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

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

Simple Pleasures: Triglie alla Livornese

Few things to me are as perfect as a quickly, simply prepared whole fish, eaten on a balmy evening by the sea. After months of sweltering summer heat, the days have finally cooled down to the perfect temperature. I couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy a week off than this – perfect moments of simplicity, an empty beach and unexpectedly beautiful weather. It’s just the right moment to be on a Tuscan beach if you ask me – the folly... Read More

Artusi’s March: Recipe from a Tuscan Monastery

Pellegrino Artusi’s suggestions for lunch in March include this curious dish, Zuppa alla Certosina, a fish and tomato soup that is plumped up with an “egg-drop” finish. It’s a dish that originated in a monastery (as it’s name suggests), so it’s not something you’ll find on trattoria menus these days, but my mother-in-law remembers her mother making a similar dish when she was young – a soup known as Stracciatella, where an egg beaten... Read More

Livorno for Foodies

Most people may not know this but Livorno is a great foodie town. It’s only an hour’s drive from Florence but it seems a world away from the Tuscan capital. Historically known as a very open city, it was a duty-free port from the 16th century with an open door policy that allowed its merchant population –made up largely of Jews, Armenians, Dutch, English and Greeks in particular – to flourish. It lost its status as a free port when Italy was... Read More

The art of cicchetti-ing in Venice

Venice in the quiet of the winter is when I love this city the most. There is something about the mystery of the dark, damp city that is brought out even more by the misty weather. Thomas Mann described Venice as “half fairy-tale, half tourist trap,” an observation that is still valid even a century later, and is actually, I think, one of the things that contributes to the city’s mystery and charm. For me Venice is almost always a fairytale,... Read More