Tag Archives: tuscan

Heading to Florence, Italy?

Le Menegerie

A few weeks ago I headed to Florence to meet a virtual friend. I have been following “Girl in Florence” for many years, and Georgette Jupe is one of my favorite Italian blogger girls. If you don’t know her, head over to her blog right now.

Le Menegerie

We made a date, set a meeting point, and made it happen. It was a very hot day in Florence, but that did not stop us from walking the distance with Georgette pointing out her highlights along the way.

Georgette had made a reservation at a brand new Florentine restaurant Le Menagere (it literally opened a week before). She touted it as a stylist’s dream, and she was not over selling it. When I walked in the door, it was swoon-worthy for sure. A beautiful “concept” restaurant which included a gift store, flower shop and coffee/sandwich bar, and a beyond beautiful restaurant. The communal table ran about 100 feet which was something I had never seen. Set in an old building, the owners vision was to leave the patina as is, which for Italians is something quite unique when doing a restoration project. The effect is magnificent. The untouched walls add to the over-all texture and ambiance. I took note as we are in the process of buying and renovating a home in Italy.

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The menu was very unusual for Tuscany. Most Tuscan restaurants offer the traditional fare, but Le Menagere, takes the standard Tuscan dishes and offers their twist. One of the highlights for me was the “hot and cold caprese salad”. Served in a glass, this delicious course was layered with warm tomato coulis and ice cold mozzarella foam, topped with a basil leaf, sun dried tomato and crushed pistachio. What can I say? Every bite was a surprise. We ordered, eggplant caviar with fig endive and sprouts, cold tomato soup with vanilla poached prawns, and salmon with honey glaze served with fennel salad, along with fresh peaches and an arugula salad to share. A crisp cold Tuscan rose wine rounded out the flavor profiles to perfection.

Le Menegerie

Le Menegerie

It was delightful to finally connect with Georgette; she’s a delightful, bright and warm person. I loved hearing her story as an American living in Florence.

Next time you’re in Florence, make a point of having lunch dinner or aperitivo in this exquisitely designed space; the floating orchids in the main dining room will make a lasting impression. Oh and did I mention the wait staff is excellent, and so well dressed?

Le Menagere

Ciao until next time! Bon appetito.

Big thanks to Georgette; you’re an amazing host!  xx

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#italianrivieraworkshop recipe – Almond biscuits from Prato

IMG_0977 The day after wandering my town on the Italian Riviera, and visiting a basil farm (more on that next time), we got down to the business of styling and photographing in earnest at my workshop.

We had lectures in the morning by myself, Deborah, and of course the super interesting Anne Sage on blogging and social media.

After our intensive lectures in the morning, we enjoyed an alfresco lunch at our B&B Borgata Cantone Country House.  After lunch, I planned a great activity for our Italian Riviera Workshop attendees: a cooking lesson from my sweet and talented friend Tuscan chef Guilia Scarpaleggia. She made dessert.

Of course it made perfect sense to photograph our chef in residence in action while making her own biscotti recipe.

Giulia told us she likes a little chew to her biscotti, and loves to dip it into Vin Santo. When she was a child, she was not allowed to dip into this very strong digestivo, so she used water instead, to this day she enjoys it this way as well. It brings back childhood memories. So Italian. We all had a great time shooting the process as well as the finished product.

I styled up the last shot and then of course we all ate them up. They were delicious. I wanted to share her recipe here. Thanks to Giulia and to all our enthusiastic students who participated in my first Italian Riviera Workshop. More to come…in the meantime make these and enjoy! xx


Biscotti di Prato, i cantuccini – Almond biscuits from Prato

You will need:
– 2 eggs, whites and yolks separated
– 230 g sugar
– 20 g orange honey
– 250 g flour
– ½ teaspoon baking ammonia
– Grated peel of 1 orange
– 125 g unpeeled almonds
– 1 bottle of vinsanto

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 180°C, fan assisted.

Whip the egg whites for about 5 minutes until they are firm, then add the sugar and whip until you get a glossy and thick meringue. 

Fold in thoroughly the honey and the egg yolks, then fold gently in the flour sifted with the baking ammonia and the grated orange peel. Mix in the almonds.

Line with parchment paper a large baking pan and with the help of a spoon form two loaves of dough keeping them well separated, about 5 cm wide and 30 cm long.

Bake them for about 15 minutes, then remove them from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes and then cut them slantwise into 2 cm thick slices with a sharp knife, then arrange them cut-side-down in the baking tin and put them back in the oven for about 5 – 10 minutes, until toasted.

You can store them in a tin for several days.

Photo by : Anne Sage

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