Search This Blog

Loading...

Monday, January 26, 2015

* FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! : Ruhlman's How to Roast

RUHLMAN'S HOW TO ROAST (Little, Brown and Co., 2014, 144 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-25410-6, $25 US hard covers) is by Michael Ruhlman, who began writing narratives about chefs but has now become a source for food reference books. He has begun branding his books, e.g., Ruhlman's Twenty, Ruhlman's How to Roast) which is also mnemonically useful for the word "rule". He's a Beard Award author who has come up with a blend of food history, recipes and practical advice. Roasting is pretty basic, and if you can tell time, then you can roast and never burn. He covers tools, staples, ovens, techniques, photos, etc. The 25 recipes begin with roasted chicken, and then moves on to standing rib roast and the Thanksgiving turkey, moving through roasted monkfish and ending with roasted pineapple. It is a good book for beginners, well-illustrated with technique photos.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in mainly avoirdupois with some metric measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. If you need  more recipes, check out  FINE COOKING ROASTING ($14.95 US, below).
Audience and level of use: beginners, students
Some interesting or unusual facts: "while there may no longer be a difference in the act of baking or roasting, the semantic difference is meaningful and useful."
The downside to this book: a bit brief, especially with large print, leading and white spaces.
The upside to this book: this is the first book of a new series on basic techniques.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Event: the annual dinner of the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada, celebrating it's 30th anniversary (1985+ ) at Barberian's

The Date and Time: Monday, January 19, 2015  6PM to midnight
The Event: the annual dinner of the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada, celebrating it's 30th anniversary (1985+   )
The Venue: Barberian's Steak House, Wine Cellar
The Target Audience: WWCC members and their guests.
The Availability/Catalogue: everybody brought their own wine, one bottle a head. Many of these wines are no longer in the marketplace; they were drawn from members cellars.
The Quote/Background: Sheila Swerling Puritt, as she has for the past decade, organized the meal for us, doing the bargaining with Arron Barberian to provide us with no corkage and a lavish menu. We ate in the magnificent Wine Cellar (15-17 degrees Celsius) on a long table set for 30 of us, set among his thousands of bottles of wines. Truly a remarkable experience. This was my annual rib-eye and my wife's annual prime rib steak dinner. Even as hearty eaters, we could not finish and took a doggy bag. There were speeches honouring Tony Aspler and Konrad Ejbich as original founding members. Michael Pinkus, current President, handed out 30th anniversary pins. And for a change, the weather co-operated – while it was cold, it was clear and the roads were passable.
The Wines: I did not taste every wine, but I did manage to rate a few –
 
Dry Sack William and Humbert
BOTTEGA Prosecco Vino dei Poeti (2 bottles)
Soalheiro Alvarinho 2011 (2 bottles) 
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva
Hayman & Hill Reserve Selection Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2004 
Two Sisters Winery Riesling 2013  VQA
Two Sisters Winery Cabernet franc 2010 VQA
Two Sisters Winery Merlot 2010  VQA
Two Sisters Winery Eleventh Post 2011 (Bordeaux blend) VQA
Punset Barbaresco 2008 
Domaine de Beaurenard  Chateauneuf-du-Pape  2010
Domaine Raphael Chopin - La Ronze - Regnié 2009
Beaujolais Nouveau Chateau-Cambon 2014 [specially brought back from France]
Luis Canas Reserva 2009 Rioja
Vina Real Crianza 2010 Rioja
Molino di San Antimo Brunello di Montalcino 2007
Chenas 2013 Pascal Aufranc
A Geofroy Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy 2012
Stonefield's Puligny Montrachet, 2005, Remoissenet et Fils
Quantarelli Rosso Ca' del Merlo 2004
Megalomaniac Eccentric Savignin 2011 VQA
Chateau Villemaurine 1985 St. Emilion Magnum
Chateau Chasse-Spleen 2000 Magnum
Trius Red 2005 VQA
Trius Red 2007 VQA
Trius Red 2010 VQA
Lailey Chardonnay The Blend 2013 Wild ferment VQA
Domaine Baud Pere & Fils Vin Jaune, 2005, Chateau Chalon AC
Paolo Bea Pagliaro Secco 2006, Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG
Vidal Icewine, 2006, Pillitteri VQA
Merlot, 2013, Charles Shaw
Freisa de Langhe, 2012, G. Borgogno
Fikardos Maratheftiko, 2008, Pafos, Cyprus
Sangue del Diavolo Raboso del Piave, 2010, Ca di Rajo
Chateauneuf Du Pape, 2010, Beaurenard
Barbarseco, 2008, Pusset
Morgon Cote du Py, 2012, A Auceur
 
Of the wines I tasted....
 
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Soalheiro Alvarinho 2011 (2 bottles) 
-Hayman & Hill Reserve Selection Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2004 
-Molino di San Antimo Brunello di Montalcino 2007
-Chateau Villemaurine 1985 St. Emilion Magnum
-Chateau Chasse-Spleen 2000 Magnum
-Trius Red 2005 VQA
-Trius Red 2007 VQA
-Barbarseco, 2008, Pusset
 
 
 
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Two Sisters Winery Riesling 2013  VQA
-Two Sisters Winery Cabernet franc 2010 VQA
-Two Sisters Winery Merlot 2010  VQA
-Two Sisters Winery Eleventh Post 2011 (Bordeaux blend) VQA
-A Geofroy Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy 2012
-Lailey Chardonnay The Blend 2013 Wild ferment VQA
-Freisa de Langhe, 2012, G. Borgogno
 
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Megalomaniac Eccentric Savignin 2011 VQA
-Merlot, 2013, Charles Shaw
 
The Food: At the reception we had sparklers, sherry, and Alvarinho. This was followed by a choice from House Salad, Caesar Salad, Tomato Salad, or Split Pea Soup with Bacon  – all delivered in heaping quantities, and with garlic breads. The Entrée (along with huge house pickles) was one of --
 
Rib Steak (16 oz) [I had this]
Filet Mignon Wrapped in Bacon (8oz)
Prime Rib of Beef [my wife had this]
Grilled Free Range Capon
Grilled Atlantic Salmon Steak
 
with Baked Potato, Rice Pilaf or French Fried Potatoes,
 
followed by dessert, a Selection of Cheese with Hot Apple Beignet.
 
The Downside: there was so little time! We could not chat with everybody, but I did try to welcome a few guests and talk up members as they poured their wines in friendship.
The Upside: we were able to sample and appreciate small portions of wines to accompany the food.
The Contact Person: Sheila SwPuritt <spuritt@sympatico.ca>
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 94.

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

WORLD WINE WATCH (LCBO VINTAGES TIP SHEET) FOR JANUARY 24, 2015

WORLD WINE WATCH (LCBO VINTAGES TIP SHEET) FOR JANUARY 24, 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" is a guide to thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits, 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.
 
NOTE: 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.
 
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $25:
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
1.Strewn Terroir American Oak Chardonnay 2012 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, +405530, $24.95. QPR: 91.
2.Domaine Chatelaine Les Vignes de Saint-Laurent-L'Abbaye Poully Fume 2013, +958801, $21.95. QPR: 90.
3.Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2013 VQA Niagara, +80234, $16.95: juicy orchard fruit, an annual winner, off-dry, 9.5% ABV, twist top, sip or food. QPR: 89.
4.Middle-Earth Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Nelson, +391987, $17.95: the name alone for this Kiwi Savvy should be enough for it to sell out in Ontario. Zesty, mouth-lingering flavours on the end palate. Don't serve too cold. 14% ABV. QPR: 89.
5.Henri Ehrhart Reserve Particuliere Pinot Gris 2013 Alsace, +392092, $18.95: golden tones of honey and orchards, long finish, very off-dry. The acid level conceals a lot of the LCBO-tested sweetness (M), which is still there if you are concerned about sugar. It is not (M) in taste. 13% ABV. Gold Medalist. QPR: 89.
6.JeanJean Ormarine Carte Noire Picpoul de Pinet 2013 Coteaux du Languedoc, +525287, $12.95: affordable tastiness from the piquepoul grape, 12.5% ABV. Gold Medalist. QPR: 89.
7.Riondo Castelforte Garganega 2013 IGT Veronese, +230656, $13.95: another interesting white with some wood aging, and a long finish that is good enough for food as well as soft tones for the patio/deck/balcony. 13% ABV. QPR: 89.
 
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $25:
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
1.Casa del Bosque Gran Reserva Syrah 2012 Casablanca Valley, +995092, $22.95. QPR: 92.
2.Nugan Estate Alcira Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Coonawarra, +393686, $24.95. QPR: 90.
3.Chateau Blaignan 2010 Medoc, +400606, $23.95. QPR: 90
4.Tenuta Rocca Ornati Langhe 2009, +309369, $21.95. QPR: 91.
5.Abelis Carthago William Selection Crianza 2011 Toro, +399105, $23.95. QPR: 90.
6.Buro de Penalosa Crianza 2009 Ribera del Duero, +398685, $23.95. QPR: 90.
7.Lecco Cianza 2007 Ribera del Duero, +397174, $23.95. QPR: 90.
8.Avondale Jonty's Ducks Pekin Red 2011 WO Paarl, +383547, $14.95: dusty with mushrooms, nicely aged, twist top, organic, 14% ABV. Good deal. QPR: 89.
9.Alceno 12 Meses Monastrell 2011 Jumilla, +398925, $14.95: loaded with fruit tempered by both French and US oak, 14.5% ABV, cork closure. QPR: 89.
10.Alceno Premium 50 Barricas Syrah 2012 Jumilla, +398933, $13.95: good syrah hit, 14.5% ABV, cork closure. Value priced. QPR: 89.
11.Vina Mambrilla Alidis Tinto 6 Meses en Barrica 2012 Rivera del Duero, +398487, $17.95: biodynamic wine, 14% ABV, cork closure, with lots of mocha tones and some red fruit augmented by spices. QPR: 90.
12.Finca Los Alijares Graciano 2009 Vino de la Terra de Castilla, +392522, $17.95: nicely aged (now six years) with rounded black fruit, some jamminess, 14.5% ABV. QPR: 89.
 
VALUE: "RESTAURANT READY" or "BRING YOUR OWN WINE BOTTLE" over $25
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
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.Domaines Schlumberger Saering Riesling 2011 Alsace Grand Cru, +627950, $33.95 retail.
2.Bachelder Bourgogne Chardonnay 2012, +272005, $35.95.
3.Chateau Fortia Cuvee du Baron Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012, +959999, $39.95.
4.Gemma Barolo 2010, +285502, $29.95.
5.Podere La Vigna Brunello di Montalcino 2008, +390807, $49.95.
6.Bikandi Vendimia Seleccionada Reserva 2001 Rioja, +391599, $26.95.
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

FOOD AND DRINK BOOKS

 
 
3.WHISKEY COCKTAILS (Fair Winds Press, 2014, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-59233-639-5, $22.99 US spiral bound) is by Warren Bobrow, also author of Apothecary Cocktails and freelance beverage articles. His book is dedicated to rediscovered classics and contemporary craft drinks using what is the world's most popular brown spirit. He's got 75 preps here, ranging from sweet to smoky to white whiskey and even quinoa whiskey. The primer covers all the basics of bars, history, glasses, etc. He begins with Tennessee sipping whiskey, moves on to craft whiskey made from alternative grains, then white whiskey, rye, scotch, and some international (French, Japanese, Indian), recommending a mix of Japanese whisky with sake or French whisky with iced coffee. But even he gets confused – is it French whisky or French whiskey? He uses both forms, an obvious error due to spell-check apps. His last chapter is about cooking with whiskey, mainly male-oriented. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table equivalents. Still, one needs to check the consistency of the measurements.
Audience and level of use: cocktail lovers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: slow-cooked suckling pig with bourbon BBQ glaze; bourbon and maple syrup-glazed ham and swiss sandwiches; Fernet Branca, bourbon, and Carpano Antica glaze for pork shoulder.
The downside to this book: some of the metric quantities are way off in comparison to the avoirdupois (e.g.Fernet-bourbon-Carpano Antica glaze).
The upside to this book: good coverage
Quality/Price Rating: 84.
 
 
 
4.FOOD TRUCK ROAD TRIP; a cookbook (Page Street Publishing, 2014, 240 pages, ISBN 978-1-62414-080-8, $21.99 US paper covers) is by Kim Pham and Phil Shen, creators of www.behindthefoodcarts.com, an award-winning food and travel blog. Terri Phillips is the focusing food writer. It is an engaging description of some of the myriad of food trucks roaming the US – and there are even more of them since the success of the movie "Chef". There's some log rolling to entice you. Here are more than 100 recipes collected from food trucks. It is a road trip in pursuit of the best food, like what the Sterns did for diners. It is part cookbook, part history, part photography as the stories of reach truck is wrapped around a recipe. It is all quickly-prepared food, of course, but not fast food in a pejorative sense. Soup and sandwiches, along with desserts, sides and snacks, prevail, in Latin American mode, Asiatic, and fusion modes. A good book for the armchair food traveller. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
Audience and level of use: those craving some international comfort foods.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: jalapeno corn cakes (NY), oxtail mac 'n' cheese (LA), fried chicken sandwich with fennel slaw (Oakland), roasted roots salad (Minneapolis), Japanese curry with chicken kara-age (San Francisco), coconut-cashew kaffir lime trout (Portland, OR).
The downside to this book: not enough recipes!!!
The upside to this book: great layout.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
 
 
5.GROW WHAT YOU EAT, EAT WHAT YOU GROW (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2014, 223 pages, ISBN 978-1-55152-548-8, $22.95 CAN soft covers) is by Randy Shore, food writer for the Vancouver Sun. He's also a former restaurant cook and is now also an avid gardener. He reaps what he sows...He and his wife grow much of their own food in Roberts Creek BC. He's self-taught in growing food, even though his father and grandfather grew up on farms. Here he tells us how to make our own fertilizers, how best to grow specific produce, advice on container gardens, and how to cook the food (both vegetarian and not). He's into preservation: so there are also details on canning, pickling, and curing. But the book is mostly recipes. Preparations have their ingredients listed in a mix of metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those who wish to make a difference by growing their own foods.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Boxing Day soup; cheddar dill biscuits; duck fat rosemary potatoes; green eggs and ham; farm-style pear sauce; beer-battered fish; fragrant turkey brine; grilled autumn vegetables.
The downside to this book: his one acre of arable land is on BC's Sunshine Coast, which is far removed from the bluster of Ontario and the East Coast. Also, the light coloured typeface for the list of ingredients gets wearing after awhile.
The upside to this book: there is some personal stuff too. For him, the best  comfort foods of winter are the chicken fricassee and lasagna with zucchini and ricotta.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
 
 
 
6.THE BIG BOOK OF SIDES (Ballantine Books, 2014, 471 pages, ISBN 978-0-345-54818-4, $30 US hard covers) is by Rick Rodgers who has written more than 40 cookbooks in his career. He's been a recipe tester, a co-author, and a consultant on cookbooks. Here he tackles the inevitable: sides. He's got more than 450 preps for veggies, grains, salads, breads, sauces, pickles, relishes, legumes, and others. It is principally an American cuisine book, with nods to Latin American and Asiatic ethnic influences, and of course, Deep South food plus the regionality of creole/cajun. There's enough here to keep everybody happy in fresh and innovative food. He's got uncomplicated sides for weeknight suppers, family faves, impressive sides for dinner parties, recipes for the majority of holidays, buffet recipes with "covered dishes" for transporting to picnics or potlucks, some historical recipes and classics, and a variety of vegetarian plates which are hearty  enough to serve as main courses (these also come with gluten-free and vegan options).
And, as is common with most American cookbooks, preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements; there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: comfort food lovers; those seeking different variety of side dishes.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: sweet potato and pear casserole with bacon; steamed boniato with orange mojo; cheese and grits souffle; double-baked potatoes with goat cheese and cremini mushrooms; shredded beets with scallions and walnuts; grilled marinated portobello mushrooms; saute of okra and tomatoes; buttermilk and sage spoon bread.
The downside to this book: I think I would have liked an index to mains that are recommended with the preps of certain sides designed to accompany – the mains are mentioned in the recipe but they are not indexed separately.
The upside to this book: it is refreshing not to see a book overloaded with a lot of photos (it has two main inserted sections).
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
 
 
7.BREAD REVOLUTION (Ten Speed Press, 2014, 250 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-651-5, $30 US hard covers) is by Peter Reinhart, once a co-founder of Brother Juniper's Bakery in Santa Rosa, and now a baking instructor in North Carolina. He's a multiple Beard Award winner and the author of eight bread books. This one is a globally-based book dealing with sprouted and whole and ancient grains, and heirloom flours. He's got 50 recipes and formulas for breads. He also uses nut and seed flours, alternative flours such as teff and grape skins, and deals with gluten-free approaches. He's created some master recipes that we can all follow, such as sprouted sandwich rye bread or gluten-free many-seed toasting bread. With sprouted flours, pre-ferments such as bigas and starters are not necessary. But for other grains, they are, and Reinhart give some precise guidance here. There arrangement is by primer tutorial, sprouted flour breads, sprouted pulp breads, whole grains, and the future of baking (really interesting). Preparations have their ingredients listed in metric and avoirdupois measurements by volume and weight (scaling).
Audience and level of use: bakers looking for something new and diverse.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: sprouted wheat breakfast focaccia; sprouted wheat croissants; whole wheat currant pretzels; and the exotically-named mozzarella milk and pear bread with coffee-bean trap starter.
The downside to this book: some preps can be complicated and/or difficult – you must read through it all before deciding.
The upside to this book: that it exists.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
 
 
8.FLAVORS OF THE MIDDLE EAST (Ryland Peters & Small, 2014, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-537-6, $27.95 US hard covers) is by Ghilli Basan, a Cordon Bleu trained food writer of books dealing with the Middle East and with South-East Asia. This book is more a general introduction, almost-travel book with its photography by Steve Painter. The arrangement here is pretty traditional, beginning with basic recipes and a cultural history of the region, followed by mezze, salads, soups, meat, poultry, seafood, veggies, grains, sweets and drinks. It is a fabulous introduction with a good layout. Preparations have their ingredients listed in some metric but mainly avoirdupois measurements, and there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those cooks looking for an entry-level Middle East cookbook.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: chicken tagine with fried halloumi and olives; chicken onions and sumac; lentils with rice and caramelized onions; carrot, almond and cardamom conserve; pickled purple turnips; brown beans with soft-boiled eggs; fish tagine with chermoula and cabbage.
The downside to this book: needs more recipes (only 65 here).
The upside to this book: gorgeous photos.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
 
 
9.CHLOE'S VEGAN ITALIAN KITCHEN (Atria Paperback, 2014, 272 pages, ISBN 978-1-4767-3607-5, $19.99 US paper covers) is by Chloe Coscarelli, who has taken many certified natural and plant-based nutrition academic programs. She's written two other vegan books as well. Here she gives us 150 pizzas, pastas, pestos, risottos, and "creamy" sauces. And there is also a guide to allergen-free Italian food (gluten, soy and nut) with suggested substitutes. The range is for a full meal, from antipasti through verdure, zuppa, insalata, pastas, secondo (meatless of course), and dolci.  She's got a vegan Italian pantry for us, as well as a listing of her fave Italian restaurants in the US and Italy, which of course do vegan foods. As with most American cookbooks, preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: vegans
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: butternut ravioli; pumpkin risotto; avocado basil sauce; lasagna bolognese; shittake bacon; shortcut marinara; sweet potatoes and almond couscous salad; bowties in garlic cream tomato sauce.
The downside to this book: nothing really, everything seems to work.
The upside to this book: I'd kill for her toothsome smile.
Quality/Price Rating: 88
 
 
 
10.MADELEINES (Quirk Books, 2014, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-59474-740-3, $19.95 US hard covers) is by Barbara Feldman Morse, an award-wining baker and recipe developer. Here are 70 or so recipes for all tastes, from sweet breakfast bites and desserts to savoury apps and fruit-nut snacks. She's got a one-bowl method for making a quick batch, plus a variety of tricks. Gluten-free flours are briefly mentioned, and she notes – correctly – that the madeleine will be a bit grittier. But, hey, it is doable if you are GF. The madeleine is a French tea cake, but Morse has expanded its uses. Her book is arranged by morning madeleines, chocolate madeleines, fruit-nuts, savoury, and off-the-wall indulgences. The art of presentation is covered, leading to some recipes fro crème caramel and candied violets (among others). She's also got a section on "personalization" to make your own inventive madeleine. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: intermediate bakers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Proust, of course, wrote about his madeleine prompting an involuntary memory of his aunt who gave him a dipped piece.
The downside to this book: a bit short, even for a single product cookbook.
The upside to this book: there's a resources list.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Saturday, January 17, 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.BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS NEW COOKBOOK. GIFTS FROM THE KITCHEN, plus
Food Gift Chapter. 16th edition. (Wiley, 2012, 2014, 672 loose leaf
pages, ISBN 978-544-30707-0, $29.99 US, ring binder) is from the
magazine of the same name. In fact, with each book US and Canada residents can get
a free subscription for one year (value: $6 US). Since the book is
widely discounted at box stores and Amazon, with the subscription the
book can be had at virtually next to nothing. The 15th edition was
published in 2012. It is important to remember: this is a classic that keeps getting
better, for the basic home cook. Now in this edition of more than 1400
preps are 1300 recipes with 1200 photos (800 new) and 400 photos of
techniques. And there is more complete nutritional data for each dish. New features include a chapter on "Cook's Secrets", "8 to Try" (flavour changes to perk up simple recipes), and a new chapter on holiday faves. Recipes have been laid out in a more eye appealing fashion, and there is advice on how to customize basic recipes. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is still no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 85.
 
 
23.THE LOW-SUGAR COOKBOOK (Nourish Books, 2010, 2014, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-84899-975-6, $17.95 CAN paper covers) is by Nicola Graimes, an award-winning healthy-food writer of more than 25 books. The recipes were taken from an earlier book published in 2010 as Quick & Easy Low-Sugar Recipes. The other material is newly written, and of course, some of the preps have been updated. It is a British context, by=but then sugar is sugar. These low-sugar versions do not resort to artificial sweeteners, so of course they are more healthy. Her collection includes some basic preps (such as chutneys, relishes, jams, almond milk), breakfasts and brunches, light meals and snacks, dinners, desserts, cakes, breads, and some menu planning. The index could have been more useful if more ingredients were indexed: for example, spelt soda bread is only under soda and bread, but not spelt. Preparations have their ingredients listed in some metric but mostly avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Preps and cooking times are given, and there are four 5-day menus. Quality/price rating: 87.
 
 
24.THE BEER BOOK (DK, 2008, 2014, 352 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-1952-1, $25 US hard covers) has been pulled together by Editor-in-Chief Tim Hampson. There are 14 contributors (with bios), but no signed reviews or entries. Most of the beers are bottled, but there are some from microbrew pubs. There is a pix of a beer bottle or can or pump for all the major beers covered. The directory-type data includes names and addresses, websites, and a mini-capsule history. There are also maps which include the US, Germany, UK, Belgium, and the Czech Republic (considered the Key Nations in beermaking). There are more maps of "Beer Trails" in Oregon, Bamberg, Cotswold's, Brussels, and Prague. There are features on the biggies Anheuser-Busch, Brooklyn, Guinness, Hoegaarden, Pilsner Urquell, and others. And essays on tasting, malts, German beer, lager, hops, glasses, wild beer yeasts, and beer-food matching. There is a glossary and index to beers, as well
as space for your own tasting notes. More than 800 breweries are covered in this updated 2014 edition, with some tasting notes for more than 1700 beers. Canada gets six pages for Amsterdam, Creemore, Granville Island, Pump House, McAuslan, etc. (27 companies in all), with 2 to 4 beers apiece. We needed more on Canada – also why was there
Labatt and Molson coverage? Quality/Price Rating: 88.
 
 
 
25.LA TARTINE GOURMANDE; recipes for an inspired life. (Roost Books,
2011, 2014; distr. Random House of Canada, 314 pages, ISBN 978-1-61189-078-4,
$26.95 CAN soft covers) is by Beatrice Peltre, creator of
latartinegourmande.com weblog. She's also a free-lance food writer,
stylist and photographer, working in and around Boston. So she did
almost everything in the book: food writing, food styling and food
photography. There's log rolling from David Lebovitz, and Dorie Greenspan. This is a soft cover reprint from the 2011 hardbound book. There are about 100 recipes, mostly
inspired by her French roots. Other preps come from Denmark, New
Zealand, and Boston. She's also slightly gluten-intolerant, so most of
the baked goods here have gluten-free flours. She's careful to explain
all of this and to list her organic flours. Every prep comes with a
memoir-like anecdote, so it is a bit of a personal book. After a
kitchen primer, the arrangement is by course (breakfast, lunch, dinner,
and dessert). Preparations have their ingredients listed in mainly
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Some interesting or unusual recipes include cold honeydew and cucumber
soup, omelet wraps with nori and crunchy veggies, cumin and parsley-
flavored cheese gougeres, white lentil soup with chorizo and poached
eggs, and lavender ile flottantes. Quality/Price Rating: 87.
 
 
26.RAW SNACKS (Grub Street, 2011, 2014; distr. Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-909808-05-8, $24.95 CAN paper covers) is by Caroline Fibaek, a Danish naturopath who consults for raw food restaurants. It was originally published in Denmark in 2011; this is the English translation. It is an engaging collection of raw food, emphasizing the entry points of spicy nuts, raw chocolate truffles, grape lollipops, date fudge, coffee substitutes and energy drinks. As the title says, they are all snacks, and these can be the easiest to handle for non-raw food eaters – and great at mixed parties. Arrangement is by type: salty, chocolate, liquorice, wine gums, caramel, "ice cream", milkyshakes, sparklers, and more. These have  no dairy, no white sugar, no gluten, no animal fat. Just 100% raw vegan. There is an international list of suppliers' websites at the rear.
Preparations have their ingredients listed as hybrids in both metric and  avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 86.
 
 
27.COFFEE TIME TREATS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2014; distr. T. Allen, 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-569-6, $24.95 US hard covers) is a publisher's collection of some 80 recipes for coffee cakes, sticky buns, muffins, and other soppers for the morning espresso, mid-day latte, and after-dinner cappuccino. Only a few (under 15) actually have coffee in them; the bulk are meant as spicy-nutty accompaniments. Credits go to the RPS stable of cookbook writers such as Liz Franklin, Hannah Miles, Isadora Popovic, Sarah Randall, and Julian Day. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 85.
 

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

* 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.CHICKEN; THE NEW CLASSICS (Nourish Books, 2014, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-84899-197-2, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Marcus Bean, who doesn't seem to have any bio in the book nor on the web site. Deep research shows that he's an Iron Chef in the UK with some TV cooking shows. It is an engaging book, full of "classics" with some contemporary touches. The primer gives guidelines for purchasing, storing, and preparing whole chicken or chicken parts. Then come weekday meals, followed by chapter "for the weekend" and concluding with dinners and celebrations: more than 100 recipes include tasty chicken salads such as chicken Waldorf salad with crispy shallots; chargrilled chicken, fennel with feta salad; glazed orange and mustard chicken with chard and spinach salad; and quinoa chicken and asparagus salad. He's got spring rolls with hoisin sauce,  fajitas, homemade smoked paprika wraps, mango and coriander chicken pita, and some US dishes such as fried chicken and Corn or New Orleans jambalaya with chicken, chorizo and shrimp. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
 
 
 
12.THE DIRTY APRON COOKBOOK (Figure.1; distr. Raincoast) 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-927958-17-9, $34.95 CAN hard covers) is by David Robertson, the first chef-de-cuisine at Chambar in Vancouver. Since 2009 he has been teaching at his Dirty Apron Cooking School and Delicatessen. He has about 8,000 students a year. The school has a large range of classes, for different levels and different themes. His book is a collection of the "tried-and-true" preps from the school. It is very heavily illustrated, which also suggests more of an armchair chef or even food stylist, but there are 80 items, from brunches, apps through soups, deli lunches (sandwiches, pasta), mains, and desserts. There is also a history/memoir of the school. Techniques in the preps are, of course, useful. Typical brunches include prosciutto and taleggio brioches, poached eggs on herb potato rosti with sun-dried tomato hollandaise, and Moroccan mimosas. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents. More details are at www.dirtyapron.com. Quality/price rating: 86.
 
 
 
 
 
13.FRENCH ROOTS (Ten Speed Press, 2014, 262 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-547-1, $35 US hard covers) is by Jean-Pierre Moulle, retired as executive chef at Chez Panisse in 2012 (he began working there in 1975) and Denise Lurton Moulle, member of the well-known Bordeaux wine making Lurton family (she distributes Bordeaux wines in North America). They have homes in both Sonoma and in Bordeaux; their book contains food from both places. It is also part memoir with descriptions of French family life and life in Berkeley where they both worked. Now they spend their time leading culinary tours, foraging, hunting and preserving. Some French dishes via Denise, when she was growing up, include: porcini omelet, apricot crisp, ile flottant, swiss chard frittata, and summer vegetables stuffed with pork sausage. Some dishes via  Jean-Pierre, when he was at Chez Panisse, include: grilled quail with red cabbage and chestnuts, cream of young turnip and turnip greens with cured ham, fish and shellfish terrine, and grilled scallop skewers with pancetta and herb butter. There are lots of intriguing photos of food plating and raw ingredients, plus copious background notes to each dish. The material is fairly comprehensive and self-revelatory. The last chapter deals with aperitifs and canapes, with such tasty items as walnut wine, wild salmon tartare, olive tapenade, marinated sardines, and canned roasted tomatoes. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 90.
 
 
 
14.BLUE RIBBON BAKING FROM A REDNECK KITCHEN (Clarkson Potter, 2014; distr. Random House Canada, 239 pages, ISBN 978-0-8041-8578-3, $22 US paper covers) is by Francine Bryson, who has won more than 200 local and national backing competitions, including some on reality TV shows. Both of her grandmothers passed on their recipes to her. The whole range is here: pies (coconut cream, peanut butter), cookies and bars (cow patties, ginger snaps), cakes, cheesecakes, biscuits, breads, and ending with candy and truffles.
If you like to go all out with fats and sugars, this book's for you. Mmmm-mmm. About 120 preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 86.
 
 
 
15.LET US ALL EAT CAKE; gluten-free recipes for everyone's favorite cakes (Ten Speed Press, 2014, 216 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-629-4, $24.99 US hard covers) is by Catherine Ruehle, a cake artist and once owner of Sublime Bakery. She is now a health coach and TV personality (at the end of 2010 she had to forego dairy and gluten). Sarah Scheffel who assisted, is a cookbook editor. It comes with log rolling, although some of them are hard to read on the inside cover. Here are 60 recipes for a variety of coffee cakes, later cakes, cupcakes, little cakes, snack and breakfast cakes: lemon blueberry bundt, honey-lavender tea cake, polenta breakfast cake, chocolate orange gateaux, lemon meringue cupcakes, and chocolate layer cake. Plus, of course, the various glazes and frostings. There is also a section on decorating techniques and special occasion cakes. Who says gluten-free has to be boring? Dive in...Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 88.
 
 
 
16.AARTI PAARTI (Grand Central Life & Style, 2014,304 pages, ISBN 978-1-4555-4541-4, $28 US  hard covers) is by Aarti Sequeira, who has prominently appeared on the Cooking Channel and the Food Network in a variety of shows, including one of her own (Aarti Party). She has her own YouTube channel and blog aartipaarti.com. There's some logrolling here from Michael Symon and others. Her book is derived from the blog and from TV shows: it is a blend of Middle East and Indian flavours with American food through 100 recipes. It is part memoir too, showing how she became the woman she is. It is broken down by ingredient: chutneys, breads, veggies, sides, salads, legumes, poultry, meat, seafood and dessert. There's an Indian pantry and a resources list. Many of the non-English words in the recipe titles have phonetic pronunciations. Typical dishes include kebab sliders with date chutney and arugula raita, bacon-mint-pine nut stuffing muffins, Moroccan carrot salad with caramelized lemon and pine nuts, blistered corn on the cob with zesty masala and lime, and chai-brined pork chops with spiked spiced apple chutney.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
 
 
 
 
17.MISS VICKIE'S KITCHEN (Figure.1, 2014, 128 pages, ISBN 978-1-927958-15-5, $29.95 CAN hard covers) is by Vickie Kerr, who founded Miss Vickie's Potato Chips in 1987. It is her first book, and yes, it includes a recipe for her iconic chip (as well as two preps for chips and chocolate desserts).  Other than that, this is a family cookbook of some 70 recipes, ranging from apps through salads, sides, soups, stews, meat, seafood, desserts, and putting food by with preserving and pickling. She has a Montreal dry garlic spareribs, baked wild salmon, shepherd's pie (actually, cottage pie), pan-fried potatoes. Most of it is quick and easy. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 84.
 
 
 
18.SILVANA'S GLUTEN-FREE AND DAIRY-FREE KITCHEN (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014, 231 pages, ISBN 978-0-544-15734-7, $25 US hard covers) is by Silvana Nardone, cookbook author, blogger, and former owner of an Italian bakery. It is a basic book with Nardone re-working mainly comfort foods into GF-DF foods. It's arranged by course, from apps through desserts, with plenty of breads along the way. She's got some reinvented baking mixes for breads, pizza, bagel, pancake, etc., and some milk substitutes for ricotta cheese, parmesan, whipped cream, dulce de leche, bechamel, buttermilk, and more. Since her son needs GF-DF, they must work – he eats them and stays healthy. Family food is especially good. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
 
 
19.WORLD SPICE AT HOME (Sasquatch Books, 2014; distr. Random House Canada, 228 pages, ISBN 978-1-57061-907-6, $24.95 US paper covers) is by Amanda Bevill, owner of World Spice Merchants in Seattle, and Julie Kramis Hearne, a cookbook author who also worked at Herbfarm restaurant. There are over 75 preps here, each worked on with a vibrant spice of some kind. The authors have a primer covering pure spices and spice blends, and then the book proceeds from apps to desserts and breads through the standard meal pattern. Spice-blends include baharat, berbere, besar, Chinese five-spice, curries, dukkah, harissa, kasmiri garam masala, ras el hanout, and za'atar. The is the most valuable part of the book, and there is a separate contents listing for recipes that use these blends. Otherwise, there is an index by ingredient and dish name. They've got za'atar fries, spiced nuts, chicken wings with chili-garlic and Chinese five-spice, beet salad and goat cheese with dukkah, crab melts with kasmiri curry, and maple-glazed pork chops with besar. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there  are tables of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 89.
 
 
20.MY PERFECT PANTRY (Clarkson Potter, 2014, 304 pages, ISBN 978-0-385-34566-8, $30 US hard covers) is by Geoffrey Zakarian, chef/partner of some NYC restaurants, works on Food Network and Iron Chef projects, and also judges on TV. Here he works on a pantry cookbook, a nifty idea: 150 easy recipes based on 50 essential ingredients from your pantry (oats, honey, olive oil, tuna, ketchup, bread crumbs, raisins, chickpeas, et al – major shelf keepers that will not deteriorate). Just add a few common items from shopping at a market, such as shrimp, tomatoes, pork, chicken, and so forth. Et voila!
The easy preps include grilled salmon with almond tarragon romesco, almond-crusted pork chops with apples, bagna cauda, beef barley bisque, with duck and barley salad among other foods. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
 
 
 
21.BACK AROUND THE TABLE (Ballantine Books, 2014, 299 pages, ISBN 978-0-8041-7685-9, $30 US hard covers) is by David Vebable, QVC's Resident Foodie (he's been with the network as a food personality since 1993) with many shows and a cookbook. He's got the log rollers Michael Symon, Emeril Lagasse, and Lidia Bastianich. It is comfort food with style, about 150 preps worth, divided by style: mix and mingle, brunch, shake and stir, quick and easy, smoke and fire, gather and share, light and bright, fresh and flavourful, and sweets and treats. The themes are about what one would expect, and it is all tied together through the extensive index for retrieval. The style includes lasagna roll-ups, blueberry-lemon ricotta pancakes, lighter baked mac and cheese, angel food cake, breakfast poppers with grits and bacon, Guinness beef stew, hummus, and maple-glazed carrots and parsnips. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 85.
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Monday, January 12, 2015

* DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH! *

1.SHERRY (Ten Speed Press, 2014, 264 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-581-5, $24.99 US hard covers) is by Talia Baiocchi, editor-in-chief of Punch, an online magazine focused on wines, spirits and cocktails (what? No beers?). She's also written a number of articles for all the major wine magazines. With Sherry, she has made a good choice to begin book authorship. It is, according to the subtitle, "a modern guide to the wine world's best-kept secret, with cocktails and recipes". And it may just be what the sherry industry needs in North America. For too long, sherry has been neglected, with stagnant and/or declining sales. It is seasonal at best (think Christmas) and sweet at worse. There is some nice logrolling here from five other authors who are not the usual "chefs" or "celebrities". It covers the basics: how made, types, history, towns and bodegas, sherry cocktails, and recipes involving sherry (either as ingredient or accompaniment or both).
The 100 pages of preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. There's a resources list on where to drink sherry and eat food in the Spanish region (names, addresses, best dishes) and in the US, along with some places in the US to buy bottles of sherry. It is a very nifty book, not really meant for those of us in the know (most sherry books have been stodgy). But it should appeal to millennials and those new to drinking and cocktail making. With its very colourful pictures, this work may be the ticket to an increase in sherry sales.
Audience and level of use: younger drinkers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes: cazon en adobo; tortillitas de camerones el faro; huevos a la flamenca;
The downside to this book: for the first 150 pages it is a great overview of sherries, but in a simpler style that won't appeal to connoisseurs.
The upside to this book: there is a small but useful section on sherry vinegars.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.
 
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Monday, January 5, 2015

WORLD WINE WATCH (LCBO VINTAGES TIP SHEET) FOR JANUARY 10, 2015

 
WORLD WINE WATCH (LCBO VINTAGES TIP SHEET) FOR  JANUARY 10, 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" is a guide to thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits, 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.
 
NOTE: 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
 
Joseph Cattin Gewurztraminer 2012 Alsace, +224626, $17.95: excellent typicity for Alsatian gewurz, touch of finishing bitterness but enough acid for food. 13.5% ABV. Gold Medal winner. QPR: 91.
 
 
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $25:
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
1.Keint-He Winery Voyageur Chardonnay 2012 VQA Niagara, +389544, $16: a good solid Ontario MVC chardonnay with some lemons, some botrytis and some finishing acid. 13% ABV. QPR: 89.
2.Crios de Susana Balbo Chardonnay 2013 Mendoza, +243196, $13.95: tropical fruit and vanilla, mid-length finish. 14% ABV. Twist top. QPR: 88.
3.Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc 2012 WO Western Cape, +675421, $14.95: very compelling slightly off-dry flavours without physically being off-dry, lower acid than most. 13.5% ABV. Twist top. QPR: 89.
4.Mallory & Benamin Talmard Macon-Uchizy 2013, +733956, $16.95: very useful value for a lovely mid-palate of sweet fruit, with enough stuffing for food. 13% ABV. Cork closure. QPR: 90.
5.Domaine Bois-Malinge Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2013, +224246, $13.95: crisp, refreshing, light enough at 12% ABV. For sip or first course. Twist top. QPR: 89.
6.Edesheimer Rosengarten Riesling Auslese 2012 Pfalz, +391052, $19.95: full of lifted aromas and peaches/apricots, much quality in a medium-sweet wine. But do cellar for awhile. 10% ABV. QPR: 89.
7.See Ya Later Ranch Chardonnay 2012 VQA Okanagan, +126912, $19.95: a lumbering giant in more ways than one. Wood and fruit just in balance, one for the woodies. QPR: 89.
8.Zuccardi Serie A Torrontes 2013 Salta, +389262, $15.95: memories of summer, exotic tropical perfumes, 14% ABV. QPR: 89.
 
 
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $25:
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
 
1.Driftwood The Collection Cabernet Merlot 2012 Margaret River, +399857, $19.95: very juicy and oaky, 14.4% ABV, good blend. QP: 88.
2.Man Vintners Shiraz 2013 WO Coast Region South Africa, +71332, $13.95: affordable soft chocolate tones. 14% ABV, twist top. QPR: 88.
3.Chateau Beausejour Hostens 2010 Haut-Medoc, +388298, $22.95. QPR: 90.
4.San Silvestro Cantine Brumo Nebbiolo d'Alba, +101444, $15.95: an excellent nebbiolo from Piedmont, full-bodied, affordable price, 13.5% ABV. QPR: 89.
5.Castello di Bibbione Riserva Chianti Classico 2009, +390377, $22.95. QPR: 90.
6.Villa Mora Montefalco Rosso Riserva 2008, +357079, $16.95: aged quality shines, mature berries and black fruit, maybe some leather. 14.5% ABV. Great price. QPR: 89.
7.Monasterio de las Vinas Reserva 2006 Carinena, +166579, $14.95: once away from Rioja, the prices tumble. This eight year old wine, barreled for a year, is a good garnacha/tempranillo mix of chunky fruit and vanilla with a light aging. Remarkable. 13% ABV. The Gran Reserva 2005 came out before Christmas, and at $16.95 is comparable value. QPR: 89.
8.Columbia Crest H3 Horse Heaven Hills Merlot 2012 Washington State, +209874, $19.95: underpriced dee-lishus intensity, soft fruit, 14.5% ABV. QPR: 89.
9.La Posta Estela Armando Vineyard Bonarda 2013 Mendoza, +261586, $14.95: good food friendly wine, ever useful as an aperitif, 13.5% ABV, twist top. Best wine label ever! QPR: 89.
10.Rupert & Rothschild Classique 2011 WO Western Cape, +717991, $22.95. QPR: 90.
11.Vina Real Plata Crianza 2010 Rioja, +657411, $18.95: from an old style winery which coddles with care, about 90% tempranillo. 14 months in French and US oak. QP: 89.
 
VALUE: "RESTAURANT READY" or "BRING YOUR OWN WINE BOTTLE" over $25
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
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.Rodney Strong Reserve Chardonnay 2012 Russian River Valley Sonoma, +210039, $44.95 retail.
2.Domaine du Prieure Vieilles Vignes Savigny-Les-Beaune 2011, +392001, $29.95.
3.Saint-Saturnin de Vergy Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Beaune 2012, +390542, $24.95.
4.Abbona di Abbona La Pieve Barolo 2010, +213132, $31.95.
5.Tony Sasa Martina Brunello di Montalcino 2008, +382762, $37.95.

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Saturday, January 3, 2015

FOOD AND DRINK BOOKS IN REVIEW

3.VEGETARIAN DINNER PARTIES (Rodale, 2014, 290 pages, ISBN 978-1-60961-501-7, $32.50 US hard covers) is by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarborough, award-winning authors of more than 20 cookbooks. Here they delve into entertaining with 150 meatless meals "good enough to serve company". It's arranged by size, with chapters on no plates, small plates, soups, pastas, large plates and final plates. They open with cocktails and punches, and close with food gifts on departure, such as granola. Nice touches. Vegan dishes are clearly labeled as such, but in a lighter ink. In addition to the preps, there are some highly structured tips and advice on how to entertain a crowd, emphasizing the nicer touches (no paper napkins, for example). Menus, with page references, are given for every dish, which is a terrific idea. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: vegetarians, entertainers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: beet tian with walnuts and oranges; watercress and celery root salad with za'atar; pistachio shortbread with tomato gelee; fiddlehead tacos with almond romanesco; braised kobacha squash with scallions and miso; ricotta spinach dumplings with parmesan cream sauce.
The downside to this book: "vegan" needs darker ink.
The upside to this book: good menus for each dish.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
 
 
 
4.1000 JUICES, GREEN DRINKS AND SMOOTHIES (Firefly Books, 2014, 288 pages, ISBN 978-1-77085-451-2, $29.95 CAN hard covers) is by Deborah Gray, cookbook author of healthy books such as 500 Vegan Recipes. Here she presents 100 foundation preps with 900 variations (to include milkshakes, slushies, and frappes). It is illustrated, but mostly with colourful liquids in a glass. Threads include breakfast blends, cleansing drinks, restorative drinks, energy boosters, thirst quenchers, frozen drinks, party drinks, and "mocktails". Teeny tiny typeface for the important index (locator of all recipes by name), which is unfortunate – especially since one or two nondescript photos, such as the last one for a shampagne cocktail, could have been eliminated and freed up a few pages. Those most interested in healthy food are the older folks, like myself, who struggle sometimes with computerized typeface sizing. Also unfortunate is the similar size for the list of ingredients, despite plenty of spacing. The preliminary pages deal with processing drinks (equipment, types of food, dairy alternatives, sugar substitutes nuts and seeds, supplements and additives) followed by the sections. Each has a model recipe followed by 9 or so variations. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: healthy food eaters, beginners.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: under cucumber agua fresca (flavoured water), she has herbed cucumber agua fresca, gingered agua fresca, lemongrass and ginger agua fresca, lemongrass and vanilla, cucumber cranberry, lavender, strawberry, blackberry and lemon verbena, pineapple mint, and warm lemon water.
The downside to this book: small typeface, some non-essential photos.
The upside to this book: good data collection of preps.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
 
 
 
 
5.THE FRENCH COOK: soups and stews (Gibbs Smith, 2014, 128 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-3576-5, $21.99 US hard covers) is by Holly Herrick, who is a Cordon Bleu grad and restaurant critic, living in Charleston, SC. She has also written a few cookbooks for Gibbs Smith.
This is the fourth in a series on French cuisine (Herrick has written three of them). And, of course, what better time to roll-out than with versatile soups and stews. There are photos and step-by-step techniques. The six basic stocks are here, as foundations for the soups and stews. Soups are mainly clear or delicate consommes, and creamy (corn, mushroom, chestnut, fresh pea). Some variations are noted. The basic hearty stews are here: beef bourguignon, cassoulet, lamb stew. The book is set up as a primer for beginners. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginner
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: fruity curried lamb stew, vichyssoise with asparagus, cold red pepper soup, cantaloupe soup.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
 
 
 
6.FERMENTED VEGETABLES (Storey Publishing, 2014, 376 pages, ISBN 978-1-61212-425-4 $24.95 US paper covers) is by Kirsten Shockey and Christopher Shockey, farmers in southern Oregon. They have created over 40 varieties of cultured veggies and krauts which they sell at their farmstand. Lacto-fermentation is a classic preserving method, yielding nutrient-dense live foods with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and priobiotics. In this book they deal with sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and fermented condiments. Then they give us about 64 different preps for fresh veggies, herbs, and fruits. There are a total of about 140 recipes here which include incorporating fermented vegetables into a plated fish for any meal. The techniques need to be mastered first, but they are easy. For example, kimchi can be made with asparagus, garlic scapes, parsnips, and snow peas. There are, of course, some ethnic flavours here. The arrangement is: primer, A-Z guide to veggie and fruits, plated dishes incorporating the fermented foods. They have a resource list, a bibliography, and a troubleshooting area ("scum") to describe problems or not-problems. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those seeking a healthier lifestyle, those with digestive issues.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: au gratin potatoes; lentils and rice; fish tacos; egg salad; zucchini muffins.
The downside to this book: nothing, really.
The upside to this book: something new, especially during the preserving and holiday seasons.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.
 
 
 
7.THE KITCHN COOKBOOK (Clarkson Potter, 2014, 304 pages, ISBN 978-0-7704-3443-4, $32.50 US hard covers) is by Sara Kate Gillingham, food writer, food author, and founding food blogger at The Kitchn (from 2005). Faith Durand is the other author; she is a cookbook writer and executive editor of The Kitchn. It is a basic book of recipes, kitchens, and tips to be an inspiration to cooking. Part one is devoted to setting up the kitchen with its tools, and then maintaining it. Then there is stocking the pantry and planning the meals, which also includes a chapter on 50 essential cooking skills. That's all in the first half of the book – then come the recipes for 150 pages. There is a resources section with a list of suppliers of essentials with some websites. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents (just a mathematical formula to multiply fluids by 30 or solids by 28).
Audience and level of use: beginners, fans of websites
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: winter squash and chicken thighs over polenta; baked brown rice, lentils and cauliflower with cucumber yogurt sauce; black bean edamame burgers; green payaya pad Thai; jam hand pies; Middle Eastern turkey burger.
The downside to this book: sorry, but it needs a proper metric table. 
The upside to this book: fairly comprehensive for the novice.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
 
 
 
8.SERIOUSLY DELISH (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014, 304 pages, ISBN 978-0-544-17649-2, $29.99 US hard covers) is by Jessica Merchant, a recipe developer and writer-blogger at How Sweet Eats. It is an upbeat book, emphasizing colour and flavours, presentation, and great mouthfeel. Her philosophy is that you have to have a relationship with food. The arrangement is eclectic, but begins with breakfast, moving on to snack, sandwiches, salads, soups, veggies, Tex-Mex, burgers, pizza, cocktails, and celebrations.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginner, millennials.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: amaretto-butternut squash soup with cinnamon toast croutons; crab cakes with sweet corn and blueberry salsa; caramel bourbon brownie milkshakes; confetti cupcakes.
The downside to this book: so many pix of Jessica
The upside to this book: much of this food seems to be an obsession with her.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
 
 
 
9.THE NATURAL FOOD KITCHEN (Ryland Peter & Small, 2014; distr. T. Allen, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-560-3, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Jordan Bourke, a trained chef who writes cookbooks and had worked with Yotyam Ottolenghi, who is the log roller here. These are seasonal dishes using fresh and healthy alternatives to flours/sugars/dairy/fats (as listed). His first book was The Guilt-Free Gourmet; here, he moves along to be more global in concept. The arrangement is by course, beginning with all the esses: snacks, small plates, soups, sandwiches, sauces, stews, salads, substantial savouries, seafoods, sides, and sweets. There is a pantry in the primer. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois and some metric measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: intermediate range
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: chocolate and nut butter tart; sardines with sunchokes and salsa verde; quinoa with mint, orange and beetroot; farinata; chickpea fritters.
The downside to this book: it is a heavily competitive field for this kind of cookbook
The upside to this book: gorgeous photos
Quality/Price Rating: 85
 
 
 
10.BROOKLYN SPIRITS: craft distilling and cocktails from the world's hippest borough (Powerhouse Books, 2014, 272 pages, ISBN 978-1-57687-705-0, $35US) is by writer Peter Thomas Fornatale and longtime mixologist Chris Wertz. Since 2002, craft distillers have been allowed to function in New York state. Brooklyn is now a hotbed of distilling activity. The authors give profiles of some of the local business, including infusers, bitters makers, and a vermouth producer, about a dozen in all. Each description has some recipes from producers, bartenders and restaurants in Brooklyn, and includes commentary from these people. Many of the products have some national distribution in the US, but not all. Indeed, for Canadians, we may be SOL and lacking. This means you'll need to substitute something appropriate, and there are suggestions here for the 100 plus cocktails. So, for Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters, we have a history, a biography and the philosophy of Mark Buettler the founder, and some preps.
Audience and level of use: cocktail lovers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: "people who refer to themselves as "wine-makers" are just self-absorbed idiots or chemists. Nobody actually makes wine; wine makes itself".
The downside to this book: well, Noilly Prat was misspelled – in large type
The upside to this book: well-framed photos.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Event: Garnacha – the Mediterranean Old New wine trade tasting

The Date and Time: Wednesday, November 26, 2014   3:30 PM – 7 PM
The Event: Garnacha – the Mediterranean Old New wine trade tasting
The Venue: Richmond Event Venue and Gallery
The Target Audience: wine media, sommeliers, et al.
The Availability/Catalogue: a spiral bound but glossy catalogue, arranged in table order. It worked, with data on prices, winemaking, agent, etc. But the gloss was hard to write on and many vintage dates and prices were incorrect.
The Quote/Background: it was a walkaround tasting with nine tables (although three or four of them had only one wine while one had 7 or more). For background, we learned that France grows the most grenache in the world (94,240 Hectares), while Spain is second with 70,140.
The Wines: There were about two dozen wines (some with different vintage dates), so I did manage to taste them all.
 
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-BesodeVino Old Vine Garnacha 2011, $9.95 +253591 LCBO  [food fave]
-Edetaria Seleccio Garnacha Blanca Old Vines 2012, $39.95  PO Terra Firma
-Lafou Els Amelers 2013 Garnacha Blanca, $28.95  Con Connexion Oenophilia
-Vinas del Vero Secastilla 2009, $32    PO   Woodman
-Grandes Vinos Corona d'Aragon Special Selection 2012, $16.99  PO  Noble Estates
-Grandes Vinos Anayon Garnacha 2011, $29.95    PO Noble Estates
-Covinca Torrelongares Reserva 2009, $17.19  SAQ +904615
-Covinca Torrelongares Reserva 2008, $17.19  SAQ +904615
-Covinca Torrelongares Reserva 2003 N/A
 
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Bodega Pirineos Garnacha 2013, $17  Con  The Vine
-La Botera Vila-Closa Garnatxa Blanca 2013, $15.95  PO from BC
-Santo Cristo 2012 Seleccion Garnacha, $13.50  Con Hanna
-Bodegas Paniza Vinas Viejas de Paniza Garnacha 2012, $17.95   PO Christopher Stewart
-Bodegas Solar de Urbezo Garnacha 2013, $18.75  Con B & W Wines
-Bodegas San Valero Castillo de Monsera Garnacha 2013, $16.95    +73395 LCBO
-Bodegas San Alejandro Pablo Old Vine 2012, $14.99   BC +205518
-Bodegas Aragonesas Fagus 2012, $24.99  Con  Merchant Vintner
-Bodegas Aragonesas Don Ramon 2012, $11.99  Con  Merchant Vintner
-Bodegas Aragonesas Garnacha Centenaria 2013, $17.99  Con  Merchant Vintner
 
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Vinas del Vero La Miranda de Secastilla Blanca 2012, $16    PO   Woodman
-Vinas del Vero La Miranda de Secastilla 2012 [red], $16    PO   Woodman
-Bodegas Paniza El Agoston Garnacha-Syrah 2013, $12.95   PO    Christopher Stewart
 
The Food: oysters (although there were only four white wines), cold meat platter of sausages and Iberian hams, Spanish cheeses, breads and crackers. Hot shrimp skewers were passed around.
The Downside: I would have liked more wines to sample.
The Upside: a good chance to sample garnacha wines, which are up and coming. Some (not these at the show) have been appearing lately at Vintages every release.
The Contact Person: johanna.raynaud@sopexa.com, or www.winesofgarnacha.com
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 90.

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Event: Gourmet Food & Wine Expo (20th anniversary)

 
The Date and Time: Thursday, November 20, 2014  5:00 PM to 10 PM
The Event: Gourmet Food & Wine Expo (20th anniversary)
The Venue: Metro Toronto Convention Centre
The Target Audience: opening night VIPs, wine trade
The Quote/Background: There was an engaging wine faults workshop at 5PM that I attended. Unfortunately, only white wine was covered. Paolo Lopes from the Faculty of Oenology at Bordeaux University and Amorim R&D did the presentation. While I was told that the seminar (free to trade) was full, they only had 40 people and lots of empty chairs-- which was too bad, for the tasting was pretty good.
The Wines: I did not taste all the wines at the show, just an eclectic number.
 
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Brancott Estate Letter Series B Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Marlborough, $19.95 LCBO
-Marisco Vineyards The King's Bastard Chardonnay 2012 Marlborough, $19.95 Vintages
-Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvee Rose NV New Zealand, $21.95 Vintages
-Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Marlborough, $17.95 Vintages
-Lailey Chardonnay 2011 VQA NOTL, $20
-Mure Signature  Gewurztraminer Alsace 2012, +387563, $21.95
-Decelle-Villa Savigny-Les-Beaune Cotes de Beaune 2012, +378208, $40.95
-Five Stones Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Margaret River, +157305, $20.95
-Domaine Martin Plan de Dieu Cotes du Rhone Villages 2011, +370197, $19.95
 
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Marlborough, $18.95 Vintages
-Saint Clair Family Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Marlborough, $15.95 LCBO
-Stoneleigh Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Marlborough, $17.75 LCBO
-Stoneleigh Vineyards Pinot Noir 2013 Marlborough, $19.95 LCBO
-White Cliffs Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Marlborough, $14.95 LCBO
-Campo Viejo Reserva Rioja 2009
-Hermanos Lurton Tempranillo Toro 2012
-Torres Vina Esmeralda 2013 Catalana [gewurztraminer and muscat]
-Fowles Are You Game? Chardonnay 2012 Australia
-Casar de Burba Godello Bierzo Spain 2011, $16.25 +368381
-Five Stones Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Margaret River 2010, +108001, $19.95
-De Buzet Red Badge Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon Buzet 2010, +350249, $12.95
-Chateau Le Grand Verdus Bordeaux Superiore 2010, +388330, $15.95
-Finca Allende Calvario Rioja 2005, +63206 $146
 
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Babich Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Marlborough, $14.95 LCBO
-Kate Radburnd Sun Kissed Pinot Gris 2013 Hawke's Bay, $15.95 LCBO
-Oyster Bay Chardonnay 2013 Marlborough, $18.95 Vintages
-Oyster Bay Merlot 2013 Hawke's Bay, $18.95 Vintages
-Stoneleigh Vineyards Chardonnay 2013 Marlborough, $16.95 LCBO
-Weingut Bischel Riesling Trocken Rheinhessen 2012, +377614, $16.95
 
The Downside: every year it seems that there are new rules and regulations, almost so it is no longer fun. In order to get in I had to be validated and show a wristband; I was also not told I could use a quick Elite entrance, which I found by accident, saving some half hour waiting.
The Upside: a chance to taste some wines I had missed this fall.
The Contact Person: vin@vaxxine.com; christopher.waters@sunmedia.ca
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 88.
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com