10/04/2012 10:49 BST | Updated 09/06/2012 06:12 BST

Review of 'Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy' by Antonio Carluccio & Gennaro Contaldo

Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy - Antonio Carluccio & Gennaro Contaldo

Quadrille - April 12th 2012

Photography: David Loftus.

This book arrived on my doorstep in an envelope with the notation AC/GC written on it. This is how I shall refer to the two greedy Italians from now on - it seems to suit them perfectly! The introduction to 'Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy' covers a very food based history and geography of Italy. It looks at regional differences and the impact that this has on food. There is insight into the Italian way of thinking; similar to the first 'Two Greedy Italians' they comment on the changes that are happening throughout Italy in relation to food, family and ways of life.

One of the big difficulties with Italian cookbooks is that so much has been covered that it is hard to find anything new anymore. The thing that most struck me about this book was that it had some genuinely surprising recipes in. Starting with the first, very simple, recipe of Beef and Wine Soup. There is a gorgeous combination of lesser-known Italian treats with some age old classics re-imagined.

The photography is as beautiful as ever with Loftus' images. The scenic shots of Italy are breath-taking and the pictures of the finished meals make me want to head straight for the kitchen. Or possibly, Rome. The italics can be a bit tricky to read but the recipes themselves and the ingredients are straight-forward and this is a very nice looking book. The contents page is very sparse so you need to use the index to find what you're looking for.

Introductions to the separate regions are quite long but entertaining and the information ties all of the aspects into a whole. There are rather a lot of notes spread through the cookbook, great if you want to know more about specific aspects of Italian life and cooking but they do tend to run a little long. The comments that AC/GC write at the start of each recipe are brilliant and give some great background and tips on how to tweak the recipe as well.

Overall it leans a little too heavily towards the meats/fish recipes and the vegetable recipes are largely quite heavy throughout with an emphasis on starches. There are also a lot more savoury than sweet ideas. It is a not a bad thing at all as the recipes themselves are beautiful but this is not the book to get for Italian desserts. A few of the ingredients may be a little hard to find, but most are readily available - there are some expensive cuts of meat used in here although it's balanced by a good range of cheaper cuts as well.

My favourite recipes were the Braised Squid in Tomato, the Hare with Garlic and Rosemary, served with Bruschetta, the Pearl Barley with Spinach and Pork Mince and the Hazelnut Cake.

The beautiful thing about 'Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy' is that it manages to combine the disparate aspects of regional cooking so that you end up with a wide range of food overall catering to lots of different occasions and tastes. A lovely all-round book of innovative but still homely Italian cookery.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of 'Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy' from Quadrille publishing.