Cozze Ripiene – Stuffed Mussels

This is a clever and thrifty dish with peasant origins from Puglia, the most southern tip of Italy’s peninsula. It’s an area which is rich and abundant in seafood, grains and vegetables but over the centuries has seen some of the worst poverty in the country. It’s famous port city, Taranto, is known as the city of two seas as it’s home to two geographically interesting bodies of water known as “The Great Sea” and the flat,... Read More

Bonci’s Focaccia Pugliese

Few things are as good as really well-made, fresh bread. That initial crunch, then the springy softness of the inside, perhaps still warm. Even better when it’s homemade and the smell of bread baking fills your kitchen and lingers throughout the house. I’m lucky to have a passionate home baker as a husband. I love having homemade bread around but if it weren’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be able to get all the way through... Read More

Eat your greens: Fagiolini sfiziosi

Classic Tuscan dishes are rather meaty, hearty, starchy dishes, with few vegetables playing the heroes. Yes, tomatoes make a big appearance, especially in the summer when bright, fresh tomatoes are used in the wonderful bread salad, panzanella, and bruschetta. Spinach or its other green leafy relatives, silverbeet and kale, are found in bread soups or mixed with ricotta in pasta fillings. But do you see what I mean by starchy? When you want a contorno,... 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

Pane alle Olive

There’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the house to create a warm and fuzzy feeling. Perhaps the only thing that beats it is that first bite of a slice of hot, freshly baked bread, crunchy on the outside, soft and steaming still on the inside, drizzled in some extra virgin olive oil. Marco, my husband, is the baker in the house. Tuscans don’t know how to live without bread. If there’s no bread on the table the... Read More

Oysters alla Tarantina

As the end of November approaches at lightning speed, I am suddenly reminded of next month’s big event – Christmas. It’s a busy time in normal circumstances, but I’ve just moved from the Italy to far flung Australia. We’re not only busy setting up a new life in Melbourne, but also – we’re hosting Christmas. Missing furniture aside, Christmas for my family in Australia is really all about the food and a fitting excuse to get everyone... 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

How to make honey from figs

One of the things that I love about traditional Italian home cooking is how essential it is. There is a reason for everything, nothing is by accident. Food just makes sense here, and the more you see the changing landscapes and traditions of each individual region, the more you see why food and its traditions are so different from one part of the peninsula to the next. I recently travelled to Puglia, which is pure heaven for a food enthusiast. A beautiful... 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

Forgotten Flavours of Puglia

Somewhere between neat, tall rows of grape vines and the sea of shimmering olive trees with their ancient, disfigured and twisted trunks, I found myself in heaven. An intense blue sky and picturesque white-stoned towns only added to the already blissful atmosphere. I’m in Puglia. And more precisely, I’m slowly eating myself to death in Puglia. Not on purpose, but that’s just the way it’s done here. Food is taken seriously. When they say “antipasto”... Read More