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

Summer Highlights on the Tuscan Coast

About halfway through a Tuscan summer the heat begins to really take its toll. Oppressive heat, like a hair dryer pointed in your face. Stone piazzas that bake all day in the sun, trapping the heat like an oven. Crowds. Rare air-conditioning. You begin living off things that don’t need any cooking at all: paper thin slices of prosciutto from the butcher and thick slices of fragrant melon. Fresh mozzarella or wobbly ricotta. Tomato salad, over and... Read More

Trattoria Da Burde, as Florentine as you get

I had known about this place for years, heard so many good things, knew it was just the sort of place I would love. But somehow it took me years to get there — perhaps because of not being right in the centre of Florence (it’s in the neighbourhood of Peretola, very close to the airport) and having opening hours that aren’t always easy to fit in with (they’re only open for lunch during the week and Friday nights for dinner).... Read More

Torta di Mele from Florentine + a giveaway!

It’s been two months since the book has “been out there” — Two exhilarating, nerve-wracking and unbelievable months and sold out book launch dinners and workshops in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and London! To say thank you for all the wonderful support and enthusiasm for Florentine, I’m sharing one of my favourite recipes from the book — a humble but delightful apple cake – and I’m giving away a limited... Read More

Il Baciarino and Andrea’s seafood

Imagine a hill side covered with oak and olive trees that ramble down to the sea, and a 180 degree view of these rolling, lolling hills that fade into the distance to that thin, silvery sliver of water on the horizon. This is what you see when you step out of the door at Il Baciarino, a beautiful hideaway of four very private, very lovely hand-built cottages (hand-built, yes, because modern tractors and machinery have no way of getting here!) set... Read More

Brunch at Teatro del Sale

I love to eat at a place where there’s a bit of action (and interaction) in the kitchen during service, and Teatro del Sale is just the place for it in Florence. It is part of the kingdom of Florentine chef, Fabio Picchi, who runs four fabulous eateries all on the doorstep of the Sant’Ambrogio Markets. But rather than the more formal world of Picchi’s famous Cibreo restaurant, at Teatro del Sale, you get the good, no-nonsense food,... Read More

A batch of soft Tuscan cookies

I seem to be raising a little cook — not a surprise really, as we probably spend three-quarters of our day in the kitchen. She has taken to liberally adding her touch to dishes that she can reach on the table (apple juice tipped into the marinade and half a jar of dried chilli flakes shaken over the salad were some highlights this week) or completely taking over whenever she sees any type of dough being made, rolled or cut out. In fact, it’s... Read More

A Tuscan Christmas Gathering

Last weekend Giulia and I hosted out first Tuscan Gathering, an excuse to cook and eat and drink for hours and wander the woods or fall asleep in front of the roaring fire, an excuse to get together with friends near and far (and to connect in person, as many ‘friends’ are those that we know only via social media, which happens so often these days). It was an idea inspired by the seasonal gatherings that I’ve seen friends, The... Read More

Homemade Alchermes liqueur

It felt like I was mixing a magic potion. A little bit of this. A little bit of that. A crumbling of some bark, a few seeds. And then the final touch: a couple of spoonfuls of dried insects. Kermes or cochineal insects are what give this Renaissance-aged Tuscan liqueur it’s distinct colour, and its name. The dried insects infuse the liqueur with a deep, pinkish-red magenta hue and are then strained out, along with the other spices that permeate... Read More

Autumn salad of fennel, walnuts & pomegranate

My recent visit to the Val d’Orcia is still heavily imprinted on my mind. The textures of the hills that look like pencil drawings, that first chill in the air and the first roaring fireplace of the season. Everything looked and tasted like autumn. Just before we left we stopped for a visit to see the sisters of Puscina, a family-run flower farm between Pienza and Montepulciano. They took us on a stroll through their garden beds overflowing... Read More