A lot has changed since this book came out in 2008. (We were reviewed in Gourmet. Gourmet!)
Still, A16 Food+Wine will always have a special place in my life. It came out three years after I had left my job at A16 as a line cook to start a career writing about food. The transition wasn't easy (work in a kitchen long enough and you forget how to spell anything), and I had to learn how to write cookbook-worthy recipes on the job from a distance, since I was living in Chicago at the time.
Apart from Gourmet, the book was also praised in O, The Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times, Cucina Italiana, and Publishers Weekly. Food & Wine included recipes from the book in its 2009 Best of the Best Cookbook Recipes. It was also a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller.
That this book succeeded to garner national praise was amazing to me, especially since we started with modest expectations, cobbling together a proposal and passing it straight to Ten Speed Press without an agent. What's more important is the imprint the book had on my style of cooking. The meatball recipes from this cookbook are still my favorites (both the classic pork+beef version and the chicken version), and I will never pass down a glass of Fiano from Campania. A16 Food + Wine Publication Date: September 1, 2008, with Ten Speed Press.
IACP International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Awards Book of the Year and First Book/Julia Child Award Category Winner, 2009.
"One of San Francisco's most popular new restaurants, A16 is devoted to southern Italy's rustic cuisine and robust wines. This book, by its executive chef and wine director, begins by exploring eight grape-growing areas in the south, from the region's heart in Campania to mountainous Abruzzo and the isolated island of Sardinia in the Mediterranean. With a dizzying number of wines produced in each area, the focus is wisely kept on the grapes themselves, with eloquent essays on the history and qualities of both classic and less familiar red and white varietals, and food pairing tips as well as recommendations of wine producers. The second half presents some of those foods—peasant cooking like pasta with chunky, chili-spiked sauce, a rabbit mixed grill and, of course, Neapolitan pizza, with A16's Bay Area location showing in occasional ingredient twists like the tangerines in an arugula salad and the zesty punch of preserved Meyer lemon in a grilled shrimp dish. Executive chef Appleman's expertise is reflected in a chapter on the pig, including recipes for making pancetta and sausages, which are rather advanced for casual home cooks but, like the rest of the book, make fascinating reading for lovers of Italian food and wine."-–Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
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"Savvy diners focus on the kitchen's soulful renditions of dishes from Campania, the region surrounding Naples, and a wine list that brims with discoveries from southern Italy. Sure, have a bit of pizza, but save room for dishes such as roasted porcini with green garlic, ricotta gnocchi with squash blossoms, or sweet pea ravioli with braised pork, pecorino, and black pepper."–Wine Spectator
"This is a cook's cookbook; it deserves a quiet season filled with long chilly nights, the ideal time to enjoy its gutsy dishes." –Gourmet
"A book you really can cook and learn from." –Fine Cooking
"A testament to the rustic fare and a convivial atmosphere of the restaurant." –San Francisco Chronicle
“A16: Food + Wine is the best of the bunch. This debut book … strikes a satisfying balance between simple and complex.”–Amy Scattergood, LA Times