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.
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.
I hope you had a lovely Easter break. Giulio and I went on adventure to see my father’s birthplace in the mountains of Northern Italy. It was so amazing to find myself in the town he left as a baby more than 60 years ago. To my surprise, it wasn’t even a town! It was a handful of houses and tiny little cemetery, where I managed find my great grandmother, who passed away only a few years after my grandparents immigrated.
It was a sad, but ultimately satisfying journey to discover another piece of my roots and I can’t wait to share more of it with you, but today, we’re all about spring and this rustic stone fruit tart with peaches, blueberries and almonds!
A last minute Easter lunch recipe that is quick, easy and super seasonal.
Italian roast chicken with artichokes is a little vague for this recipe. It’s actually a really rich one-pot braised dish that you start on the stove and finish in the oven while you’re taking care of all the endless little jobs that seem to pop up whenever you have the family over for lunch.
Giulio and I won’t actually be home for Easter lunch this year. We have been putting off a holiday for the better part of 3 months. Every week since February, we’ve turned to each other and said, this weekend we should go somewhere and then the weekend rolls around and we can’t be stuffed leaving our living room.
Another Easter recipe! This time, one from my very own tiny town in Southern Tuscany, Manciano. We’re not famous for much, but we do make one hell of an licorice Italian Easter bread or schiaccia di Pasqua.
Italy as a whole has changed so much, even in the 10 years I’ve been here. I think a lot of tourists really want a snow globe experience where all the locals are just simple country folk who walk home in the morning with fresh bread under one arm and the day’s paper under the other. In the evenings, nonnas sit outside and gossip while tomato sauce cooks in the saucepan and their tubby little grandchildren ride their bikes.