I am often asked what is my favorite cookbook which is almost impossible for me to answer as I love cookbooks of every type and description. I just recently counted the cookbooks I have here in our small downtown condo, and was surprised to see I have over 600 cookbooks, about 325 of those specifically related to Italian cuisine.
I have been collecting cookbooks for over 30 years so I guess I am averaging about 20 new cookbooks a year which does not sound quite so eccentric when said that way. I have decided to feature some of my favorite Italian cookbooks that I would recommend to someone interested in Italian cuisine, and will post a new one each week in this blog. My first featured cookbook is a new one recently released called A16 Food + Wine. Our condo here in Toronto is just one short block away from Toronto’s only cookbook store which I admit is a little too dangerous a temptation for an admitted cookbook addict. Since my book shelves are now full and I have no room to grow, I am very choosey about buying any more cookbooks and often spend time simply browsing in the store looking for that one book I simply cannot resist. On a recent trip to my cookbook store I came across a new book called A16 Food and Wine. This book was created by the executive chef and wine director of San Francisco’s popular restaurant, A16, named for the highway that cuts across southern Italy. After looking through this book very carefully, I decided I had to buy it and add it to my collection.
This cookbook is devoted to southern Italy’s rustic peasant cuisine and matching robust wines. The book begins by exploring eight grape-growing areas in the south, from the region’s heart in Campania to Abruzzo, Puglia, Molise, Sicily, and even the isolated island of Sardinia. I found the description of wines really interesting, not to mention extremely helpful as these wines, particularly those of Puglia and Molise are often not completely explored in other Italian wine reference books. In describing the wine section of A16, Publishers Weekly states,” With a dizzying number of wines produced in each area, the focus is wisely kept on the grapes themselves, with eloquent essays on the history and qualities of both classic and less familiar red and white varietals, and food pairing tips as well as recommendations of wine producers.”
For those who may not be interested in the wines of southern Italy, the cookbook section of this book is so nicely put together that the recipes alone make this book well worth buying. The recipes included in A16 are peasant inspired, including such recipes as fresh Cavatelli Pasta with Ragu Bianco, Wild Mushrooms and Pecorino; a Rabbit Mixed Grill and…… true Neapolitan pizza to name just a few. I am particularly fond of southern Italian cuisine and found many of the recipes in this book traditional to the south, but often with a little modern twist added by executive chef Appleman which keeps the recipes really interesting. I have tried a few recipes from A16 so far, and found them very easy to prepare with delicious results, my favorite to date being the recipe for Grilled Shrimp with Pickled Peppers, Preserved Lemon, and Toasted Almonds. Delicious!
If you are interested in buying A16 Food & Wine, you can find it at Amazon.com by clicking the book below.