October 12, 2011

The Tuscan Sun Cookbook

Ed and I are so looking forward to the publication of our cookbook–a collection of our favorite recipes from twenty-one years of feasting in Italy.  He, my daughter, and I all say: at last we won’t have to search for a particular recipe again.  Having the recipes bound in one place will save us hours of looking through folders and emails and torn pieces of paper stuck in other books.  The book has gone to press and will be published in mid-March. I’m already looking forward to the book tour, much of which will take place in restaurants around the country, with chefs preparing the recipes. Sounds like so much fun! Steven Rothfeld, the photographer, and I did almost all our own styling and preparation. My friend Kim Sunee, who wrote Trail of Crumbs, came over to Tuscany twice to lend her expertise.  Steven and I work incredibly well together. All the photographs were taken here in Italy, almost all of them at my indoor and outdoor tables. My friends Susan and Frances Gravely, who own Vietri ceramics in my adopted NC town of Hillsborough, arranged for us to have several sets of their evocative Tuscan ceramics, to complement the dishes I had. (With 150 photos you run through lots of dishes.)  So we were lucky with all this talent and help. I must say, I’ve never seen more fabulous food photos, thanks to Steven’s meticulous eye, a shared vision, and a great appetite among all of us. The shots are all natural.  No strange interference to make the food look better. We devoured it all when the shot was done! Here’s the cover of the book:


These are our close friends. Ed and I are at the ends, Silvia Regi and Riccardo Baracchi are in the foreground (with their Astore and Ardito wine on the table). They started Il Falconiere, a sybaritic inn and restaurant in Cortona about the same time that we bought Bramasole so we have kind of grown up together.  Fulvio Di Rosa, in turquoise shirt, is a master restorer of old houses in Tuscany, including our mountain house and Borgo di Vagli.  Cecelia Cascella is our vivacious friend who’s the mother of three gorgeous (how could they not be?) children. We’re at the end of a three hour lunch. Steven is out of the picture but had an honored place at the table. This project has been a true labor of love. Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, is the publisher.

Tomorrow we go to Rome for five days. We will have the intense pleasure of showing our nine-year-old grandson the ancient city.  He has a book with over-lays showing the city as it is now, and as it was.  We’ve rented an apartment near the Pantheon so we can walk to all the historic sites.  My daughter and her husband are arriving, too, and, when we come back to Cortona next week, Ed’s sister, her husband, and four friends converge here for the olive harvest.  Marvelous season.  This fall’s weather has been the most sublime in memory. Hope it holds while we’re up on ladders in the olive grove. The next post, without doubt, will be a report on the taste of the new oil.  Grassy? Almond? Peppery? The crop is small, due to the hailstorm that I wrote about in summer.  The delicate flowers were knocked off. But we’ll pick what’s there, picnic in the grove, and of course will be grilling a lot of bruschetta for tasting the fresh oil. By the time we finish the harvest, the hill we see from our kitchen at the mountain house will look like this and the season of fall feasts will be upon us!