The Italian Cookery Course
By Katie Caldesi
Kyle Cathie, £30
Inspired by her marriage to Tuscan chef Giancarlo and countless trips throughout Italy, Katie Caldesi has produced an astonishingly comprehensive food compendium of the country. The Italian Cookery Course is quite simply a tour de force. Caldesi spent 12 years cooking with people in their own homes throughout every region of Italy before returning to the UK to try out every recipe over and over again.
Throughout the process she was supported and encouraged by her husband and the staff at the two restaurants - Caffé Caldesi in Marylebone, London, and Caldesi in Campagna in Bray, Berkshire - and cookery school, La Cucina Caldesi, that she runs with Giancarlo.
But, as Giancarlo insists in his forward to the 500-page book, "This is Katie's project through and through", and one of which he is immensely proud.
"Like a London taxi driver who does The Knowledge to get from street to street, Katie has taken on a marathon Knowledge of Italy, learning how to navigate from region to region via recipes and ingredients," he writes.
Caldesi highlights the diversity of Italy's dishes, from the light and summery fish recipes of Sicily and Calabria, such as grilled swordfish with salmoriglio sauce, to the comfort food of the Dolomites, such as venison stew with cinnamon, red wine and juniper berries. Other recipes include spinach pasta stuffed with smoked mozzarella and served with fresh tomato sauce; pot-roasted loin of pork with prune, apple and rosemary stuffing; and passion fruit panna cotta.
Following the courses of a typical Italian meal, starting with bread and wine and ending with cheese and preserves, the book also contains master classes in, for instance, how to cook and prepare an octopus and how to bone and butterfly a leg of lamb.
Beautiful photography by Lisa Linder brings Caldesi's dishes to life and provides a travelogue of the locations and people visited in the preparation of the book.
This is a glorious-looking tome, which deserves its place on the coffee table, but it is much more than that and should be in the kitchen of any chef who is keen on providing a truly authentic flavour of Italy on their menus.