Sarde a beccafico

Whenever I see fresh sardines at the market, shimmering with their silver scales, I have to have them, regardless of what was going to be on the menu before I noticed them. Packed full of flavour, nutrients and cheap as chips, they are an essential ingredient in regional Italian home cooking from top to toe of the peninsula. Pasta con le sarde is probably my all time favourite pasta dish, in any of its guises (though I’ve always loved the Sicilian... Read More

Slow-braised stuffed squid & The Jewelled Kitchen

They say that whatever country the Arabs passed through, they left a part of themselves in its kitchens. Although this references trade routes and voyages of over a thousand years ago, I like to think that this is still true in a more modern sense, like picking up a Middle Eastern cookbook or discovering a certain spice that you then cannot resist using in everything. I think these days it’s taken a bit for granted but much of the foundations... Read More

Cooking with lemon leaves

We moved house a few months ago – our first time living in a house, rather than a shoebox sized apartment, as was always the case in Florence. It’s a lovely old double brick house with stained glass on all the doors, wrought iron fireplaces and hardwood floors. The nice thing with a house, too, is having a back yard where we’ve just planted our first winter vegetable patch with radicchio, leeks and kale and things for the spring like... Read More

Smoked tuna and artichoke panini

This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a memory, brought back to life while going through some old photographs and toying with the tempting thought of a quick visit to Venice again. The memory happens to take place at the Rialto fish market, which I always love perusing even if I’m not buying any fish, just to satisfy my curiosity. To me, it’s as good as any sight to see in Venice, a living, breathing historical space of the city that... Read More

A 19th century lunch for Good Friday

One of my favourite things about Artusi’s cookbook, the 1891 bible of Italian cooking, is his suggested menu at the back for seasonal and traditional dishes, listing recipe suggestions by the month (see some of them here), with additional menus for special holidays. It’s not only is a quick way to glance over some of the nearly 800 recipes in his book, but it is also an incredibly interesting indication of what a meal consisted of in... Read More

Sarde in Saor

By far one of my favourite Venetian cicchetti is sarde in saor – fried fresh sardine fillets marinated in softly cooked white onions, usually with vinegar, raisins and pine nuts, all preferably prepared the day before serving. Found in the bacari nestled along Venice’s narrow laneways, where one stops for an ombra (a tiny rounded glass of local wine) and a bite to eat, this cicchetto is just as suitable as an antipasto at the table. The sharpness... Read More

San Vincenzo: The kitchen or the fishing boat

“So, would you like to be in the kitchen or on the boat?” Sometimes an amazing opportunity pops up, offered to you unexpectedly, like a chef offering to talk to you about local fish and its preparation on his boat rather than in the kitchen. The person asking is Fulvietto Pierangelini, chef and owner of Il Bucaniere restaurant in San Vincenzo, a beach resort and port town on Tuscany’s Etruscan Coast, a place I hold very close to my heart. At... Read More

Food Revolution Day: Crespelle Verdi di Pesce

Having grown up and lived in four different continents with friends in different parts of the world, I’m getting used to simply keeping in touch from a distance. But I often dream of being able to just have dinner with them all, say, on a whim, and easily have everyone show up in the one place at the one time, ready to share stories and dishes. So we’re making it happen. It just happens to be that the place is online and the time is Food... Read More

A Sustainable Calabrian Lunch: la Pittea Tropeana

I’ve recently discovered Calabrian cooking. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a glorious one, revealing very quickly that although it’s essential and simple, there is nothing simplistic about its flavours, the ancient traditions or the heart and soul that goes into it. Brought together by a mutual love of food and a series of coincidences, my Calabrian friend Anna, whose bucatini alla reggina had me at hello, has done it again with... 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