The scenic view from Fiesole

The scenic view from Fiesole

In April of 2008, Cokebaby and I travelled to Italy with his sister and her husband. While there we had a lovely dining experience at a place called Il Latino in Florence.

Each year for the holidays we traditionally have a “luxe” meal with our in-laws slash travel companions. This year we attempted to recreate the meal with the help of a couple bottles of wine that we received courtesy of the restaurateur of Il Latino himself.

Thanks to the international and high-end produce selections at Pete’s Frootique, we were able to find the ingredients required and we were able to bring the tastes of Tuscany right to our dining room table.

Now, I may be a foodie, but I’m not one for overcomplicated dishes that require fine knife skills, knowing how to use a double-boiler and juggling. In recent years I’ve found that the good folks at have an excellent database of gourmet but fairly straightforward to prepare recipes. Coupled with Food Network shows, Cokebaby and I have been able to put together some yummy meals without breaking a sweat.

Here’s what we pulled together for our “luxe” dinner this year with recipe links (where applicable) included.


These items were served as sharing plates along with high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping:

Sliced tomatoes
Marinated artichoke hearts
Olives stuffed with garlic

We couldn’t decide between the two dishes so we opted for two small portions of each:
Tuscan white bean soup
Wild boar ragu on penne pasta

Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine style steak). Here Cokebaby actually roasted prime rib in the oven using this recipe.

Contorno (side dish)
Roasted new potatoes (in the pan with the steak).

Sparkling muscat wine
Chocolate hazelnut cake (we cheated and just bought this from Sobey’s Compliment brand)

Choice of Limoncello or Amaretto

We could barely move after the feast but it was a great night that brought back memories of a trip that seems so far off already.

What are some of your holiday traditions? Anything that encourages a New Year’s resolution to diet? I don’t know about you but most of the holidays involved eating in excess.