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5.0 out of 5 stars The essence of good italian cookery.
I have had this book for many years, and it is one that I keep coming back to. It is a no frills book that distils Italian cookery down to really simple recipes packed with flavour. Although most recipes are amazingly simple and feature very few ingredients, it concentrates on using good fresh seasonal produce and extracts the best flavours to showcase those ingredients...
Published 9 months ago by Bearman

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really what I expected...
The format of this book appears a little outdated; it is the standard "recipe plus photo" format of cookbook - very little background information (such as how the recipe was created, whether it's traditional Italian or a modern interpretation etc...). In this respect, it doesn't really teach you how to cook Italian food, it just gives you the recipes for Italian food. I...
Published on 29 Jan. 2012 by Lizthemathsgeek.


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5.0 out of 5 stars The essence of good italian cookery., 3 July 2014
By 
Bearman (Oxfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
I have had this book for many years, and it is one that I keep coming back to. It is a no frills book that distils Italian cookery down to really simple recipes packed with flavour. Although most recipes are amazingly simple and feature very few ingredients, it concentrates on using good fresh seasonal produce and extracts the best flavours to showcase those ingredients. All recipes are easily achievable for the home cook and even though several say to cook in a wood fired oven, a conventional domestic oven works fine.

This book also features one of my all time favourite recipes which will blow you away. The slow roasted pork shoulder truly is food heaven. Pork, smothered in crush fennel seed, chili and garlic, then roasted in a very low oven over many hours, with occasional basting with lemon juice. The richness and intensity of the flavour, and the way that the succulent pork just falls away from the bone - oh and the crackling! I'm getting hungry just writing this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good cookbook, 5 Oct. 2013
By 
JHvW "JHvW" (Pays Bas, Europe) - See all my reviews
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Beacuase I collect cookbooks, I did not want to miss out on this one. Interesting recipes and beautiful photographs. Written by excellent chefs who obviously know what they write about.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not as tempting as this first one, 8 Dec. 1999
By A Customer
Hmmm, very few recipies leap out of the page of this book for me - unlike the first book which is my favourite cook book. In fact haven't been tempted to cook anything out of it yet and I've had it a couple of months
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Authenic, regional receipes, 22 Jan. 2003
By A Customer
To understand why the River Cafe books are as they are, one must first understand Italian cooking. It has more of a regional basis than any other european country, although France comes close. They use the best of the local produce.
What Ruth and Rosie provide are regional receipes that are authentic, although somewhat restaurant-ised. If a dish requires Chianti, then it will be Tuscan in origin, if it require Barolo then it will be Piedmontese. To be critical of this, is to fail to understand Italian cooking.
This is not a book that panders to the "what can I get in the supermarket" crowd. This is not "chicken italiano" with some tomatoes and a few herbs russled up in 5 minutes.
The receipes are superb, this (and the two other River Cafe books) are the first place I turn (and Marcella Hazan) when looking for Italian food.
Not as good as the other two books, so only 4 stars. But still great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must for the shelf...., 19 Feb. 2014
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It's a standard book for any lover of Italian, coming from what is an institution in the UK. Combine it with some of the works of Carluccio & Contaldo you will not need anything else for Italian cuisine in my mind (Apart from perhaps Silverspoon). Nice and clear.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book, 12 Sept. 2013
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Brilliant pictures
Simple recipes
I couldn't believe the price - I bought it second hand because it was only for me. The postage was more than the book.

Classic
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, classic book, 23 Sept. 2011
By 
Gary White "gwhitegeog" (Fulham, London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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The second of their famous cook books, this book oozes fabulous, simple Italian recipes. 15 years since it publication, it's now easier to get many of the ingredients too....
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Italian, 4 Mar. 2013
By 
Miss SA Williams "HumbleChef" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Good book, lovely clear instructions, carefully illustrated. Good ideas if you love Italian, assortment of ideas, great variety, pleasure to use.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really what I expected..., 29 Jan. 2012
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The format of this book appears a little outdated; it is the standard "recipe plus photo" format of cookbook - very little background information (such as how the recipe was created, whether it's traditional Italian or a modern interpretation etc...). In this respect, it doesn't really teach you how to cook Italian food, it just gives you the recipes for Italian food. I feel that a good cookbook should cover the historical context of both the culture and the recipes which it is sharing - this book does neither. (Approximately 1 in 3 recipes have accompanying photos of the finished dish).

The recipes are fairly simplistic - it includes an entire chapter on how to oven-roast vegetables. Most of the soups are constructed by "putting all the above ingredients in a pan"; I was hoping for something more technically challenging (such as gniocci or tortellini). This is mainly why I'm disappointed with the book - I hoped it would contain something more technically demanding or unique.

The instructions for the recipes are leaning towards the "non-human", methodical form of step-by-step instructions; it tells you how to combine the ingredients, but there's no indication of what the mixture should look like at each stage, or explanation of why they should be combined in this way. The instructions are "minimalist" at best.

On the plus side, most of the recipes involve a small number of ingredients, which is of benefit to most home-cooks. However the majority of recipes involve (very) seasonal produce (e.g strawberries, broad beans, artichokes etc...), which makes actually planning what you're going to cook slightly more complicated (it does not give any guidance as to when things are in season). If you were to randomly select a recipe and go to your local supermarket to find the ingredients, a certain amount of luck would be involved if you were to find everything - not that the ingredients are obscure, just very seasonal.

I bought this second hand (at a low cost), so I'm not too disappointed with the purchase; it's still an interesting addition to a collection of cookbooks. However, had I purchased this at full cost, I would've been more disappointed.
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34 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Yuppie snapshots of (Italian) cuisine de bonne femme,, 13 Jun. 2001
The sort of book that you might find inside a Le Creuset pot you've been given as a wedding present (it's even the same colour), and the sort of book that people over supplied with such pots, along with armouries of Sabatier knives, might reach for if they ever decide to hold a dinner party.
Question is, do I really need a full page recipe to tell me that fresh buttered pasta tastes great when generously scattered with white truffle shavings? (Like most of the recipes here, this comes with a full-page picture, in this case the standard `white truffle being shaved over pasta' pic that gets printed along with every magazine article about truffles). Or six sides of variations on a basic crespu?
Some of the recipes are oddly overspecific (presumably to maintain the ideologically pure `italian' flavour): On grounds of personal taste I disagree with the noodle recipe (which is fine, but, with much work, will produce noodles pretty much indistinguishable from good noodles bought from a shop, in which case why make them yourself?), but nevertheless think it is unnecessary to specify the flour be typo-00 (I think, I forget the technical designation for canonical italian noodle flour) - different flours, different noodles (I usually use ordinary strong plain flour supplemented with a quarter semolina, and eggs and yolks as available), but they all taste good given experience. Similarly, they specify `Chianti' for red wine for cooking: I challenge anyone to be able to distinguish reliably a random 10DM Chianti from any other young tannic red wine, after it's been cooked and reduced. More problematically, they also specify ciabata as source of breadcrumbs, etc., of choice, but ciabata, at least most that I have ever seen, is positively inappropriate for kitchen purposes - the crumb structure is far too soft.
A few recipes look technically questionable. In their recipe for Girolles Provencal (they don't call it that, but that is what it is) with noodles, they don't tell you to disgorge the girolles first, which will result, I suspect, in either very rubbery, or *very* wet girolles.
Also this book is just a collection of disconnected recipes, but this sort of food is specifically not a collection of formal recipes, but an attitude of mind.
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