January 1, 2008

Out with the old.... in with the new


Tante Belle Cose

Time flies when you are having fun.

Hard to believe I started teaching cooking classes in Florence
in 1988- 20 years ago.

When I first began teaching, I worked with college kids
on their junior year abroad program.
Classes were a series of 4
once a week
dinner class with wine and fun!
Advice on how to enjoy Florence
where to eat and drink
How to shop
where to go on daytrips
Sort of a home away from home.
A sort of best friend in Florence.

In 1997, with the access to internet, I opened my website
which was originally MangiaFirenze
with my dining guide online
for Florence and Chianti
recipes from friends, artisans and vendors
that I had met since moving here in 1984.

It is time for change again.

When I first moved here there were no day classes offered.
So that is where I created my niche.
Now there are many day classes,
some city bus tours into the market
weekly classes run by people that only come to tour.

I have been lucky to be mentioned in some great magazines,
like Town and Country Travel, Bon Appetit and this year Food and Wine.
This year I am taking a sort of Haitus from my one day classes,
leaving my studio space in Florence
and offering walking tours with lunch instead.

Time to get back to sharing my Florence with my friends.

My weeklong programs get me out of the kitchen and back into the part I love of living in Italy.
Meeting the people that produce the food I eat!

My mother-in-law Tina's famous words
"Spend more time shopping
less time cooking!"
ring stronger than ever, daily, in my head.

Where do we get what we cook?
What makes food good?

Seeking out food artisans with a passion and pride in what they do,
often passed on for generations here in Italy is not as easy as it once was.

I want to encourage and inspire people
to recreate the quality of life
one can still find in Italy,
in their homes.

By spending more time shopping for quality ingredients,
bonding with your butcher or fish monger
taking time to chat up your vegetable vendor
not only will your cooking improve, due to the better ingredients,
so will your life!

I am offering several weeks in Chianti this year
4 weeks in Florence
Weekly market tours with lunch
personal chef service/private classes in your villa
Divina Cucina in Sicily!
October 5th -11th

It is time I share some of my favorite places in Italy.

I am heading off to Sicily later this month to finalize the program.
I was so taken with the west coast of Sicily when I visited in 2005,
that I MUST go back.
This year I am flying into Catania and will tour the foodie hot spots
for a Slow Food tour with Jasper I am doing in October before the Salone del Gusto.
Then heading over to Palermo where my program will be.

a small corner market in Palermo

salt flats near Trapani

Here is a recipe I learned my last trip to Sicily

Pesto from Trapani
unlike it's namesake, this pesto is not green, but red
and packed with flavor.
Almonds show up often in Sicilian cuisine in sweets,
but this savory pesto stole my heart!
I love it even on bread.

1 8 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 C toasted almonds
4 Tbs. grated pecorino romano
4 garlic cloves
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1/2 C basil or parsley
salt to taste

Drain tomatoes (save liquid) and chop.
Place toasted almonds and salt in a blender.
Pulse quickly to chop.
Add tomatoes, basil, pecorino and olive oil.
Blend again until a thick puree is formed.
Salt to taste.
If mixture seems to thick, thin with some liquid from tomatoes.
Serve on toasted baguette slices or pasta.

optional: For extra flavor and body, try using marinated sundried tomatoes
instead of the canned tomatoes
I soak mine in a hot vinegar till soft and then season with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers.

90,000 thank you's to those who gave to
Menu for Hope 4
Stop by Chez Pim January 9th
for the list of the winners.

Mille Grazie!


  1. as someone who's been lucky enough to be on one of your walking-tours-with-lunch, I'm thrilled to hear you're going to take on more of them in the coming year. our time with you was, without question, the highlight of our time in Firenze and I hope to do it again one day soon.

    happy new year, Judy!
    Amy in Toronto

  2. Thanks Amy,
    I also hope to have time to travel more..and want to come to Toronto to see the Saint Lawrence Market!!!
    Canada's San Lorenzo!

  3. Ciao Judy - Cin Cin and Buon Anno!

    Lovely to hear from you. :)

    Hope your year is very happy and prosperous. I'm reading about Sicily and Palermo at the moment in Peter Moore's new book, Vroom by the Sea. It sounds beautiful. I hope you have a great time there.

  4. Best wishes to Judy for a great 2008!

  5. Happy 2008, Judy-
    Thought of you so often as we enjoyed Florence once again - especially when we passed the enoteca and forno you took us too, and when in the Mercato Centrale.
    We're always telling our Music and Markets guests, and other friends, about your classes, and hope to join you again someday.
    Ciao and augurone from Cremona-
    Anne & Kirk

  6. Great advice about more time shopping for the best ingredients. So true.
    Your plans sound fantastic, Judy!