Sweet Treats of Giglio

Chef Claudio Bossini had just finished mincing the macerated figs for the panficato, a rich dark sweet Christmas confection made each year on Giglio, a small island off the coast of Tuscany, when suddenly the sounds of a brass band could be heard in the distance. As I rushed outside to catch a glimpse, the … Continue reading

The Truffle Eaters

Whenever I hold a Mini Chef cooking class with chocolate truffles on the menu, there’s an avalanche of bookings. It’s not only because children love chocolate, it’s also because they so enjoy rolling the soft, sticky mixture into small balls in the palms of their hands and then rolling them in cocoa or coconut. Most … Continue reading

In the Pumpkin Patch in Vermont

It’s not every day I find myself in a pumpkin patch. But I just couldn’t resist getting in amongst these Jack O’Lanterns at Shelburne Orchards, just south of Burlington in Vermont, north-east U.S.A. For many years, I’ve wanted to vist this picturesque area in the Fall to see the Sugar Maple, Beech and Yellow Birch … Continue reading

Wake Up, Australia!

“I’m terribly afraid,” said Alice Waters, chef and owner of the legendary Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California. “I was very afraid of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement signed by Canada, Mexico and the United States in 1994). “You only have to look at the effect it’s had on Mexican corn.” Since NAFTA was … Continue reading

Ever heard of pintxos…?

It’s 9.30pm and we’ve just arrived at La Cuchara de San Telmo, a pintxos bar in the old town (Parte Vieja) of San Sebastian, northern Spain. Having wound our way through the labyrinth of narrow streets and packed bars in drizzling rain, we’re glad to arrive. But it’s chaotic. People are spilling out onto the … Continue reading

Following your nose around Florence

“What is Italy?” my four year-old grand-daughter asked as I held her close and told her I was off to Italy for the year. How do you answer a question like that? That was back in Sydney, Australia, in February. But it wasn’t until last week, when she paid me a fleeting visit, that I … Continue reading

Up With The Gods in Agerola

High above the hairpin twists and curves of the glorious Amalfi Coast, south of Napoli, lies the wide green plateau of Agerola. Surrounded by the Monti Lattari (Lattari Mountains), it’s nicknamed Little Switzerland because of its fresh mountain air and greenery. Despite being settled since Roman times (the name Agerola derives from the Latin Ager … Continue reading

A Walk on the Wild Side in Lesvos

I wonder what the twisted, gnarled old olive trees on the island of Lesvos in north-west Greece would tell us if they could speak. Many of them are centuries old and grow in ancient groves in deep, undisturbed soil. They yield glorious golden-yellow extra virgin olive oil with a smooth, velvety taste, and also win … Continue reading

Lesvos: the green island of the Aegean

At Soulatso Tavern in Skala Eressos on the south-west coast of Lesvos, Greece, the little dishes of mezethes arrive fast and furiously. It’s mid-afternoon, and most holidaymakers are only just making their way up from the beach for lunch at one of the taverns which line the waterfront of this village, famous as the birthplace … Continue reading
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