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holidays

A dreamy weekend at Adler Resort in Bagno Vignoni

The Valdorcia is one of my very favourite areas to visit in Tuscany, it embodies so much about what I love about this region — the green and golden rolling hills, magnificent stone hamlets, rustic and genuine country food and the delights of the natural landscape, in particular the pampering hot springs. In Bagno Vignoni, one of the most charming towns of the area, natural thermal springs flow that have been attracting travellers since Roman... Read More

Chestnut panforte, a gluten free and vegan treat

This is a slightly untraditional variation on the most traditional recipe I know for panforte — a sweet, dense, spicy medieval cake from Siena. The recipe comes from the bible of Tuscan cooking, Paolo Petroni’s Il Grande Libro della Vera Cucina Toscana and every time I make panforte (since I first posted about it back in 2011) I make some kind of variation on his recipe. To be honest, I usually don’t deviate from it much unless... Read More

Ricotta, feta and mint ravioli on a windswept Greek Island

I knew before I even got there that I would fall in love Andros, a mountainous, rugged Greek island, the northernmost of the Cyclades archipelago. When Allegra asked me to host part of a creative workshop at her stunning, cliffside B&B, Melisses, that sits between Chora, the capital, and the port, I jumped at the chance! Mornings began with beautiful breakfasts of summer fruit, copious amounts of thick Greek yoghurt, tahini, and Allegra’s... Read More

An Acquacotta-inspired Christmas

Some of my favourite ingredients from the Maremma, in southern Tuscany, are also those flavours that I love at Christmas — I’m talking about chestnuts, dried figs, nuts and chocolate, and game like guinea fowl. They are ingredients that make this season’s table feel special yet not over the top. I’d rather be comforted by a Christmas meal than overwhelmed by one and these dishes, for me, do just that. These recipes are essentially... Read More

Easter Adventures in Tuscany and tackling Carol Field’s Colomba

Surely the best thing about colomba, the Easter equivalent to panettone, is the sugared, toasted almond topping that covers the whole thing and crumbles when you cut it, so you sort of have no choice but just to pick up the crusty sugary bits and eat those on their own. I’d always thought that colomba would make a very good baking project but was somewhat intimated by getting the right shape  — it’s vaguely in the shape of a dove,... 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

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

Italian Table Talk: Torrone sardo, the perfect homemade gift

It’s crept up on me this year. Here I was still thinking it’s October, but suddenly it’s December. Time to start preparing gifts and thinking about the Christmas table, though my mind is elsewhere as I’m really trying to plan my baby’s first birthday! I knew having a Christmas baby would make the holidays different and I have this feeling that from now on my Christmasses are always going to creep up on me and the birthday... Read More

Frittelle di Riso

They have a saying that I love in Tuscany, “Fritta è bona anche una ciabatta,” which means even a slipper is good deep fried (in other words, anything is good if it’s deep fried). Fried foods are a beloved part of Tuscan cuisine, whether it’s the fritto misto of the seaside (a “mix” of calamari, baby octopus, prawns and little fish, usually), the fritto of the countryside (rabbit and seasonal vegetables like artichokes... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Carnival & Berlingozzo cake

For a celebration known as Fat Tuesday, you might think that the traditional recipes would be a chance for gluttons to gleefully stuff their faces with, well, fatty things. Mid-week, no less. Well it’s sort of true. Martedì Grasso (also known as Mardi Gras in French), or Fat Tuesday, which just happens to be tomorrow, February 12, is probably the most well known day of Carnevale, Carnival. It represents the end of that lavish, drunken, festive... Read More