On a recommendation from a chef acquaintance, I purchased the book A16 Food + Wine (Ten Speed Press, 2008). Written by the owners of the restaurant A16 in San Francisco, the book is both a guide to the Southern Italy wine regions, and also a cook book with items from the region. The title (and the restaurant name) comes from the highway in Southern Italy…A16.
The first 65 pages of the book are dedicated to the wine. For a wine enthusiast of almost any level, there will be plenty of information to learn. I’m weak on the Southern Italian wines, so I found it to be a great walk through. Each region is dissected, but not ad nauseam. Grapes are compared, and wines are talked about how they really should be – in the context of food. The authors related wines back to certain dishes they have in their San Fran restaurant, but not in a way that makes you feel they’re selling you on anything. Just telling you what they think.
The chef acquaintance told me that the book was best for the wine section, and that the second half on food was pretty basic. Maybe it’s because he’s a chef. I got the impression it was only going to be on pizza. Turns out, while there is a section on pizza, there’s plenty of other recipes – from liver terrina to baked peaches. Even a short section with advice on olive oils, salt and other things for the pantry. While I haven’t actually tried any of the recipes, I’m happy to report it looks like something I could certainly pull some ideas from.
Peppered with large photos from the region, the grapes, and mouth-watering closeups of the food, it’s an easy and enjoyable wine and food guide. It’s not novel; you won’t have to use a bookmark. It’s not a cookbook, either (ok, well kinda yeah). It’s practically a coffee table book that you can casually flip through at your leisure.