Late summer eggplants – Melanzane Sott’olio

It’s nearly April, when autumn in Melbourne should well and truly be taking over the season but summer is dragging on and after a long, slow heatwave that felt like a giant hair dryer pointed at the city, a bit of autumn weather would be highly appreciated. I’m beginning to crave a refreshing, crisp morning, for example, when you need a nice hot cup of tea or coffee to warm you up and perhaps a floaty scarf to layer over the summer clothes... Read More

Juls’ Pappa al Pomodoro

It’s hard to imagine the days before I met Giulia (you may know her better as Juls from Juls’ Kitchen) and we weren’t yet friends, messaging each other constantly and plotting our next meal together. Between Florence and her countryside home in the Sienese hills, we weren’t exactly neighbours but somehow we found time – and plenty of it – to get together to cook or eat, and usually both, together. Our first meeting itself... Read More

An autumn risotto from San Gimignano

I was hooked at my first meal at Poggio Alloro. The family-run agriturismo and organic farm sits on a hill looking directly at the town of San Gimignano. It is one of the most stunning views of Tuscany, one of those views that you only dream about or see in postcards and wonder if there are really places that exist that look like that. The Chianina cows graze on the hill side, the vineyards follow the rolling hills surrounding the property and the... Read More

The Ideal Energy Meal: Farro Salad

There are just under ten weeks before my due date (yes, folks, that means less than ten weeks till Christmas eve!) and I have just discovered that I have gestational diabetes. It means that for the next ten weeks while I have diabetes, I just have to be a bit more careful with what I eat and when, which can be a challenge for any food blogger, but luckily it’s not an overhaul of my usual diet, it’s just a tad more picky. It means choosing... Read More

Eat your greens: Fagiolini sfiziosi

Classic Tuscan dishes are rather meaty, hearty, starchy dishes, with few vegetables playing the heroes. Yes, tomatoes make a big appearance, especially in the summer when bright, fresh tomatoes are used in the wonderful bread salad, panzanella, and bruschetta. Spinach or its other green leafy relatives, silverbeet and kale, are found in bread soups or mixed with ricotta in pasta fillings. But do you see what I mean by starchy? When you want a contorno,... Read More

A lesson in Bruschetta

One of the world’s simplest of pleasures – fresh bread and tomato – is also one of the most mispronounced. La Bruschetta is a much loved menu item in places far and away from Italy’s peninsula but it suffers from being misspelled and mispronounced to the point where the mispronounced version is becoming the accepted norm. Even well-known chefs on well-known television shows who ought to know better are using the wrong words and there should... 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

Calabrian Simplicity: Bucatini alla Reggina

At first I didn’t hear the staccato sound of the double ‘g’ when my Calabrian friend Anna suggested she would make me bucatini alla reggina. To non-Italian speakers, it may not seem like much but it can make all the difference. I heard bucatini alla ‘regina’, which would mean the ‘Queen’s bucatini’. It made sense to me at the time, there are plenty dishes named after the Savoy Queen of Italy, including two old classics, pizza... 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

Artusi’s November: Pumpkin Pie

I’ve said many times how much I love autumn, particularly for the season’s food. It just feels natural to be a little more indulgent at this time of the year, allowing yourself plenty of comfort food or that extra slice of pie. Pumpkin has to be right up there as one of my favourite autumn vegetables. Just before leaving Italy a few weeks ago, we had pumpkins coming at us from all directions, most notably from my husband’s nonna’s... Read More