Ricotta and spinach ‘gnudi’ video recipe

When I was writing the manuscript for Florentine, I enlisted the help of an army of recipe testers — about 80 people from all over the world — to test every recipe thoroughly. Only one came back to me consistently with problems. From Minnesota to Melbourne, three testers wrote to me that their very first attempt at making Tuscan gnudi (ricotta and spinach balls that, rather than be encased in pasta like for ravioli, are simply dusted... Read More

Ten ways to survive an Italian heatwave

Newstands this morning declared the centre of Florence “feels like” 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) and signs warned of extreme heat this week, to stay indoors and avoid outdoor activity. They say this is the last (the fifth) heatwave of the summer. Here’s how to deal with it. Under the Tuscan Sun may embody a dream for many, but Tuscan summers have always felt like an inferno to me, easily my least favourite part about living... Read More

The Perfect Tuscan Coast Getaway 2017

I’ve been coming to the Etruscan Coast — the stretch of Tuscan coastline from Livorno to Piombino and all the islands in between — ever since I met Marco, over ten years ago. His grandparents, like so many Tuscans, have had an apartment here since the early 60s, so it was their stomping ground; their childrens’ and their children’s children spot for their annual summer holiday. The summer can be busy and crowded, when... Read More

Food and family — an interview for Wee Magazine

Last month I received a beautiful magazine in the mail. It had tactile rag paper, colourful and quirky illustrations and was filled with stories about families and their food habits, children’s food drawings, what people feed their families around the world and tales of good and real food — all in Korean! I was honoured to be interviewed in a story about what goes on my family’s table and how we involve our daughter in learning good... Read More

Rose petal and ricotta tartlets

When a friend tells you she has wild roses blooming everywhere, it’s not hard to imagine where the conversation headed to next… to turning them into rose petal jam, of course. My friend Simona Quirini and her family run the beautiful Canto del Maggio, a B&B, restaurant and garden, about one hour’s drive from Florence. We arrived to catch Simona with a wooden crate in her hands, already half full of blush pink flower heads,... Read More

Interview with Giulia Scarpaleggia on creating her new cookbook

One of my personal favourite food memories of all time was the first time I realised the potential of shopping at my local market in Florence and being able to speak to the other shoppers as well as the stallholders — only I didn’t think to write down all the gems I collected as I took in bits and pieces on what to do with artichokes or how to tell which fennel bulbs are the best. But my dear friend Giulia Scarpaleggia did. Not only,... Read More

A winter’s day in San Gimignano

It’s a blustery, drizzly, foggy winter’s day. A day that might normally send you straight back to bed to take refuge under the covers, a cup of tea and a pile of good books close by. But we’ve got a lunch date. In San Gimignano. So, fuelled with coffee, we hop on a train from Florence to Poggibonsi where we meet my good friend, Sarah, a San Gimignano local. She runs her family farm, Poggio Alloro, 10 minutes drive from San Gimignano... Read More

Strawberry tree jam (Marmellata di corbezzoli)

I didn’t notice it at first, the skinny tree with dark leaves in our shared garden at our new home in Settignano, in the hills above Florence. I was too taken by the green vines hanging like a curtain over our entrance, keeping the house cool in the humid Florentine summer. But now that it’s autumn and the the leaves still left on the vines have turned a shade of rose champagne, that skinny green tree is sporting bright vermillion fruit,... Read More

Saffron and ricotta frosting for a birthday cake

It seems like a long way to go about getting some fresh saffron to frost a birthday cake with, but it was worth it. I’ve been plotting for months with my friend, Sarah Fioroni, to let me get involved with the saffron harvest at her family’s farm in San Gimignano. It’s not the first time I’ve celebrated my birthday with a saffron theme on the farm at Fattoria Poggio Alloro — there was this pumpkin and saffron risotto... Read More

Four ways to fall in love with Florence

It was 2001. Two weeks shy of my 21st birthday, exactly 15 years ago. I arrived at the Santa Maria Novella station in Florence after flying halfway around the globe to Rome to start a semester-long etching course as part of my Fine Art degree. I had a suitcase and a few Italian lessons behind me — not enough to understand a conversation but maybe to figure out a menu, for the most part. I had no idea where I would even stay the night, let... Read More