‘Brutti ma Buoni’ biscuits with pistachio and rose

brutti ma buoni biscuits

I still remember one of the very first events I went to after moving to country Tuscany. A handful of locals had come together in a tiny little hall to listen to folk songs and dance. It wasn’t exactly Woodstock. It was one lovely old man with an accordion and a few equally sweet old couples dancing. What was I doing there? I have no idea, but I do remember dancing with one of the little nonnos. He tried so hard to teach me the steps, but I was hopeless! He passed away recently and it’s this memory that has inspired today’s post… because this was where I first tasted brutti ma buoni biscuits! 

What a silly name for a biscuit! Brutti ma buoni literally means Ugly, but delicious. To be honest, looking at my very artfully styled photos, I have to admit they had a point! No matter how hard I tried, these biscuits are so ugly to look at like. They are the pugs of biscuits! 

Farinata (Italian Chickpea Pancake) with Summer Artichokes and Preserved Lemons

farinata recipe

Farinata is one of those lovely Italian recipes that so many regions claim to have invented. She is like a sailor with a boy in every port. In Liguria, she is known as Farinata. In Livorno, she is Torta di Ceci, while in my native Tuscany, she goes by the name, Cecina. And as far off as Nice and the Cote d’Azur, she is called Socca.

Each of these regions believe they are her birthplace, which is understandable because she changes ever so slightly from port to port. A hint of rosemary here, a handful of chilli there, the addition of tiny local fish called gianchetti or elsewhere, served simply with nothing more than a scattering of cheese.

Spiced Elderflower Italian Sponge Cake (Pan di Spagna)

Say ‘Benvenuto Estate’ (Hello Summer) with my Pan di Spagna or Spiced Elderflower Italian Sponge Cake! 

I was driving home from work a couple of days ago and I saw these gorgeous white flowers. I’m no botanist, but I know elderflowers when I see them. They were everywhere. Huge snow white blooms all along the roadside for kilometres. I had to pick them. Well, I had to go back to the office and convince Giulio to come with me to pick them because it was definitely a two man job.

Spring Vegetable Pasta (Pasta Primavera) with Broad Beans and Sausage

spring vegetable pasta

One of my favourite spring memories as a kid was helping my grandmother shuck broad beans. We’d sit under her terraced verandah with a huge bucket of fagioli, as they’re known in Italian, and we’d pluck out the beans one by one. I remember freaking out the first time I shucked them. The outside skin is really tough and you have split it with your nail to open it. Instead a handful of bright green beans are nestled into this furry little shell, which feels like peach fuzz. It’s the strangest texture. One time, I tried to take a bite out of the broad bean skin and I promise you, it’s bitter, horrible and leaves your entire mouth tingling. 

Italian rice pie (torta di riso) with tangerine syrup

This Italian Rice Pie or Torta di Riso, as the locals call it, embraces spring flavours and one of my favourite things in the entire world, rice pudding. 

This week in country Tuscany has been extremely frustrating. Every day has started sunny and beautiful, so I wake up, get excited and throw on my favourite spring dress and a pair of sandals, then by mid afternoon it starts to pour. I mean pour. Thunderstorms and everything and I go to meetings and lessons looking absolutely ridiculous in my super strappy sandals without an umbrella – I left not one, but two, at the restaurant we went to on Saturday night, which is just fantastic. Obviously, I could have checked the weather, but I just can’t stop hoping that spring has arrived.