One of the reasons why I love cookbooks so much is because of the immense amount of vicarious-living they offer. While I have been to Venice, Italy before it is Skye McAlpine’s gracious tour of her beloved home through some really delicious recipes that I could feel some of what she feels for Venice and experience a bit of its magic too. Part memoir, part cookbook what A Table in Venice offers is her take on Venetian cuisine as well as providing many traditional recipes. McAlpine has been delivering accounts of her daily life in Venice via her blog, From My Dining Table, for over the past three years. She moved to Venice as a child when her parents decided to move there for a year from England and then never left. Like her blog, her book is full of gorgeous photos of the city as well as beautifully styled pictures using antique glass, transferware and cutlery, Venetian lace table clothes, marble, and beautifully weathered wood tabletops. All of the images evoke such a feeling of relaxed elegance.
It was on a sunny Friday spring afternoon that I decided to give her recipe for Zucchini Pizzettes a try. She explains that these mini pizzas made on buttery puff pastry are a “thing” in Venice. They were delicious and an unexpected take on the traditionally doughy version. These pizette also seemed like the perfect thing to serve on this quite “Pizza Friday” at home. The puff pastry, a star in this recipe, takes a recurring role in several other recipes throughout the book. The Peach and Saffron Pastries that I made and the Poppyseed Puffs were absolutely delicious and are recipes I’ll make again. With the use of package prepared puff pastry these recipes are quick to make/bake and yield professional-looking dishes. Speaking of which, the Poppyseed Puffs were exactly as advertised: uno tira l’altro/one calls for another! Once I set them on the table they were gone in no time and I think I’ll take her advice and add some olives and cheese the next time to really make it a perfect Happy Hour snack!
A Table in Venice is divided into 6 chapters — Il Cafe/Sweet Breakfast Recipes, Il Mercato/Vegetable Recipes from the Rialto Market, A Tavola/ Classic Lunch Recipes, Lo Spritz/ Recipes for a Venetian Aperitivo, La Laguna/ Fish and Game From the Venetian Lagoon, and La Pasticceria/Desserts and Sweet Treats. McAlpine also helpfully elaborates on essential ingredients in her pantry section. I found the ingredients easy to source at my local grocery store and I’m finding that the recipes in this book also lend themselves well to farmer’s market shopping. While enjoying many of her vegetarian appropriate recipes, I think the book offers many recipes that support an omnivorous diet — I know both my mom and sister would adore this book!
One of the most memorable recipes that I made from the book is her Chocolate Birthday Cake — a flourless paragon of a chocolate cake this recipe is one that her mother has made for all of her birthdays and one that McAlpine, herself, makes for her son’s and husband’s birthdays. So imagine my husband’s delight to receive this cake in celebration of his birthday a few weeks ago (he’s one of those “if it’s not chocolate it’s not dessert”-types). This two-layer fudge-y chocolate cake covered in a rich Mascarpone Icing is one that’s going to become the cake that everyone requests — however with 600 g of both chocolate and butter as well as a dozen eggs this is one treat that will be saved for those special occasions (it is here where I emphasize how incredibly rich, sweet, and magical this cake really is).
All of the recipes I’ve tried so far have been really delicious and very easy to make. Even with my first attempt at making risotto (a dish I had never attempted before because I thought it might be to difficult too make or easy to ruin) I was extremely pleased with the results. The publisher has given me permission to include the recipe for this beautiful risotto along with my review. I thought it was the perfect recipe to include considering the time of year it is. With the increasingly warmer days but cool nights this comforting and creamy risotto is most certainly brightened by the inclusion of the lemon. The embodiment of spring in a bowl. The book is full of a combination of easy weeknight cooking and recipes to save for enjoying on the weekend when you have more time to spend on a recipe (think — handmade pasta and gnocchi). I also really enjoyed making her gnocchi and found that her method of using baked potato instead of using boiled lead to a much more light and airy gnocchi imho.
A Table in Venice offers a delicious look at this iconic floating city through some enticing, easy to make recipes. If you’re curious to see what Venetian delicacies we’ve been enjoying check out my custom Instagram hashtag #aneatworthytableinvenice or my dedicated Facebook post. As I keep trying recipes I’ll keep adding to these.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Appetite by Random House / Penguin Random House for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.