Chestnut cake from Monteriggioni, Tuscany

A beautiful farmers market in the heart of a fortified town.

It was a sunny autumn morning when we left for Monteriggioni, the fog had slipped away and gave way to a yellow and brown colored landscape.
We changed our clocks one hour ahead that night so when we awoke the dew had already dried up and the sun was giving a warm glow.
We drove trough the rolling landscape of Tuscany to reach the hill where the quintessentially fortified town of Monterriggioni lies.
From a distance the town looks like a giant fairytale castle, as we drove towards it my thoughts wandered off to the Middle Ages when Monteriggioni was at the very heart of the conflicts between Florence and Siena. I imagined large battalions of knights approaching the town and peasants going about their business. The knights have all gone now but the farmers remained and were the reason we were driving here today.

Today was a special day in Monteriggioni because in the heart of the fortified town there was a farmers market going on. It was only for one day and there were no certainties for it to happen ever again. The town square was filled with food stalls, producers were proudly presenting their new Organic olive oil and wines were given to taste generously. There were smiling faces everywhere, from the stallholders insisting we’d try their food to the people who were enjoying the scenery and the sun. It was like at this moment, everyone was happy here. There was no music, no dancing but nonetheless this was a feast, a food fest.
The produce at this market was absolutely beautiful, if I could I would have bought something from every stall. But luggage restrictions bound me to making choices, a choice like this is hard to make. What do I leave behind, the glorious organic chestnut flour or the tasty Boar salami... I decided to leave the Fava beans behind and regret that choice every day since. What if I could have fitted an extra bag in my luggage?
Oh well, you can’t have it all and I went home with a beautiful selection of food. 

Chestnuts roasting

Tuscany in the autumn, a celebration of food.

The view at 7 in the morning...
You know that feeling when something sounds to good to be true?
I had that feeling about Tuscany...
Like so many people, I had fallen in love with the pictures in magazines, travel guides and the tales of good food and wine.
I was very eager to find out if the story's about Tuscany were wildly exaggerated or true.

After arriving at Pisa airport, I took the train to Florence where I would meet two of my fellow food bloggers Zita from Hungary and Karin from Germany. We were going to explore the city and later drive back to to meet our lovely hostess Giulia, for dinner at Trattoria Bel mi’ Colle in Colle di Val d'Elsa. Florence is grand, we had fantastic coffee at Roberto Cavalli, visited David and strolled around town feasting our eyes on all the pastries. When we left Florence it started to get dark, we saw the sun set over the Ponte Vecchio and drove off to Colle di Val d'Elsa in pitch black.
Panforte, a Tuscan speciality   -   Carabinieri   -   Lovers lock at the Ponte Vecchio

The next morning I woke up at 6:30, too early but so eager to finally see Tuscany! I got up, took my camera and opened the blinds on the windows of the house.

The view at 6.30 in the morning.

Chocolate and ricotta spelt cake

Chocolate cake, don't we all need it once and a while?
I do, not even being a chocaholic I do crave chocolate cake sometimes.
But my needs are specific, I don't want it to be to sweet, to spongy or to dry. I want a moist, firm cake with a bitter taste of chocolate and some nuts.
I spent years baking chocolate cakes trying to perfect the recipe, they all came out wrong. Some were to moist, to heavy, to sweet, to salt, to dry, to burned... you know the story.
A few weeks back Zita a fabulous vegetarian food blogger from Hungary I met in the summer, shared a vegan chocolate cake recipe with us, using whole grain and white spelt flour. I love Spelt, I use it for bread all the time but for some reason I've never tried using it to bake this cake before.
I decided I wanted to use Ricotta, because I had cake in our favorite Italian restaurant that had Ricotta in it and made it taste so creamy.  That, and because I just LOVE Ricotta in every way.

The best chocolate cake I ever ate was in a small tearoom in Glastonbury when I was 18 years old, it was the first holiday I went on without my parents.
This means it took me 10 years to create a cake that equals that cake I ate in 2001.
To be fair, I didn't bake for about 5 years. And perhaps the fact that I was on my first holiday alone had something to do with it.
But here it is, my favorite chocolate cake.