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Canal House Cooking Volume No. 7: La Dolce Vita Flexibound – January 17, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
Book 7 of 8 in the Canal House Cooking Series

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

 Melissa Hamilton is a renowned food stylist and cofounder of Canal House. She previously worked at Saveur, which she joined in 1998, as the test kitchen director, and was its food editor for many years. Hamilton also worked in the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living and Cook's Illustrated, and she was the cofounder and first executive chef of Hamilton's Grill Room in Lambertville, New Jersey. She has developed and tested recipes and styled food for both magazines and cookbooks, including those by acclaimed chefs John Besh, Michael Psilakis, Roberto Santibanez, and David Tanis. She works with Christopher Hirsheimer on Canal House Cooking, for which the two do all of the writing, recipes, photography, design, and production.

 Christopher Hirsheimer is an award-winning photographer and cofounder of Canal House. Her experience includes establishing a publishing venture, running a culinary and design studio, and publishing an annual series of three seasonal cookbooks titled Canal House Cooking. Prior to starting Canal House in 2007, in Lambertville, New Jersey, Hirsheimer was the executive editor of Saveur, which she cofounded in 1994, and the food and design editor of Metropolitan Home. She cowrote the award-winning Saveur Cooks series and The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market Cookbook. Her photographs have appeared in more than 50 cookbooks for such notables as Lidia Bastianich, Mario Batali, Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, and Alice Waters, and in numerous magazines, including Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, InStyle, and Town&Country. She works with Melissa Hamilton on Canal House Cooking, for which the two do all of the writing, recipes, photography, design, and production.

 Melissa Hamilton is a renowned food stylist and cofounder of Canal House. She previously worked at Saveur, which she joined in 1998, as the test kitchen director, and was its food editor for many years. Hamilton also worked in the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living and Cook's Illustrated, and she was the cofounder and first executive chef of Hamilton's Grill Room in Lambertville, New Jersey. She has developed and tested recipes and styled food for both magazines and cookbooks, including those by acclaimed chefs John Besh, Michael Psilakis, Roberto Santibanez, and David Tanis.

 Christopher Hirsheimer is an award-winning photographer and cofounder of Canal House. Her experience includes establishing a publishing venture, running a culinary and design studio, and publishing an annual series of three seasonal cookbooks titled Canal House Cooking. Prior to starting Canal House in 2007, in Lambertville, New Jersey, Hirsheimer was the executive editor of Saveur, which she cofounded in 1994, and the food and design editor of Metropolitan Home. She cowrote the award-winning Saveur Cooks series and The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market Cookbook. Her photographs have appeared in more than 50 cookbooks for such notables as Lidia Bastianich, Mario Batali, Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, and Alice Waters, and in numerous magazines, including Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, InStyle, and Town&Country.
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Product Details

  • Series: Canal House Cooking (Book 7)
  • Flexibound: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Canal House (January 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982739443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982739440
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #647,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on January 18, 2012
Format: Flexibound
I'm often asked, "What's the best book you've read recently?"

Right now, the answer is: "Canal House Cooking Volume No. 7: La Dolce Vita."

This causes confusion. A cookbook has no plot, no real writing. No thrills, no romance. No memorable takeaway.

Well, this one does.

Indeed, "Canal House Cooking Volume No. 7: La Dolce Vita" is to cookbooks what James Salter's "A Sport and a Pastime" is to novels set in French villages.

You can tell from the very first paragraph that Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, who have created six Canal House cookbooks from their charming studio in Lambertville, New Jersey, had the kind of experience in Italy that imprints and inspires. Here's how the book starts:

"We rented a farmhouse in Tuscany --- a remote, rustic old stucco and stone house at the end of a gravel road, deep in the folds of vine-covered hills. It had a stone terrace with a long table for dinners outside, a grape arbor, and apple and fig trees loaded with fruit in the garden. There was no phone, TV or Internet service, just a record player and shelves and shelves of books. It had a spare, simple kitchen with a classic waist-high fireplace with a grill. It was all we had hoped for. It was our Casa Canale for a month."

And how's this for...yes, poetry?

"Warm a half cup of extra-virgin olive oil and 2-3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic in a large skillet over medium-low to medium heat until fragrant. Add 1 pound thickly sliced, cleaned, fresh porcini. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and stew the mushrooms until they are tender, 10-20 minutes. Add a handful of chopped fresh parsley. Serve over thick slices of warm crusty toast. Serves 4."

Not a word wasted in the recipe or the prose.
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Format: Flexibound
Canal House Cooking Volume No. 7: La Dolce Vita is not a cookbook, it is dream travel. Elissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirshemeyer describe their trip to Italy in search of the Italian food made in home kitchens. While there, they lived in a small town in a small home and traveled the area eating the foods of the small cafes and inns or picking up fesh food in the markets. They would take food home and preparing it in a similar manner. In this way, they learn the daily diet of the Italian people, enjoying the Italian culture, and soaking up knowledge of home food preparation. I realize that they were working, but they make it seem so wonderful and describe it so beautifully, that from my armchair, I visualize myself on their trip. For me, this is the ultimate in armchair travel. The cookbook itself is very interesting, and their companion website describes palces to find difficult items. Unfortunately for me, this type of cooking is not possible because of time and scheduling, but the book is a joy to read. Maybe this summer, I can utilize some of their recipes. This book is for serious cooks and those who dream of being serious.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com
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I've tried three or so recipes and all have been great, especially the Peppers in Agrodolce which were stellar. I love the feel of the cookbook with the soft cover but with a binding that allows the cook to open it flat--without the binding cracking or otherwise misbehaving. I'm sorry that there is not an index at the back of the cookbook. I'm always looking in an index for something to do with the vegetables lingering in my fridge. Without an index, I'm a little lost. As a result of no index, I've thumbed through the whole cookbook many more times than I would have ordinarily.
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Authors Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, creative types who cook, write, photograph, design and paint, normally work out of their New Jersey, canal-side studio. But this gem of a cookbook is all about a month they spent in autumn in Tuscany: the food, the wine, the fresh vegetables, the markets, snippets of travel experiences.

I think it's a masterpiece; from the design to the photos, the copy and the recipe selection.

There are recipes for drinks, antipasti, soups, pastas, rice dishes, fish, birds, rabbit, meats and vegetables. Recipes that I find particularly appealing are the chicken soup ("Christmas Soup"), spinach pasta, osso buco, porcini in umido, and apple cake.

Make it from scratch directions include: salsa verde, fresh ricotta, simple tomato sauce, balsamella, ragu bolognese.

Included is a short piece on wines by Colman Andrews, editorial director of thedailymeal.com (a founding member of Saveur).

This is a book I'll pick up, peruse, and enjoy from time to time when I want to cook something delicious, or when I just want to think about heavenly food, look at appetizing photographs and reminisce about Italy.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a really great recipe book and when it went on Kindle special sale, I made sure to let lots of friends know. The pasta recipes are particularly solid--homemade spinach pasta and lasagne are great. There are two lasagne recipes--the one without meat and the one with meat. Both use bechamel (balsamella) and they are the essential lasagne I know from my friends from Italy. There is also a ragu bolognese. (Meat sauce.)

There are more exotic things too--rabbit, eel and a very good oil-poached swordfish and a branzino.

If you like Italian food grounded in the time-honored recipes of the regions like Tuscany and don't want frou-frou, strange variations, odd takes and frankly evil reconstructions, this book is for you. And it's good reading, too.
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