So, there I was, sitting in the late Italian afternoon sun reflecting on the past 10 days. As a former Head chef of an Italian restaurant with two rosettes, this trip around Tuscany has been incredible. Eating in proper Italian kitchens run by families still run by nonnas makes you appreciate where these humble dishes that we love so much started. Italy is still a very traditional country with dishes from a region, staying in that region.
Why? You ask... well, it's not because they don't like the other dishes, but because it's where that ingredient is at it's best. Walking around the beautiful food markets you can buy an array of stunning Tomatoes, Peppers, Fennel, the size and likes you have never seen before. Beautiful fresh fish, caught that day being sold by the local fishermen. A classic tripe bap with people are queuing round the block for (which was surprisingly, absolutely delicious) brings me to wonder whether back here at home we have forgotten what real food is?!
The smell in the grocery shops here is enough to send your senses into overload. Cured meats, fresh bread, deli with seafood, fresh pasta, it's endless. Seasonality is so important to not only flavour, freshness but to wellbeing and the community.
Thankfully back home in Somerset, our little country pub is nestled in amongst miles of farms, all producing beautiful food. Supporting local producers is important to us. We use beautiful produce from within a few miles. From the farms to our locals who grow in their gardens, fish from the lakes (our trout gravadlax is from less than 4 miles away), honey from our Hinton Blewett Bees, not to mention we grown our own veggies. Have you ever tasted a fresh pea straight off the vine? I have and I hate peas but these are amazing.
Why don't you give it a go? If you already do and have way more than you need, then pop in, we will swap it for a pint or two.