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POLPO: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) Hardcover – 1 August 2012
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Tucked away in a backstreet of London's edgy Soho district, POLPO is one of the hottest restaurants in town. Critics and food aficionados have been flocking to this understated bàcaro where Russell Norman serves up dishes from the back streets of Venice. A far cry from the tourist-trap eateries of the famous floating city, this kind of cooking is unfussy, innovative and exuberantly delicious.
The 140 recipes in the book include caprese stacks, zucchini shoestring fries, asparagus with Parmesan and anchovy butter, butternut risotto, arancini, rabbit cacciatore, warm duck salad with wet walnuts and beets, crispy baby pizzas with prosciutto and rocket, scallops with lemon and peppermint, mackerel tartare, linguine with clams, whole sea bream, warm octopus salad, soft-shell crab in Parmesan batter with fennel salad, walnut and honey semifreddo, tiramisù, fizzy bellinis and glasses of bright orange spritz.
With luminescent photography by Jenny Zarins, which captures the unfrequented corners, the bustling bàcari and the sublime waterways of Venice, POLPO is a dazzling tribute to Italy's greatest hidden cuisine.
Wonderful ... the dishes are simple, with relatively few ingredients, but they're inspired. The grilled courgettes with toasted breadcrumbs, for instance, was sublime. The pages of my book are already smeared with olive oil and egg; a good sign (Melanie McDonagh Evening Standard)
A marvellously useful guide to anyone who actually wants to cook (Cary Gee Tribune)
A present for the greedy gourmets in your life (Observer)
Delicious (Mail on Sunday)
Gorgeous (Daily Mail)
Like a trip round the bars and bacari of Venice (Independent)
A delight for its goodies from Venice and beyond, beautifully presented in a book that (hallelujah) lies flat on the kitchen surface (Lisa Markwell Independent)
Definitely the design classic of 2012 (Irish Times)
- ASIN : 1408816792
- Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing; 1st edition (1 August 2012)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781408816790
- ISBN-13 : 978-1408816790
- Best Sellers Rank: 131,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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This book illustrates better than others I have that Italian food is not actually about simplicity. What is realised is that the pairing of ingredients is genius beyond all other world cuisines, but the putting it together remains deceptively simple.
The food is relaxed, slow paced and gentle.
This book captures the essence of Italian food, and once the Italian life philosophy is understood, then the cooking can begin. What I love about this book is that the essential understanding is written prior to the cooking beginning. Italian food isn't just about the food, and this is captured here perfectly, for those that understand.
For a casual cook that just wants an Italian cookbook, there are better recipe books that just give instructions on the food, but for me, this and the Four Seasons book (did everyone get the Vivaldi joke?) are the best food and recipe books I own.
I recognise the food - the cicchetti culture - it isn't just Italian food, it's more Italian than that. Only someone that lived this Italian dream, but was enough of an outsider to see it, could have written this.
If you sometimes have Aperol spritz in the afternoon, Campari spritz before dinner, Chianti in the evening, and have a Grappa after a meal, then this (these) books are for you (us). We are no longer outsiders alone.
One thing I should mention is that this book has front and back hard covers but no conventional spine - I checked with my friends!
Polpo made me happy and brought back lovely memories of different visits to Venice and wonderful parties.
The illustrations of Venice will make you want to travel there when next you can and the recipes will transport you there for now!