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A Sardinian Cookbook


The only Australian cookbook to make this year's list of finalists, A Sardinian Cookbook by Giovanni Pilu and Roberta Muir (Lantern/Penguin, 2012), won the People's Choice Award at the International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Awards in San Francisco on 9 April, 2013.


A Sardinian Cookbook was one of three finalists in the International category along with Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi (Ebury Publishing (UK)/Ten Speed Press (USA) and Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid  (Artisan Books, a division of Workman Publishing).

Chef Giovanni Pilu said: "We were stoked even to make the list of finalists. And given that Jerusalem, which won our category, also won best overall cookbook - we can't be too ashamed of that defeat. We are honoured and humbled to take out the People's Choice Award."



Just when you thought there could never be another conceivable angle for a cookbook on Italian food, along comes Giovanni from the offshore, and sometimes overlooked, Italian island in the Mediterranean. Sardinia.

Like so many of the great food cultures, Sardinian cuisine is born of necessity. As a poor people, Sardinians have always foraged for ingredients in the mountains and forests: fennel, asparagus, chicory and nettles; chestnuts, berries and honey.

Rabbit, game birds and wild boar are still hunted in the traditional and time-honoured manner. And those living on the coast gather clams, mussels and tiny crabs from along the shoreline for soups and pasta sauces.

The primary flavourings are the herbs that grow wild everywhere on the island: bay leaves, juniper berries, mint and sage, as well as the characteristic Sardinian myrtle, the leaves of which are used in stocks and marinades, and to scent roasted meat while it rests.

Giovanni Pilu believes Sardinian cooking should involve fresh produce simply prepared, allowing the full flavour of the ingredients to speak for themselves. Since opening Pilu at Freshwater in 2004, he has expanded his Sardinian repertoire, cooking the food that's in his blood and close to his heart - and it is this food he shares with us in A Sardinian Cookbook.

Sardinian-born Giovanni Pilu came to Australia in 1992 and opened his highly acclaimed restaurant, Pilu at Freshwater, in 2004.

Co-author Roberta Muir manages one of Australia's leading cooking schools, Sydney Seafood School, at Sydney Fish Market. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Gastronomy and has written several other books.

- reviewed by Sally Hammond

A Sardinian Cookbook, by Giovanni Pilu & Roberta Muir, published by Penguin, hardcover, 2012, rrp $49.99, ISBN 978 192 1382 598


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