cover image Classico e Moderno: Essential Italian Cooking

Classico e Moderno: Essential Italian Cooking

Michael White and Andrew Friedman. Ballantine, $50 (448p) ISBN 978-0-345-53052-3

In his second offering (Fiamma: The Essence of Contemporary Italian Cooking), White once again sublimely deals with his cuisine of choice—Italian. In an attempt to bridge the gap between classic and modern, this chef extraordinaire offers the reader an experience in beauty and taste. By splitting the book into two parts, “Classico, with nearly 125 recipes” for dishes straight from Italy based on the “old ways,” and “Moderno,” which features “almost as many recipes” culled from White’s restaurant experience and other similar “contemporary styles” of cooking, this cookbook is a masterpiece of culinary acumen and perfection in presentation. There are so many wonderful recipes it is hard to choose the “right ones” to highlight; however, a few really stand out. There’s the baccala mantecato, or whipped salt cod, which balances the salt of the fish with the smoothness of potatoes, and creamy, subtle flavor of milk. For the more adventurous, there is the lumache brasato con polenta e funghi, or braised snails with polenta and wild mushrooms. There is a lot of pasta as well: for example, spaghetti with clams, parsley, and basil. Similarly, there is an entire section on modern favorites, including crudo and pizza, as well as desert ( olive oil cake with rosemary ice cream, pine nut praline sabayon, and meringue. With multiple sections on all things related to food such as acidity and the role it plays in cooking and flavoring, and how to serve not just the right flavors and colors, but just the right texture too, there is plenty in the book to keep one occupied with Italian food for a long time. With 100 exquisite color photos illuminating the natural beauty of the dishes(, this book is a testament to both the importance/influence of Italian cuisine and to the rich and varied experiences its ingredients and tradition still have to offer. Agent: David Black, David Black Agency. (Nov.)