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Fred Plotkin's Italy For The Gourmet Traveler


Bill Klapp
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A head's up: Plotkin allegedly "revised and updated" this 1996 work in 2006. While there is evidence that he has added some new material, and perhaps revised some of the old, if you have one of the older editions (and perhaps even if you do not), take a pass on this. I did not thumb beyond the Piemonte section before I returned it. He has not gone back to Italy and done his homework, it appears, or else he did his homework much earlier than the 2006 publication date.

He still has his 1996 commentary on the ristorante Il Vicoletto in Alba. It has been a gourmet food shop, not a ristorante, for many years (run by the same family that ran the Michelin-starred ristorante, by the way, with the same chef and many of the classic dishes available to go, which make it a Michelin-starred takeout place of sorts). Worse, he still has the legendary ristorante Guido alive and well in Costigliole d'Asti. It also closed years ago, and there are now THREE Guido offspring elsewhere: Pollenzo (near Bra), Santo Stefano Belbo and Torino (a joint venture with the old Casa Vicina owners in the Eataly food emporium).

That was enough for me. This guide is either already too dated or too sloppily "revised and updated", or both, to be of any use to a serious gourmet (or anybody else, for that matter). That said, Plotkin is a good writer and has done a couple of terrific cookbooks. The original Gourmet for the Italy Traveler was also useful in its time. The 2006 edition is not.

Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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I thumbed it a little more, and in fairness to Plotkin, he has done some work, but in my opinion, not nearly enough. I think this book is probably much more worthwhile for the listings of food shops, enotecas and other food-driven items of interest than for the dining guidance...

Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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