Italian Table Talk: Lardo di Colonnata

If you’ve ever sat down to an antipasto of Tuscan salumi (the Italian word for cured meats in general; not to be confused please with salami!), you’ll know that Tuscans are serious about their cured meats. It’s the topic of this month’s Italian Table Talk, as January is popularly the month for butchering pigs and making salumi in the natural refrigeration that winter provides (if you’re interested in the how-to side of... Read More

A Tuscan Christmas

Christmas is a personal event that changes from household to household almost anywhere you go, but an Italian Christmas is always about being with family and keeping up age-old traditions, especially when they have to do with the food. This Christmas more than other is one where we’re thinking about being with our families, near and far, as we’re about to become new parents. Although this Christmas for us is likely going to be an extremely... Read More

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

Blood & Chocolate

My old boss in Florence once recounted to me, full of nostalgia, that when he was a child, his small hometown near Foggia, Puglia, would hold a pig festival. Essentially it was an age-old tradition where the town pigs would be butchered and celebrated by using the whole beast, right down to the very last drop of blood. The fresh, warm blood would be collected and then, on the spot, mixed with milk and chocolate and cooked into a dark, decadent, custard-like... Read More

Artusi’s December: Ricotta Tortelli

At some point between Christmas and New Year’s, in a haze of inevitable over-indulgence, I find I begin craving a night in, perhaps mostly spent on a cozy couch, with a steaming mug of herbal tea and my ideal comfort food. Tortelli or their littler versions, tortellini, have to be one of the ultimate comfort foods. They hold a place in the hearts of many Italians, especially at this time of year where this pasta often makes an appearance at the... Read More

Orecchiette con Broccoli: The way to a man’s heart

The first time I ever cooked something for the man who is now my husband, it was an impromptu event where I managed to throw together a pasta dish with an almost empty fridge. We still didn’t know each other very well, were a long way away from finding out all the things there are to know about each other. We were still very nervous about what the other person thought, still trying to impress each other. And so it happened, during a cold and... Read More

Artusi’s February: Agnolotti

I noticed that this month’s list of Artusi’s suggestions for the perfect lunch included Agnolotti (Artusi spells it “Agnellotti”), a traditional meat-filled pasta from Le Langhe in Piemonte, a gorgeous region in the north western corner of Italy for which I have a soft spot. Home to famous red wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco, the hearty, country dishes speak of the land, the hills and the traditions of the area. The restaurant of the historic... Read More

La Tegamata: Celebration of a family ritual

I recently had my first experience eating Tegamata, a dish which is the ultimate celebration of an old fashioned family ritual: slaughtering a pig. And not just any pig, but a pig that has been cared for and raised by the family and whose death is now going to be honoured by the simple fact that not one single scrap of this animal will go to waste. Especially when we’re talking about the animal I have in front of me today – a cinta senese. The... Read More

Chestnut crepes: Preserving the taste of autumn

Chestnut flour is a great reminder of autumn that easily stretches out my favourite season to last throughout winter. Readily available throughout Tuscany, chestnut flour is produced locally all over the region from Prato to Amiata to be made into pasta, bread and pastries. It is also the essential ingredient in one of my favourite cold weather snacks, Necci. Chestnut flour has a naturally low moisture content, which means in centuries past it was... Read More

The art of cicchetti-ing in Venice

Venice in the quiet of the winter is when I love this city the most. There is something about the mystery of the dark, damp city that is brought out even more by the misty weather. Thomas Mann described Venice as “half fairy-tale, half tourist trap,” an observation that is still valid even a century later, and is actually, I think, one of the things that contributes to the city’s mystery and charm. For me Venice is almost always a fairytale,... Read More