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4.0 out of 5 stars It's all in the title...., 6 April 2010
This review is from: Venezia: Food and Dreams (Hardcover)
...as Tessa presents her views of life and the food of Venice in this lavish volume with the opening dedication:

'For Venice - may you stand strong & beautiful forever'

Not surprisingly featuring a high percentage of fish and seafood recipes, 'Scallops' (Capesante al forno) adorn the appealing front cover which opens to 287 shiny, gold-edged pages, split into main chapters (with a main title and 'sub-title'):

* Rules & Rossini
'Essential Recipes'

* Prosecco & Meatballs
'Cicchetti (small bites)'

* Clans & Carpaccio
'Antipasti'

* Zuppa & Zattere
'Zuppa/Pasta/Gnocchi'

* Patience & Risotto
'Risotto'

* Galoshes & High Heels
'Secondi'

* Radicchio & Roses
'Contorni (sides)'

* Sweets & Secrets
'Dolci (sweet things)'

sandwiched between 'A Letter', along with 'Eating in Venice' and a concise index.

Predominantly written in gold text, or white on gold, this book has a truly luxurious feel and is suitably finished with a thick black velvet ribbon, to keep your page! Interspersed with the most stunning photography, from Manos Chatzikonstantis, who also did the shots for Apples for Jam.

From the introduction (A Letter):

'There is not much I can tell you about Venice....you will have to come and see it for yourself.......
The city is like a beautiful mysterious woman who everyone wants to watch and stand as close to as possible; an ever-changing powerful lady who flows with the cycle of nature and commands profound respect for her beauty and uniqueness. Like a mermaid sprung unruffled from the deepest waters she moves and gives with the tides. She is, I find, most beautiful from a distance.
These are the things I ate in Venice.........
Venice is like when you hear a piece of music that scoops down into your soul, or notice a real tear getting ready to drop from the eye of an unlucky child.
One of those rare moments when you grasp the magnificence of this world.
Yes, Venice is one of those moments.......
Signed
Love Tess X

- a sample of the typical atmospheric writing style which flows throughout.

Each chapter has a dedicated 3 double-page spread opening, consisting of:

* an eye-catching stripy double-page spread for the first title
* a relevant note on the next left-hand page and the chapter 'sub-title' with a list of recipes on the right
* a double-page spread regional photograph

Each recipe has its title in Italian/English, along with a descriptive note, the list of ingredients and the method and winds up with the number of servings. Some have a full page photograph, (perhaps a little on the light side in a tome this size, but the on-location shots help to make up for this shortfall, in my opinion).

A small taste of the recipes within:

* Spritz
* Fried Mozzarella Toasts
* Octopus & Potatoes
* Roast Sardines
* Andrea's Anchovies
* Sergia's Brew
* Marinated Bass
* Meat Carpaccio
* Split Pea Soup
* Pumpkin Gnocchi
* Crab Linguini
* Vegetable Risotto
* Liver & Onions
* Osso Buco with Rice & Peas
* Calamari with Tuna Mayonnaise
* Sausages & Polenta
* Chicken in Tomato
* Pork in Milk
* Tiramisù
* Mascarpone Cream
* Amaretti Tart

winding up with:

'Venetian Focaccia - This has little in common with the bread called Focaccia, but is more a brioche-pandoro thing. I tasted one from the pasticceria Puppa in Cannareggio and was completely sold on it, so I found a recipe in my sister-in-law's old book, 'A Tola co I Nostri Veci: La Cucina Veneziana' by Mariù Salvatori de Zuliani (thank goodness, I had Luisa to translate the Venetian dialect instructions to me).'

My favourite recipe, to date, is the most delicious(and remarkably filling)

'Seafood Lasagne' (pages 132/133).

Tess recommends using a rectangular dish of 35 cm x 25 cm, for this recipe which is deep enough to take 3 layers of pasta (c 18 cm x 9 cm, and winds up with 'serves quite a few'!

And that is certainly no understatement!

A delightful book, punctuated with those personal little Tess-style observations, sometimes near conundrums, e.g.:

'As many times as I went out was as many times as I got lost. But I was never lost.
I was always somewhere in Venice'

which is the footnote for 'Clams and Mussels', on page 79, and also the rather fitting, gold finishing note on the back cover.
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