Homemade Alchermes liqueur

It felt like I was mixing a magic potion. A little bit of this. A little bit of that. A crumbling of some bark, a few seeds. And then the final touch: a couple of spoonfuls of dried insects. Kermes or cochineal insects are what give this Renaissance-aged Tuscan liqueur it’s distinct colour, and its name. The dried insects infuse the liqueur with a deep, pinkish-red magenta hue and are then strained out, along with the other spices that permeate... Read More

Renaissance elderflower fritters

I have to admit that when I first thought I’d like to try this recipe, I didn’t even know what elderflowers looked like. I had to google them and then once I had and I saw the cluster of tiny white flowers, spread out in that distinct, flat, oval shape, I couldn’t stop noticing them absolutely everywhere. In spring, they are prolific around Tuscany and pop up anywhere where you find green. I even found them in town, growing around... Read More

Spiced walnut linguine, a recipe that tastes of history

It goes without saying that Florence is a city that lives in its past. In every nook and cranny, history – a fantastic, unique history that influenced the way the entire world saw things – seeps out onto the well-trodden stone streets and into the every day. On some occasions all it takes is walking right through the centre of town, passing over literal layers of history in a square like Piazza della Reppublica, the spot where the medieval mercato... Read More

The art of Renaissance comfort food

Twelve months ago, I posted a recipe from Artusi’s cookbook for a Sicilian almond pudding, biancomangiare. The 120 year old recipe is a classic, but it’s origins go back centuries further, when the pure white dish of biancomangiare was a monastery staple and bedside comfort food of chicken and almond milk. I wrote about the Renaissance version of this recipe recently for The Canberra Times, to coincide with the opening of an unprecedented... Read More