Quentin Bacon (Photographer)
With the infectious enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning, Mario Batali–who presides over a culinary empire that includes the popular Food Network television show Molto Mario, four acclaimed New York restaurants, and a wine store–presents four complete menus for the holidays and captures all the fun and festivity that epitomize Italian celebrations. True to the commitment to simple cooking evident in his first book, Simple Italian Food, the dishes here deliver maximum flavor and enjoyment without being overly complicated. Batali’s version of the famous Italian seafood extravaganza traditionally served on Christmas Eve–known as the Feast of Seven Fishes–includes no fewer than 15 enticing dishes. Marinated Fresh Anchovies are both surprisingly delectable and delightful in their simplicity. Salt Cod with Capers and Mint, Grilled Lobster with Herbs and Arugula, and Sea Bass Ravioli with Marjoram and Potatoes would each be showstoppers as the centerpiece of any meal. Served together, they comprise a truly unforgettable feast. The Christmas Day menu is equally lavish, centering on a succulent boned turkey breast stuffed with chestnuts and prunes, while the New Year’s Day spread is pure decadence. Photos, along with helpful wine suggestions and practical advice on technique, accompany each menu. Throughout, Batali paints a portrait of his Italian-American family that reminds readers that the simple joy of being together is what the holidays are really about. The 60 simple yet elegant recipes can be mixed, matched, and adapted for any occasion. Served together or separately, each is cause for celebration.