A LITTLE FOOD FLIGHT READING
GROSSIFlorentino:Secrets& Recipes by Guy Grossi and Jan McGuinness, with photography by Adrian Lander (Lantern, $39.95), is the story of a Melbourne institution.
On the inside cover, extending on to the flyleaf, is a reproduction of the mural that wraps the upper walls of Melbourne’s Grossi Florentino restaurant.
It’s a muted, ochre-tinged medieval frieze of the Tuscan countryside and sets the scene for an experience steeped in Italian heritage, in the book and the restaurant that is the book’s subject. The restaurant is Grossi Florentino, opened more than 80 years ago in Melbourne’s Bourke Street as Cafe Florentino, Flo’s to its intimates.
The interior appears opposite the introduction. There’s the mural, the spidery chandelier and the heads of the diners engrossed in conversation over their meals, animated, serious, at home.
There is a close-up of Pietro Grossi preparing artichokes (at Cafe Grossi, the family’s restaurant before buying the already established Florentino).
It’s the enormous pile of artichokes, the kitchen knife and the few leaves already pared away that speak, to anyone who’s ever prepared an artichoke, of the chef’s dedication.
The story of Florentino comes with sepia-tinted photographs, then we move on to the recipes, interspersed with more narrative: La Strada (alfresco eating, kerbside coffee, bellafigura , cutting a figure), La Famiglia, I Murali, the making of the mural (in fact, nine murals).
But the luscious, robust recipes are the enticing core of the book. Judith Elen