Gastronomic Guide to Porto Ercole

Rocky cliffs, Spanish fortresses, the azure sea and pretty ports. Admittedly it’s not usually for the food that people visit Monte Argentario and its little town of Porto Ercole, where we currently live. But if you happen to be exploring this most beautiful and quite rugged part of Tuscany, here’s how you can also eat really well in the area. Everyone has been to Tuscany. But what they often mean is they have been to Florence. Or the... Read More

Panzanella with vongole

Summer in Tuscany – it is all about not using the stove. Or using it as little as possible. Contrary to many people’s wishful thinking, there’s really nothing glamorous about being under the Tuscan sun – it’s a sweltering, all-encompassing, sticky heat, made all the worse by the fact that most towns and cities are made of heavy, medieval stones that heat up during the day like a pizza oven and retain the heat all night. Touch... Read More

I Pescatori di Orbetello: Dinner straight from the Lagoon

I love the five minute drive to Orbetello from our home in Porto Ercole in Monte Argentario. I look out the window, waiting for that curve after you pass the sandy stretch of Feniglia, when suddenly you hit the flat lagoon and you see the old town of Orbetello rising right out of the water, a little reminiscent of Venice. Orbetello’s lagoon characterises and in many ways defines the city. Created by two sand bars (the beautiful, long, soft-sanded... Read More

Polpo e patate — Octopus and potato salad

Food brings people together, this we all know. It unites people around a table, for the everyday or the special. A meal is the reason to go out, to stay in, an excuse to get to know someone new or celebrate with those closest to your heart. It’s also the main thing two food bloggers who have never actually met in person know they have in common. So from the get-go, you know that an offer of, I’m in town, let’s get together and cook,... Read More

Pasta mista con patate e cozze – Pasta with potatoes and mussels

Living in a port town (and an island-like port town at that) means I am spoilt for choice when it comes to seafood. And when the supermarket isn’t that handy for me to get to but the local pescivendolo (the fishmonger – though I should point out, here too I am spoilt because it’s not just a fishmonger but the outlet direct from the fishermen themselves) is, it means fish is often on the menu for dinner. I particularly love shellfish.... Read More

Palamita sott’olio (Bonito preserved in oil)

I must admit that I am one to succumb to an impulse buy every now and then. Well, actually, almost all my produce shopping at the market is an impulse, except for when I actually plan for a recipe and need certain ingredients. Whatever looks good or cheap or particularly interesting is what ends up in my basket – perhaps it’s a box of figs, jammy, over ripe and going for next to nothing or a bunch of herbs that I don’t normally see,... Read More

Pasta con le sarde

While I love summer for its fruit, autumn for its earthy flavours and winter for hearty dishes, spring is my favourite time of year for vegetables – asparagus, broad beans, artichokes. And then there are the wild things – weeds, herbs and vegetables that grow spontaneously, filling up cracks in the pavement or taking over fields or overgrown garden corners. Foraging for edible weeds and making food with wild vegetables is taking a step back in... Read More

Crostini with cannellini and white anchovies

It’s been a busy new year — moving to a new city, trying to entertain and raise a fast-growing, handful of a toddler and keeping up with my blog and my Regional Italian Food column for Food52. And now I have a new gig as a recipe writer for the weekly Food & Wine supplement of The Canberra Times! For locals, it comes out on a Wednesday with the paper. For everyone else, the recipes go online at the Good Food website. I’ll be... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Zuppa di moscardini

Soup is the measure of a good cook. It may be a simple and humble vegetable soup or an extravagent bisque, but either way, it needs to be made with the knowledge of how to get the flavour out of your ingredients. Layers are key. As is texture. And a good stock goes a long way. It’s a dish that takes not necessarily time but a certain amount of skill and instinct in the kitchen. We decided that soup should be this month’s theme for our Italian... Read More

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