Tour of Italy | Cooking Reviews

Firth’s first cookbook will be popular among bakers interested in perfecting gourmet cookies; this entertaining guide will appeal to those looking to update their Southern-style cooking; not to be missed; an essential purchase for library cookery collections

Bone, Eugenia & Julia Della Croce. Tasting Italy: A Culinary Journey. National Geographic/America’s Test Kitchen. Oct. 2018. 384p. photos. index. ISBN 9781426219740. $40. COOKING
In a joint collaboration with America’s Test Kitchen, National Geographic publishes its first cookbook. Food authors Bone and Croce divide the recipes into the three areas in Italy, subdivided by 20 administrative regions beginning with Valle d’Aosta and ending with the island of Sardinia. Following a description of the area are recipes accompanied by photos of the region and or the dish. Each recipe begins with “Why this recipe works.” For example, dry-aged beef with arugula and parmigiano is paired with arugula, olive oil, lemon juice, and cheese. For those who like to make pasta, there’s a simple recipe for semolina pasta. There are a few complex dessert recipes, but others, such as pistachio gelato, are both delicious and easy to accessible. Includes a glossary and table of metric conversions.
VERDICT This beautifully illustrated travel cookbook will be enjoyed by all who love Italy and its food. Recommended for public and academic libraries.—Christine Bulson, formerly with SUNY Oneonta


Contaldo, Gennaro. Gennaro’s Fast Cook Italian. Interlink. Sept. 2018. 192p. photos. index. ISBN 9781623719807. $30. COOKING
Italian chef Contaldo (Panetteria), known for his association with fellow chef Jamie Oliver, focuses on how home cooks can prepare meals for an average week night. Featuring recipes that are organized by main ingredient, the varied chapters offer preparations for sauces, pastas, risotto, fish, meat, and even a short recipe on vegetables. Cook times are given for each recipe, and range from just a few to 30–40 minutes, with the longer-timed dishes clustered in the risotto chapter. Brief commentary combines with serving suggestions or thoughts on ingredients. The useful index and colorful, bright photos further make this a delightful text to browse.
VERDICT Home cooks will be inspired by the quick, easy-to-prepare meals. Readers interested in better appreciating day-to-day Italian cuisine will savor, as will fans of Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube channel.—Dawn Lowe-Wincentsen, Oregon Inst. of Technology, Portland

Esposito, Mary Ann. Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy. Peter E. Randall. Nov. 2018. 400p. photos. index. ISBN 9781942155171. $39.95. COOKING
Esposito, a PBS host (Ciao Italia) and veteran author ( Ciao Italia Family Classics), combines “recipes and food experiences from all over the boot, along with stories that bring them to life.” Divided into courses, starting with antipasto and closing with sweets and fruit, dishes are presented in Italian alongside the English translation (i.e., minestra con pane sotto, soup with bread). Staples such as soup, rice, pasta, fish, meat, poultry, and salad, as well as side dishes such as pasta sauces and breads, join ziti con pomodori e melanzane alla Siciliana (ziti with tomatoes and eggplant, Sicilian style), vignarola (Roman-style spring vegetables), pesce al cartoccio (fish in paper) and tanti biscotti (a lot of biscotti). Esposito discuses common ingredients such as cheeses and olive oil and later explores the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and offers advice on bread making and starting a vegetable garden.
VERDICT With intriguing photos, Esposito shares her love of the food and culture of Italy. Can’t make it to Italy this year? This book is a great start.—­Barbara Kundanis, Longmont P.L., CO


Menashe, Ori & others. Bestia: Bold Italian Cooking. Ten Speed: Crown. Oct. 2018. 336p. photos. index. ISBN 9780399580901. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780399580918. COOKING
Despite its hard-to-find location in Los Angeles, Bestia restaurant was a hit from the start and continues to be a coveted reservation. Husband-wife owners Menashe and Genevieve Gergis; he is the head chef, she is the pastry chef, together with food journalist Lesley Suter, have a produced an attractive book highlighting their full-flavored, Italian-based food. Like many restaurant books, this one assumes a fair bit of culinary knowledge, with large sections on charcuterie and pickling, as well as recipes that call for a dehydrator as well as access to specialized ingredients. But the dedicated cook looking to replicate the Bestia experience will be rewarded with recipes such as scallop crudo with citrus and dried olives, pici with saffron lamb ragu, and slow-roasted suckling pig. Among the most intriguing recipes are starters; several of the main dishes utilize a grill, which may be of limited use to some readers, but the pizza recipes instruct on using a home oven and a large section on desserts offers many tips for success.
VERDICT A beautiful Bestia souvenir and a workable title for ambitious home cooks.—Devon Thomas, Chelsea, MI

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