Chef Pino Posteraro hails originally from Calabria, the toe of Italy’s boot. He has cooked in Toronto, Singapore, and throughout Italy. In 1999, he opened his Vancouver restaurant, Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill, recognized since then as one of Canada’s finest Italian eateries.
Posteraro is also a master of sous vide – the preparation of foods cooked at low temperature in vacuum-sealed plastic bags. This fascinating cooking method minimizes loss of flavours and nutrients, but it can also be lethal: botulism-causing bacteria can grow on food that’s improperly heated in oxygen-free environments.
Seven of the 125 recipes in Posteraro’s new cookbook, Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill, employ sous vide. Each refers readers to a foreboding disclaimer at the front of the book, warning that even professional cooks unschooled in sous vide should not attempt the technique.
Which raises the question, why bother including those recipes? For those interested in experimental cooking techniques, instruction from a master is always welcome, but the sous vide instructions in Cioppino’s are so pitiably vague that even the most reckless will likely shy away, anyway.
The rest of Cioppino’s provides some of the most accessible and accomplished recipes yet published by a high-profile Canadian restaurant chef, offering dozens of dishes born of Posteraro’s restaurant. Divided into typical menu sections – soups, pasta, meats, desserts, etc. – and enhanced throughout by John Sherlock’s lustrous colour photography, the book emphasizes classic and hearty Italian fare with flashes of Asian fusion.
Veal Osso Buco alla Milanese with Saffron Risotto; Striped Sea Bass with Green Olive Relish and Bouillabaisse Caramel; Chocolate Terrine with Espresso Caramel Sauce – such dishes may sound daunting, but a confident simplicity informs Posteraro’s recipes. Ingredients are handled with integrity, while gracefully uncluttered and direct instructions demystify even the most intimidating techniques.
Cioppino’s is a gorgeous cookbook, perfect for ambitious home cooks seeking challenges that are approachable yet still demanding. Short of surviving sous vide, that is.