Recipes by Tessa Kiros
Photography by Manos Chatzikonstantis
Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC - 2009
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If you've had the opportunity to travel to Venice and experience its magic and charm, this book will immediately have you longing for a trip to the famed city on the sea.
Venice, a city known for gondola rides, masked Carnival goers and winding passageways, has captivated tourists for centuries. Between the sidewalk tables set up in St. Mark's Square to the candlelit restaurants hid deep in the city's nooks, the city long known for secrets has its culinary treasures revealed in "Venezia."
See what we tested and find out whether the book's worth buying after the jump.
Takeaway tips: From explaining whether risotto comes before the secondi or whether the contorni comes before the cicchetti, Kiros offers insight into eating in Venice mingled among the recipes, photography and imaginative descriptions of everything Venetian. "To watch Venice, Venetians, tourist, grups, singles, boats, activity ... Everything bobbing up and down and carrying on quite naturally on the water. They all have Venice in their veins."
Quality of pictures: The gilded pages of the cookbook are filled with theatrical black-and-white photographs of the famed Venetian landscape as well as color images that capture the colorful side of Venice -- complete with flamboyant Carnival masks. Whereas the photography and styling of the food evokes a time of Venetian courtesans with scallops served in the half shell, tiramisù with a silver spoon and risotto on ornate china amongst lavish floral arrangements and sparkling glasses of Prosecco.
We tested: Risotto di zucca (winter squash risotto), Bellini and Mele cotte con amaretti (cooked apples with amaretti)
Risotto in Venice is not a laughing matter -- when many think Venetian food, they think risotto with many a recipe being considered an artform as opposed to something one just eats. The liquid, in this case being vegetable broth, must be added slowly to let the Arborio rice absorb it little by little. For this winter squash variation, we used butternut squash. The end result -- after much stirring, a good crack of black pepper and scattering of Parmesan -- was a luscious main dish with hints of pancetta.
The bellini, a combination of Prosecco and peach purée, is as Venetian as it gets. After all, the now popular drink has long been credited to the Venetian Cipriani restaurant, Harry's Bar. While most recipes opt for store-bought nectar, this one calls for a homemade peach purée. Served in a skinny champagne glass, these made for delectable pre-risotto beverages.
The baked apples -- stuffed with raisins, sugar, amaretti cookies and grappa and baked in a buttery, orange peel-infused white wine sauce -- ended up being a warm, homestyle dessert meant for a chilly fall night. Other than the amaretti cookies and grappa (which like us, you could substitute regular brandy for), the ingredient list was standard -- apples, sugar, raisins, butter and orange peel.
Worth the investment: The recipes are uncommon enough to captivate seasoned cooks without scaring off the beginners. Venice, a city of charming culinary delight, is worth a visit -- whether through this book or in person. Just don't send us the bill if you end up booking a flight to Venice after diving utensil-first into the contents of this book.