la carbonara autentica – the true carbonara

It’s a classic image: a Roman trattoria. Check tablecloth and a carafe of local white wine. A steaming plate of heart-warming yet somehow sinful, sensuous carbonara. So let’s start here, because we need some kind of benchmark, and Rome is the only place qualified to provide that benchmark. This is carbonara heartland. Quite clearly, we are for once outside Sicily. Equally clearly, we are in Rome, but let’s try and be more precise, so … Continue Reading →

insalata per tonno – salad for tuna

The devil is in the detail, they say. The original version of the phrase was actually “God is in the detail”, so whichever way you look at it, details clearly make a difference. Today’s recipe, for example, would be a simple tomato and onion salad were it not for the capers, mint, and above all lemon zest. But it’s precisely these minor additions that make the salad worth telling you about. Whilst on the subject Continue Reading →

granita di gelsi – mulberry granita

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, / Old Time is still a-flying; / And this same flower that smiles today / To-morrow will be dying. Last week Shakespeare, this week Herrick. Apologies for the Renaissance glut, but it’s seasonal. Quite possibly the fault of a misspent youth, when laziness throughout the rest of the year meant I was forced to spend May in the company of Shakespeare, Donne, Sidney, Middleton, Jonson, Kyd and the rest Continue Reading →

zuppa di fave e piselli al profumo di limone e menta – lemony, minty pea and broad bean soup

“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May”, as one amateur meteorologist who had an admirable way with words once wrote. And it’s certainly a windy-sunny-rainy May here; definitely not winter, but not quite summery either. Just the sort of weather that leaves you wanting fresher food, but something with a bit of warmth. This soup perfectly fits the bill: quick, simple and full of the bright green freshness of spring, but comforting at Continue Reading →

agnello al forno con patate – roast shoulder of lamb with potatoes

This is an Easter favourite in my house, but is good at any time of year when locally farmed lamb is available. Cooked this way – half steamed, half roasted –, the meat stays moist but not fatty, and has been known to convert even those who don’t like lamb, or at least didn’t think they did, until they tried it this way. It even converted my nine-year old nephew, and an opinionated nine-year-old is Continue Reading →

frittata di cipolla fresca – spring onion frittata

It was election day in Italy, and it seemed, at least briefly, as if Spring had arrived. And at the market I grabbed some beautifully green cipolle fresche, “fresh onions” as they call them here. The man on the stall suggested I use the leaves to make an omelette, which is just what I did, hence today’s recipe. Looking back, and somewhat aptly, an Italian expression comes to mind: “ormai la frittata è fatta”, which Continue Reading →

patate e carciofi al forno/frittedda – potato and artichoke bake/artichoke, pea and broad bean stew

Easter marks the beginning of the end of the artichoke season, so take advantage to snap them up before it’s too late. To keep you busy we have a double helping today. First baked in the oven with potatoes, and then as part of a somewhat lighter Sicilian classic, frittedda. Potatoes play the perfect foil in the first recipe, doing a great job of soaking up the artichoke juices, olive oil and pecorino, while also Continue Reading →