The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence -

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

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