Until the 1960s, Carpaccio was a Venetian painter whose renaissance canvases are valued as a record of what the city looked like during his lifetime. Today, historians pore over his works extracting knowledge of the minutiae of sixteenth-century Venetian dress and architecture contained in them, including a detailed rendition of the old wooden Rialto bridge. But in 1963, Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of the now almost mythical Harry’s Bar, invented a dish subtle slices of raw meat and named it for the painter—there was an exhibition of his work in the city at the time—and for future generations the name became associated more with culinary than with visual arts.
It’s black summer truffle season here in the Tuscan Valtiberina and these alternative fruits of the forest are everywhere. Less pungent than in some other areas of Italy they are often served grated over pasta or grilled meat in abundance. There’s one restaurant in the village where the set menu looks like its own truffle festival with the antipasti, primi, and secondi all featuring this local treasure. I’ve yet to discover a dessert using black truffle—chocolate truffle is, of course, something quite different—but watch this space.
Simple, tasty, vegetarian, and good for you, this recipe for sugo di noci, walnut sauce, is a traditional one in the Tuscan province of Arezzo. It can also be made easily in under twenty minutes. What are you waiting for?
At this time of year the hedgerows around Caprese Michelangelo turn white with what seem to be bunches of tiny snowflakes. Luckily they are not since subzero temperatures in May would not be welcome. They are in fact fiori di sambuco or elderflowers. As well as looking pretty, they have a sweet, delicate fragrance that you’d wish you could bottle and take home with you.
This weekend, my friend Claudio was visiting from Venice. As you may have remember from this post, Claudio was born and has lived in Venice all his life, but his parents are from Puglia in the south of Italy. Claudio’s nonne are therefore a great source of typical recipes from the south of Italy, which always end up being delicious.
Radicchio tardivo di Treviso is an extraordinary looking vegetable, rather like a red and white octopus. Once cut, it is a kaleidoscope of red and white leaves which are extraordinarily beautiful.
Grown in the provinces of Treviso and Venice, this plant now has protected name status from the European Union. It differs from other radicchio not only in appearance but also in its mild taste, which is not bitter at all.