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Saturday, April 25, 2015

* FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! : Kitchen Creamery (Chronicle Books)

* FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! *
  ++++++++++++++++++++++
 
KITCHEN CREAMERY (Chronicle Books, 2015, 248 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-1162-9, $29.95 US hard covers) is by Louella Hill, a professional cheesemaker with a series of classes in the Bay Area <www.sfmilkmaid.com> Here she advocates making yogurt, butter and cheese at home in your kitchen. She's got a primer on Greek yogurt, kefir, creme fraiche, and butter. Next up is ricotta, quark, chevre, feta and mascarpone. Then there are the washed rinds, bloomy rinds, and the pressed cheeses. So there are about 42 in all, complemented by post-production fundamentals of judging ripeness, setting up a cheese cave, storing and freezing. It's a good book for classes, as are its intentions. Other material includes a glossary, troubleshooting, appendices on cultures and butterfat, sanitation and presses, and resources and references. It is a good reference book, just loaded with readable information. Recipes are for making cheese; there are no cooking with cheese ideas. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. The index is in large type. Quality/Price Rating: 91.
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Event: Spring Media Launch of Porzia's new food and cocktail menu (April 15, 2015)

The Event: Spring Media Launch of Porzia's new food and cocktail menu
The Venue: Porzia, 1314 Queen Street West
The Target Audience: food and wine media/bloggers
The Quote/Background: The restaurant had been open two years and it was time for a new spring menu. It was named one of Toronto's 10 best new restaurants in 2013 by the Globe and Mail. The menu rotates weekly through 10 items, all under the control of owner-chef Basilio Pesce (who named the restaurant after his mother).
The Wines: the launch featured a variety of beers and cocktails, as well as four wines that they offer.
 
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Rosewood VQA Sussreserve Riesling 2013, 10.4% ABV, $14.95 LCBO
 
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Moonlite 2013 IGT Rocca della Macie, about 1/3 chardonnay and 1/3 vermentino, $14.95 Vintages
-Rosewood VQA Select Series Pinot Noir 2013, $21.95 Vintages
 
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Rocca delle Macie Chianti 2013 Vernaiolo, $14.95 LCBO
 
The Food: the food came out in series, beginning with formaggi and salumi. These were around for the longest time before the superb crostini arrived (bone marrow and snails, cotechino and rapini, and ricotta and bomba: all best with Sussreserve). Next up were excellent olive oil halibut and fiddlehead aioli (my wife's fave). Deep fried side strip prawns arrived by the platterful, but it was difficult to get to the stinging nettle tortellini with smoked mackerel (too small a plate and everyone wanted photos). But I did, and I am glad that I caught up with the catch. By then, the crowd had doubled, the music volume had doubled, and while there was more food to come, we could not take the crush-noise-layout anymore. So we left. Of course, it will not be this way during a normal night sitdown meal.
The Downside: because of the set up it was impossible to pair all the wines with all the food. There were not enough seats and tables to do this. The crowds compounded the layout by actively taking cellphone and camera pix of the food, which managed to cool off before being eaten.
The Upside: great food. We were sorry to miss the grilled octopus, the chicken liver agnolotti, the ricotta cheese cake with rhubarb, and the yogurt panna cotta. I did not have enough nerve to ask for a doggy bag for these items.
The Contact Person: rob@loschagency.com and www.porzia.ca
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 82.

Chimo! www.deantudor.com
Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada

Monday, April 20, 2015

* DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH! : A Beer for All Seasons (Storey Publishing)

* DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH!
 
BEER FOR ALL SEASONS (Storey Publishing, 2015, 200 pages, ISBN 978-1-61212-347-9, $14.95 US paper covers) is by Randy Mosher, author of many books and articles about beer. His latest was "Tasting Beer" (Storey Publishing – 120,000 copies printed) which emphasized the techniques of beer tasting. Here he moves on to celebrate the beers that we use to, well, celebrate our occasions in life. It's arranged by season, with guides to beer events such as Oktoberfest, craft beer weeks, and summer festivals. In detail he describes why certain beers are best at certain times of the year (based on agriculture and history). He's also got holiday celebrations and food pairings, as well as more tasting notes and beer style notes. He concludes with "around the world in 80 beers". So – beginning with Spring he delves into bock beers. And spring is also about lamb, so he's got the beer pairings for lamb, followed by Easter and Mother's Day. Summer is cold lager (and wheat beers) and national holidays (and Father's Day: get a mixed pack of beers). While the thrust of the book is American, comparable holidays do exist in Canada. All that is lacking for Canadian content are actual dates or titles of local beer festivals, although the national ones in Montreal and Vancouver are covered. The book is heavily illustrated with labels and adverts and pix of beer glasses in all their colours of brown and yellow. No actual food or beer recipes. Quality/Price Rating: 91.
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

WORLD WINE WATCH (LCBO VINTAGES TIP SHEET) FOR APRIL 18, 2015

 
WORLD WINE WATCH (LCBO VINTAGES TIP SHEET) FOR APRIL 18, 2015
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. Creator of Canada's award-winning wine satire site at http://fauxvoixvincuisine.blogspot.com. My Internet compendium "Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net", a guide to thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits, has been at www.deantudor.com since 1994. My LCBO tastings are based on MVC (Modal Varietal Character); ratings are QPR (Quality-to-Price Ratio). Prices are LCBO retail. Only my top rated wines are here.
 
NOTE: The LCBO does NOT put out all of the wines of the release for wine writers or product consultants. Corked wines are not normally available for a re-tasting. It is getting more difficult to endorse wines under $20 for the simple reason that the LCBO does not release many of them into the Vintages program, ones that can be deemed to be worthy of your consideration. So I will now just ADD some "under $25" suggestions, along with point values.
 
 
====?>>> ** BEST WINE VALUE OF THE RELEASE *UNDER* $20
 
M.Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Cotes du Roussillon Villages 2013, +168716, $15.95: great value for a blend of Grencahe and Syrah, done up in the southern Rhone style, good syrah hits of blackberries and some saddles. Extremely nice price. QPR: 91.
 
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $25:
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
1.Rapaura Springs Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Marlborough, +388421, $21.95. QPR: 90.
2.Roland Lavantureux Chablis 2013, +328807, $23.95. QPR: 90.
3.Featherstone Gewurztraminer 2013 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, +64592, $19.95: good intense Alsatian-style gewurz flavours are nailed here. Food or sip, 13% ABV, twist top. QPR: 89.
4.Henry of Pelham Estate Riesling 2012 VQA Short Hills Bench, +557165, $17.95: a delicious hit of Riesling intensity, good acid levels on the finish, broad fruity strokes on mid-palate. 11.5% ABV, not as sweet as (M) indicates. QPR; 89
5.Hugel Gentil 2013 Alsace, +367284, $15.95: at one time on the LCBO general list, this  wine is a reasonably costed patio/deck/first course sipper/food wine. A good zwicker field blend. QPR: 89.
6.Cheateau de la Bretesche Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie 2013, +412163, $12.95: the LCBO Muscadet of the month. QPR: 88.
7.Loosen Bros. Dr. L Riesling 2013 Mosel, +599274, $13.95: a beginner's Mosel riesling, affordable summer sipper, sure to fly off the shelves at this price. 8.5% ABV. QPR: 90.
 
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $25:
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
1.Airfield Estates Runway Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Yakima Valley, +408351, $24.95. QPR: 90.
2.Condado de Haza Crianza 2010 Ribera del Duero, +963348, $24.95. QPR: 91.
3.Torres Celeste Crianza 2011 Ribera del Duero, +210872, $20.95. QPR: 90.
4.Falernia Reserva Syrah 2010 Elqui Valley Chile, +208371, $18.95: done up in French magic style, but still juicy syrah. Great value, 14% ABV. QPR: 90.
5.Alto Casablanca Primus The Blend 2012 Colchagua Valley, +712463, $19.95: s decent blend of cab sauv(25%), carmenere (25), syrah (25), and balance of merlot, cab franc, and petit verdot, coming in at 14.5% ABV. Lots of dense black fruit and some fennel. QPR: 89.
6.Sister's Run Epiphany Shiraz 2012 McLaren Vale, +269464, $15.95: a lovely hit of the syrah style of making wine from this grape, disclosing its Euro roots. 14.5% ABV, twist top. Nice price. QPR: 89.
7.Oyster Bay Pinot Noir 2013 Marlborough, +590414, $19.95: a serious contender in the pinot noir "love 'em and leave 'em" sweepstakes, delicious French style, 13.5% ABV, twist top. QPR: 89.
8.Domaine Le Grand Retour Pla de Dieu Cotes du Rhone-Villages 2012, +224592, $14.95: more traditional in style with less flair but more game. 14.5% ABV. 75% grenache, 15 syrah, and 10 mourvedre. QPR: 89.
9.Abad Dom Bueno Crianza 2006 Bierzo, +244699, $15.95: the latest affordable wine from the trending Bierzo region in Spain, value in the blackness of the grapes, but still some unresolved tannins in the finish (needs food). 13.6% ABV. QPR: 89.
10.Conde de Valdemar Reserva 2007 Rioja, +947309, $19.95: another well-aged but undervalued Rioja wine, needs your attention for its aged components and will not disappoint. 13.5% ABV. QPR: 89.
 
VALUE: "RESTAURANT READY" or "BRING YOUR OWN WINE BOTTLE" over $25 RETAIL
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Restaurants should consider offering these FINE VALUE wines at a $10 markup over retail; the wines are READY to enjoy right NOW. Consumers should buy these wines to bring to restaurants with corkage programs.
 
1.Cave Spring CSV Riesling 2012 VQA Beamsville Bench, +566026, $29.95 retail.
2.Norman Hardie Niagara Unfiltered Chardonnay 2013 VQA Niagara, +184432, $39
3.Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay 2013 Santa Lucia Highlands Monterey, +958975, $34.95
4.Trimbach Reserve Riesling 2011 Alsace, +995316, $29.95
5.Domaine Latour-Giraud-Cuvee Charles Maxime Meursault 2013, +299784, $55.95
6.Quails' Gate Pinot Noir 2013 VQA Okanagan Valley, +585760, $26.95
7.Chateau Dassault 2011 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe, +299149, $49.85
8.Umberto Cesari Liano Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 IGT Rubicone Emilia-Romagna, +225086, $27.95.
9.Antinori Badia a Passignano Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2009, +384552, $44.95
10.Montemercurio Messaggero Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008, +385393, $29.95
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Event: Celebrating Donatella Cinelli Colombini, the Lady of Brunello, presented by Le Sommelier Wine Agent

The Date and Time:  Monday, March 30, 2015  1PM to 3 PM
The Event: Celebrating Donatella Cinelli Colombini, the Lady of Brunello, presented by Le Sommelier Wine Agent
The Venue: Fine Wine Reserve
The Target Audience: private clients, wine media
The Availability/Catalogue: we taste 8 wines, all are available by Vintages, consignment, or private order.
The Quote/Background: The wines at this estate are produced by women, including Valerie Lavigne from Bordeaux. Donatella produces four levels of Montalcino: a Rosso (about $28, potential for Ontario), a Brunello classic (under $70), a Prime Donne (under $90), and a Riserva (about $100). The Prime Donne is made by a team of four women winemakers from Germany, Italy, UK, and USA. The winery also makes a series of blends (see below) using merlot, foglia tonda, sagrantino; the latter is grown on the Tuscan side of Umbria.
The Wines:
 
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-DONATELLA CINELLI COLOMBINI Leone Rosso Orcia DOC 2010, $20.95 consignment [60%sangiovese/40%merlot) – the bargain of the day, excellent fruit and French wood expression.
-DONATELLA CINELLI COLOMBINI Cenerentola DOC Orcia 2010, $42.95 consignment [65%sangiovese/35% the autochthonous foglia tonda]. Served with the award-winning Cendrillon cheese from PQ.
-DONATELLA CINELLI COLOMBINI Brunello di Montalcino 2007, $63.95 consignment in transit
-DONATELLA CINELLI COLOMBINI Brunello di Montalcino Prime Donne 2010, $79.95 in transit – my fave of the day
-DONATELLA CINELLI COLOMBINI Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2007, $97 Vintages +107508
 
 
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-DONATELLA CINELLI COLOMBINI Il Drago e le 8 Colombe IGT Roscana Rosso 2010, $31.95 consignment [60%sangiovese grosso/20%merlot/20%sagrantino] – Valerie Lavigne's first vintage for Donatelle.
-DONATELLA CINELLI COLOMBINI Brunello di Montalcino 2008, $63.95 private order
-DONATELLA CINELLI COLOMBINI Brunello di Montalcino 2010, $65.95 consignment
 
The Food: salamis, prosciutto, cheeses, olive bread, figs, grapes.
The Downside: I had to leave early for another engagement.
The Upside: a chance to speak with Donatella herself.
The Contact Person: bernard@lesommelier.com
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 92.

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

* THE REISSUES, THE REPRINTS, AND THE NEWER EDITIONS...

...all reflect a boom in the cookbook publishing business. A paperback reprint will lower the cost to the purchaser, and also give a publisher a chance to correct egregious errors or add a postscript. Some will reissue a book in paper covers with a new layout or photos. Others will rearrange existing material to present it as more informative text while keeping the focus tight. Some magazines will reissue popular or classic recipes in an "easy" format. Here are some recent "re-editions"...
 
 
22.THE PLAN (Grand Central Life & Style, 2013, 2014, 307 pages, ISBN 978-1-4555-1549-3, $16 US paper covers) is by Lyn-Genet Recitas, a holistic nutritionist for more than 30 years. It has been a best-selling book and is now available as a paperback reprint with added recipes, plus some updated ones. Essentially, her diet calls for structuring a food plan around the foods that are best for you. It is a way of changing how you eat, and for life. Prepping begins with a three day cleanse followed by testing for food groups and types. Trigger foods are identified and should be avoided. At the same time, you can lose weight by personalizing a healthy foods list that promotes rapid weight loss. She's got many ideas, including a spring diet and a thyroid diet, both of which involve some testing. Additional menus and ideas are to be found at her website www.lyngenet.com. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Well worth a look. Quality/price rating: 87.
 
 
23.THE DASH DIET ACTION PLAN; proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol without medication (Grand Central Life & Style, 2007, 2014 , 220 pages, ISBN 978-1-4555-1282-9, $16 US paper covers) is by Marla Heller, RD, who also teaches food science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This was Heller's first DASH book (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension); this is the paperback reprint version. The DASH diet has been proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol without the need for medication.
With a diet of fruits, vegetables, low-fat and nonfat dairy, lean meats, fish and poultry, nuts, beans and seeds, healthy fats, and whole grains, one can drop pounds and get a faster metabolism with lower body fat and improved cardiovascular fitness. Her diet book is the plan, with a few basic recipes to get you started. She's got 28 days of meal plans at different calorie levels, shopping lists, eating-on-the-run tips, plus advice on exercise. This is fourth time through for this book, it is already a
classic. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.  Quality/price rating: 88.
 
 
 
24.LOMELINO'S CAKES; 27 pretty cakes to make any day special (Roost Books, 2012, 2014, 148 pages, ISBN 978-1-61180-150-7, $22.95 US hard covers) is by Linda Lomelino, a food writer living in Sweden. It was originally published in Swedish in 2012; this is the 2014 translation for the North American market. It is a neat book with much material on equipment, ingredients, baking cake layers, dividing the cake into layers, filling and covering the cake, piping techniques, assembling and decorating. Plus the inevitable tips, hints, advice, and secrets. Some of the 27 preps are complicated but not difficult. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois weight and volume measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Some of the ingredients are scaled for correct ratios. Some interesting cakes include chocolate and licorice cake, cardamom cake with blueberries, lemon lover's dream cake, frozen mango passion, and frozen tiramisu. Quality/price rating: 85.
 
 
 
25.THE TASTE OF BELGIUM (Grub Street, 1996, 2014, 336 pages, ISBN 978-1-909808-18-8, 25 pounds sterling, hard covers) is by Ruth van Waerebeek, a Belgian chef who wrote this book in 1996 (Workman Publishing) and is now currently a brand ambassador and house chef for Conch y Toro winery in Chile. She runs major cooking classes in Chile. The original title was Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook, and over the years it has proved to be a classic by selling over 50,000 copies. It has long been out-of-print, so there is great joy in welcoming it back for new cooks. Belgian cuisine is like no other, with a merge of strong Germanic traditions with French culture. Belgium has more 3-star restaurants per capita than any other country, including France. This is home cooking at its highest point, and it is thus substantial with hearty soups (she's got 20), herring salads, pork liver pates, mussels and snails, eels, Belgian fries, partridge and red cabbage, beer and more beer (especially in cooking), Brussels sprouts, potatoes, apples, waffles, chocolate. Total recipes: 250, and each is a gem. It's a good reference book to Belgian food as she provides deep background for most of the preps. Recipes have their ingredients listed in both avoirdupois and metric measurements. One drawback – the native words (Dutch and French?) for each prep are too lightly grey-screened in tiny print – you'll need a magnifying glass. Quality/price rating: 89.
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Some Newly Released wines tasted in March...


 
1.Chateau des Charmes Rose Cuvee d'Andree 2014 VQA NOTL, $14.95 Vintages +333260: this fresh and vibrant rose continues to please year over year as I have said before. It is still 100% pinot noir, dry "old style" as in Europe, but loaded with Ontario cranberry and red fruit strawberry tones from the hot summer, coming in at 12.5% ABV. Stainless steel fermentation of course, and twist top. Refreshing, just bottled. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
2.Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2013 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $13.95, +81653 LCBO: a consistent wine, year in and year out, my fave chardonnay at this price level. But 2013 was a warmer year, so more smoke, fewer minerals, less underbrush, apples, tropical fruits and lemons. But longer finish. Cork closure, 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
3.Tapestry [BG & V] Shiraz 2012 McLaren Vale, +247155, $19.95: with a new label and a slight re-naming, Tapestry is back (formerly 2009). This time it is 14.5% ABV, but it still has the MVC shiraz characteristics of bright and dark black fruit, plummy, and expressive heat on the mid-palate. Some Euro-complexity with a smooth finish. Expect some cassis and mocha tones, along with black olive nuances and some vanilla via the oak, truly weaving a tapestry of flavours. Great BBQ wine for summer. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
4.Tokaji Yellow Muscat 2012 Puklus Cellars Hungary, $15.95, +46508 Vintages: This Yellow Muscat is related to Muscat Blanc. Made from older vines, done up in Late Harvest style, with that peachy complexity, medium-bodied, but with lemons and pineapple acidity on the longer finish. Floral aromatics. 11.5% ABV. Serve with later courses (fruity mains, salads, cheeses, off-dry desserts). Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
5.JeanJean Ormarine Carte Noire Picpoul de Pinet 2013 Coteaux du Languedoc, +525287, $12.95 Vintages: affordable tastiness from the piquepoul grape, 12.5% ABV, twist top. Gold Medalist. Expect floral and mineral tones, with medium acidity. One to go up against pinot grigio. Best with seafood rather than sipping. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
6.Schmitt Sohne Re-Think Dry Riesling Mosel, +394361, $12.80 LCBO: a versatile riesling without the sweetness, nuances of peach-apple-lemon-apricots, but bound in a higher acid wine meant more for first course food. Twist top, 11% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

WORLD WINE WATCH (LCBO VINTAGES TIP SHEET) FOR APRIL 4, 2015

WORLD WINE WATCH (LCBO VINTAGES TIP SHEET) FOR APRIL 4, 2015
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. Creator of Canada's award-winning wine satire site at http://fauxvoixvincuisine.blogspot.com. My Internet compendium "Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net", a guide to thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits, has been at www.deantudor.com since 1994. My LCBO tastings are based on MVC (Modal Varietal Character); ratings are QPR (Quality-to-Price Ratio). Prices are LCBO retail. Only my top rated wines are here.
 
NOTE: The LCBO does NOT put out all of the wines of the release for wine writers or product consultants. Corked wines are not normally available for a re-tasting. It is getting more difficult to endorse wines under $20 for the simple reason that the LCBO does not release many of them into the Vintages program, ones that can be deemed to be worthy of your consideration. So I will now just ADD some "under $25" suggestions, along with point values.
 
 
====?>>> ** BEST WINE VALUE OF THE RELEASE *UNDER* $20
 
Henry of Pelham Estate Chardonnay 2013 VQA Short Hills Bench Niagara, +268342, $19.95: voluptuous ripeness, pleasant balance of oaking and fruit, integrated style in place. Lovely wood on the finish. 13.5% ABV, cork closure. QPR: 90.
 
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $25:
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
1.Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Marlborough, +677450, $24.95. QPR: 90.
2.Domaine Bonnard Sancerre 2013, +140525, $23.95. QPR: 90.
3.Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reserva Chardonnay 2013 Maipo, +730044, $15.95: at 13.5% ABV, this powerhouse chardonnay shows some mild oaking, with everything in moderation. QPR: 89.
4.Terre de Vignerons Famille Excellor Sauvignon 2012 Bordeaux, +403915, $14.95: a very useful savvy at this price. QPR: 88.
5.Domaine Vincent Sauvestre Bourgogne Chardonnay 2013, +365056, $19.95: the parade of decent white burgundies for under $20 continues – some nuttiness here, but mainly stainless steel for crispness. Well-rounded. QPR: 89.
6.Zenato San Benedetto Lugana 2013 Veneto, +707158, $16.95: good value, with some dry orange-peach muscat tones. 13%, cork closure. QPR: 89.
7.Eidosela Albarino 2013 DO Rias Baixas, +336271, $14.95: fleshy, longer finish, aromatic with orange-peach nuances. Value driven wine. 13% ABV. QPR: 88.
 
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $25:
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
1.Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2011 IGT Veronese, +672931, $24.95. QPR: 90.
2.Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Columbia Valley Washington, +240093, $17.95: delicious fruitiness plus mocha tones, ready now. 13.5% ABV. QPR: 89.
3.Feudi San Pio Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2012, +181446, $17.95: the LCBO "ripasso of the month"? QPR: 89.
4.Quinta Do Portal Frontaria 2009 Douro, +324533, $13.95. black fruit berries, mocha, and extract from using Port grape varieties. One-quarter aged in French oak. QPR: 90.
5.Muriel Reserva Vendimia Seleccionada 2008 Rioja, +276030, $18.95: still lively and fruity, 13.5% ABV, MVC Rioja, good price. QPR: 90.
 
VALUE: "RESTAURANT READY" or "BRING YOUR OWN WINE BOTTLE" over $25 RETAIL
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Restaurants should consider offering these FINE VALUE wines at a $10 markup over retail; the wines are READY to enjoy right NOW. Consumers should buy these wines to bring to restaurants with corkage programs.
 
1.Clos Pegase Hommage Mitsuko's Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 Carneros Napa Valley, +408385, $49.95 retail.
2.Domaine Jean Collet & Fils Montmains Chablis 1er Cru 2011, +405704, $31.95.
3.Barossa Valley Estate Ebenezer Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, +39537, $39.95.
4.Tscharke Marananga Gnadenfrei Shiraz 2011 Barossa Valley, +303370, $26.95.
5.Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino 2008, +245225, $49.95.
6.Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2011, +704346, $31.95.

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

* THE RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOK...

...is one of the hottest trends in cookbooks. Actually, they've been around for many years, but never in such proliferation. They are automatic best sellers, since the book can be flogged at the restaurant or TV show and since the chef ends up being a celebrity somewhere, doing guest cooking or catering or even turning up on the Food Network. Most of these books will certainly appeal to fans of the chef and/or the restaurant and/or the media personality. Many of the recipes in these books actually come off the menus of the restaurants involved. Occasionally, there will be, in these books, special notes or preps, or recipes for items no longer on the menu. Stories or anecdotes will be related to the history of a dish. But because most of these books are American, they use only US volume measurements for the ingredients; sometimes there is a table of metric equivalents, but more often there is not. I'll try to point this out. The usual shtick is "favourite recipes made easy for everyday cooks". There is also PR copy on "demystifying ethnic ingredients". PR bumpf also includes much use of the magic phrase "mouth-watering recipes" as if that is what it takes to sell such a book. I keep hearing from readers, users, and other food writers that some restaurant recipes (not necessarily from these books) don't seem to work at home, but how could that be? The books all claim to be kitchen tested for the home, and many books identify the food researcher by name. Most books are loaded with tips, techniques, and advice, as well as gregarious stories about life in the restaurant world. Photos abound, usually of the chef bounding about. The celebrity books, with well-known chefs or entertainers, seem to have too much self-involvement and ego. And, of course, there are a lot of food photo shots, verging on gastroporn. There are endorsements from other celebrities in magnificent cases of logrolling. If resources are cited, they are usually American mail order firms, with websites. Some companies, though, will ship around the world, so don't ignore them altogether. Here's a rundown on the latest crop of such books –
 
 
 
11.CAFE KITCHEN (Ryland Peters & Small, 2014, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-561-0, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Shelagh Ryan, who setup an Australian-style cafe (Lantana) in London in 2008. She's also got Salvation Jane and Ruby Dock cafes. These are some of the preps from those restaurants. It's arrangement by course, beginning with breakfasts/brunches, small bites, salads/soups, larger plates, and desserts. Expect Anzac cookies, crack cake (bananas, pineapple, cinnamon, pecans, cream cheese frosting), and apple bircher and almond muesli. Eighty recipes in all, mostly Australian-inspired. There is also Thai fish cakes with nahm jim dipping sauce, Asian chicken noodle salad, and spicy pork burger with mango salsa. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements. Solid cafe fare of simple ingredients, great to make at home. Quality/price rating: 87.
 
 
 
12.GOOD FAT COOKING (Rodale, 2014, 190 pages, ISBN 978-1-60961-552-9, $29.99 US hard covers) is by Franklin Becker, chef and partner in Little Beet, Beet Cafe, and Cast Iron restaurants in NYC. He was a diabetic and decided to improve his diet. He believes in healthy cooking with "friendly fat" such as olive oil, avocado oil, nut/seed oils, and seafood oils. Peter Kaminsky is the focusing food writer. The book is traditionally arranged by salads, soups, grains, seafood, poultry and meat, veggies, desserts, and finishing with "nibbles and noshes". His recipes showcase nuts and seeds for crunch, gluten-free grains for texture, avocados for silkiness, and seafood for healthy fat protein. Try his toasted kasha with mushrooms and scallions, quinoa tabbouleh with feta cheese and cucumber, seviche of snapper with avocado and cilantro, grilled striped bass with sweet peppers, or pan-roasted Brussels sprouts with southeast Asia flavours. Not your usual bistro food. While the 100 or so preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, there are tables of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 88.
 
 
13.LOLA'S FOREVER (Ryland Peters & Small, 2014, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-565-8, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Lola's Team of Bakers, headed by Julia Head for the cupcakes and Robert Budwig for the cakes. They have made the preps suitable for home baking, and all tips and hints have been tested by Head. Lola's flagship store is in Selfridge's in London. Here are 73 recipes not only for cakes and cupcakes, but also for cupcake drinks, cookies and candies. You might want to try Earl Grey tea fruit loaf, apricot and pistachio flapjack, or chocolate cookie traybake, and high hat marshmallow cupcake, and custard cream cupcake. Just watch your diet. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 86.
 
 
 
14.CARMINE'S CELEBRATES (St. Martin's Press, 2014, 272 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-04108-1, $29.99 US hard covers) is by  Glenn Rolnick, the director of culinary operations for Alicart Restaurant Group which owns Carmine's in several different cities. Chris Peterson is the focusing food writer. There had previously been Carmine's Family-Style Cookbook. The food is southern Italian; the level is family-style. But here they go into celebration mode for Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Rolnick has menus for these holidays and other events such as a cocktail party, game day, weekday special, sit-down dinner, and more. The book is arranged by course, beginning with cold apps, and then hot apps, salad, pasta, fish/seafood, meat/poultry, sides, and desserts. His primer includes notes on the Italian kitchen pantry and on menu suggestions. It is a pretty basic book with asparagus and fava bean salad with blue crab (in season), scallops and shrimp scarpariello, osso buco, tomato focaccia, and tiramisu. But a good book for fans of the restaurants. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 85.
 
 
 
15.PARTY-PERFECT BITES (Ryland Peters & Small, 2014, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-568-9, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Milli Taylor, a London caterer who has a supper club called Milk & Sugar. Her book is all about finger food (sorry, only one asparagus recipe: asparagus filo cigars) and small bites. She's got about 100 recipes, all easy and quick to do. In addition, there are menu planners to help serve a variety of people and a selection of both hot and cold apps – all matched to the season, the celebration, and the venue.  These include a formal drinks party, a casual drinks party, a festive winter drinks party, a vegetarian affair, and a gluten-free affair. Strewn throughout are the usual shortcuts, tips, hints and advice on parties. Typical preps are chestnuts and bacon, mini okonomiyaki, banana-hazelnut pancakes, beetroot and apple on crispbreads, prosciutto-pear-gorgonzola rolls, and churros. Something for everyone. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements. Quality/price rating: 88.
 
 
 
16.FUTURE CHEFS (Rodale, 2014, 276 pages, ISBN 978-1-62336-206-5, $24.99 US paper covers) is by Ramin Ganeshram, a chef and food writer who is also a TV food competition judge. Here she collates a selection of 150 recipes from young cooks all over USA. These come from tweens and teens, but have been curated and kitchen tested by Ganeshram. Each of the 39 gets a profile, and each already has a website. And there are more girls than boys. The book is arranged in traditional normal course order. Some interesting foods include eggplant pesto sandwich, bacon mac and cheese, turnips with beef brisket, kale Caesar salad, capresse salad, spinach smoothie, and zucchini fries. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Worth a look. Quality/price rating: 85.
 
 
 
17.CHARCUTERIE; how to enjoy, serve and cook with cured meats (Ryland Peter & Small, 2014, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-567-2, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Miranda Ballard, who co-owns the UK ethical beef concern Muddy Boots with her husband, and have opened The Modern Meat Shop in London (although neither fact seems to appear in the book itself). Charcuterie and salumi are discussed, especially in the creation of a charcuterie board (French, Italian or Spanish). Layouts are noted, as well as choice of meats and sausages. The Italian board would have olives and crostini, as well as a pecorino and olive oil and sun-dried tomatoes. The French board would also have tapenade, baguette, and a soft cheese. The Spanish board would also have olives, marinated red peppers, rustic breads, Manchego cheese, and almonds. The the rest of the book concerns small bites, apps, salads, light lunches, larger dishes, and side dishes with accompaniments. Home curing is part of the primer. It is a good start. Presumably, you could also end the meal with a cheese board, although this is not discussed. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements. Quality/price rating: 89.
 
 
 
 
18.COOKING ALLERGY-FREE (Taunton Press, 2014, 266 pages, ISBN 978-1-62710-396-1, $29.95 US hard covers) is by Jenna Short, owner of shortbreadnyc.com (a boutique events company focusing on gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, kosher, and sugar-free foods. She was also formerly sous chef at Bon Appetit magazine. Here she gives us 150 recipes, all easy and quick, and spiced up with flavours. Each prep is free of one or more of the most common food allergens, easily identified by icons which are also applied for GF, vegetarian and vegan. Everything here is also kosher. So it is an all-in-one book, useful for those families that have multiple allergies or lifestyles. Her primer deals largely with grocery shopping, pantry stocking, and kitchen strategies to maximize your time. As well, there are are menu suggestions for weeknight meals and parties. Arrangement of the preps is by traditional course; the index to recipes is by allergen. Typical preps include such as asparagus beef rolls with horseradish cream, which is useful for those who have six of the allergens. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 88.
 
 
 
19.THE CHIA COOKBOOK (Ten Speed Press, 2014, 146 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-664-5, $16.99 US paper covers) is by Janie Hoffman, founder of MammaChia, an organic line of chia-based foods and beverages. There have not been too many chia books lately, but this one is small but well-illustrated with upscale foods. Chia is a unique super-food, with the highest omega-3 content of any vegetarian source, more protein than soybeans, more fibre than flax seed, more calcium than milk, and more antioxidants than blueberries. Chia is already in my life, and here are more ways to use it in juices, smoothies, snacks, small bites, soups, salads, desserts and nibbles. There are even a few mains such as grilled veggie sandwich with chia dijon-balsamic spread, salmon en brioche with chia tzatziki, or Thai-style sweet and sour chicken thighs. There are lots of preps here for everybody – just dig in. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is are tables of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 89.
 
 
20.GREENS 24/7 (The Experiment, 2014, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-61519-227-4, $19.95 US paper covers) is by Jessica Nadel, owner-baker of Oh My Bakeshop in Sudbury, Ontario, an organic vegan special order bakery. Here she presents more than 100 quick and easy vegan preps for leafy greens and other greens (peas, broccoli) – meant for every meal of the day plus desserts and snacks. Try one of eight green smoothies or kale in cornbread for brekkies. 40 greens are covered, including spirulina, kelp and zucchini. She begins with nutritional profiles and prep guides for each type, followed by the recipes (chocolate hazelnut avocado torte, pesto polenta fries, tropical green smoothie). She's got an international flavour as well, with spicing from India, Japan, Mexico and Italy. There is also nutritional data for each prep. Nadel has been blogging for almost four years at http://www.cupcakesandkale.ca/ Preparations have their ingredients listed in mostly avoirdupois measurements with some metric, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
 
 
 
21.NEW GERMAN COOKING (Chronicle Books, 2014, 236 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-2806-1, $40 US hard covers) is by Jeremy and Jessica Nolen, chef and pastry chef at Brauhaus Schmitz in Philadelphia. Drew Lazor is the focusing food writer-editor. Typically, new German cooking is marked by its lightness, refinement, big flavours, and more veggies. They've got about 100 recipes for the classics, all re-engineered (say the publisher). It is arranged by course, with brotzeit (breads) followed by salate, then suppen, fisch, geflugel (poultry), fleisch, gemuse (veggies), nudeln und knodel, pickles, condiments, and desserts. German titles include mandeltorte (almond-honey cake), apfelstrudel, kirschstrudel, lebkuchen, presskopf (headcheese), schnitzel and bratwurst. There is some history behind the dishes plus an explanation for the changes. At the end there is a resources list. Preparations have their ingredients listed mainly in avoirdupois measurements, but the desserts are scaled in both metric and American. There is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 88.

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Event: How Italy Does Italian; Italy at the table, 2015 tour in Toronto

The Date and Time: Monday, March 23, 2015  10AM to 5:30 PM
The Event: How Italy Does Italian; Italy at the table, 2015 tour in Toronto
The Venue: Liberty Grand
The Target Audience: importers, wine and food media, sommeliers.
The Availability/Catalogue: there were 18 wineries, about half of them already repped in Ontario and/or Quebec. The catalogue was first rate in its production, with explanations and correct listings for the most part.
The Quote/Background: The annual show visited Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, promoting Italian foods and wines.
The Wines: I did not try all of the wines, just the older vintages.
 
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Baglio dei Fenicotteri Eloro Pachino Riserva Respensa 2007 [organic]
-Baglio dei Fenicotteri Noto Passito Prim'amore 2008 [organic]
-Paradisone Colle degli Angeli Brunello di Montalcino 2008
-Paradisone Colle degli Angeli Toscana IGT Incanto 2009
-Pascale Francesca Colli Luni Pilastri 2013 Vermentino
-Tonino Lamborghini Barolo 2008
-Tonino Lamborghini Brunello di Montalcino 2009
 
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Agriverde Piane di Maggio Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2013, +394999, $15.95
-Adanti Az. Agr. Sagrantino di Montefalco 2007
-Adanti Az. Agr. Montefalco Rosso Riserva 2009
-Baglio dei Fenicotteri Eloro Pachino Cala'mpisi 2008 [organic]
-Ferrarini Vara Colli di Scandiano e di Canossa 2013 Italianissmo Fine Wine & Spirits
-Guidi Chianti Riserva 2010
-La Caseta Az. Agr. Mio Vino Spumante Chardonnay Pinot Nero Trebbiano IGP
-La Caseta Az. Agr. Mio Vino Spumante Rose Chardonnay Sangiovese IGP 2013
-Molinetto Gavi Re.Lys 2013
-Paradisone Colle degli Angeli Rosso di Montalcino 2009
-Fratelli Ponte Vini Moscato d'Asti 2014
-Severino Garofano Salento IGP Le Braci 2007
-Severino Garofano Salento IGP Simpotica 2007
-Viano Michele Moscato d'Asti 2014
 
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Adanti Az. Agr. Montefalco Rosso 2010
-Agriverde Solarea Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2010 AMV-WHIZ
-Molinetto Gavi 2013
 
The Food: the delegation itself sponsored a polenta and meat stew hot plate with salads, and a range of desserts. After that, it was going from table to table and sampling a variety of cold cuts, cheese, olives and oils, pastas, and coffees. There was even a stand for bottled water (fizzy and flat varieties).
The Downside: there was too much food and wine.
The Upside: a good chance to taste some older wines, although pricing was vague.
The Contact Person: p.titone@ice.it
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 91.

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Event: Tasting and Lunch with Bill Hardy and the William Hardy series of wines.

The Date and Time: Tuesday, March 3, 2015  Noon – 3 PM 
The Event: Tasting and Lunch with Bill Hardy and the William Hardy series of wines.
The Venue: Canoe
The Target Audience: wine writers
The Availability/Catalogue: only 2 of the wines are in Ontario (see below): most of the others are in BC and PQ.
The Quote/Background: Bill Hardy spoke about 160 years of Hardy history and the thoughts behind each of the wines, his voice sailing over the noisy neighbouring tables. The wines spoke for themselves, although Bill contributed his points as Brand Ambassador and as the name behind the launch of the William Hardy series of wines. The winemaking seemed to emphasize a combination of new world and old world textures and structures.
The Wines:
 
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Hardy's Eileen Hardy Chardonnay 2013, $60 SAQ, $65 BC – fruit from Tasmania and Yarra Valley, richly oaked but lemony on finish (combo of new world and old world). 13% ABV.
-Hardy's Eileen Hardy Shiraz 2010, $85 PQ, $95.50 BC – deep, dark and delicious, ready soon. Lots of black fruit and smoke. 14% ABV. Twist top. Both Eileens scored with me.
 
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Hardy's Chronicles Butcher's Gold Shiraz Sangiovese 2012, +219139, $14.95 – tight and acidic on finish (great with food) with sangiovese cherries, balanced by mid palate mocha and blackberries. 80% shiraz. Better after it was open awhile. Twist top. 14% ABV.
-Hardy's Winemakers Rare Release Handpicked Shiraz 2008, $269.95 FOB, not available in Canada – very mute at first, took a long time to open up. Fruit from very old vines in McLaren, Clare and Frankland River. Six different Burgundian coopers' oak barrels were used. Power and potential are there but it needed a lot more time, despite being 7 years old. Twist top. 14.5% ABV.
 
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Hardy's William Hardy Sauvignon Blanc 2013, $23.25 BC only – new world middle palate (off-dry) with an old world finish (higher acid). Twist top, 12.5% ABV.
-Hardy's Stamp Of Australia Cabernet Merlot 2014, +582395, $9.90 – good new world quality for under $10 in Ontario. Juicy. 13% ABV. Twist top.
 
 
The Food: we ate a main course off the menu, with a charcuterie platter and a cheese platter for all. I had the cheeky main: halibut cheeks and pork cheeks. What I ate went with all the wines.
The Downside: the ambience was noisy from a packed crowd of diners, but Bill Hardy had a firm speaking voice.
The Upside: a chance to taste some really good expensive wines.
The Contact Person: marika.synnett@mondiaalliance.ca
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 89.

Chimo! www.deantudor.com