Anna Del Conte is, or so says The Times, ‘The queen of Italian cuisine’
and she is certainly an iconic writer.
The original edition (1996) of ‘Classic Food of Northern Italy’ won both The Guild of Food Writers Book Award and the Orio Vergani prize of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina. This is an updated edition in which Anna Del Conte takes another look at classic dishes which illustrate the most inspiring of northern Italian food. Her other books include Gastronomy of Italy and Anna Del Conte on Pasta. In 1994 Anna won the prestigious Premio Nazionale de Cultura Gastronomica Verdicchio d’Ora prize for dissemination of knowledge about authentic Italian food, and has since been awarded the Guild of Food Writers Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2016 Anna appeared on the BBC programme The Cook Who Changed Our Lives with Nigella Lawson, which won ‘Programme of the Year’ at the Fortnum and Mason Food and Drink Awards 2017.
This is a beautifully photographed volume of more than 150 recipes from restaurants, home cooks, hostelries and country farms. There are lots of dishes here that might not be familiar to the non-Italian but there are also celebrated plates. This is a cook’s book rather than being a cookbook. It’s one that will live on the kitchen shelf rather than on the coffee table.
You need skill to make a good risotto but it’s worth the effort
I do have favourites. Risotto Milanese is a classic but it’s also old-fashioned comfort food. Master this recipe and all the other risotto recipes in this book could be yours. to learn how to make the best.
Breaded Calf Sweetbreads is another must-try in Classic Food of Northern Italy. Yes, it’s offal but a good introduction to this often-feared genre. There is nothing strong and challenging with sweetbreads. They are soft, creamy and mild, and well worth a try. Don’t tell guests what they are eating until the dessert is on the table.
Any Italian cookbook must have a pasta dish and Anna Del Conte presents a very smart one in the guise of Linguine and Scallops Venetian Style. This is dinner-party fare and with a hint of curry which is a surprise. This could be a starter or main course.
Classic Food of Northern Italy is any food-lovers delight. Anna Del Conte’s recipes are thoroughly researched and tested and form a comprehensive overview of dishes from this region. It’s a book which will likely be returned to time after time. The recipes are classic but so is the author.
Classic Food of Northern Italy
Author: Anna Del Conte
Published by: Pavilion Books
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018