Newcomers to opera receive a fine guide to learning about opera appreciation, written by a performance manager for the Metropolitan Opera. Eleven famous operas are reviewed in a step-by-step listener’s guide which covers the basics of learning about the opera’s form, style, and scene challenges.
Florence is one of Italy’s most extraordinary cities. Rich with the world’s most important art and architecture, and with shopping that rivals most larger cities, Florence is the second-most popular destination in Italy. The newest in Rizzoli’s Italian cities guidebook series created in collaboration with the International Herald Tribune, Florence in Detail provides the seasoned traveler information on well-known cultural and commercial points of interest, as well as off-the-beaten-path treasures to let one experience the city as natives do. Through 17 walking tours and in-depth Focus sections, Florence in Detail takes the traveler to familiar sites, but offers alternative itineraries as well as introducing the reader to lesser-known sites that are extraordinary. Within each itinerary, Rizzoli has singled out one site that is particularly important or noteworthy. Identified with a red sticker, the reader can easily find Rizzoli’s favorite site in every chapter. Six itineraries to small towns just outside Florence are described, including Fiesole and Impruneta. A “Best of” chapter identifies Florence’s best pastry shops, best markets, and other venues of interest to the traveler.
Eating as the rationale for traveling through Italy, where food and culture are so naturally bound together, is the theme of Italophile Plotkin’s latest book. His ardent admiration for the country and its cuisine is evident in his personalized tour through the nation’s 22 regions, including the islands of Sicily and Sardenia. Guiding us through a land bountiful and diverse in terrain, history, and tradition, he explores each area’s distinctive foods and wines. When not traveling, Plotkin lectures and writes about things Italian and has penned The Authentic Pasta Book and Opera 101. He uses his extensive knowledge to create a catalog of helpful restaurant reviews, recipes (indexed), a glossary of food terms, profiles of cities and their local histories (indexed), and anecdotes that blend into an informative, entertaining, comprehensive guide. This selection is a treat for any travel collection.
Amazon Reader’s review: “I bought this book years ago when I bought my pasta machine (Atlas hand powered roller and cutter) The few things I have tried were great, but they took a little time to make.”
Italy Today, the Beautiful Cookbook is the third volume on Italian cooking to join the popular Beautiful series of large format, lavishly illustrated books from HarperCollins. It is more than just a pretty book to set on the coffee table; this is a book cooks will enjoy and one that makes good reading if you are planning a trip to Italy.
Fred Plotkin’s text covers the history, economy, and particular ingredients important in each of Italy’s culinary regions. He also explains how changes in the way Italians live are affecting how they eat. Meals, for example, now follow the traditional structure less rigidly in most parts of the country, with the southern areas holding closest to the old ways. Also, while cooking in Italy is still remarkably regional, people are enjoying recipes less tied to their locality. Use of fresh and local ingredients, however, remains strong.
The recipes are by Lorenza De’ Medici, who also did the food for Italy, the Beautiful Cookbook and Tuscany, the Beautiful Cookbook. Here she offers 220 dishes. Some show how Italians are modifying classics; others illustrate the living quality of Italian cooking in its acceptance of new ingredients and in new ways of using familiar ones. Perfect examples of this are Eggplant with Yogurt and Mint and Rice Salad with Pesto. Beyond all the handsome photographs, this is a source cooks really can use.