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POLPO: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts)

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Praline creative director David Tanguy says, ‘We wanted to create a book which felt at the same time old and contemporary, capturing both the spirit of the real Venice and the unfussy charm of Polpo and its location in London’s Soho.’ Spread In place of a spine, the book’s binding is revealed – with stitching in bright green. Praline says the decision to remove the spine was also a practical one, as it allows the book to be laid out flat in the kitchen. Spread

Russell Norman is a restaurateur. Over the last 20 years he has worked in many of London's landmark restaurants as a waiter, bartender, maître d', general manager and operations director. In 2009 he founded an independent restaurant company with his best friend and has since opened eight restaurants in central London including Polpo, Spuntino and Mishkin's. His book POLPO: A Venetian Cookbook (of Sorts) and was voted Waterstones Book of the Year 2012. In 2014 he presented The Restaurant Man, a six-part prime-time documentary for BBC2, and his second book SPUNTINO: Comfort Food, New York Style will be published in September 2015. The restaurants in Venice have an appalling reputation." So says London restaurateur Russell Norman, whose Venetian-style bacaro, Polpo, opened in 2009. It was so successful that he's opened four more restaurants since then and has another on the way.The book also features matt gold on the cover, and photography from Jenny Zarins is used throughout. Fold through all the dry ingredients including the orange zest. Scrape the mixture into a 23cm greased cake tin and put in the oven.

However, one of the main reasons that I love Polpo is because it's a 'small plate' place, where you mix several dishes between everyone. But while I love eating out that way, it's certainly not very easy to recreate at home. I have managed to put together mezze meals before with the help of a friend or two, but it's always rather stressful. So while I'm very happy to try out a lot of the recipes in this book, I think I'll enjoy leaving the complete Polpo experience to the experts...The chef is Bruno, but you should ask for his co-owner, Luca," he said. "And bag an evening table – they only have 23 seats. The food there is the best in Venice. In fact, it might be the best in Italy." At €180 for two, including wine and tip, it was the most expensive meal we ate all week: fresh, simple and worth every cent. Start with the razor clams.

I love this kind of Thai soup/pho kind of thing .... it’s always a crowd pleaser, it’s easy to adapt to what you have and you can easily dial up or down flavours or chilli heat to suit your audience and your store cupboard. It’s also pretty healthy. I made it last night and the response was pretty good. You could also fry the meatballs (in fact the NYT recipe suggests that)or if you cooked them for longer they could just cook in the broth. In a large mixing bowl, place the yogurt, 300g of the caster sugar and the lightly beaten eggs. Stir in the cooled butter.The best place to drink a spritz, the city's signature aperitif, is outdoors at the Caffè Rosso in the Campo Santa Margherita. You can tell that the square is close to the university, because it's full of noisy students. This, Russell says, is "where I downed gallons of spritz on my research trips; the spritz at Polpo is based exactly on their recipe. It's scruffy, studenty – the loos are disgusting. I love it". A luscious cookbook of little known Venetian specialties from one of London's hottest restaurants, accompanied by luminous photographs.

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