Friends who know my cooking, know I’ve kind of got a soft spot for warm wintery spices. A beloved past sous chef of mine, now owner of La Medusa, even goes to the extent of “affectionately” referring to me a “christmas wh@re” when speaking of the spice profile in my charcuterie.

What can I say, I love the earthy sweetness that spices like cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and star anise can bring to a savory meat dish.

It all started about 10 years ago, when I asked a friend of mine, owner of a local salumeria (who may or may not be the father of a famous TV Italian chef) about the spices in his veal meatballs.  He looked at me with that wink in his eye he gets, and said:

“it’s a touch of cinnamon, ….you need to go to Tuscany”

and so I did.

-so when you twirl a noodle of today’s

Pappardelle, with Beef Ragu alla Toscana

Pappardelle

..and get a hit of that sweet earthiness mingling

with the aromas of red wine and caramelized beef.

Just imagine ‘Dino, with that twinkle in his eye, whispering

“shhhh….it’s the cinnamon”

Also today:

Cavatelli, with salt cod, tomato, olives and potatoes

Fusilli, with toasted Almond-pine nut-basil pesto