Archives For beef

Bologna

Bologna la rossa

 

La dotta, la rossa, la grassa. These are the nicknames given to the city of Bologna by Italians. La dotta (the educated) because it boasts one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. La rossa (the red) because of its distinctive red-brick architecture. And la grassa (the fat)? Because of its amazing food of course!

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calcio storico

Florentine Calcio Storico

 

Last week I was invited by Eating Italy Food Tours to take part in their new guided tour, The Other Side of Florence. The tour covers two quarters of the Oltrarno area, San Frediano and Santo Spirito on the southern side of the river, and area not usually visited by tourists despite their proximity to the city centre. Most people cross the river only to visit the Pitti Palace, or Brancacci Chapel before returning to the bright lights of the northern side of the river. But in the Oltrarno area you find the real Florence: an area which has surprisingly managed to avoid gentrification to retain its character.

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TUSCANY

This recipe is from Tuscany.

Polpettone

Polpettone, aka meatloaf, is one of the dishes I remember my mother preparing as a child. She in turn, had been taught to make it by my real nonna, who I never met since she died before I was born. My mother’s polpettone was delicious, roasted in the oven with lashings of parmesan cheese and perfect potatoes, all held together with a tomato sauce. What memories!

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Lasagne bianche ai noci

White ragù—Italian meat sauce without tomatoes—is one of my all time favourite dishes. I learnt it as a teenager from my Italian step-grandmother in her kitchen in Venice. She was noted for her ragù and people were forever asking her how she made it but, of course, she wouldn’t tell. But one summer morning while I was having breakfast, she called me over to the kitchen stove and allowed me to watch her make it. And I discovered the three secrets behind the taste.

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Florence Cathedral visible through the Christmas decorations.

Florence Cathedral visible through the Christmas decorations.

 

The magic of Florence is legendary. The city, with its red-tiled roofs fills the wide valley of the river Arno, straddled by the ponte vecchio, literally paved with gold shops. The enormous cupola of the duomo, also red-tiled, has given Florence one of the most recognized skylines in the world, to rival, Paris, London, New York, but it’s a renaissance skyline—how precious.

Most tourists regard Florence as a hot city, where the art-filled arcade of the Piazza della Signoria provides welcome shade for the consumption of gelato, and where the breezes skipping up the river Arno from the sea offer respite from the ninety-degree heat.

In the winter, however, Florence is a cold city, and at this time, with fewer tourists, and much shorter queues at the Uffizi gallery, it can be a Christmas treat in itself.

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