Under the Tuscan Sun

Buongiorno tutti! The title of this post seems to have sprung from the part of my brain designed for storing the names of bad 90s films, but we’ll go with it for now…
We return from shooting our summer chapter in glorious Tuscany a few pounds heavier, ever so slightly browner and full of the joys of summer kitchen behaviour. As expected, we were thoroughly spoiled with an abundance of beautiful, fresh ingredients everywhere we turned. From the roadside grocers to the aisles of the cavernous Esselunga, we were like hyper children in a sweet shop–filling our baskets with the ripest melons, the greenest spinach, the softest cheese and the freshest anchovies to inspire three long days of hardcore chopping, kneading, steaming, blanching, drizzling, writing, shooting and eating high up in the hills.

As we’ve learned from buying our vegetables from British farmers recently, quality produce needs very little done to it. Simplicity was key with these recipes and with a few clever combinations, kicks and spices here and there, our food was soon ready to face the camera. And the camera loved it! Sadly we can’t unveil any of the recipes just yet–you’ll have to keep banging your knives and forks on the table until April, 2012.

Laura Edwards works her magic while El looks on

With the news yesterday that food inflation has risen to almost 6% in the UK, it was a relief to be paying much fairer prices for food and drink during our stay in Italy. Obviously, the Tuscans are blessed with a temperate climate, thus a long season of abundant crops, but if you shop carefully and seasonally in the UK at the moment you can avoid being stung quite so hard. While we wouldn’t dare preach about seasonality and understand that your mood and what’s at hand are likely to be the biggest influences on what you eat, in pricey times it makes more sense than ever to buy what’s abundant, fresh and fair to both the customer and the producer.

Take British tomatoes, for example. They’re overflowing at the moment and prices in your local supermarket should reflect that. Check out The Tomato Stall for amazing mixed boxes of Isle of Wight toms in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. I know this somewhat defeats the object, but, if you manage to save a few pennies on tomatoes next time you shop, perhaps you could consider investing in a tub of buffalo mozarella? Once through the tills at Esselunga, Ellie and I proceeded to devour a tub of these *impossible to avoid testicular sounding description* with the greedy abandon of Brits abroad. If you can manage to make it home with yours, picking up some basil along the way, then we would suggest whipping up a capresé with your loot. Don’t put your tomatoes in the fridge if you’re using them the same day–they lose their flavour and wonderful greenhouse scent when they’re cold.

Capresé for 6-8
400g mixed tomatoes
200g buffalo mozarella
10-12 basil leaves
Quality olive oil
Salt and pepper

I know this is child’s play but for the sake of consistency… Roughly slice and season your tomatoes, tear over large chunks of mozarella and plenty of basil, drizzle with quality olive oil, grind over some pepper and serve with pretty much anything on a summer’s table.

In other Salad Club news, it’s feeding time at Zoo Lates this Friday, and again on Friday 22nd, where we’ll be serving up our delicious chorizo and halloumi flatbreads. Keep your eyes peeled for future dates and arrivederci.

Rosie

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