The Butcher of Bologna

Our meal is a disappointment. Beautifully presented pasta and delicious melanzane parmigiana, yes, but the atmosphere is lacking and the prices are steep. Our waitress rushes around the sleek surroundings in a joyless and harried fashion, which is something of a surprise in foodcentric Bologna. It’s almost a relief to be out on the street, … More The Butcher of Bologna

Ristorante da Enzo

I’m watered as I examine the restaurant menu hanging at street level. I take it to be an invitation of a sort. Ristorante da Enzo in Modena (a first floor establishment) has windows back and front, dressed by a variety of healthy plants. Responsibility for their welfare falls upon a green-fingered older woman who is … More Ristorante da Enzo

Le Sfogline

Le Sfogline – sisters of pasta. More accurately, it means: those who make sheets of pasta by hand in the traditional way by using a rolling pin (mattarello). Rick Stein met them once (these particular sfogline, who are indeed sisters) and they reminded him that never in Bologna – or Italy for that matter – … More Le Sfogline

Con le mani

A blurred picture of the old gent who sits in charge (front of house) at the tiny but perfectly formed Lo Sdrucciolo just around the corner from the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Watching us struggling to capture the garlicky tomato mix tumbling from our bruschette al pomodoro, he decides to abandon his accustomed seat by the … More Con le mani

Lunch with Giovanna

The mid-afternoon hour is burning hot, and the busy streets of Florence are stifling, even in the shade. We seek a late lunch, a light bite washed down with something cool. So we slide into the seats of a sheltered café terrace tucked to the side of Borgo degli Albizi. We are alone. Why? Because we … More Lunch with Giovanna

Views of Venice

A curious thing – a writing challenge prompted by this photo: A task that takes me straight back to my schooldays, and an English lesson that begins silently with a starkly white opening line on a squeaky clean blackboard (such as): Some might call it luck that she had taken a turn down this street.  So this feels like something … More Views of Venice

Puttanesca Heat

Gutsy. Sharp. Piquant. Robust. Bold. Strong. Intense. To be eaten in “slatternly style” (Nigella). An Italian sauce that provokes these appetising adjectives from all sorts of food writers has to be tried. I doubt this delectably simple dish of earthy goodness is new to you. My first taste of Spaghetti alla Puttanesca was enjoyed at my mother’s … More Puttanesca Heat

A Virtual Visit to Italy (with a nod to Spain)

What to do with wanderlust when vast sweeps of the foreseeable future are charted with school and work commitments, and the calendar is crammed with highly important must-dos? Well, there are always other ways to enjoy travel… I discovered a treasure in our local Oxfam bookshop, high up on a display shelf. Its title drew me up … More A Virtual Visit to Italy (with a nod to Spain)