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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 28 October 2008
Yet another stunning book from Tessa Kiros. I have already loved recipes from Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes and Twelve: A Tuscan Cook Book which occupy the space closest to hand on my cookbook shelf. I pre-ordered this as soon as I saw it and I've not been disappointed.

It arrived on Friday and over the weekend I've already tried the marinated sea bass, carpaccio beef and pumpkin gnocchi, all of which were delicious. None of these are my usual style of cooking, but her recipes are simple and straightforward, and with so few ingredients they just beg you to try them. Every recipe of hers I've ever tried seems to produce the most authentic dishes full of amazingly intense flavours that whisk you off to their country of origin.

Given the region from which these recipes are drawn, fish and seafood are unsurprisingly the stars of the menu and although dedicated carnivores may be left wanting, fish lovers will love the range of simple fish and seafood recipes. Even those like myself for whom fish is not instinctively their first choice, may find themselves unusually tempted by things they have never tried before. I can't remember the last time I had fresh sardines, but roasted as they were here, they were simple and fabulous (and even more simple if you get the fishmonger to fillet them for you). However; this is most definitely not just a fish book. All round there's plenty to try no matter what your tastes, including the carnivores amongst us, and there are some especially delicious antipasti, risottos and vegetable sides.

The book introduces you to eating Venetian style beginning with a section on Cicchetti (small bites), followed by Antipasto and Primo (starters), Secondi (mains), Contorni (sides) and Dolci (sweet things). Each section begins with a short narrative on the experience of eating in Venice so that by the time you have read, prepared and indulged you may well imagine you can hear the waters of the Veneto lapping at the kitchen door.

Although I buy books for their recipe content rather than their looks this one is undeniably beautiful and would double as a coffee table book any day. Edged in gold, with black velvet page markers and full of inspiring photos of Venice it makes you want to dive right in (notwithstanding the pollution). A few of the descriptions and ingredients are written in Italian and not being an Italian speaker I did have to Google some words, however it all just seems to add to the Italian flavour of a truly beautiful and inspiring book, and almost all were straightforward ingredients I was able to source locally once I knew what I was looking for (ruccola/rocket; peperoncino/crushed dried chilli peppers - thank heavens for Google).

I agree with the other reviewer that a few of the fish recipes call for less straightforward ingredients such as eel, squid or octopus but surely that's no great surprise when buying a book on Venetian cooking? That said, I live in a small market town in mid-Wales and our even our landlocked Fishmonger (if not the local Morrisons) can source any of these on request. The vast majority of recipes use everyday ingredients which keen cooks will have in their store cupboard, although I did have to go to Waitrose in the next town for squid ink spaghetti for a pasta dish. For the recipes mentioned I only had to buy the single main ingredient fresh, the rest was already in the cupboard or fridge.

I'm a sucker for cookery books and have over a hundred at home however I'm very lazy at writing reviews even for my favourites and have never yet written one; this book is so good I couldn't deny it a write-up. This is less a family meals book than Apples for Jam: Recipes for Life but rather an experience of eating out in Venice. If you're looking for simple cooking which produces grown-up, great flavours and love her two books mentioned above, or My Favourite Ingredients and A Year in my Kitchen by Skye Gyngell you'll love this; and if Skye's recipes entice you but seem a little complex for a week-night supper after work then you'll love the simplicity of these which can be knocked up in no time at all.
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on 7 April 2010
I was born and grew up in Venice and absolutely fell in love with the book. Our family have been in Scotland for many years now but when I took it to my dad's we had to go out shopping immediately in search for polenta and fresh fish. The book is absolutely splendid to look at, the author shows immense knowledge of Venice and its food writing lovingly and passionately about it. The recipes we tried were very authentic and delicious. Everytime I look at this book I feel very nostalgic and am in awe of its beautiful pictures and the food it represents.
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on 29 October 2008
As with Tessa Kiros' previous books, this one is absolutely gorgeous. Gold-edged pages and many, many shots of Venice and its people, especially around Carnival time make it a delight to leaf through.

So far, so good, and if you know someone who loves Venice or has had a special time there, this would be a good gift. But I doubt how much actual cooking I'll be doing from this book...octopus, anchovies, special Italian sausage and prosecco feature highly on the ingredients list, none of which I find particularly appealing or easy to lay my hands on.

It's certainly not the family-friendly fare of Falling Cloudberries or Apples for Jam. Nice to read but I think I'll stick to her earlier works for cooking.
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on 11 April 2016
Another mouth watering and visually inspirational cookbook from Tessa Kiros, love the recipes and the attention to detail gone into designing this creative masterpiece. You could just flick through and it makes your imagination run wild 😍
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on 1 January 2013
A seductive account of cooking perfection. A high quality publication full of great writing, I shall purchase more by this cook who brings the area to life with her vibrant prose, great photographic mood choices and again a very tactile book.
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VINE VOICEon 24 September 2014
I have and have given this entire series of books to my pals over the tears- always choosing the hard backs somehow they form the most beautiful collection you could imagine beginning with apples for jam- the photography is so special and the narrative engaging. Fabulous series...
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on 29 May 2009
This book operates on two levels. If you've been lucky enough to have been to Venice and sample it's glorious food it is a reminder of wonderful meals in a romantic and historical setting. If you haven't, it opens a window into a world that belongs to Casanova, The Doge, smoky mists on the Lagoon, right up to the evenings consuming Tramezzini and Belini in Harrys Bar with Ernest Hemmingway. The recepies are simple, yet delicious and the explainations of the origins of the various dishes make a good read in themselves.
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on 21 September 2011
I bought this book from Amazon - having been guided from the positive reviews on the site. I have to say this is the most beautiful book and I am delighted with it. It was bought for my daughter in law's 30th birthday and she is thrilled with it and made a recipe from it within 18 hours of receiving it. They went to Venice for their honeymoon this year and fell in love with the place and so the photos were a real hit. Beautifully bound - i can't recommend it enough.
Venezia: Food and Dreams
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on 6 April 2010
...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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on 26 August 2010
This is a visually beautiful book that I enjoy looking at just to see the photos that take me back to venice and make me daydream and salivate!

I have to say that despite many many lovely recipes I have only made a few as the ones I want to eat (right now!) tend to have too many ingredients that I don't typically have lying around my house. However an organised or more stocked up cook would be much more able to just pick it up and make things without a special shopping trip.

I would highly recommend to anyone who a) loves beautiful cook books b) is happy to spend time to read and follow recipes for things they may not usually make c) is happy to source ingredients that may not be readily available.

I would not recommend to anyone who a) counts how many recipes they use from a book and works it out as a percentage and is unhappy if it's less than 10% b) those who don't like cook book pages to be wasted on 'photos' c) those who live millions of miles from shops/ingredients

I've given it 5 stars as I think that it is beautiful, the recipes I have done are delicious and I'm sure the others would be too if I was organised enough to get round to them! Enjoy!
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