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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Mario Batali is a chef who truly loves food, as the many fans of his Food Network shows, 'Molto Mario' and 'Mediterranean Mario,' well know. So do those diners lucky enough to have sampled his cuisine firsthand, at his beloved New York City restaurant Pó and his hot new Babbo. His rustic, simple, yet innovative food is drawn from two major sources — his two villages. One is Borgo Capanne, the tiny hillside village in Northern Italy where Mario lived and cooked for several years; the other is New York City's Greenwich Village. In Borgo Capanne, Mario learned the secrets of Italian home cooks and professional chefs, cooking their traditional dishes and understanding the simple combinations of excellent ingredients and clear flavors that characterizes true Italian cuisine. In Greenwich Village, he fell in love with the incomparable specialty produce from the city's farmers' markets and the artisanal products, from cheeses and free-range chickens to cured meats, made by nearby culinary craftspeople. These two influences have combined in Mario's cuisine to yield uniquely innovative yet authentic dishes that are surprisingly accessible to the home cook, as he proves in his long-awaited new cookbook, Mario Batali Simple Italian Food.
Imagine sitting down to a delicate but hearty dish of Baked Lasagne with Asparagus and Pesto, or Balsamic Glazed Chicken with Grilled Radicchio. Or how about Black Olive Polenta with Shiitakes, Garlic, and Rosemary, or Rigatoni with Sheep's Milk Cheese, Black Pepper, and Arugula? This is the kind of food that lovers of Italian cuisinecouldhappily eat every night of the week, and they'll find plenty of dishes in Mario Batali Simple Italian Food that are perfectly suited to time-crunched weeknight dinners. Which is not to say that there aren't a few perfect special-occasion dishes included — from Sautéed Langostinos in Almond Flour Crust with Sweet and Hot Chiles to Stuffed Veal Rolls made with wild mushrooms and fresh herbs — but even these are simple enough for everyday, with only costly ingredients pushing them into the realm of the celebratory. If you love Italian food, and if you love to cook using great ingredients and simple recipes written by a personable and creative chef, Mario Batali Simple Italian Food will find a place among your most-used cookbooks. — —Kate Murphy Zeman