditionally find on an Easter table, including the ones that Italians call “magro” or lean, in other words, fish or vegetables (but no meat), the diet to be followed on Good Friday. Among a list of some of my favourite Spring dishes such as artichoke tart, fava beans served raw, Easter lamb, chocolate... Read More

Carrot Gnocchi

I once heard that the goodness in carrots helps get over jet lag. I’ve just gone through a 30 hour journey from Italy to Australia, passing through five airports and being thrown 10 hours ahead to get from one home to the other. I’m going to need some carrots. This wonderful gnocchi recipe came to mind. It’s a unique and a beautiful dish that was made for me by an equally unique and beautiful person, Sara, a talented and offbeat Italian... 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

Sugo Bugiardo: Fakes, liars and runaway chicken

Like in many traditional peasant cuisines, Tuscan cooking was quite imaginative when faced with hard times. Tuscans are very good with using up their leftovers, or turning the less noble parts of animals into unforgettable meals. But they were also very good at imagining that they were eating something that they weren’t. My mother-in-law, born right after the war in central Tuscany, once recounted to me that when she was a little a girl they didn’t... Read More