Judi Witts Francini, owner of Divina Cucina (www.divinacucina.com), offers cooking classes and culinary tours of Florence and Chianti. She has also developed the Taste Chianti app, available from the Apple Store.
The hills are green, the trees are budding and the days are getting longer. Spring, to me, means recipes based on tender, young spinach leaves mixed with fresh sheep’s milk ...
A simple pasta dish can be easy to make, delicious and inexpensive. Master some basic rules and you’ll be eating like a Tuscan in no time. 1. THE PASTA Dry pasta is a staple for Italians. For a special meal, ready-made fresh pasta is easy to
Infusing whole-grain alcohol or 100-proof vodka with fresh and dried herbs is a common practice in the countryside, and the resulting digestivi are great way to end a meal. Spring ...
It is hard to believe that it was 10 years ago that I sent in my first recipe to The Florentine, to Nita and Tony Tucker. They had read my blog and asked me to share my recipes, which I had gathered from local chefs, vendors at Florence’s
Religious celebrations in Italy seem to bring out the best in local cooks. Italians have very simple-to-make sweets, and during the Carnival season almost all of them are fried. Among these are castagnole, the recipe for which I share here; cenci (also known as frappe or bugie), shaped
Probably the most important thing I have learned in Italy is to spend more time shopping and less time cooking. My mother-in-law, Tina, taught me this. Choosing fabulous ingredients means you don’t have to do a lot to make it taste good. The recipe I offer
As fall comes to Florence, the city begins to smell like roasted chestnuts. Stands appear on street corners, and locals love to buy a small bag for their passeggiata, the afternoon walk downtown. Although the prickly outer casing makes chestnuts hard to harvest, the hills around Florence are filled with
When you dine out in trattorias there are always a few desserts on the menu for special occasions: zuccotto, zuppa inglese and millefoglie. The oldest of these is zuccotto, which has many connections to the Renaissance. This liqueur-soaked dessert is made of sponge cake and, in its classic semifreddo
The holidays evoke an inevitable urge to cook, not that I ever need much to be inspired here in Florence. I am almost thankful that there is no Thanksgiving here in Italy, as the feasting rites of Christmas almost put me under the table. In this country, food always seems
I love Carnival in Tuscany. From the tiniest village party to the huge street parade in Viareggio, tricksters and costumes abound. Tiny children parade on Sunday afternoon along the Arno River dressed as Zorro or little princesses, while older kids run around spraying colored threads from cans and launching confetti
Tuscany is a food lover’s paradise. Each village has a speciality worth travelling to taste -- great wines, extra virgin olive oil, artisan cheeses, organic herbs. All make great gifts to bring back home to create your own fabulous dishes and share a “Taste of Tuscany” with
New Year’s Eve can be very dangerous in Italy; “out with the old” can mean broken plates and even larger items being thrown out of windows. So stay away from open windows! Italy is no different than many other countries in having foods which symbolise wealth
My husband Andrea is the happiest when I make bollito misto for the holidays the dish that keeps on giving. I like to make it the day before the meal. We begin our meal with chicken liver crostini, serve tortellini in brodo as the first course, and the boiled meats
Depending on the weather, August and September bring the wine harvest. And, what would a harvest be without a festival? Italy is the only country in the world where every single region makes wine. So the whole country will be celebrating. I BRAKE FOR SAGRE! The local food festivals called
August 10 is the feast day of the patron saint of the central market, San Lorenzo. Patron saint of chefs, he was grilled to death and is often shown with the grill in his hands, and as in the photo, over open flames! A festival is held in
I adore tomatoes, in all their various forms, and what better place than Italy to enjoy them! When the tomatoes come into season, it is time to celebrate! Caprese salad with large, sliced ripe tomatoes, served with the freshest Mozzarella di Bufala, and garnished with basil, only needs a
I adore shopping at Leo’s stand. He carries only a few products, all displayed as if at Tiffany’s, with each tomato shining, melons cut open for tasting, their perfume calling out “Assaggiami” (taste me), along with the rest of the season’s best. &
Raised in California, I’d never seen fireflies until I moved here. I’ll never forget the first night I saw them. What a miracle! I passed the Ferragamo Villa while driving into Florence from Fiesole. It looked as though they had decorated their fields with Christmas lights.
What gives the Florentine roast pork, Arista, that fabulous flavour? Why are the roast potatoes here the best you’ve ever had? Where can you get some of this ...
Castellina is one of the three castle towns in the heart of Chianti. From its hilltop position, it dominates the area. The area is rich in barbaric, Roman, and Etruscan history. Deriving from the Latin fons Rutilus (“clean spring”), the small village of Fonterutoli is located on the
As you wander through Florence and visit the museums, churches and historical sites, take time to enjoy the city’s special eating-places. Following are a couple of my favorites in and nearby the San Lorenzo Market. Remember, the market hours are from 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
It’s easy to be a great chef when you use the best in seasonal ingredients available. And, spring is one of the reasons you remember why you love Tuscany so much! Once the rain has stopped and the sun has come out, the hills become