I’ve treated myself to two beautiful books, Tessa Kiros’ Venezia (Murdoch Books, 2008) and A Venetian Journal (Murdoch Books, 2009). They’re as enchanting as their subject.
Tessa’s travels bring her to Venice – a city with a bejewelled past, floating markets and a rich history of food and intrigue. The city fuels her imagination, and the result is an evocative and beautiful recipe book that explores the magic and charm of the famous Italian city. Mingled among the recipes and stunning photographs are Tessa’s observations and diary jottings on Venetian life and dishes.
“Venice in its labyrinth and enigma; everywhere visible from the windows and mirrors on the top floor of Harry’s Bar … Bridges; keyholes peeping into ancient courtyards full of secrets.”
The book is divided by course – Antipasti, Zuppa/pasta/gnocchi, Risotto, Secondi, Contorni and Dolci – with additional sections on Essential Recipes and Cicchetti (delicious small bites unique to Venice). Learn how best to cook polenta or make the perfect Bellini, then move on to pasta dishes such as Bigoli in Salsa, the typically Venetian, rougher, thick wholewheat spaghetti, served with anchovies and onion. Try Grigliata Mista di Pesce (mixed grilled fish) as a Secondo or Fondi di Carciofo (artichoke bottoms) as a side dish. And Focaccia Veneziana – a sweet Venetian brioche-type cake sprinkled with crunchy sugar – for dessert.
“As many times as I went out was as many times as I got lost. But I was never lost. I was always somewhere in Venice.”
A companion to Venezia, A Venetian Journal encourages food lovers who travel and those who explore the world via recipes to map their own journey, recording favourite recipes and memorable cooking and eating experiences. Structured around the classic Italian meal: Antipasti, Primi, Secondi, Contorni, Colci, A Venetian Journal features the photographer Manos Chatzikonstantis’ personal selection of photographs from his frequent visits to Venice with Tessa and fragments from her own journals as she sought to imbibe the very essence of one of the world’s most romantic cities.
Tessa Kiros was born in London to a Finnish mother and a Greek-Cypriot father. The family moved to South Africa when she was four, and at the age of eighteen, Tessa set off to travel and learn all she could about the world’s cultures and traditions, and new ways of living and eating. She has cooked at London’s The Groucho Club and in Sydney, Athens and Mexico. On a trip to Italy to study the language and food, she met her husband Giovanni, and now lives in Tuscany.