I was never much of a fruit cake fan until I started drying the figs, grapes, mulberries, hazelnuts and almonds we harvested at Petraia. Then I began researching traditional European holiday fruit breads in an effort to find easy and delicious ways to preserve them. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of these breads…

  At this time of the year in Northern Europe the Belgian endive is making its annual appearance, and it stays most of the winter.  It is one of my winter go-to vegetables because it is locally grown, a good keeper and extremely versatile. It can be used in salads but is also lovely braised, grilled, roasted…

    Fifteen years ago Michael and I followed a 3km mule track into the Chianti Mountains through a tangled oak forest and past an alley of four hundred year old mulberry trees to arrive at the door of a thousand year old casa colonica. La Petraia’s expanse lay before us, abandoned as a working farm for over…

  In my previous post about our trip to Abruzzo and the Gran Sasso I promised to introduce you to a fourth generation transumanza shepherd. This story actually doesn’t take place in Abruzzo, but just across its border in Lazio, deep in the remote and little visited Monti della Laga range. It was August 15th and ferragosto, Italy’s national summer…

  If you happen to be going to a farmer’s market this weekend you’re likely to find some fresh local grapes. Here’s a great way to enjoy them. As promised in my last post this is my version of the delicious grape bread made every fall in Tuscany to celebrate the vendemmia (grape harvest).  Over the years I’ve…

We visited Abruzzo in a camper van nearly 20 years ago and ever since then we’ve been meaning to get back. With the highest peaks in the Apennine range this region boasts vast expanses of wilderness and, for a country as urban as Italy, Abruzzo is sparsely populated. But the biggest draw for us was its spectacular landscape. For one…

It was big news back in 2009. On April 6 that year Abruzzo suffered a deadly earthquake that devastated the region leaving 308 people dead and thousands more homeless. It’s epicenter was near L’Aquila, the region’s capital, but it also affected many other surrounding communities. You don’t hear much about L’Aquila these days, the tragedy seems largely…

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