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Sunshine and Biscotti

Just home from a beautiful week in Tuscany, Italy. It was a family holiday with 7 of us altogether and in an area we haven’t visited before. I am never disappointed with Italy!

Reason for the title of my blog ‘Sunshine and Biscotti’ is one of the THREE books I read over the course of one week (miracles do happen!!! and we were in the MIDDLE of nowhere!) was Jenny Oliver’s book ‘The Sunshine and Biscotti Club’. The blurb ‘Welcome to Tuscany’s newest baking school….. The ovens are pre-heating, the Prosecco is chilling…. and The Sunshine and Biscotti Club is nearly ready to open its doors. But the guests have other things on their minds…I really enjoyed it and thought it was the perfect name for my Italian blog.

I really was reminded how good Italian food tastes and the mediteranean flavours.  Its simple food – could even be described as rustic but even the taste of the fruit and tomatoes –  so sweet and full of sunshine!

Breakfast we ate simply. Bread, jam and steaming coffee. There was local made apricot jam which was so runny, sweet and syrup like, ready to nearly pour on to your bread, not that we minded at all! I did find dipping the crusty bread into the coffee the best way to enjoy! I prefer a cappuccino not a strong coffee and I discovered you should only order these before 10am following Italian etiquette.

Already so hot, I did enjoy an ice-coffee one morning when we visited Cecina a small town which had its weekly market on a Tuesday. This was like coffee ice cream, a real treat for the start of the day!

iced coffee

My favourite meal of the holiday was DIY lunch Tuscan style, of course! This was usually a lovely salad, antipasti with cold meats, cheeses, fresh figs and bread or pasta.

platter of cheese and figs

We served this altogether and helped ourselves, eating far too much most days! The cheese or Formaggio was just the highlight or maybe I should say heaven for me and is so diverse in Italy! Of course we know of mozzarella and Parmesan but there are so many others…

antipasti platter

The cheese I had never tasted was Burrata, which translates into ‘buttery’ in Italian which says it all. It is a beautiful parcel of mozzarella cheese but with a rich centre of cream, really wicked but at the same time wonderful. I am thinking not great for the waistline but on holiday… what can I say!

Burrata Cheese

I am a huge fan of Pecorino too which is a hard, sharp-tasting milk cheese coming from ‘pecora’ the italian word for sheep. Grated on pasta or with shavings on a rocket salad, so simple but adds some great salty cheese flavour! The local olive oil the balsamic vinegar, the sweetness of the huge tomatoes and mopping up all that lovely juice and dressing with bread and cheese… makes my mouth water thinking about it!

The evening meals we went out and also cooked in. As we were only about 30 mins drive from the coast we had some delicious seafood as well as the usual pasta courses and risotto dishes. One of my favourite pasta dishes was homemade ravioli stuffed with fig and ricotta and served with truffle and Parmesan shavings. Rich but very tasty and went so well with the chosen red wine that night.

seafood pasta