12 December 2012


Polpo was on the Lucindaville list of books to give (get) for Christmas.  We admit it, when we first saw the cover for this book we were really excited at the prospect of cookbook that dealt entirely of octopus recipes.  Alas, it was not to be.  Polpo is the name of restaurant in London, now several restaurants or more specifically bàcari.  A bàcaro is a Venetian kind of wine bar/snackified eatery.  A place where one gets a a small glass of wine, called an ombra and some cicheti or small bites.

Polpo is subtitled A Venetian cookbook (of sorts) and it was written by the rather unVenetian sounding Russell Norman.  Norman fell in love with Venice, not the tourist traps of Venice but the back streets and all the food in the bàcari.  He wanted to translate the feel and food of those small neighborhood places to London.  From all indications he succeeded with great aplomb.

The recipes are exactly the kind of food Norman wanted offer, simple, easy dishes with a handful of ingredients.  They appeal to both the palate and the eye.  And while it is not an entire book of octopus recipes there are one of two.  There are entrees and desserts but Polpo shines with its simple small plates like this one.
Goat Cheese, Roasted Grape and Walnut Bruschette

16 grapes, any seedless variety
1 small handful of fresh thyme leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
10 walnut halves
2 half-inch slices of good sourdough or soda bread, each cut in half
1 garlic clove, with one end cut off
4-ounce log of goat cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Scatter the grapes on a small baking sheet with almost all of the thyme, a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Shake to coat. Roast in the oven until the grapes are starting to blister and color, 10-15 minutes. Coat the walnuts with a little olive oil and roast on another small baking sheet until fragrant and toasted, 5-6 minutes.

Set the oven to the broil setting and toast the slices of bread until browned and crunchy, just a couple of minutes. Flip the bread about halfway through. Take the cut side of the garlic clove and rub it over the toasted slices of bread. It'll melt into the hot bread and smell amazing. Drizzle the bread with olive oil.
Crumble the goat cheese with a fork onto the toasted bread. Top the slices of bread with the grapes and walnuts. Drizzle bruschette with honey and garnish with the rest of the thyme leaves.

Goat cheese, grapes and walnuts is a favorite pizza topping combo at Lucindaville and this is way easier than pizza dough.

The other amazing aspect of this book is the lovely binding that exposes the signatures neatly tied with green thread.  This one is definitely a keeper!

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