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

Recipes from a Tuscan Farm

For the past twelve months, I’ve had the pleasure of taking photographs for the cookbook of Fattoria Poggio Alloro, an organic family farm in San Gimignano, Tuscany. A record of family traditions, the farm’s seasonal produce and rustic, hearty dishes, the book is arranged month by month, season to season. A Family Farm in Tuscany: Recipes and Stories from Poggio Alloro by Sarah Fioroni will be released in the US on March 31, 2012, [and... 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

A Spicy Slice of Panforte

I love finding old cookbooks, hand-me-downs from relatives or books found rummaging through second hand bookshops. Once, I even carted home a box full of old cookbooks waiting for the recycling truck. There are treasures in these books, even little ones, like a dog-ear and stained page from that well-used recipe, or – my favourite – a handwritten recipe tucked away in the pages. An old book on Tuscan cooking borrowed from my husband’s aunt had... Read More

Memories of Rabbit

I’m always in awe of the power of food to revive memories, especially faraway childhood ones. For some it may be the smell of warm spices, baking bread or sizzling butter. Or it’s the texture of comforting creamy pudding or crispy roast potatoes. Sometimes it can just be the idea of a dish, long forgotten, that will bring back a rush of the smells, taste and rituals. It happened the other day, unexpectedly to my father. I had been waiting... Read More