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

Italian Table Talk: Artichoke tart

Italy in the spring. It means blossoms and longer, warmer days. Early on, it usually means rain too but also a gorgeous landscape of luminous, bright green pastures of new growth. It means fritelle. It means Easter and plenty of fresh eggs, especially from my sister in law’s busy hens. But, most of all, to me, it means artichokes. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, like the variety and availability of good artichokes in Italy. The varieties... Read More

On wild vegetables and acquacotta

A surprise find at one of my favourite markets in Florence last week led me to this beautiful and ancient dish, acquacotta (literally, “cooked water” but also meaning “cooked in water”), a tradition of southern Tuscany and Lazio, where the fields are filled with mounds of curly, jagged-edged weeds and other wild vegetables and greens that I had never seen and certainly never cooked with before. There’s something about eating wild vegetables... Read More

Broad bean pesto

I’m on a broad bean kick lately. The beans we planted five months ago have grown outgrageously. They’re taller than me and are producing lovely, long velvety fingers of pods, which all of us (the 11 month old bean-eater included) have been picking, opening and eating right there on the spot. They’re just so good like this when they’re young and tender that I’ve hardly had them any other way. Broad beans (also known as... Read More

Backyard broad beans & how to eat them

I began dabbling in gardening in the most unlikely of places – a rooftop overlooking the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. It got a good bit of sun and we had a wide terrace, so we decided to experiment with some tomato seeds in little terracotta pots that matched the rooftops. It was a step up from the previous pots of sage, thyme and basil that I’d kept on window ledges of tiny apartments. Like magic, they sprouted and grew. We moved them into... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Breakfast in Florence & Crostatine

Breakfast is such a cultural eye-opener, at no other meal time do you get such a view of a place or a person than through their first meal of the day. For some, it’s a strictly savoury affair, often resembling lunch or even dinner, for others it’s always sweet or perhaps all it consists of is a cup of coffee. We’ve decided this month to make breakfast the topic of Italian Table Talk with Giulia whipping up a fresh batch of cornetti... Read More

Mascarpone cream and strawberry sauce

A week ago when we left Tuscany, the fridge was full of strawberries. Ripe, perfumed spring strawberries, so red, pretty and tempting that we couldn’t help it – we kept buying punnets whenever we saw them. Needless to say, there were quite a few strawberries to consume before heading back to Melbourne’s autumn. I’ve always appreciated how simple Tuscan desserts really are. Rustic, not necessarily pretty, and full of tradition,... Read More

Spring truffles & the perfect fried egg

It’s not easy saying goodbye after a wonderful month amongst friends, family and good food in Tuscany, especially when time has flown so quickly and it seems we only just got here. Even though I’m a self-confessed autumn girl, it was particularly nice being back at this time of the year, spring, to indulge in plenty of those food cravings that I have for things that just aren’t the same in Australia. Artichokes, for one. Yes, we... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Braised artichokes with calamint

From Melbourne’s Indian summer, I’ve been propelled into Tuscany’s spring – and apparently I brought the warm weather with me. Though the trees are still bearing winter’s naked branches, the hills and fields are covered in a brilliant green cloak, often dotted with flowers. Even the cracks of the concrete and stone footpaths of Florence are filled with chickweed (a fresh tasting leaf with a slight pea-shoot similarity, lovely... Read More

On nettle pasta & acquiring food skills

Making fresh pasta from scratch is something I’ve only recently acquired. Or to be really honest, it’s something that my husband Marco has acquired. Whenever there is bread making or pasta making involved, he’s my man. There’s just something about him and dough. Maybe it’s those big, slightly rough hands – they may not be delicate enough for, say, cake decorating, but he’s much more a fresh pasta and bread lover... Read More