Author(s): Aurora Baccheschi Berti
A sumptuous escape to the sensual culinary flavors of the Italian countryside, with more than a hundred recipes for the home cook. In a wild, undiscovered corner of Tuscany called Maremma, boars roam the hillsides, olive trees stand like sentries, and fennel perfumes the air. This landscape yields its own cuisine rustic dishes that let their seasonal ingredients shine through. There is no better place to learn the secrets of this cuisine than the Castello di Vicarello. This twelfth century fairy-tale castle is now an exclusive resort where the proprietor, Aurora Berti, prepares meals based on the garden. Here, Aurora presents the many recipes she has developed over the past decade by sharing with local peasant women and drawing from her own family's traditions. Organized by season, this charming cookbook immerses the reader in the daily rhythms of the land. The dishes are accompanied by sidebars and photos that convey the story of this place: pruning the vineyards in winter, picking asparagus in spring, drying tomatoes for sauce in summer, and hunting porcini in fall. The recipes burst with flavor while remaining simple: black kale crostini, radicchio and walnut salad, carbonara with favas, roast pork with apples, peach crostata. "My Tuscan Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes from the Castello di Vicarello" is the next best thing to taking a trip to this magical country.
"A huge bonus of Vicarello is the food very light, organic. Aurora and her cooks make what is available, what's in the garden, what's in season. I was there in the late fall; we ate Italian cauliflower, zucchini, and spinach. In spring, she gets impatient for new artichokes and wild field herbs: 'Dandelion! Chicories. And the one that looks like spinach? Erbett, we call it.' (Wild chard.) One night, we ate tortelli ricotta made by me, under her tutelage of Aurora. We weighed out 200 grams of plain flour, 100 grams of semolina flour, a pinch of salt, a table spoon of olive oil, three eggs. 'Mix the eggs into the flour with a fork until it's time to start kneading, ' she said, showing me how. Her laptop is open on the dining-room table most days: She was hastening to finish her cookbook (to be published by April by Rizzoli), "My Tuscan Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes from Castello di Vicarello."" "Vogue" "The moment I opened its pages I was transported to another place.