Crostone di salsiccia & stracchino

Melbourne’s winter is certainly making itself felt with what feels like a constant, grey drizzle. Thankfully the sun has come out today to warm our shoulders a little and put a smile back on people’s faces, but the chill in the air remains. To be honest, the cold, wet days remind me of early winter in Florence and although I’ve been complaining about it, there is something comforting in the nostalgia that the weather brings. One of our favourite... Read More

Sugo Finto with Handmade Pici

This age-old Tuscan dish has a name that illustrates that wonderful connection between food and language that Italy is so good at. Sugo finto, literally “fake sauce” or, more appropriately, “fake ragu” (as ‘sugo’ is used as often if not more than the borrowed word ‘ragu’ in Tuscany), is so-called because it is a meatless ragu. Born of the poor peasant kitchens when meat, particularly beef or veal, was a rare and special ingredient,... Read More

Italian Table Talk: The Longevity of Tuscan bread

If there were one defining ingredient in a Tuscan kitchen, one absolutely essential part of every single meal, it would have to be bread; not just any bread, but pane toscano, Tuscan bread. It’s a large, rustic, usually oval-shaped loaf baked in a woodfired oven with a hard and crunchy outer shell and an inside of bland (yes, bland), springy white bread. It has the physical characteristic of only staying soft for one day, but once stale it lasts... 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

Gelato in Florence & Fior di Latte al Rosmarino

There are many rituals closely associated with Italian eating habits – the morning espresso or pre-dinner aperitivo, for instance, the post-dinner digestivo or post-dinner, post-coffee ammazzacaffè, ‘coffee killer’. But one of my favourites is the post-meal passeggiata, gelato in hand. It’s a ritual that’s hard to keep up living outside of Italy, unfortunately. For one, there’s not enough strolling that goes on these days on a regular... Read More

Tuscan Easter: Schiacciata di Pasqua

“Variety is the spice of life. Italy has infinite variety and infinite spice.” Professor Mario Pei in 1950 was right on the money when he wrote this in reference to Italy’s strikingly diverse regions and cuisines. Not only are Italian regions so different that language, food, habits, rituals and culture change from border to border, but – in a smaller and no less distinct way – this happens even from town to town within a region. This is... Read More

Ben venga il Minestrone

The Italians are brilliant with words, especially when it comes to food. Take that most humble of dishes, soup. In English, we pretty much have the one word to describe it. Oxford Companion to Italian Food author Gillian Riley makes the point that Italians have many specific words for the dish while English is rather limited, “Soup and stew are easygoing, almost interchangeable words in English, used to describe many recipes, anything from a thick... Read More

Homemade ricotta, the real deal

There is something magical about the process of cheese making; the same kind of magic that I witnessed when I developed my first photograph in the darkroom and watched an image appear from seemingly nothing. In both cases, it was love at first sight. Ricotta is not technically a cheese but a milk product or a by-product of the cheese making process, like its Lombard cousin, mascarpone (whose name by the way in its local dialect means “ricotta”)... Read More

Zabaione, sweet and easy

Around this time of the year in Australia, it’s only natural to make pavlova for every summer party. It’s the quintessential Australian dessert, with a crispy-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside meringue, freshly whipped cream and seasonal fruit. But  then you’re left with all those egg yolks, which I hate to waste. So I’ve found the best thing for those orphan egg yolks: zabaione. In fact, this old fashioned Italian dessert –... Read More

Top 25 Tuscan Food Finds

Who doesn’t love a “top” list? I think they can be really useful to give a quick rundown on what’s on offer when you visit a place like Tuscany that has so much to offer for a foodie. It’s not easy compiling a list like this, I have to say, it could have easily grown to 100! But I wanted the list to include things you haven’t necessarily heard of before, all the places I love and frequent when I’m in town. I’ve... Read More