In this evocative look at the food and wine of Italy's Friuli-Venezia Giulia region (situated between Venice and Vienna, with Trieste as its capital), Plotkin (Recipes from Paradise; Italy for the Gourmet Traveler) does what he does best focuses on a lesser-known part of Italy and brings it to life. A hefty introductory section covers such topics as the wide-ranging international influence in the region (evidenced by the unusual flavor combinations), its cuisine's liberal use of a wide variety of herbs and fruit in savory dishes and a particularly informative discussion of the area's viticultural history. In the end, however, a cookbook is judged by its recipes, and Plotkin delivers with recipes of exotic flavor combinations, such as Frico (cheese wafers), Caraway Seed Soup and even a series of Horseradish Sauces. Historically an impoverished region, Friuli-Venezia Giulia's resourceful cooks have invented such staples as Spinach-Cornmeal Soup and Barley-Bean Soup. First courses, like Bread Gnocchi with Cucumber Sauce and Polenta with Montasio-Mint Sauce, tend to be hearty, and among the rustic desserts is a delectable Pear Pudding. Comprehensive chapters on coffee, grappa, and wineries and enotecas round out an outstanding volume. Agent, David Black. (May 8) Forecast: Plotkin is a particular favorite among food writers, so booksellers should look for this one to garner critical praise, which could have a healthy impact on sales.