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winter

A stay at Adler, the original spa resort in the Dolomites

Last spring I was invited to spend some time in the Dolomites at Adler, at the original, historic lodge where the resort first began in 1810 in the centre of the picturesque, pastel-toned town of Ortisei (Urtijëi) in Val Gardena in the South Tyrol. Around the Dolomites area, Adler have four resorts (the other we stayed in on this trip and I’ve written about before is Adler Lodge Ritten), plus one in Tuscany at my favourite hot springs Bagno... Read More

Brodo di pollo, chicken broth for winter solstice

This is the simplest recipe, which is part of the beauty of it for me. All you need is a really good, organic, free range chicken and you’re halfway there. Around Christmas and New Year’s in Italy, it’s not unusual to see cappone, or capon, a castrated rooster, on offer and this would be one of the classic ways to prepare cappone too. Castration of a rooster has been practised since ancient times, initially being a way to keep roosters... Read More

Involtini di cavolo con patate e funghi

I tasted this dish of cabbage parcels with potato and mushroom recently at a wonderful trattoria, Osteria di Golpaja at the wonderful Villa Pietriolo, a sustainable, organic estate with its own farm animals, olive trees and vineyards, tucked in the hills between Vinci and San Miniato. Everything they use in this beautiful osteria is grown or reared on the property, from the Cinta Senese to the vegetables, and naturally, the seasons dictate the menu.... Read More

Bitter orange marmalade from San Miniato

It’s not every day that you walk into a butcher shop and come out with a few kilos of bitter oranges aka Seville oranges or arance amare in Italian. But it’s also, I think, not every day that you find a butcher shop that has this sort of garden out the back with a sweeping view over the valley and terraces of mandarins, lemons and Seville orange trees. San Miniato seems to be full of these terraces of citrus trees and one of the homes... Read More

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

Four excellent ways with radicchio

“It looks like a fleshy purple flower, as fresh as if it had been specially created to bring spring to the dinner table in winter,” wrote Ada Boni in her Regional Italian Cuisine cookbook, while Marcella Hazan calls it the “most magnificent vegetable.” I have to agree. Radicchio might just be my favourite vegetable. It’s beautiful to look at, it’s incredibly versatile — you can grill it, roast it, braise it,... 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

Photo essay: Chestnut polenta in the Tuscan mountains

One late October, my friend Simona, who runs a beautiful B&B called Canto del Maggio, brought us to her special place, a little wooden ‘rifugio‘, as they’re known in Italian, a mountain cabin offering a place of rest and nourishment for hikers. This particular rifugio, called Osteria la Rocca, clings to the tiny stone hamlet of Rocca Ricciarda, high up in the chestnut woods of Pratomagno, between Florence and Arezzo. The cosy,... Read More

Egg yolk ravioli (and a white truffle experience)

One of the highlights of 2019 was hosting the White Truffle and Wine Culinary Retreat here in Tuscany with my husband Marco Lami. We had 13 international guests (from as far as Argentina and Canada and as close as Abruzzo!) together in a big, traditional Tuscan farmhouse, surrounded by woods. It may have rained quite intensely (it was November after all), but we donned rain boots to visit the olive groves and go truffle hunting and during downtime... Read More

A crateful of clementines

What would you do – you’re driving past hundreds of citrus trees. With a better look, they’re mandarins, or, more precisely clementines. On the roadside is a truck selling crates of them for 1 euro a kilo. You stop, right? And buy a crate of 10 kilos. Even though you have to get on a plane the next day. I couldn’t help myself. Marco, who I had already made turn 180 degrees to drive back to the truck, gave me that look of disapproval... Read More