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Posted May 1, 2012
Armchair travel and eats!
Tessa Kiros married an Italian and they live in Tuscany and through Venezia: Food and Dreams she gives us a hands on tour of Venice though its local cuisine and beautiful architecture. She walks us through the culinary traditions of Venice with all kinds of helpful information, like how to make polenta both the slow and the fast ways. There are recipes for appetizers, pastas, sweets, and many variations of risotto, full of meats, seafood, veggies and squashes (which my husband made and it was excellent!), alongside advice like how to maintain your balance while standing in a gondola. Venezia: Food and Dreams is packed full of gorgeous photos of both the scrumptious foods of Venice, as well as the people and places that I would love to see in person!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 3, 2010
A Love Letter to Venice
Venezia: Food & Dreams is a love letter to Venice. Reading it and cooking from it is a bit like looking at a Caravaggio painting. The dreamlike colors of the photos, the lovely setting of Venice, the simple yet forthright recipes. This book is written, photographed and designed in a dreamlike fashion; one that is so often associated with Venice. Tessa Kiros knows her subject well. In addition to the wonderful recipes, Kiros sprinkles in her thoughts, and comments; her experiences in the city in the form of poetic moments. Many of the photos are of the city itself and its citizens, or of the colorful buildings, or of Carnival; not only of food and recipes. This book is one of the most beautiful cookbooks I have come across in a long time. And the food and recipes, as I came to find out, are as delicious as the book is beautiful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Kiros divides the book into sections that mirror an Italian menu: Antipasti, Zuppa/Pasta/Gnocchi, Risotto, Secondi, Contorni, and Dolci -- with additional sections on Essential Recipes and Cicchetti, small bites unique to Venice. As she unfolds the sections she weaves in her thoughts and comments about Venice, about a dish, a little history, or a moment in time. In one she describes trying to stand up in a gondola like the Venetians do; feet apart to steady yourself so you won't fall down. She mentions that a sure sign of a tourist is one who sits versus stands. Standing up allows more people to ride. I loved reading this. I laughed when I saw in the front of the book in the Essential Recipes section that the first entry is Polenta with recipes for both 'fast' (using instant) and 'slow' preparations. I like that it's the first thing you see and that she offers both ways of cooking the dish. It's a nice starting point. From there it's a slow, leisurely roller coaster ride through an Italian menu via the dishes of Venice. As Venice is known for its seafood many of the recipes have fish and seafood in them. Sardines, scampi, octopus, baccala, anchovies, clams, scallops, branzino, crab, calamari, appear in every other recipe. Dishes like Spaghetti al Nero de Seppie, (Spagehtti with Squid Ink) to a simple, ubiquitous Mista de Pesce (Mixed Grilled Fish). Other interludes involve her trying to get the locals to divulge their recipes; she writes that while Venetians offer up directions at the drop of a cappello, getting them to give up secrets to their cooking is not so easy.
I love this book. I have cooked several amazing dishes from it but there are so many I still want to try. Dishes I've eaten on my travels in Italy, or at restaurants here in the U.S. but have never made at home. I've never made anything with squid ink, I'd like to try Maiale al latte (Pork in milk) because I've heard of it before and it intrigues me, and I've never made a salt cod preparation at home either. So one day soon, back in the kitchen with Venezia: Food & Dreams, and more Venetian cooking, eating and dreaming.
Posted October 16, 2009
I Also Recommend:
Heavenly food for real people. Kiros' inspired write-up of Venetian fare leaves me drooling and her recipes are easy to replicate, even on another continent.
Glowing and bronzed, the book whispers from the shelf: open me. I am caught. It's alluringly rich with memories and recipes, the food seductively photographed. I come away from the first read enchanted.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
You see, I have been to Venice, and this cannot be the same city I visited. I recognize it from the photos, but the food, the food!, so lush and local and homey and ancient. That's not what I ate. Yet it's exactly what I looked for when I traveled there, what I expected to find by scouring dead-end alley restaurants and tiny nook cafes for family fare. And the last day of my trip, just before the hours of rushing to the train station on crowded water taxis after carting unwheeled luggage over a thousand bridges, I found exactly the ingredients this sort of food is made of - fat chunks of parmesan, firm-tart olives, wedges of herb-flecked focaccia, handfuls of squid, and baskets of tomatoes, plums, apricots. If only I could've followed the food directly to the restaurants that cooked like this, the trip would have been heaven on a plate.
Organized by traditional Italian courses, Kiros empowers readers to create a full menu using whatever ingredients are freshest. As a vegetarian with limited fish intake, I was pleased to find so many things to make, at least one from every category. Mozzarella in carrozza, one of my favorite Italian appetizers, are droolingly photographed in their deep-fried glory, a dripping sandwich of mozzarella smashed between savory, egg-battered bread. An array of risottos, polentas, soups, and fried fish dishes had me salivating. Gnocchi di zucca, winter squash gnocchi, is a toast to fall with nutmeg and sage, though shaping takes a few tries to perfect. Almonds shine as the center of the sbriciolona, or crumbler cake, a divine addition to any casual dinner party as it perfectly finishes any meal without too much fuss.
Though I'm not certain it's possible to replicate the flavors of some recipes, including Kiros' intruglio, an appetizer specific to Sergia's restaurant, without access to the produce and cheeses of Venice, I'm willing to give it a go. I imagine it will taste better if I close my eyes and remember dipping my fingers into the plastic bag of olives from the cheese mongers, following each with a fat bite of focaccia padded with fresh mozzarella. It's simple yet exquisite, one of my standout meals, and this feels like Kiros wrote Venezia about it.
Posted October 9, 2009
A BOOK TO TREASURE AND DREAM ON PLUS RECIPES
While Venezia certainly contains a number of uniquely delicious recipes, it cannot be called merely a cookbook but perhaps more appropriately referred to as a work of art. It is among the most beautiful books I've seen with a flower and food bedecked cover so inviting that you want to frame it plus gilt-edged pages, and a black velvet ribbon bookmark.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
The dedication page reads, "For Venice - may you stand strong and beautiful forever." Obviously Kiros's words come from one who understands and loves this fabled city, and that love is clear for all to see in her musings sprinkled among recipes throughout Venezia's pages. One of my favorites is "As many times as I went out was as many times as I got lost. But I was never lost. I was always in Venice." Those words certainly reflected my feelings about the city and, if you have visited perhaps yours, too.
The full-color, full-page photographs by Manos Charzikonstantis are spectacular. When Venice is the subject his photos are far from the norm, always with a different perspective of the familiar, perhaps an unusual time of day revealing the magic of light on water. When he aims a camera at finished recipes, the results are mouth-wateringly perfect.
Kiros deivides the recipes in Venezia by course enabling us to prepare a full Venetian meal should we so choose. Her dishes are both flavored with exoticism and traditional, accurate reflections of a sometimes mysterious, always inviting city. The recipes are easy to follow from preparation to finish with ingredients found in most stores.
Now that we have a meal all that is lacking is having the stylist who set the book's tables bring his legerdemain to us. Each presentation is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.
Venezia is a book to treasure and one to dream on.
- Gail Cooke
Posted December 14, 2010
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Posted January 9, 2012
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