Cookbook Corner: Via dei Sapori (Path of Flavours)
During the years I spent traveling in Friuli, doing research for my cookbook Flavors of Friuli: A Culinary Journey through Northeastern Italy, I purchased a number of cookbooks along the way. In this new column, I’m going to share with you my collection of books, starting with my favorite and one of the most exceptional: Via dei Sapori by Walter Filiputti.
I first encountered Via dei Sapori at dinner one summer evening at Ristorante Alla Pace in Sauris di Sotto. After telling the hostess Franca Schneider (who was also chef Andrea’s mother) about my cookbook project, she immediately brought me this gorgeous coffee-table book to peruse during my meal.
The book takes readers on a journey through Friuli-Venezia Giulia, stopping at 20 notable restaurants along the way. I’ve been to four of these featured restaurants: Alla Pace (Sauris), Al Lido (Muggia), All’Androna (Grado), and La Subida (Cormòns). I only wish I’d discovered this book sooner, so that I could have made a point of visiting more of them.
In addition to recounting the history and cuisine of each restaurant, Via dei Sapori provides recipes for some of their signature dishes. A number of these recipes were quite helpful in my process of recipe testing, particularly those for scampi alla busara (langoustines in tomato sauce), gnocchi di susine (plum-filled gnocchi), gnocchi croccanti di Sauris (crispy gnocchi stuffed with prosciutto), stinco di vitello (braised veal shank), patate in tecia (skillet potatoes), and boreto alla Gradese (fish steaks with vinegar).
Even more useful in my research was the book’s focus on the region’s cuisine, with sections on aspects of culinary history such as Carnia’s cramârs (spice merchants), the backstory of typical dishes such as frico and gubana, and spotlights on many local artisans and their products, including prosciutto di San Daniele and Montasio cheese. Being a renowned expert on wine, author Walter Filiputti naturally included extensive sections on the region’s wine zones and varieties.
After having spent several meals at Alla Pace flipping through Via dei Sapori, I determined to buy the book the next chance I got. When my three weeks in Carnia ended, I returned to Udine, the city I’d be using as a home base for the next week. I remembered seeing Via dei Sapori at the Enoteca di Cormòns earlier in my trip, so as soon as my bus arrived in Udine and I’d checked into my hotel, I jumped on the next train to Cormòns. The book was available there in several different languages, and I decided to buy the English translation, Path of Flavours.
Once I got back to my hotel and started reading, I realized that there was clearly an error in the translation of Alla Pace’s recipe for crispy stuffed gnocchi. I had taken notes while at the restaurant—and while sampling the dish itself upon Franca’s recommendation. In the English version, the ingredients for the dough and the filling were obviously switched, but I also saw that there were a couple of ingredients missing. Fortunately, during the final week of my trip, I was able to locate the Italian edition in one of Udine’s bookshops and confirm the recipe in my notes so that I could properly recreate it back home.
Despite that issue, having the English translation made my job much easier, as every other cookbook I purchased was in Italian and required extra effort to translate. But regardless of the language, the scope of the book and the gorgeous full-color photographs make Via dei Sapori possibly the best book on Friulian cuisine ever published!