cover image A Table in Venice: Recipes from My Home

A Table in Venice: Recipes from My Home

Skye McAlpine. Clarkson Potter, $32.50 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5247-6029-8

As food writer McAlpine notes in an autobiographical introduction to this uneven collection of recipes, while tourists flood Venice, they rarely get a true sense of the city’s distinctive cuisine. But then the British-born, Venice-raised blogger (From My Dining Table) muddies the waters by stating that this recipe collection is not a particularly authentic look at Venetian food. Despite that hedging, the author includes plenty of Venetian specialties. A chapter on the kind of breakfast pastries found at a local café includes focaccine (sweet yeasted buns with honey) and the city’s famed zaletti cornmeal cookies. The introduction to a recipe for duck legs roasted with plums and thyme references a duck-hunting scene in Hemingway’s Across the River and into the Trees, which took place in a Venetian lagoon. But some recipes strike an off-key note: a set of vegetable recipes supposedly based on produce available in the Rialto market includes winter squash in a bracing vinegar sauce but also frozen peas simmered to a soft consistency. Convenience foods are sometimes called for: store-bought puff pastry is used to make various cocktail snacks in a chapter that also includes instructions for mixing snappy prosecco drinks, such as the Bellini. The individual recipes are reliable, but as a collection, this feels like a grab bag of recipes in search of a theme. (Mar.)