A Postcard From… Tuscany, Italy

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I picked wild asparagus in the woods and under olive trees in Maremma (it’s near the town of San Vincenzo) in Tuscany yesterday. It has an intense taste and is wonderful in a traditional risotto.

Last night after a shop in the local coop, I cooked rabbit with celery, red onion and carrot, a little Tuscan pink wine and some of last year’s olives and olive oil with rosemary and bay from the garden. So simple yet the most amazing dish with these fantastic Tuscan ingredients. Just shows that it’s often the ingredients and shopping that count more than the recipe! The Tuscan’s like the Thais are some of the luckiest foodies in the world and so in touch with seasonality. Today I’m off to buy new season bacelli (broad beans) and carciofi (artichokes). After dinner we went wild boar spotting on the farm and my boys and I and my Tuscan friends were very excited to spot one. I’ve seen their traces and tracks for years outside the house in the morning but have never seen one. He didn’t make the pot but I wouldn’t have complained!

Maremma is off the usual tourist track but has some excellent agri-tourism bed and breakfast accommodation and some good hotels springing up. It’s very close to the sea but the coastal plain rises quickly into the hills with many hilltop medieval villages and beautiful winding roads lined with cork and chestnut trees. It’s definitely not chocolate-box Chianti and has some rough edges including some isolated industrial zones and mining, but in my mind this makes it even more charming and authentic. It is truly a foodie heaven. D.J.

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