Passion for Piedmont

Matt Kramer, Author
Matt Kramer, Author William Morrow & Company $28 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-11594-4
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
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Wine writer Kramer paints an idyllic picture of Italy's luscious Piedmont region, although his canvas lacks the depth that characterizes many cookbooks on regional Italian cooking. Foods traditionally associated with other regions (e.g., pesto, which originated in Genoa in neighboring Liguria) are included because they are eaten in Piedmont as well. Dishes rightly associated with Piedmont are handled nicely, however. Risotto receives a general overview as well as interesting variations like Risotto with Hops and Risotto with Sausage and Rum. Kramer also refashions bagna cauda, a simple warm concoction of olive oil, garlic and anchovies in which vegetables are dipped, in several appealing ways: Hot Anchovy Bath with Red Wine; Jerusalem Artichokes with Creamy Anchovy Sauce, Boccondivino. Many of the more elegant dishes (e.g., Tuna Pate; Potato Cake with Smoked Salmon; Capon with Honey-Hazelnut Sauce) seem inspired more by restaurant fare. Piedmontese home-cooking shows up in such plainer dishes as Polenta with Melted Cheese Sauce and Porcini Mushrooms or Traditional Chick-Pea Soup. While an occasional credibility gap accrues from such generalizations as ""everyone in Piedmont"" uses a pasta machine for rolling out dough, recipes for such Piedmontese specialities as agnolotti, pasta pockets filled variously with cheese, meats or herbs, and the closing chapter on the region's wines, particularly Barolo and Barbaresco, merit attention. (Dec.)
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