Everyone knows Guy Grossi as one of Australia’s leading authorities on all things ‘la cucina italiana’. He is an evangelist for the traditions, the innovations and the generosity of Italian cooking. And in his latest book, ‘Love Italy’, he details his momentous journey from Piedmont to Sicily to showcase the family run businesses and artisan producers of Italy.
Chef Grossi’s love of food and home-grown produce began in his own back yard at his family’s suburban Melbourne home. Under the watchful eye of his father and mother, he learnt first hand the traditional preparations and the importance of seasonality. In his introduction to ‘Love Italy’, he writes,“I know instinctively that an understanding of what you buy or source gives you respect for your ingredients. This in turn obliges you to take greater care in the preparation and cooking, inevitably yielding better results”.
“For a long time now, I have thought of Italy as a country made up of different ingredients rather than towns and villages! And so the idea for this book evolved”.
After years of planning and painstaking scheduling Guy, his daughter Loredana, photographer Mark Chew and publisher Julie Gibbs traversed Italy on a quest to present the very best of Italian gastronomy. They stayed in agribusinesses farm accommodation to experience first hand the harvests and passion of the growers, producers, chefs and artisans.
‘Love Italy’ is more an odyssey than cookbook. He worked closely with the Italian Slow Food Movement to speak with the producers of the unique and rare. The Slow Food Movement’s campaign to protect and promote Italy’s uncommon varieties and ancient skills that were in risk of extinction has ensured the preservation of some these heirloom fruits and vegetables and traditional techniques.
In picturesque Piedmont he revels in the rare and precious white truffles of Alba and the cherries of Bella di Garbagna and a recipe to make homemade Mortadella with pistachio. The Mauri caves in Lombardy are the home of the finest Taleggio and Gorgonzola. Guy notes that the cheeses mature in the perfect inbuilt microclimate with natural ventilation from the cracks in the cave walls.
In Veneto, Guy and crew met with the family Ferron who have been producing the highest quality vialone nano rice for five generations. The recipes for Herb Risotto and Amarone Risotto are sublime. In Friuli-Venezi Giulia he investigates Grappa and Prosciutto with more recipes including one for authentic Fettucine Carbonara.
In Emilia Romagna there is Parmigiano Reggiano, Aceto Balsamico and much more. In Tuscany the delights include pasta, olive oil and porcini. In Umbria, there is Caciofiore and in Campania pizza and Buffalo Mozzarella. There is Altamura bread in Puglia and red garlic, sea salt, oregano and pistachios in Sicily.
Mark Chew’s photography is both expansive and intimate: capturing the diverse Italian landscapes and portraits of the characters Guy and the team met on the odyssey.
This is more than cookbook or coffee table book. Love Italy is a work of art; it is an awe-inspiring insight into the heart of this gastronomic paradise. Love Italy carefully and lovingly examines the food of Italy but more importantly it presents those people who are the guardians of family traditions and ingredients.
Love Italy. You’ll never regret it.
Guy’s multi-toqued Florentino restaurant is legendary and he has also opened in Melbourne an Osteria (Merchant) and a salumi bar (Ombra) and in Bangkok, Grossi Trattoria. www.grossi.com.au