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Fiamma

The Essence of Contemporary Italian Cooking

by Michael White with Joanna Pruess

Fiamma

Cooking is a transformative art, one that turns basic raw ingredients into something altogether different than their original forms. You might say that Michael White, executive chef of Fiamma Osteria in New York City and Fiamma Trattoria at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, is a master of transformation. An American of Norwegian heritage who grew up in Beloit, Wisconsin, White fashioned himself into a guru of authentic Italian cooking after immersing himself in Old World Italian kitchens for seven years. Upon his return to the States, White brought his expert touch of preparation—what he calls putting together ingredients in a "respectful way"—to fresh American and select imported Italian ingredients. The result was Fiamma (Italian for flame), which consistently earns top accolades as one of New York City’s best Italian restaurants.

Fiamma, the cookbook, is based on White’s restaurant dishes and reflects his emphases on traditions of the Italian kitchen and preparations that let each ingredient shine. Chapters on antipasto; pasta, polenta and risotto; fish; poultry and meat; vegetables; and dessert are interwoven with common themes and key ingredients. Fresh, aromatic peaches appear both in roast pork loin with chestnut-honey glazed peaches and a dessert of roasted peaches with streusel topping. Fennel comes roasted with parmigiano-reggiano or in a creative salad with arugula and hazelnuts. This reverence for select produce is matched with recipes for the restaurant’s most popular plates, including grilled octopus salad, sage-scented veal chop with sweet and sour onions, and pasta quills with San Daniele prosciutto. Desserts from pastry chef Elizabeth Katz replicate the Italian passion for fresh fruit, chocolate and gelato, with creations like vanilla semifreddo with pineapple compote and ricotta beignets with chocolate dipping sauce. Bringing the techniques and staples of Fiamma into your home kitchen will undoubtedly transform it into a bona fide cucina.

Reviewed by Rachel Levin


P122106
(Updated: 11/11/08 SB)

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