Simply Italian: Classic recipes and tips from Harrys Bar in Venice (Trade) Hardcover-spiral – Illustrated, 5 Sep 2013
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Now then. As an Italian cookbook in and of itself, it's middling; the food is a mix of northern Italian and classical French, which seems about par for the course for a world-famous restaurant in one of the most touristy cities in the world. Cipriani puts polenta right up front, and tentatively claims credit on the restaurant's behalf for bringing it from peasantdom to restaurant tables worldwide (and brags about the Veneto-style white polenta). I'm actually a little disappointed to find that the selection of seafood recipes is on the small side, but overall, the food is tasty.
One thing that will probably surprise the crap out of you is that this is a relatively small book, only 200 pages despite its size. That works out fine, though -- this is a heavy-duty book with the spine on top and a built-in easel in the back cover designed for kitchen use, and the bulk comes from using paper that approaches cardstock in thickness to make pages more robust when being flipped over. (It also has an arrangement where half the pages run front to back, then you turn the book around and flip back to the beginning for the rest of the book. Very convenient, and clever.)
Overall, I suspect the appeal of this book skews a little towards older people who always liked Hemingway and/or Venice. No matter; it's still a pretty cool book from a very famous place that most people have only ever heard of in books and magazine articles.
I made a few pastas from it but I haven't done a full dive yet, It's not surprising when cooking Italian food how few ingredients can provide such rounded flavor, but the pairings taught here with truly minimal effort are worthy of anything in return, I will have to make some sweets from it and edit the review, so far I only tried a few savory dishes and they were unexpectedly sophisticated and made me look like a culinary genius again, evidentially a simple yet sumpcious Asparagus Risotto is not bad on Tuesday night at 8pm when everyone is starved and grumpy, the only down side was no leftovers. I read the entire book twice, makes for the best morning weekend with coffee reading in bed, then off to the store :)
- Kasia S.
The format is tactile; begging to be touched and flipped through. Perfect for setting out on your granite kitchen or bar counter or restaurant maître d' station. It fits in a cardboard slip cover.
Introduction pages 2-3
The Bellini 6
Gli Antipasti 8-17
I Sandwich 19-23
Le Zuppe 25-38
La Pasta 40-57
I Ravioli 59-71
I Cannelloni 73-77
Gli Gnocchi 79-83
Il Riso 85-103
Il Pesce 105-119
Il Pollame 122-130
La Carne 133-150
La Verdura 152-164
Le Salse 166-175
Il Dolce 177-199
Care is dedicated to tips. Among Gli Antipasti a page is devoted to a description of the difference between Parma and San Daniele hams; another page is given to identification, care and use of Parmigiano cheese. I am not sure how useful that is to you but it's a conversation piece. The recipes for the most part are simple, easy to execute and taste good. This is one of the rare times I might say, we are more likely to be concerned about blemishes, dents and scratches than we are about how well the recipe turns out.
Harry's global brand includes over a dozen bar locations around the world along with named brand pastas, sauces, oils, kitchenware and cookbooks. Harry's Bar in Venice is a short walk from Piazza San Marco and the place to see and be seen. Its expensive but you are not really there for the food, tasty as it might be. "Simply Italian" is similar cachet. As a cookbook, there are better and more useful for taking shelf space and pleasing your family's gourmand. Pick your price point for presentation. As a display book, it is - pretty.
As cookbooks go, "Simply Italian: Classic Recipes and Tips from Harry's Bar in Venice" is a thing of beauty with much to admire. This is a handsomely produced volume with a coated, double wire bound format; the thick front and back covers do double duty as a substantial easel, thereby making the book stand to attention and each recipe more accessible while cooking with both hands. The package includes a heavy duty slipcover box which looks great on a bookshelf.
As befits a mythical establishment like Harry's Bar, this is the kind of cookbook with which you can spend a weekend. It's a cookbook for people who love food, and not simply the eating part of the experience. Each recipe requires multiple fresh ingredients which will be prepared in old-fashioned ways without any labor or time saving steps. If a recipe calls for beans - it specifies overnight soaking, not opening cans. Several recipes require prepared ingredients found in other sections of the cookbook. For example, to make Gnocci Armenoville you have to use the gnocchi from the recipe on page 79, the bechamel sauce from page 168, and the tomato sauce from page 167.
Most of the recipes have been cut down to serve 6. Measurements are in imperial (ounces) and metric (grams); temperatures are given in both F and C. There are lots of colorful pictures of beautifully photographed food.
Recommended, especially for people who enjoy taking their time savoring the preparation of beautiful meals, and those who enjoy the mythos and romance of a place like Harry's Bar.