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Sunday, December 8, 2019

The November 27 2019 Event: Presentation of Ribera del Duero appellation wines

The Date and Time: Wednesday November 27 2019  11:30AM to 2 PM
The Event:  Presentation of Ribera del Duero appellation wines
The Venue: La Palma, Dundas West
The Target Audience: wine media and sommeliers
The Availability/Catalogue: these wines are available in Ontario, some at LCBO, others by PO or consignment.
The Quote/Background: Veronique Rivest, the first woman to ascend the podium of the Best Sommelier in the World championships in 2013, led the tasting, talking about Ribera del Duero in general and the 13 wines in particular. Ribera has a short growing season, with lots of hot and cold weather and a diverse terroir. So it is difficult to generalize. A lot of the rich, full-bodied and structured wine comes from the age of the vines (about a third are over 50 years old) and from subsequent wood treatment. Tempranillo makes up 95% of the grapes.
The Wines:
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Martin Berdugo Reserva 2010 Ribera del Duero $38.15 +233741  [my fave of the day]
-Finca Villacreces Prune 2016 Ribera del Duero $22.95 +312140
-Convento San Francisco 2012 Ribera del Duero $21.95 +206409
-Resalte Origien Cosecha 2015 Ribera del Duero $34.45  +593847
-Alenza Gran Reserva 2009 Ribera del Duero $78 +723791
-Bardos Rserva 2014 Ribera del Duero $69.95  consignment
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Martin Berdugo Joven Cosecha 2018 Ribera del Duero $16.70 +558022
-Aire de Protos Rosado 2018 Ribera del Duero $16 – 17 consignment, from garnacha/merlot/cabernet sauvignon
-Torres Pago del Cielo Celeste Reserva 2014 Ribera del Duero $34.95 +10493
-Vina Magna 14 Meses Crianza 2016 Ribera del Duero $44.95 consignment
-Adaro de Pradorey Crianza 2016 $38.95 consignment
-Conde de San Cristobal 12M Cosecha 2015 Ribera del Duero consignment
-Valtsotillo Finca Buenavista Cosecha 2016 Ribera del Duero consignment
The Food: we ate off the menu with shared plates, beginning with an amazing fregola sarda and lentils dish. The came house hummus on crostini, grilled cornish hen with piri piri sauce, flatiron steak with mushroom ragu, lamb chops, and garnishes of roasted cauliflower and crispy potatoes. All of the food was excellent and well-spiced to go with the Ribera wines.
The Downside: I arrived 15 minutes late due to a recalcitrant TTC bus.
The Upside: the foods were great matches for all of the wines.
The Contact Person:;
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 93


Thursday, December 5, 2019

Stocking Stuffer Book Gifts for the Holidays!!!

Stocking stuffers should be at the very top of everybody's gift list: something affordable from under $10 up to $25 or so, and that can also double as a host gift, being something small and lightweight. Most of the books here are paperbacks. And of course, they can all stuff an adult stocking.
Typical for food are:
--101 THINGS TO DO WITH A BUNDT PAN (Gibbs Smith, 2019, 128 pages, $12.95 spiral bound) is by Jenny Harten.  Some good ideas are here, made to advance the usage of what appeared to be a single-purpose cooking implement. The range is from cakes through breakfasts through bread puddings, side fishes (e.g., potato salad) and dinners (e.g., turkey meatloaf with cranberry sauce).
--SCANDI BITES (Hardie Grant Quadrille, 2019, 144 pages, $28.99 hardbound) is a collection of 60 previously published recipes from "Scandinavian Baking" and  "Scandinavian Comfort Food", all from Trine Hahnemann, and pitched to Christmas sales. These are sweet treats, party food and Scandinavian snacks for the holidays., in three chapters (teatime, smorrebrod, and celebrations). These are the basics with many variations.
--HISTORIC COOKERY; authentic New Mexican food (Gibbs Smith, 1931, 1970, 2019, 120 pages, $18 hardbound) is a reissue with some updating. These are heirloom preps of New Mexican food, by Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert. The range is from chile sauces through corn dishes, mains, cheese and eggs, veggies, soups, breads, and desserts, with some beverages. It is quite packed with lots of good dishes just one step away from Mexican. Quite appealing.
--HANGOVER FOOD (Dog 'n' Bone, 2019, 64 pages $13.95 hardbound) has 35 restorative recipes for when you are hurting and hungry. The preps have been previously published in an assorted series of cookbooks by13 authors. It's arranged by type: bacon and eggs, sandwiches, comfort food, and sweets.
--GIN THE MOOD (Dog 'n' Bone, 2019, 64 pages, $13.95 hardbound) is a small collection of some 50 gin cocktail recipes that are just the ticket, derived from five authors' previously published works.  It runs from dry martini to sloe gin fizz.
--SHORT COCKTAILS AND SMALL BITES (Ryland Peters & Small, 2019,  64 pages, $13.95 hardbound) comes from the pen of Julia Charles. These are more than 25 small-serve drink and canape pairings for parties....what fun! Lavish photos.
--THE ARTISANAL KITCHEN: BARBECUE RULES (Artisan, 2019, 112 pages,  $17.95 hardbound) is by Joe Carroll, who owns multiple-BBQ restaurants in Brooklyn and Philadelphia, principally Fette Sau. He gives us six lessons and thirty recipes for superior smoking and grilling, adapted from his earlier work, "Feeding the Fire". These are the knowns behind live-fire cooking, doing roasts and classics such as beef brisket and pulled pork and lamb saddle chops.
--OIL & VINEGAR (Ryland Peters & Small, 2019, 144 pages, $19.95 hardbound) is by multiple cookbook and magazine article author Ursula Ferrigno. She's got 75 recipes drawn from the earlier The Gourmet Guide to Oil & Vinegar (2014), plus a few from other food writers. It's mostly olive oil and gourmet vinegars, and the recipes are listed in course order from soups to baked goods.
--POSH SANDWICHES (Quadrille, 2018, 176 pages, $28.99 hardbound) is by Rosie Reynolds. It's one of the POSH series from Quadrille highlighting upscale comfort foods. Other topics in the past have included Toast, Eggs, Pancakes, Kebabs and Rice; all of them having "over 70 recipes" each. Reynolds covers Reubens to banh mi, and is arranged by major filling: meat, poultry, fish, veggie, and sweets – along with several different types of breads and sauces. There is even a useful primer on how to build a sandwich.
--MODERN PANCAKES (Ryland Peters & Small, 2019, 144 pages, $19.95 hardbound) is from the publisher with 21 contributors headed by Hannah Miles  (25 preps) and Louise Pickford (7 preps). There are over 60 contemporary recipes here, ranging from protein pancakes to healthy grains to waffles and "dirty" food indulgences. Hey, it's a year's work of brunches!
--THE ARTISANAL KITCHEN:  PERFECT HOMEMADE ICE CREAM (Artisan, 2019, 112 pages,  $17.95 hardbound) is by Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams which retails ice creams. It's been culled from two previous books published in 2011 and 2014. It is in three parts: the primer (with milk, cream, corn starch slurries, cream cheese, and assorted sweeteners in the base), the parlor (which also includes yogurt, sorbet and custard) and the sundae bar. At the end there are a few sauce preps and homemade shells/cones, curds, and jams. Hey – it's a great deal for under $18!
--LITTLE BOOK OF JEWISH SWEETS (Chronicle Books, 2019, 136 pages,  $24 hardbound) is by Leah Koenig. She gives us 25 preps for a sweet finish to any meal: teiglach, challah, bimuelos, tishpishti, cassola, kourabiedes, et al. There is an ingredient glossary  for almond extract and paste, orange blossom water, poppy seeds, potato starch, and more. Ingredients are noted in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
--FRENCH TOAST (Gibbs Smith, 2019, 128 pages, $19.99 hardbound) is by Donna Kelly. Her French Toasts can be stacked, stuffed and baked, and is the quintessential brunch time food, sometimes used for celebrations. She's got some savoury entrees as well:  French toast chili stacks, cheesy chile strata, seafood Newberg stacks, and Kentucky hot browns among the 16 savoury dishes. But otherwise, it's all sweet. She  concludes with some dessert offerings and a range of syrups and sauces.
Other little books, for beverages, include those on coffee, beer, wine and spirits – and even water:
--BOOZE BASICS (Dog 'n' Bone, 2019,  128 pages, $13.95 hardbound) is by Emily Miles. It was first published  as "How to Drink and Not Look Like an Idiot". Here it has been re-published as a complete guide to the dos and don't of drinking.  It's a practical work covering quality over quantity, emphasizing  the differences between cheap booze and "decent plus" booze. Beer, wines, cider and spirits are all there, along with pubs, bars, and cocktail lounges.
--SPARKLING COCKTAILS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2019, 64 pages, $13.95 hardbound) is by Laura Goodwin, and is drawn mostly from her earlier books Prosecco Cocktails (2017) and Parisian Cocktails (2016).  This is fizz plus, with additions depending on the mood and the circumstances. Champagne, prosecco, cava, cremant, sekt, spumante, bubbly: all good sparklers for all events such as brunch buffets, preprandials, al fresco parties. Here are 50 preps, nicely illustrated and detailed.
--LET'S GET FIZZICAL (DK Books, 2018, 144 pages, $18.99 hardbound) features more than 50 cocktails made with Prosecco, Champagne, and other sparklers. It's a good beginner's guide to bubbly as well, giving us the process and distinguishing between Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, Lambrusco, Moscato d'Asti, Sekt, and other names for vinous fizz.  A good value of the handbook is the flavour chart of Venn diagrams illustrating the flavour differences between Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava. But the main show is what to do with them as mixers.  There are the classic cocktails and modern day twists, the Bellinis, Mimosas, spritzes, and a few loaded ones for special events (Pink Tequila Fizz, English Summer Rose, Cynar Fizz).
--LET'S GET TROPICAL (DK Books, 2019, 144 pages, $18.99 hardbound) features more than 60 cocktails from Caribbean classics to modern Tiki drinks. It's a good beginner's guide to the alcohol of the tropics as well, giving us the process of making rum and tequila and mezcal.  But the main show is what to do with the shades of rum etc. stylings with the mixes.  There are the classic cocktails and modern day twists: daiquiri, pina colada, Singapore sling, Mai tai, margarita, mojito, tequila sunrise. Followed by the Tiki material (Angel's share, Tiki Tiki Bang Bang, and more).
--THE BEER BUCKET LIST (Dog 'n' Bone, 2019, 224 pages, $19.95 hardbound) is a travel-sized guide to over 150 of the best beer experiences on the planet, written by Mark Dredge. It's all arranged by area, from North America through the UK and Eire, Europe, the Antipodes, and then ROW. Each experience has a place to buy/consume a craft beer with local food and decor and culture. For example, Belgium's best beer cooking explains "cuisine a la biere" with five perfect beer and food combos: croque monsieur with blonde hoppy beer, moules frites with witbier, carbonnade with dubbel, et al.  It actually may have been better served to us if the tourbook was paperbound and the paper not so heavy. Then it would be more portable. That's just my carp....
--HUGH JOHNSON'S POCKET WINE BOOK 2020 (Mitchell Beazley, 2019, 336 pages, $18.99 hardbound, $14.99 Kindle ebook)  is a guide to wines from all around the world, not just to the "best" wines. It is in its 42nd year (first published in 1977).  Johnson claims more than 6000 wines and growers are listed. News, vintage charts and data, glossaries, best value wines, and what to drink now are here. His book is arranged by region, with notes on the 2018 vintage and a few details about the potential of 2019, along with a closer look at the 2017. He's got notes on what wines are ready to drink in 2020.   Johnson is  also moving into food pairing: there is a section on food and wine matching. He also has a listing of his personal 200 fave wines.  The Kindle edition is digitally enhanced for word searching, so it often beats a printed index for retrieving data – and it is $4 cheaper! Great purchase....
--WINES YOU SHOULD TRY; a guide for Canadians (Whitecap, 2019, 204 pages, $22.95 paperbound)  largely supersedes the ninth annual edition (2016) of   "The 500 Best-Value Wines In the LCBO 2017".  This new work by wine scribe Rod Phillips is now national, and has both international and domestic wines arranged by wine colour and then by region/country with an indication of a price range (under $12  to  over $49). He tasted about 1000 wines, and chose about 500 wines that are available in at least two provinces.  Each of the wines has some value, or else they would not be in this tool: they can be considered at least "better" if not "best" of what's around in Canada. Each  has an indication of food pairings. A good guidebook which features only those wines available in Canada -- that you should try.
--A YEAR OF GOOD BEER 2020 PAGE-A-DAY CALENDAR (Workman, 2019, 320 pages, $20.99)
quenches the beer lover's thirst: microbrewery recommendations, beer lore, trivia, history, labels, vocabulary, tasting notes, beer festivals, and more daily fun. Discover Bell's Porter whose smoky coffee notes lend an intriguing aroma profile; a hoppy Noble Prize Imperial Pilsner; and a perfect summer aperitif in the burgundy-hued Brombeere Blackberry Gose. Includes beer drinking games (like Buffalo Club, in which you must never be caught drinking with your right hand), recipes for refreshing beer cocktails, and "Hop Lookout" notes (like the smoothly bitter Cashmere, developed by Washington State University in 2013).  Some of the beers appear as imports in Canada, but otherwise there are few Canadian brews included. Lights, wheat, lagers, ales, porters, stouts, seasonal beers, and lambrics – they're all here, 165 or so craft beers. If you buy any of the PAD calendars, then you can go online to the website and pick up other, free stuff, at 


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for December 7, 2019

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for December 7, 2019
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing My "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 since 1994.
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at  or at No winery can buy their way into – or out of – this publication.
Scores are a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, e.g. a Southern Rhone would taste like a Southern Rhone) and QPR (Quality/Price Ratio value in the marketplace above or below its price).
NOTE: The first portion  is based on my sampling of the table wines chosen by the LCBO from this release for tasting. That presentation is about 50+  different labels out of about 125 released every two weeks. These wines are basically those that fit the categories of  any of the Featured Themes, Wines of the Month, Local Talent, and "new" -- wines that the LCBO has ordered in sufficient quantities for the Ontario marketplace. Not put out for us are the re-orders (even though they may be of a different vintage) , ISDs, or the expensive wines.  Thus, my report comes from a restricted database. I did not taste every one of these 50+ category wines, nor did I rate several of the wines I did sample because they did not seem to be of particularly good value in terms of their price.
NOTE: The second part (at the end) is a simple listing of  those wines that were NOT presented to the media, and are given here simply as a record of  what sampling I could not do. I have left in the name of the agency, in fairness to all.
PART ONE:  The "best" wines of a reduced tasting  --
Fizz+315200    HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC    Traditional method, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario    2014    $49.95     QPR: 92
Under $20
W+224428    JULES TAYLOR SAUVIGNON BLANC    Certified sustainable, Marlborough, South Island    2018    $19.95       13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+734798    THORNBURY SAUVIGNON BLANC    Marlborough, South Island    2018    $18.95
13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+231282    KEN FORRESTER OLD VINE RESERVE CHENIN BLANC    WO Stellenbosch    2018    $17.95  13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
R+617738    WAYNE GRETZKY WHISKY OAK AGED RED    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2018    $19.95 13.8% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+10970    WAPISA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    San Javier, Río Negro, Patagonia    2016    $18.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+66738    THE BLACK CHOOK SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER    South Australia    2017    $18.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+396481    ZONTE'S FOOTSTEP CHOCOLATE FACTORY SHIRAZ    McLaren Vale, South Australia    2017    $19.95  14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92
R+477075    I BALZI ROSSO    IGT Veneto    2017    $15.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+10951    TENUTA SANTA MARIA ALLA PIEVE VERONA PRÀGAL    IGT Veronese Rosso    2017    $18.95  13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+11277    QUINTA DO CASAL MONTEIRO TOURIGA NACIONAL/MERLOT/SYRAH    Estate bottled, DOC Tejo    2016    $14.95 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92
R+10700    BODEM LES MARGAS GARNACHA    DO Cariñena    2017    $19.95     14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+357335    HACIENDA LÓPEZ DE HARO RESERVA    DOCa Rioja    2014    $19.95  13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  92
W+80374    MURALHAS DE MONÇÃO VINHO VERDE    Monção e Melgaço, DOC Vinho Verde    2018    $15.95 12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
Over $20
W+302083    BACHELDER NIAGARA CHARDONNAY    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2017    $24.95     13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
R+395855    HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE CABERNET/MERLOT    VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2012    $24.95  13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  89
W+67231    LA CREMA RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY CHARDONNAY    Russian River Valley, Sonoma County    2017    $39.95     14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+10539    THE LANE GATHERING SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON/SEMILLON    Adelaide Hills, South Australia    2016    $24.95     13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+478628    Z. ALEXANDER BROWN UNCAGED CABERNET SAUVIGNON    California    2016    $21.95  14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+55764    CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE INDIAN WELLS CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Columbia Valley    2016    $26.95 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+12331    PETER LEHMANN THE BAROSSAN CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Barossa Valley, South Australia    2018    $21.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+590414    OYSTER BAY PINOT NOIR    Marlborough, South Island    2017    $20.95 13% ABV, MVC/QPR:  89
R+709303    MORGENSTER LOURENS RIVER VALLEY    WO Stellenbosch    2011    $33.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR:  93
R+157347    ENRICO SERAFINO BARBARESCO    DOCG    2015    $29.95      13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+213132    LA PIEVE BAROLO    DOCG    2015    $38.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+438572    CASALE DEL BOSCO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO    DOCG    2014    $43.95 15% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+597237    BENZIGER CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Certified sustainable, Sonoma County    2016    $27.95  14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+11835    CHÂTEAU TOUR COUTELIN    AC Saint-Estèphe    2016    $27.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+453548    LEALTANZA GRAN RESERVA    DOCa Rioja    2010    $31.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+976662    FAUSTINO I GRAN RESERVA    DOCa Rioja    2006    $31.95     13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
PART TWO: The "rest" of the release [not offered for sampling by media] with agency name  --
148866    CLOSSON CHASE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY    VQA Prince Edward County    2017    $29.95    CLOSSON CHASE VINEYARDS INC.   
85100    WILDASS WHITE    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2017    $19.95    STRATUS VINEYARDS   
421362    2027 CELLARS WISMER VINEYARD FOX CROFT BLOCK CHARDONNAY    VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2017    $22.95    2027 CELLARS LTD.   
1552    FLAT ROCK THE RUSTY SHED CHARDONNAY    VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2018    $26.95    FLAT ROCK CELLARS   
225375    J. LOHR OCTOBER NIGHT CHARDONNAY    Arroyo Seco, Monterey County    2017    $34.95    BARRIQUE WINE IMPORTS LTD.   
458810    TOM GORE CHARDONNAY    California    2017    $19.95    ARTERRA WINES CANADA INC.   
199810    FIRST PRESS NAPA CHARDONNAY    Napa Valley    2017    $24.95    CHURCHILL CELLARS LTD.   
508770    PAUMANOK DRY RIESLING    North Fork of Long Island    2017    $24.95    BRAND NEW DAY WINES & SPIRITS   
918805    CATENA CHARDONNAY    Mendoza    2018    $19.95    TRIALTO WINE GROUP LTD.   
928580    SANTA CAROLINA GRAN RESERVA CHARDONNAY    Certified carbon neutral, DO Itata Valley    2017    $18.95    CHARTON HOBBS INC   
609321    DOMAINE NATURALISTE DISCOVERY CHARDONNAY    Margaret River, Western Australia    2018    $24.95    AUTHENTIC WINE & SPIRITS MERCHANTS   
518357    SIDEWOOD SAUVIGNON BLANC    Adelaide Hills, South Australia    2018    $17.95    VINOLUNA   
388363    HÃHÃ SAUVIGNON BLANC            $19.95    HOBBS & COMPANY
948182    LA GRIFFE BERNARD CHÉREAU MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE    Sur lie, AP    2018    $17.95    H.H.D. IMPORTS   
85134    MEGALOMANIAC SONOFABITCH PINOT NOIR    VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2017    $27.95    JOHN HOWARD CELLARS   
205021    MEGALOMANIAC FRANK CABERNET    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2017    $29.95    JOHN HOWARD CELLARS   
550608    VIENI PINOT NOIR    VQA Vinemount Ridge    2017    $16.95    VIENI ESTATES INC.   
396267    THE ORGANIZED CRIME BREAK-IN PINOT NOIR    VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2017    $21.95    JAN TARASEWICZ   
347377    CASA-DEA GAMAY    VQA Prince Edward County    2017    $16.95    CASA-DEA
307686    TAWSE QUARRY ROAD PINOT NOIR    VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula    2016    $35.95    TAWSE WINERY INC.   
86363    WILDASS RED    VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake    2016    $21.95    STRATUS VINEYARDS   
60152    SIGNORELLO CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Unfiltered, Napa Valley    2015    $124.95    BARRIQUE WINE IMPORTS LTD.   
362400    BERINGER QUANTUM    Napa Valley    2015    $79.95    MARK ANTHONY WINE & SPIRITS   
632133    CAYMUS CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Napa Valley    2017    $54.95    ANDREW PELLER IMPORT AGENCY   
213017    MICHAEL DAVID PETITE PETIT    Lodi    2016    $28.95    CHURCHILL CELLARS LTD.   
46300    PENDULUM RED    Columbia Valley    2016    $24.95    GLAZER'S OF CANADA   
622571    CLOS DE LOS SIETE    Uco Valley, Mendoza    2015    $23.95    PHILIPPE DANDURAND WINES LTD.   
455774    ZUCCARDI CONCRETO MALBEC    Paraje Altamira, Uco Valley, Mendoza    2017    $39.95    DIONYSUS WINES & SPIRITS LTD.   
322800    ALAMOS SELECCIÓN MALBEC    La Consulta, Uco Valley, Mendoza    2016    $16.95    E&J GALLO WINERY CANADA LTD.   
205872    CASAS DEL BOSQUE RESERVA CARMENÈRE    DO Rapel Valley    2017    $15.95    AZUREAU WINE AGENCY   
10767    MONTGRAS ANTU LIMITED SYRAH    DO Colchagua Valley    2013    $24.95    EPIC WINES AND SPIRITS INC.   
59477    CASA SILVA GRAN TERROIR DE LOS ANDES LOS LINGUES CARMENÈRE    Estate grown and bottled, Colchagua Valley    2017    $19.95    THE CASE FOR WINE   
311720    MAQUIS GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Colchagua Valley    2015    $20.95    HALPERN ENTERPRISES   
636407    TWO HANDS BELLA'S GARDEN SHIRAZ    Barossa Valley, South Australia    2017    $59.95    B AND W WINES   
135996    THE CHOCOLATE BLOCK    WO Swartland    2017    $79.95    UNIVINS AND SPIRITS CANADA INC.   
518977    TERRA TANGRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON/MERLOT/MAVRUD    PGI Thracian Valley    2016    $14.95    RARE EARTH WINES   
123489    CHÂTEAU HAUCHAT    AC Fronsac    2016    $17.95    CONNEXION OENOPHILIA   
10513    CLOS ST. ANTONIN    AC Côtes du Rhône    2016    $19.95    BRAND NEW DAY WINES & SPIRITS   
477190    PLANETA CONTRODANZA    DOC Sicilia Noto    2016    $27.95    NOBLE ESTATES WINES & SPIRITS INC.   
25601    ISOLE E OLENA CEPPARELLO    IGT Toscana    2016    $256.95    HALPERN ENTERPRISES   
56671    STRATUS RIESLING ICEWINE    VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario    2017    $44.95    STRATUS VINEYARDS   
568204    CULMINA DILEMMA CHARDONNAY    Margaret's Bench, BC VQA Okanagan Valley    2015    $39.95    WOODMAN WINES & SPIRITS   
629121    ARGOT SIMPATICO RANCH CHARDONNAY    Bennett Valley, Sonoma County    2015    $69.95    GREAT NORTH IMPORTS   
12489    MARIENBURG FAHRLAY RESERVE TROCKEN RIESLING    Qualitätswein    2015    $87.95    THE LIVING VINE INC.   
570788    SHAFER TD-9            $99.95    ROGERS & COMPANY   
472159    SILVERADO MT. GEORGE VINEYARD MERLOT    Coombsville, Napa Valley    2014    $54.95    KYLIX WINES   
735654    TABLAS CREEK ESPRIT DE TABLAS    Paso Robles    2016    $74.95    CHARTON HOBBS INC   
10604    LA NIT DE LES GARNATXES    DO Montsant    2016    $24.95    TRIALTO WINE GROUP LTD.   
161893    VIÑA ALBERDI RESERVA    DOCa Rioja    2013    $33.95    JOHN HANNA & SONS


Tuesday, December 3, 2019


3.TASTING TABLE COOKING WITH FRIENDS; recipes for modern entertaining (Flatiron Books, 2019, 310 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-13954-2, $32.50 USD hardbound) is by Geoff Bartakovics (who created in 2008) and his culinary partner Todd Coleman (food editor and director). The idea behind the book and the website is basically: to entertain with menus and recipes that are designed to be made with the invited-guests who are now the sous-chefs. It's a variety of team sports, and comes with log rolling by Marcus Samuelsson and Antoni Porowski. It's a manifesto for entertaining, with guidance and instructions for confidence and food dishes. It's an accessible book with separate chapters for each theme: appetizers before going out; picnic; a formal affair; dinner and a movie; all-day brunch; shrimp boil; vegetarian dinner for omnivores; modern retro dinner; and Friday night feast. You could also invent your own theme: the point is to get everybody involved. We did something like this numerous times with apps and desserts, as part of a wine tasting for twelve of us. Some examples of participation include  the fact that no two recipes require the oven at different temperatures at the same time. The preps also have different skill levels, so the overall work can be rationed out to everybody. Plus: there can be mix and matching with the hosts co-ordinating the kitchen OR outsourcing the dishes by a co-ordinated potluck. The book could have been improved if it had also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart.
Audience and level of use: party goers; definitely millennials; and just about every guy who is interested in food and hosting.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: tomato tart with feta and za'atar; gyro meatballs with hot sauce; smoky eggplant; sheet pan nachos; smoky shishito dip; goat cheese stuffed pepperoncini; bigos; baked oatmeal with blackberries; green bean poutine.
The downside to this book: it can be a bit regimented and organized.
The upside to this book: this is "crowdsourced" cooking and cleaning.
Quality/Price Rating: 90
4.NATURALLY SWEET BAKING; healthier recipes for a guilt-free treat (DK Books, 2019, 208 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-8395-9, $17.99 USD paperback) is by Carolin Trothe (food photographer and food blogger) and her husband, Sebastian Keitel. They got Jamie Oliver to say "One of my favorite baking books ever!" as endorsement log rolling. The idea is to reduce the amount of highly refined sugar in baking by using naturally sweet products
and cutting back on sugar in general with these 70 recipes. The authors encourage us to explore the multitude of natural flavours in foods and to bake with some unusual ingredients such as parsnips and kidney beans. The natural flavours will replace the perceptible sweetness of "sugar". A variety of flours are used (spelt, almond, oat flour, chickpea, rye, teff, et al). Sweeteners include maple syrup, dates, honey, and dark brown sugar. One of the indexes lists the type of prep for a food category: beginners, finger foods, afternoon treats, quick and easy, old classics, modern classics, etc. The book could easily have been improved if it had also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Most baking should be scaled.
Audience and level of use: bakers; those who wish to control their sugar.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: beet bundt cake; blackberry cheesecake; cherry tart; oat waffles; hazelnut bundt cake; raspberry and blackberry cobbler.
The downside to this book: the authors are German, and the Germans have always been big on stevia – yet I don't see it in this book.
The upside to this book: there are symbols for food, such as gluten-free, vegan, nut-free, etc.
Quality/Price Rating: 85
5.BEER SNACKS; tasty bites from around the world (Smith Street Books, 152 pages, ISBN 978-1-925811-17-9, $24.95 USD hardbound) is by Oscar Smith. These are 70 preps for enjoying beer, divided into categories such as nibbles, bites, dips, and plates. There are about a dozen different styles of beers, ranging from lager through stout, and Smith tries to accommodate all of them, starting with chicharrones and ending with beef tacos. A lot of the food is global (India, Mexico, American, South East Asia). Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
Audience and level of use: pub crawlers, beer drinkers at home.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: chilli bourbon jerky; potato chips three ways; cheesy bacon and rosemary polenta fries; tteokbokki (South Korea); tsukune (Japan); boquerones (Spain).
The downside to this book: very few actual beer "style" recommendations.
The upside to this book: a good collection of recipes.
Quality/Price Rating: 87
6.VARIATIONS; simple and delicious dishes, two ways (ArtsScroll/Shaar Press, 2019, 296 pages, ISBN 978-1-4226-2333-6 $46.95 CAD hardbound) is by Daniella Silver, author of the popular "Silver Platter" cookbook series. Her latest book gives us 120 recipes, each with a complementary variation. There are pix with every prep, gluten-free recipes (labeled as such) are included, and nutritional data is also here. It's arranged by course, from appetizers to soups, salads to fish, chicken to meat, dairy, grain, veggies, and dessert. It is all useful for kosher/pareve food preparations. The theme for all of her books is simple, elegance, and spectacular. So it is a book that fits in quite well with entertainment, and she describes how to get a "big bang elegance/spectacle" for your simple buck. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents, which is a shame for international sales.
Audience and level of use: those looking for simple/elegant kosher recipes
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: sesame seed rice balls; za'atar avocado; celery soup; no-mayo avocado tuna salad; sheet pan chicken with heirloom carrots and sweet potatoes; baked almond flour chicken.
The downside to this book: no metric
The upside to this book: large typeface and integration with the photos.
Quality/Price Rating: 86
7.UMAMI BOMB; 75 vegetarian recipes that explode with flavour (Workman Publishing, 2019, 246 pages ISBN 978-1-5235-0036-9 $19.95 USD hardbound) is by Raquel Pelzel, who has authored and co-authored over 20 cookbooks. Her preps are built around eight umami-rich foods: aged cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce, miso, caramelized onions, smoke, and nutritional yeast. Each is given a separate chapter, but there is also a recipe index at the back, listed in course order from breakfast through soups, salads, sandwiches, mains, sides, and desserts. The cheeses are mainly parmesan, cheddar, and aged gouda. Smoke also includes smoked cheeses as well as smoked tofu.  Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: vegans, those who want a lot of flavour
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: smoked trout dip; honey-soy grilled salmon; miso broth and clams on toast; grilled banana splits; French onion gratin; caramelized onion Korean pancake; tomato-cucumber sandwiches with roasted tomato mayo; tomato 'nduja.
The downside to this book: there are, of course, other foods, such as blue cheese, which is not covered here.
The upside to this book: I think I could survive on just nutritional yeast and parmesan cheeses alone.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.


Monday, December 2, 2019

The Nov 18, 2019 Event: the Annual (19th) Sparkling Wine tasting by the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada.

The Date and Time: Monday, November 18, 2019  3PM to 7PM
The Event: the 19th Annual Sparkling Wine tasting by the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada.
The Venue: WWCC Clubhouse, Toronto
The Target Audience: members of the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada.
The Availability/Catalogue: The intent is to showcase to our members what wines would be available for the upcoming Holiday seasons. All of the 60 or so wines are available in Ontario through the usual distribution channels, including "consignment" or "Ontario winery only".
The Quote/Background: The WWCC has been holding this tasting every Fall in order to give its members a chance to taste what is in the marketplace for the upcoming Holiday Seasons (Thanksgiving through New Years and St. Valentine's Day) and to write about them. Writers would turn up over the course of a day for the walk-around and taste at their own speed. We the WWCC would like to thank our industry partners for the opportunity to sample these wines.
The Wines:  What follows are grape-based wines; the ratings here are MINE ALONE and NOT those of the WWCC group. Each writer rates or writes separately, and there is no cumulative total or averaged rating. This is not a judging competition. My own system divides all wines into three categories: BEST (91+ points), BETTER (88-90) and GOOD (85-87), usually the ranking range of Gold, Silver and Bronze in various wine shows. The wines are thus RANDOMLY listed within their categories. In general, where there is no LCBO CSPC, then the wine is at the winery and is available by private order.
The BEST VALUE wine (quality for money) is – 
Hungaria Grande Cuvee Brut    Brut    NV    $12.95    619288    Hungary    11%ABV
**** BEST -- Four Stars Rated by Dean Tudor (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
Producer    Product Name    Vintage    Price      LCBO #     Country and/or Region    Grape Varieties    Alc.%
-13th Street Winery    Premier Cuvee    2013    $39.95    142679    Niagara    PN/C    13%           
=13th Street Winery    Grand Cuvee Blanc de Noir    2013    $59.95    361394        Creek Shores Niagara    PN/C    13     LCBO Classics            
-Gerard Bertrand    Thomas Jefferson Cremant de Limoux Rose    NV    $22.95    648618    France    Limoux    chardonnay, chenin, pinot noir    12%   
-Tawse Winery    Limestone Ridge Sparkling Riesling    2017    $20.95     370361    Canada    Niagara    Riesling    12%   
-Tawse Winery    Spark Blend    2016    $25.95     384966    Canada    Niagara    Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir    13%   
-Queenston Mile Vineyard Brut    2016    $50        Canada    Niagara    Chard/Pinot        Winery Only           
-Adamo Estate Winery    Blanc de Blanc Traditional Method    2016    $52        Canada    Niagara On the Lake    Chardonnay Musque      11%  Winery       
-Cave Spring Cellars    Blanc de Blancs Brut    NV    $29.95    213983    Canada    Niagara Escarpment    Chardonnay    12%    Vintages Essential
-Cave Spring Cellars     Riesling Brut    2017    $24.95    n/a    Canada    Beamsville Bench    100% Riesling    12%    Winery   
-Rosehall Run Vineyards    Stardust    2011    $49.95    Canada    Prince Edward County    Pinot Noir/Chardonnay    12.2%  Winery Direct/Online
-Henry of Pelham    Cuvee Catharine Estate Blanc de Blancs 'Carte Blanche'    2014    $49.95     315200    Canada    VQA Niagara Peninsula    Chardonnay    12.5%
-Henry of Pelham    Cuvee Catharine Brut    NV    $32.95     217521    Canada    VQA Niagara Peninsula    Chardonnay, Pinot Noir    12%
-Henry of Pelham    Cuvee Catharine Rose Brut    NV    $32.95     217505    Canada    VQA Niagara Peninsula    Pinot Noir, Chardonnay    12%
-Louis Bouillot    Louis Bouillot Perle d'Aurore    n/a    $21.95     48793    France    Burgundy    Pinot Noir/Gamay/Chardonnay    12%   
Louis Bouillot    Louis Bouillot Perle Noire    n/a    $16.95     464776    France    Vin de France    Merlot, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Grenache     12%
-Alfred Gratien Champagne Brut Classique    NV    $74.99 (BC.AB)        Champagne            12%        Mark Anthony   
-Champagne Taittinger    Taittinger Brut Reserve    NV    $61.95     365312    France    Champagne    Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier    12.5%   
-Rosehall Run Vineyards    Ceremony    NV    $34.95    N/A    Canada    Prince Edward County    Chardonnay    12.2%    Winery Direct/Online
-Gratien & Meyer    Gratien & Meyer Cremant de Loire Blanc Brut    NV    $21.99 (BC)    N/A    France    Saumur    Cabernet Franc (15%), Pinot Noir (40%), Chardonnay (40%), Chenin (5%)     12%    BC    VIWF February    Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits   
-Gratien & Meyer    Gratien & Meyer Cremant de Loire Rose    NV    $21.99 (BC)    N/A    France    Saumur    Cabernet Franc (15%), Pinot Noir (40%), Chardonnay (40%), Chenin (5%)    12    BC    VIWF February    Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits   
-Lacheteau    Chateau de Montgueret Cremant de Loire Brut    NV    $19.95    217760    France    Loire Valley    Chenin, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc    11.5%
-Gruet Winery    Gruet Blanc de Blancs Sauvage    N/V    $28.95     689991    New Mexico    American    100% Chardonnay    12%    LCBO-Consignment    now     Southern Galzer's Wine & Spirits   
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
Producer    Product Name    Vintage    Price      LCBO #     Country    Region    Grape Varieties    Alc.%
-Megalomaniac    Bubblehead Rose TM    2017    $34.95    363655 VQA Niagara Peninsula    Pinot Noir    12%
-Alvento Winery    Sparkling Rose    2018    $25.15    n/a    Canada    Niagara Peninsula    Pinot Noir, Rieslng, Muscat, Gewurztraminer    12.5%    Winery only   
-Hungaria Grande Cuvee Brut    Brut    NV    $12.95    619288    Hungary11.5%   
-Flat Rock    Riddled Sparkling TM 2017  $34.95  383315  VQA Twenty Mile Bench Chardonnay 12.5%
-Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery    Sparkling Riesling    2018    $24.95    N/A    Canada    Niagara    Riesling    9%    
-Queenston Mile Vineyard    Mile High    2017    $35        Canada    Niagara    Chardonnay    12.5%     Winery Only           
-Queenston Mile Vineyard    Mile High Rose    2018    $35     Canada    Niagara    Pinot Noir   12.5%        Winery Only           
-Pierre Sparr    Cremant D'Alsace Brut Reserve    NV    $18.95    388603 France    Alsace     80% Pinot Blanc, 20% Pinot Auxerrois    12.5%
-Pierre Sparr    Cremant D'Alsace Brut Rose    NV    $19.95    39016    France    Alsace    Pinot Noir    12.5%
-13th Street Winery    Gamay MT Blanc de Noir    2017    $34.95 Creek Shores Niagara    Gamay    12.5%     Winery Direct/Online           
-13th Street Winery    Blanc de Blanc MT    2017    $29.95    Creek Shores Niagara    CHARDONNAY    12.5%    Winery Direct/Online           
13th Street Winery    Cuvee Rose MT    NV    $29.95    147504    Niagara        12.5% Vintages Essentials           
-PondView Estate Winery Ltd    Bella Terra Blanc de Blanc    2016    $34.95    n/a    Canada    Niagara Peninsula    Chardonnay    12%    Winery
-Cono Sur    Sparkling Rosé    NV    $13.95    365205    Chile    Bìo Bìo Valley    100% Pinot Noir    12.5%
-Gruet Winery    Gruet Brut    N/V    $24.95     560291    New Mexico    American    75% Chardonnay/25% PN    12%    LCBO-Consignment    now    Southern Galzer's Wine & Spirts   
-Jackson-Triggs Winery    Jackson-Triggs Entourage Grand Reserve Brut    2015    $29.95    234161    Canada    Niagara on the Lake    Chardonnay and Pinot Noir    12.50%    LCBO, Wine Rack (Arterra)   
-Two Sisters Vineyards    Lush Sparkling Rose    NV    $53.80    Ontario    Niagara Peninusla     PinotNoir/Chardonnay/CabFr    12.50    WINERY           
-Two Sisters Vineyards    Blanc de Franc    2016    $61.80    Ontario    Niagara River    CabFranc    12.50%    WINERY           
-Pares Balta    Brut Cava    NV    $17.95    650648    Spain            12%
-Honsberger    Brut    2015    $32.00    Ontario    VQA Niagara Peninsula    WINERY           
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
Producer    Product Name    Vintage    Price     LCBO #     Country    Region    Grape Varieties    Alc.%
-Megalomaniac    Sparkling Personality Charmat        $19.95    469007        VQA Niagara Peninsula    RIESLING    9.6%
-Pelee Island Winery    Bella    2018    11597     Ontario VQA    auxerrois, pinot noir    12%
-Colio Estate Wines    Lily Sparkling         $17.95     418657    Canada    VQA Ontario    100% Riesling    12%   
-Colio Estate Wines    Lily Sparkling Rosé        $17.95     536565    Canada    VQA Ontario    90% Riesling 10% Cabernet Franc    12%
-Schmitt Sohne    RELAX Bubble    N/V    $13.95    488593    Germany    German Cuvee    Blend    11%
-Astoria    Astoria Prosecco    NV     $15.70     593855    Italy    Veneto    Glera    11%
-Adamo Estate Winery    Spark'l Charmat Method    2018    $18.05        Canada    Ontario    Chardonnay Musque    11.5% Winery
-Rosehall Run Vineyards    Pixie    NV    $19.95    492959    Canada    VQA Ontario    Vidal    11.7%
-FIOL    FIOL Prosecco DOC    n/a    $16.25     394577    Italy    Veneto    Glera    11%
-ANGELS GATE WINERY    SHINE    TM 2017 $19.95  VQA Niagara    MUSCAT    11%    WINERY
-Mionetto Prestige Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut    Brut    NV    $16.95    483339    Veneto 11%
-Henkell Trocken    Trocken    NV    $14.95    122689    Germany 11%
-Henkell Rose    Rose    NV    $14.95    203125    Germany    11%       
-Creekside Estate Winery    Backyard Bubbly    2018    $30    398628    Canada    Niagara    Sauvignon Blanc    13.5%
-Segura Viudas    Brut Reserva Cava     NV    $15.95    216960    Spain    Penedes    50% Macabeo, 35% Parellada, 15% Xarel-lo    12%
-Villa Sandi    Prosecco Il Fresco DOC, Treviso    NV    $15.95    394387    Italy    Treviso    Glera    11%   
-Villa Sandi     Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore Extra Dry    NV    $20.95    Italy    Treviso    Glera    11%    Consignment    Profile Wine Group
-PondView Estate Winery Ltd    Bella Terra Sparkling Brut    2018    $24.95    n/a    Canada    Ontario    Vidal Blanc     12%   
-Between the Lines    Outset Sparkling Vidal    NV    $4.65 [200mL cans]    493304    Ontario    [Niagara]    Vidal    10%       
The Food: breads, biscuits and water, almonds, olives, cheese.
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 95.


Sunday, December 1, 2019

The November 10 2019 Event: Monforte Cheese CSA Carrot & Stick Party

The Date and Time: Sunday November 10, 2019  10AM to 4PM
The Event: Monforte Cheese CSA Carrot & Stick Party
The Venue: Gladstone Hotel
The Target Audience: cheese lovers, especially Monforte CSA backers with vouchers, and those curious about a CSA and what it does.
The Availability/Catalogue: The carrot was the party, the stick was the enticing CSA offer (for details see There was a current outage of sheep's milk cheese, but plenty of goat/cow/water buffalo milk cheeses. Sheep will be back by Christmas.
The Quote/Background: The event was in honour of Ruth Klahsen and her family who have been hard at work creating a new CSA for farms, restaurants and cheese artisans, among others. There was a CSA sign up table and spaces for those with cheese vouchers to purchase newly developed cheeses. Community Supported Agriculture is a vital concern these days, with support for the farms by pre-paying for food. Once the farm knows what money is available, then it can go ahead and buy seed and equipment and staff. I'm a member of Monforte, Fiddlehead Farm, and Kendal Hills Farm. These are unusual in that Monforte is cheese (but with some local sausages too), Fiddlehead has a Winter CSA for many root and cruciferous veggies, Kendal has farmed game such as partridge, cornish hens, and boar. Monforte's CURRENT fresh cheeses include Fromage Frais  (a creamy cow cream cheese in a french style), Plain Jane (chevre, creamy and tangy, hooped and hung in a traditional way, Lemon Succor (chevre but with lemon oil and zest), Elsie (chevre with a tangy nut- free pesto), Morita (chevre with chipotles and lime together), Water Buffalo or Goat Fresco, and Halloumi from Water buffalo. Water buffalo is also available as yogurt, as is goat yogurt. There are different styles of soft cheeses (goat feta, cow's milk taleggio, goat Camembert-style, cow Camembert-style, water buffalo with pink peppercorns, water buffalo piacere, different ashed cheeses), cheddars, tommes, blues – an endless parade! Sheep will be added back where appropriate for Christmas.
The Wines: There was a cash bar, I had a Quail's Gate Chardonnay.
The Food: this was the highlight of the event since the intent was to create a demand for CSA membership and show off what Monforte can do with its cheeses. The Gladstone's chef prepared lemon ravioli with Monforte Lemon Succor (a creamy cheese with goat's milk) and also a focaccia with Monforte fresh mozzarella. Maizel Tortilleria was there, showing off their freshly made tamales of beans and Monforte cheese curds, with their famous chocolate mole sauce. Chef Taylor (The Chase) and Luke Kennedy gave us pulled pork with goat cheese on a freshly cooked wheat pita, along with Moroccan spices. Ruth was serving large samples of cheeses on ryebread, and running a constant patter about CSA developments and the cheese industry.
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 92.


Saturday, November 30, 2019

The November 7 Event: Taste Napa Valley: a celebration of excellence trade tasting

The Date and Time: Thursday November 7, 2019  2:30 PM to 5 PM
The Event: Taste Napa Valley: a celebration of excellence trade tasting
The Venue: ROM
The Target Audience: wine trade in afternoon, consumers at night
The Availability/Catalogue: wines are available in the LCBO distribution system. The spiral catalogue was sturdy and easy to use with the basics of names and agencies.
The Quote/Background: this is probably the most professional and sophisticated of all the Toronto trade tastings, with serious FBMs and sommeliers.
The Wines: I did not try every wine. I tasted most of the Cabernets and the Chardonnays. I was impressed by the chardonnays; many exceeded the Sonoma profile of greatness.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Black Stallion Poseidon Chardonnay 2017 Los Carneros $79.95  Select
-Cain Concept The Benchland Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Napa  Rogers
-Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2016 Napa   Rogers
-Clos Pegase Hommage Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Napa   Azureau
-Frank Family Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Rutherford   AbV Group
-Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Rutherford  $200 Breakthru Beverage Canada
-Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 2014 Napa $68 Vintages [my personal fave of the day]
-Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Napa  Rogers
-Groth Vineyards and Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 Oakville $224.95  The Vine Agency
-Groth Vineyards and Winery Hill Family Chardonnay 2018 Napa $64.95  The Vine Agency
-Hoopes Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville 2014    Wilson Wine and Spirits
-Keenan Winery Chardonnay 2017 Spring Mountain District $50  Profile
-Keenan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Napa  Profile
-Louis M. Martini Lot 1 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Napa   EJ Gallo
-Palmaz Vineyards Amalia Chardonnay 2017 Napa  Profile
-Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Napa   Rogers
-Revana Family Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 St Helena   Le Sommelier
-Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Noirs Sparkling 2015 Napa  The Vine Agency
-Schramsberg Vineyards J. Schram Sparkling 2010 Napa  $169  The Vine Agency
-Shafer Vineyards Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay 2016 Los Carneros  Rogers
-Silenus Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2015 Napa   Carpe Vinum
-Silenus Winery Chardonnay 2018 Oak Knoll District Napa  $60   Carpe Vinum
-St.Supery Estate Vineyards Elu Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Napa   Von Terra
-William Hill Estate Chardonnay 2016 Napa   EJ Gallo
-Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Calistoga   Rogers
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Artesa Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2016 Los Carneros   A Peller
-Black Stallion Bucephalus Red Blend 2015 Napa $199   Select
-Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Napa  A Peller
-Frank Family Chardonnay 2017 Los Carneros  AbV Group
-Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Napa  Breakthru Beverage Canada
-Freemark Abbey Bosche Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Rutherford  Breakthru Beverage Canada
-Frog's Leap Chardonnay 2017 Napa  Rogers
-Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Oakville  The Vine Agency
-Pine Ridge Collines Vineyard Chardonnay 2017 Carernos  A Peller
-Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Stags Leap District  A Peller
-William Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Napa   EJ Gallo
-World's End If Six Was Nine Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Napa $100  Profile
-World's End Rocksteady Red Blend 2014 Napa $80   Profile
The Food: Daniel et Daniel with their superb smoked duck breast and meat platters, cheese platters, veggies, breads and dips. But no pate, unfortunately.
The Downside: I wished the catalogue had had a listing of overall prices, but each agency had to be asked.
The Upside: I felt comfortable talking about the wines and using the spittoons.
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 90


Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

CHEESE BOARDS TO SHARE; how to create a stunning cheese board for any occasion, by Thalassa Skinner

CHEESE BOARDS TO SHARE; how to create a stunning cheese board for any occasion (Ryland Peters and Small, 2019, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-148-9 $19.95 USD hard covers) is by cheese professional and cheese educator Thalassa Skinner. This is a short introduction to the "world of cheeses" plus material on how to create 25 themed cheese boards with international cheeses. Themes include wine, beer and cocktail pairings, as well as kids, picnics, and camping trips. Each cheese has a detailed description and some suggested global alternatives if you cannot find an elusive cheese. She has accompaniment ideas and many tips and tricks, including a bibliography of books and magazines and websites for further reading. A typical board is the Alpine, an all Swiss cheese board. Four cheeses are described, 12 more are listed as substitutes, and she gives us the idea of doing more regional boards for other countries. Suggested "boughten" accompaniments for the Swiss board include rye bread toasts, salted almonds, pickled cornichons, and fresh apricots. Also, she has a tomato and smoked pepper jam for you to make from her recipe. I would have liked an all-blue cheese board for the sake of comparison, but she does have one board with two blues on it. In fact, cheese boards can also be instructive if there is the opportunity to compare and contrast very similar cheeses. Indeed, a few days ago I prepared a cheese board with four different Tommes (circular round shape, earthy gray-brown edible rind, and intensely nutty taste, made from skimmed milk: hence low-fat, high-protein) from four separate milk sources (water buffalo, cow, sheep, goat) from the same Ontario dairy – Monforte. Hey – that way I created a three-fold cheese board of regionality, Tommes, and milk sources! The book could have been improved if it had also used more metric in the recipes to include equivalents to teaspoons and tablespoons, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 90.


Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.


NOVEMBER 19, 2019
By Dean Tudor, Ryerson Journalism Professor Emeritus and Gothic
Epicures Writing, (World Wine Watch Newsletter).
          Twitter: @gothicepicures
There are always many new food and wine books out there for people who have picky tastes!! What to choose? I have cast about for material and have come up with a decent selection of materials published in 2019 to satisfy any pocketbook, any host, and any friend or relative. All books and book-like materials that are listed here are RECOMMENDED for gifting, and can be purchased at a discount via Amazon.Ca, Chapters.Indigo.Ca (with free delivery on a total purchase of over $25 or so), or even The Book Depository in Guernsey UK (free delivery and no GST).
Price Alert: Books are in CAD, but because of USD fluctuations, all prices may vary.
A. Art/travel/restaurant cookbooks might be some of the best books to give a loved one (or to yourself, since you are your own best loved one). Most may cost you an arm and a leg. Books for the coffee table have their place in the gift scheme: just about every such book is only bought as a gift! And are often perused first by the donor (you). Don't let the prices daunt you. Such books are available at a discount from online vendors. Because of the "economy", not too many pricey food and wine books were released this year. Herewith, and in random order:
--PASTA GRANNIES; THE OFFICIAL COOKBOOK (Hardie Grant Books, 2019, 256 pages, $42.99 hardbound) is by Vicky Bennison who created the YouTube channel "Pasta Grannies" five years ago. In her cookbook (and through the videos), she has a mission to save traditions and share skills, one Granny Nonna at a time, As 85-year old Lucia says, "when you have good ingredients you don't have to worry about cooking. They do the work for you." Everyone has their own special recipe and Bennison is capturing as many as she can before the nonne pass on.  While the cookbook is arranged by type of food (nuts, veggies, pulses, gnocchi, seafood, meat, brodo, ravioli), it is basically about the great divide of dairy (butter, cheese) of the north and the tomato of the south. Diversity is the name of the game. Profiles are given as well as background the the many kitchens, so it is more than just a cookbook. These are the secrets of Italy's best home cooks, and it is a wonderful gift for a hostess/holiday time.
--BINGING WITH BABISH (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019, 336 pages, $43 hardbound) is by Andrew Rea, a chef and filmmaker. He's created the eponymous YouTube channel, and this is the resulting complementary cookbook...except it also involves storytelling as it relates to 100 recipes recreated from fave movies and TV shows (such as Homer Simpson's Space-Age Out-of-This-World Moon Waffles, or The Godfather's Cannoli, or shrimp gumbo from Forrest Gump).  He's got details about the cooking show itself, plus a range of photography and some memoir-material.  Outstanding are such classic dishes as the timpano from Big Night,  prison gravy from Goodfellas,  and big kahuna burger from Pulp Fiction. The ultimate food lovers or film lovers.
--BINGE-WATCHING EATS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2019, 160 pages $19.95 hardbound) is a publisher's production, with themed snacks and drinks  for your next binge TV watch, as pulled together by Katherine Bebo and Julia Charles from  32 cookbook authors in the RP & S stable of writers. It's arranged by theme: lawyer shows, sports, medical shows, police, murder, etc. 60 party recipes for TV shows.
--SOUTH; essential recipes and new explorations (Artisan Books, 2019,  376 pages, $60 hardcover) is by Sean Brock, once chef of Husk restaurants. Now he will have his own place in Nashville (working name: The Kudzu Complex, serving Appalachian food and a tasting menu). His first cookbook "Heritage" was both  a Beard and Child winner in 2015. He's also been a subject on The Mind of a Chef and Chef's Table TV series. Here Brock goes all out with heirloom and indigenous Appalachian ingredients. 125 recipes cover boiled peanuts, fried green tomatoes, she-crab soup, grilled catfish, hoppin' john, pot of greens, dirty rice, cornbread, buttermilk pie, BBQ, plus a Country Ham, Road Map. With an eye on international sales, there are also metric conversion charts. It has already been named one of the best new cookbooks of 2019 by a dozen publications.
--SHUK; from market to table, the heart of Israeli home cooking (Artisan Books, 2019, 368 pages, $53 hardbound) is by Einat Admony and Janna Gur.  Admony is chef-owner of three NYC restaurants; Gur lives in Tel Aviv and has authored some 40 other cookbooks. "Shuk" is an Israeli market and usually features  Mediterranean culinary crossroad food, a sort of cultural melting pot. The food here is flavourful, and comprises salad for breakfast, many cooking techniques for veggies, rich stews and soups, couscous and chicken, liberal use of lemon and oil, fresh herbs and lots of fish. These are 140 home comfort food preps, with tons of tips and on-site photos of the shuk tour of Israel. Included are Ethiopian chicken, Yemenite malawach sficha, crispy za'atar, green shakshuka, and Jerusalem bagels.
--NEW ORLEANS CELEBRATIONS (Gibbs Smith, 2019, 192 pages, $30 hardbound) is by Kevin Belton, a local chef with a PBS New Orleans cooking show. It's detailed, with sections on specific foods such as oysters, gumbo, crawfish, boudin, catfish, hand pies, jambalaya, rice, blue crabs, fried chicken, beignet, shrimp. This is followed by celebrations for the BBQ, the jazz festival, Bastille Day, Oktoberfest, and the cultures of Greece and Sicily and Latin America with explorations of neighbourhoods. Quite a nice package, well-laid out, with useful directions.
--MADE IN MEXICO THE COOKBOOK; classic and contemporary recipes from Mexico City (Rizzoli, 2019,  272 pages   $55 hardbound) is by Danny Mena, chef at NYC's Hecho en Dumbo, with great endorsements by Rick Bayless and Richard Sandoval. It's a flavourable and colourful work of preps and travel about Mena's fave diners, fondas, loncherias, taco stands, and restaurants in Mexico City, with recipes from the locals plus his own takes. This guidebook covers the city's dining and cooking activities, how the natives drink and eat, but with also a lot of relevant commentary. It's useful for any trip to Mexico City, with the caveat that the tome weighs about  1.25 kilos.
--AMERICAN SFOGLINO; a master class in handmade pasta (Chronicle Books, 2019, 272 pages, $50 hardbound) is by Evan Funke, an American sfoglino (maker of fresh pasta sheets called sfoglia) who rigourously trained with Bologna's Alessandra Spisni (eight-time world champion pasta maker) and Japan's Kosaku Kawamura. He's opened many restaurants in LA, but managed to find the time to offer this massive work which has a powerful log-rolling endorsement from TEN other chefs, many of whom  are Beard winners. It's arranged by 15 pasta shapes, such as tagliatelle, strichetti, strozzapreti, and gnocchi di ricotta. Each section has stories, recipes for sauces and accompaniments. Lots of full-colour photos of techniques for preparing bowls, plates and stuffed pastas. A great tome for pasta lovers.
--THE IMMIGRANT COOKBOOK (Interlink Books, 2018,  224 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is a collection of recipes and stories edited by Leyla Moushabeck, with about 100 different contributors. Each prep section gives a recipe and the story behind the recipe. Many of the sources behind each dish are professional chefs, and their individual stories are related, from childhood to food success. It has been endorsed by top chefs  – Ottolenghi, Waters, Deborah Madison, David Lebovitz, and the late Anthony Bourdain. The publisher will donate $5 from the sale of each cookbook to the ACLU.  It's arranged from apps to desserts, and any of them certainly do beat the presidential mac and cheeseburger. 'Nuff said.
--TORTELLINI AT MIDNIGHT (Hardie Grant Books, 2019, 256 pages,  $35 USD hardbound) is by Emiko Davies, who is of mixed heritage but married a Tuscan man and lives in Italy. These are heirloom preps from four generations deep and many miles wide from Taranto in Puglia to Turin and then Tuscany in the north. It has a lot of memoir material, the food is comforting, and the photography a traveller's dream. There are great stories here for every dish. It is all arranged by one of the three regions followed by a series of  seven menus for larger holiday events (New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, All Saints' Day, etc.), all with page references to the preps themselves.  Recipes are in both metric and avoirdupois. Nifty gift package.
--BALADI PALESTINE (Interlink Books, 2019, 256 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is by Joudie Kalla, a UK professional chef who also wrote the cookbook "Palestine on a Plate". "Baladi" means "my home, my land". Here she takes us on a culinary journey through her homeland with rare Palestinian family recipes reflecting the diverse landscapes and seasons. It's arranged by geographic feature, which chapters on river and sea (salmon, sardines, sea bass, red mullet, monkfish, sea bream, squid), hills and orchards (lime, pomegranate, mango, lemon, ice cream, pastries), the farm (lamb, poultry), the earth (potatoes, beets, zucchini, fava beans, shallots), the markets (coffee, eggs, turmeric, eggplants, chili). Each dish has a story. Excellent photography too.
--BAKING WITH KIM-JOY: cute and creative bakes to make you smile (Hardie Grant Quadrille, 2019, 176 pages, $34.99 hardbound) is by Kim-Joy, a finalist on two UK TV baking competitions. It's a spiffy, colourful work that is essentially a guide to decorating fun cakes, profiteroles, cookies, breads, macaroons. These are really imaginative designs: some are easy, some are complicated, all are enjoyable.  Of course there is much material on layouts, frostings, icings,  and other decorations. The basic requirement is merely a steady hand. She opens with an "easy" pistachio and cardamom cake with mango-saffron jam, followed by a vegan chocolate cake with praline – and then begins to move on to other enjoyments such as "pigfiteroles in mud".  All the photos are very bright and colourful, and all the ingredients are listed in both metric and imperial measurements.
--THE VIBRANT LIFE: eat well, be well (Chronicle Books, 2019, 240 pages, $42.95 hardbound) is by Amanda Haas, a cookbook author who is also a former culinary director for Williams-Sonoma.  She's got recipes, meditations, and guidance on ways to well-being, from acupuncture through meditation, for the midlife and beyond person. The 60 recipes emphasize self-care, and include basics for salsa verde, preserved lemon gremolata, and cucumber salad. It's all arranged by "best breakfasts", veggies and fruits, selected meats and seafoods, and useful sweets. Plus about 14 items for the mind-body-spirit.
--CALGARY EATS: signature recipes from the city's best restaurants and bars (Figure.1, 2019,  233 pages, $38.99 hardbound) has been edited by Gail Norton and Karen Ralph, who both edited the companion CALGARY COOKS. The is the ninth work in the Canadian series of urban food and eating from Figure.1; others included Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. It's a good second sampling of the cuisine scene in Calgary, with preps from  Alloy Dining, Cassis Bistro, Cilantro, Knifewear, Market (duck confit pot pie), and others. Great food styling photos, as in all the rest of the series. And: there are metric conversion charts!!
--WE ARE LA COCINA (Chronicle Books, 2019, 288 pages, $36 hardbound) is a collection of recipes in pursuit of the American dream. "La Cocina" ("kitchen" in Spanish) is an organization that promotes foodways from all over the world. It helps to develop food products, restaurants, food trucks, and food stall concepts. It's a group which lobbies for inclusion and equity for entrepreneurial women of colour and recent immigrants to the USA; all of the royalties go back into La Cocina to support new entrepreneurs. There are 75 recipes here and stories from 40 successful alumni of the kitchen incubator. These different foods (momos, albondigas, onigiri, et al) are accompanied by 150 photos by Eric Wolfinger.
--ANDALUSIA (Hardie Grant Books, 2019, 256 pages, $57 hardbound) is by Jose Pizarro, who owns three restaurants in London called (wait for it):  Jose, Pizarro, and Jose Pizzaro. It's a good collection of local cuisine and preps from Seville and other places within the Spanish region by the sea. He's got some memoirish material plus lots of photos from Emma Lee. It's divided into 4 main sections of meat, fish, veggies, and desserts, plus some Andalusian menus with a timeline of work routines  for the days before. This is followed by a listing of places to eat in the area. Loaded with photos.
--PROVENCAL (Pavilion, 2019, 256 pages, $47 hardbound) is by Alex Jackson, owner of Sardine in London UK, which centres on Provence and the surrounding Mediterranean area. So this is Southern French cooking with an emphasis on fresh veggies, herbs, olive oil and breads. And it is seasonally arranged from Spring through Winter, opening up with socca with artichokes and closing with the grand bouffe of pot-au-feu. It's a charmer of a collection of preps, centred around rusticity. But it is hard to find at a commercial restaurant even in Provence. As the author says, "short of knocking on farmhouse doors, it's difficult to piece it all together." You have to rely on books and do it yourself. So this work is a good start to begin with, and then move on to Richard Olney and Robert Carrier.  Nicely laid out with line drawings. Pissaladiere  anyone?
--PROVENCE: the cookbook (Interlink Books, 2019, 208 pages, $43.95 hardbound) is by Caroline Rimbert Craig, whose fruit farmer heritage shines forth in this collection of recipes from the French Mediterranean. There is much detail (and photos) on how the locals eat and their customs over the years. The Provencal larder is explored, with its olive oils, herbs and aromatics, garlic, salads, preserved anchovies, wines, breads, cheeses, salt cod, nuts, and red wine vinegar. The contents are arranged by season, from Spring through Winter. Some faves of mine appear: salade de feves et d'asperges, pissaladiere, tarte de blettes, and the wonderful sandwich des cyclistes! The range is from accras de morue through soupe au pistou through tartines de truffes. Another great too for the armchair traveller and/or the home chef.
--PARIS FOR FOOD LOVERS (Hardie Grant Travel, 2017, 2019, 176 pages, $28.99 paperbound) is by Elin Unnes. It was originally published in Swedish, but here it has been updated for the 2019 English edition. It's a guide to the new Paris, the 11th arrondissement (natural-wine restaurants, divey bars, market stalls, alley lanes for unmarked restaurants, and more). Each has a photo and brief description, plus the deets. She also covers other areas such as the 10th, 12th, and 20th. Maps are included. Really an interesting work, written in conversational style.
--ROME FOR FOOD LOVERS (Hardie Grant Travel, 2018, 2019, 176 pages, $28.99 paperbound) is by Peter Loewe. It was originally published in Swedish, but here it has been updated for the 2019 English edition. It's a more traditional organization, with chapters on  different types of places to eat at, food stores, the outskirts of town, and the avoidance of tourist traps. Each has a photo and brief description, plus the deets. Maps are included. Really an interesting work, written in conversational style.
--TOKYO FOR FOOD LOVERS (Hardie Grant Travel, 2018, 2019, 176 pages, $28.99 paperbound) is by Jonas Cramby. It was originally published in Swedish, but here it has been updated for the 2019 English edition. It's a personal guide arranged by type of food served: ramen, tsukemen, udon, tempera, yakitori, curry, biru, gyoza, tonkatsu, sushi, and izakaya. Plus locations of fast food, street food and bars (beers and sakes). Each has a photo and brief description, plus the deets. Maps are included. Really an interesting work, written in conversational style.
--CATALAN FOOD (Clarkson Potter, 2018, 273 pages, $40 hardbound) is by Daniel Olivella, a Catalan chef who opened Catalan cuisine restaurants in San Francisco and Texas. His collaborator is Caroline Wright. Catalan cuisine is one of the culinary crossroads: passing through were Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Jews, and others. There is lots of material and photos about Catalonia and its food, followed by recipes arranged by menu, beginning with small plates (pica pica), veggies (verdur4s i legums), paella, seafood, meats (del corral), pork, breads and desserts. A very useful armchair travel tool with many Mediterranean dishes.
--ETHIOPIA (Interlink Books, 2019, 224 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is by  Yohanis Gebreyesus, chef-owner of Antica in Addis Ababa and host of a weekly food program on EBS, Ethiopia's  national television network. It's an impressive work on Ethiopian cuisine, with many recipes and traditions noted from the Horn of Africa. Its cuisine has been influenced by a religious  mix of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Typical dishes include dor wat (chicken stewed with berber spice), siga ribs (fried beef), asa shorba (spiced fish soup), gomen (collard greens with giner and garlic), azifa (green lentil salad), dinich alicha (potatoes and carrots in onion turmeric sauce. Of course, the tome opens with
injera and flatbreads, found in every global Ethiopian restaurant, followed by seasonings, soup to nuts, through to drinks. Every prep is geographically located and has a story as well as terrific photos. Where appropriate there are thoughts from local artisans.
--TOKYO STORIES (Hardie Grant Books, 2019, 256 pages, $50 hardbound) is by Tim Anderson. It's subtitle is " a Japanese cookbook" . It is more – it is a tour through the various styles of food outlets in Tokyo: department store food halls in the basement; top floor hotel restaurants; noodle shops; sushi bars; yakitori shacks; convenience stores; vending machine foods;  and street foods in general. You're going to find cheesy fried chicken, gyoza, ramen, curries, udon, onigirl, and others. He's got 80 recipes with his memoir-like stories and "on location" photography. It's arranged by food type (street, local, national, global, modern) after a primer on depachika (Japanese ingredients). Good fun for anyone who loves Japanese food.
--ANDALUZ (Interlink Books, 2019, 304 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is by Fiona Dunlop, food and travel writer and photographer who has also written The North African Kitchen and Mexican Modern. Here, wit an endorsement from Yotam Ottolenghi she now covers the food, history, and culture of the south part of Spain by the coast. Moorish rule of nearly eight centuries has created a distinctly Arabian/Berberian influence on the food, with ingredients such as couscous, rice, eggplant, oranges, olives, apricots, marzipan, and a wide range of spices. With material on markets and both chef and home cook profiles, Dunlop gives us a pretty determined travel/food look at a specific region, from Granada (east) to Cordoba and Seville (south). Do try her mezquita salad (eggplant, tomato and olives)  or mozarabic albondigas in almond and saffron sauce. There's a listing of recommended restaurants, a bibliography, and two indexes to the recipes (by course and by ingredient).  And, of course, there are her own  photographs.
--FOOD OF THE ITALIAN SOUTH (Clarkson Potter, 2019, 256 pages, $40 hardbound) is by Katie Parla, an American Rome-based food and beverage journalist and author of the IACP award winner, "Tasting Rome" (2016). Here she moves on "south" to Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise and Puglia in a travel journey of classic and lost dishes of tomato-based pasta-heavy Italian food. Each rustic recipe has a cultural story to tell, and Parla does it well in, um, parlaying it with insights. The arrangement is traditional, from antipasti through dolci with a section on making your own amari and vermouths, and concludes with a bibliography, a resources list, and conversion charts. There is a whole section on the wonderful carrati con ragu di castrato (mutton sauce in winter) and carrati con ricotta e noci (cheese and walnut sauce in summer).
--FROM THE LAND OF NIGHTINGALES & ROSES (Interlink Books, 2019, 318 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is by Maryam Sinaiee, an Iranian-born political analyst but now full-time food blogger of Iranian food. It's casual home cooking of Persian dishes,  arranged by season, beginning with Spring. Food history and culture are also covered, along with her own food styling photography and historical photos. Each season introduces memoir material about Iranian life while the preps themselves have more historical and detailed instructions. Each dish has a local name, such as kotlet for beef and potato fritters, Lamb preps include braised shanks, ground meat kebabs, sweet and sour lamb, lamb and eggplant stew, lamb and dried plum stew, rice with lamb and green beans, lamb stew with dried limes, and other variations. It all concludes with a glossary.
--BLACK SEA (Quadrille, 2018, 280 pages, $50 hardbound) is by Caroline Eden, an inveterate traveller who gives us a hefty tome that is part travelogue and part  cookbook. It's the tale of Odessa, Istanbul, and Trabzon. Covered are Bessarabia (65% of which is Moldova), Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey – as they border on the Black Sea. So it is a commentary on local foods, and embraces memoir material on the Jewish tables of Odessa, fisherwomen of Bulgaria, and White Russians in Istanbul. Of particular interest is the food of Trabzon (Trebizond)  -- when did you last see a Trabzon cookbook?  She gives us extensive food and cultural notes along with preps such as frontline pilaf, Trabzon kaygana with anchovies and herbs, bebe cake, Sumela brunch,  and apricot and cinnamon hosaf.
--FELIDIA; recipes from my flagship restaurant (Appetite by Random House, 2019,  246 pages, $42 hardbound) is by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, her Chef Fortunato Nicotra, and her daughter Tanya Bastianich Manuali who has also co-authored several cookbooks with Lidia. Felidia is one of the top Italian restaurants in North America, and it is augmented by Lidia's empire of entertainment production units (principally her PBS shows), her other restaurants, her prodigious output of cookbooks, and her food line. The upscale preps here come from her flagship restaurant, and include such oft-requested items as polenta crackers, carrot spread, eggplant flan with tomato coulis, capon broth with passatelli, gnudi, and a range of risottos and pastas. Not to mention main courses and sides. This is a well-developed cookbook for the Italian food lover.
B. And how about gift books for the beverage drinker? Try –
--FANCY AF COCKTAILS; drink recipes from a couple of professional drinkers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019, 208 pages, $35.99  hardbound) is by  Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval. It's the perfect gift for millennials: a loud, brassy tome with lots of colour and photos of both the drinks and the authors. With plenty of personal data too. The work has four main sections: classy, trashy, shots and recovery – drinks for all occasions with bourbon, Champagne, gin, Cointreau, margaritas, rum, vodka, whiskeys and more. Perhaps best taken in small doses, but it is a readable and affordable guide.
--THE CURIOUS BARTENDER'S WHISKEY ROAD TRIP; a coast to coast tour...US...(Ryland Peters & Small, 2019, 384 pages, $34.95 hardbound) is by Tristan Stephenson, who has a whole range of  "The Curious Bartender's" books. There is a road trip map listing some 44 distilleries from California, Washington, Texas, and of course Kentucky and Tennessee. There are lots of colour photos, play lists for the auto trip, and a description of each business (along with tasting notes) including what to watch out for.  Oh, and there are some nifty cocktail recipes. An absolutely perfect oversized tome for the Bourbon, rye, and whiskey lover.
--ADVENTURES ON THE WINE ROUTE (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988, 2013, 2019, 276 pages, $25 softbound) is by Kermit Lynch. It's his wine buyer's guide of France, originally published in 1988 but with a 2013 addition of  a 33 page epilogue, a 2013 addition of "25 most memorable bottles of wines", and a 2019 affordable paperback reissue perfect for gifting. It's a classic work for wine lovers, especially for French wine lovers. It's a highly influential look at the wine trade as it is a record of Lynch's buying patterns (he was an importer: these are his notes).
--LONELY PLANET'S GLOBAL DISTILLERY TOUR (Lonely Planet, 2019, 264 pages, $26 hardbound) is from the publisher Lonely Planet  with contributions from over three dozen writers. It;s a guide to tasting whisky, gin, bourbon and other spirits at the world's best distilleries and bars. Over 30 countries are covered, with regional drinks from Canada (10 pages), USA, Mexico, Japan, the UK, and New Zealand. There are local itineraries that recommend top sights and experiences, and a special section that showcases the world's best cocktails. 
--THE ULTIMATE SCRATCH & SNIFF GUIDE TO LOVING BEER (Flatiron Books, 2019, 12 boards, $28.99 hardbound) is by Richard Betts. Rotem Raffe did the artwork. Together, with deft illustrations and sniffing they do a good job in breaking down the ingredients, the science, and the processes behind how beer is made and enjoyed. They claim that with this reference item the reader will have the tools to make informed decisions. A fun work of art.
--FINE CIDER (Dog 'n' Bone, 2019, 176 pages, $27.95  hardbound) is by Felix Nash, a cider merchant who looks at the history, the styles, the apple varieties, and the processes of cider-making, He's also got material on cider-producing regions, cider and food matches, and a great list of where to start with the bucket list of ciders to try. Styles are important (I love cider from Normandy or Brittany), but these are dependent on the varieties available.  There is an art to blending and to using wild yeasts. Cidermaking is a  lot like winemaking, substituting apples for grapes and finishing with a lower alcohol content, usually at the top end of a beer level, say 5 – 8% ABV.  There's the French style I like, usually at 4% ABV. There is also Pet Nat (petillant naturel) , ice cider, still cider, and Champagne method. A good too for those beginning to find their way into cider.
--BAR CART STYLE; creating super-chic cocktail stations (Ryland Peters & Small, 2019, 128 pages, $19.95 hardbound) has been styled by Emily Henson. It is basically how to put together a bar cart that makes a statement in its own right for iconic cocktails and other alcoholic drinks. Carts are from the Art Deco and Jazz Age period, but they are important simply because they are mobile and free-up counter space. The bar basics are here, equipment is minimal as is glassware, and there are some suggested recipes such as blackberry bellini, mai tai, jalisco flower, dill acquavit, and the Negroni. A great inexpensive gift for the millennial.
C. Perhaps some food and drink reference books? Such as:
--THE SIDE DISH BIBLE (America's Test Kitchen, 2019, 564 pages, $45 hardcovers) is an affordable look at 1001 great recipes for every salad, veggie, rice, grain, fruit, and bean dish you might need to accompany a main dish – right from a turkey down to a meatball.  The only thing missing is fresh meat as a garnish, save for bacon and pancetta (with over 50 preps between them). There are plenty of tips and advice to help the harried cook/chef to easily find a perfect matching side dish for any occasion. There's 10-minute Brussels sprouts, cauliflower salad, creamy farrotto (farro risotto), potato galette. And it is a perfect cookbook for those who actually enjoy a meal of side dishes (like me). One of the highlights of the holiday gift parade.
--THE BEST OF AMERICA'S TEST KITCHEN; best recipes, equipment reviews, and tastings 2020 (America's Test Kitchen, 2019, 326 pages, $45 hardbound) is a group effort from the PBS television show. It comes out in late summer but is meant for the next year:  in this case, 2020. So all material here is pretty well is written up by the spring of 2019. This is a" best of the best" collection, active since 2007. It's arranged by course, from starters/soups/salads through veggies, pasta/pizza/panini, meat, poultry, seafood, breads, and desserts – with stops along the way for sides, breakfast and brunch. There are concluding sections on test kitchen resources, nutritional info, and conversion equivalents. Quite a lot packed into a handy package, and excellent value (particular for the buying guides and the technique photo displays).
--YOU ARE WHAT YOUR GRANDPARENTS ATE: what you need to know about nutrition, experience, epigenetics & the origins of chronic disease. (Robert Rose, 2019, 320 pages, $37.95 paperbound) is by long time food author Judith Finlayson who also writes about personal well-being and women's history. She provides an up-to-date global overview of the science linking one's experience as a fetus with the development of chronic illness later in life, and the possibility that one will pass on lifestyle choices to future generations. Epigenetics is the connection between our genes and  our environment: the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the lifestyle we choose.  It's a good basis for those millennials who try to understand where they are from and where they are going. Nature and nurture are intertwined, and early life experiences have an effect on diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancers.  She does a good job in making hard science accessible and readable. Something to think about over the holiday seasons.
--SPICE (DK Books, 2018, 224 pages, $32 hardbound)  is a publisher's reference work on spices. The scientific aspect has been written or overseen by Dr. Stuart Farrimond, science and health writer, while British food writer Laura Nickoll co-ordinated the non-science content of the spice profiles (the bulk of the tool). The 120 pages dedicated to profiles divides all spices into phenols, terpenes, acids, aldehydes, pyrazines, and compounds, with sub-divisions. Each of the 60 profiles is connected to one or more of the 40 regional guides presented. There are also 65 top-notch recipes. Eight other food writers, mainly British, worked on the profiles, the regions, and the recipes. Great team work for a food reference tool!
--WHERE TO DRINK WINE (Quadrille, 2018, 288 pages, $42.99 hardbound) is by Chris Losh, editor of Imbibe (UK). It's a guide to the world's must-visit wineries. It you've got the big bucks to travel, there is enough here for a lifetime (but start early). He opens with France and moves through Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Greece, North America (including both three places in the Okanagan Valley and nine in the Niagara Peninsula), South America, South Africa, the Antipodes, plus China, Georgia and Lebanon. Oh, if only they weren't so scattered!!  Basically, it is a descriptive work for each wine region with some commentary on those welcoming wineries such as, for Champagne, Pommery, Taittinger, Mailly, Moet & Chandon, and more. He gives us multiple reasons for each visit but no tasting notes. There is much to be seen at each winery, such as visitor centres, museums, art work, knowledgeable staff, etc. It's a must have reference tool for the bucket list!
--THE CIDER INSIDER (Quadrille Books, 2018, 224 pages, $26 hardbound) is by Susanna Forbes. It is a fairly comprehensive guide to over 100 international craft ciders and their global styles. It's arranged by country, with the UK getting the lion's share followed by France, and then Spain, Europe, North America, and then the antipodes. There are glossaries and flavour guides throughout, with a good bibliography of resources. There is not much for Canada (four from Quebec and one from BC) which is probably as it should be since cider production was not made legal in Canada until the 1970s. Its main contribution is the glorious "ice cider" made like ice wine. Each company gets a detailed description with deets on location and apples used, and where to go next for more in that style. Currently, it is a pretty unique reference tool, well worth reading.
--ITALY'S NATIVE WINE GRAPE TERROIRS (University of California Press, 2019, 376 pages, $70 hardbound) is by Ian D'Agata, the world's leading expert on Italian wine. In 2014 he authored NATIVE WINE GRAPES OF ITALY. This current work is all about the various DOCs and DOCGs in the wine production areas of Italy's native wine grapes. Easy-to-read descriptions have easy-to-read geologic data, biotype and clonal info, followed by producer interviews and comments.  Facts and figures provide the beginnings of in-depth analysis for the terroirs that produce the great wines (Barolo, Chianti Classico, Brunello de Montalcino) to the lesser-known Ischia and Turbiana. The slightly oversized tome has double columns, so lots of information is given. It all comes complete with a glossary, a bibliography, and three indexes. A brilliant giftbook for the demanding wine lover!
D. For the more literate person, there are the histories, "memoirs", polemics  and humour of writers, chefs, and wine people. Some have called these memoirs "creative non-fiction", some with embellishments and gilding. And many of them may suffer from a lack of indexing, which makes it difficult to find what the writer said about another person or subject. But this also avoids the potential for lawsuits and disjointed noses. Nevertheless, they are rewarding to read. Who cares about poetic license? Here then are some that stood out from  this year's run, and any of them would make great gifts for the reader. Here we go, in no particular order…
--SAVE ME THE PLUMS; my Gourmet memoir (Appetite by Random House, 2019, 268 pages, $32 hardbound) is by the inspired Ruth Reichl, a great food writer with a gripping-can't-put-it-down style – just perfect for the holidays. She's been the restaurant critic for the LA Times, the NY Times, and then editor of Gourmet magazine for a ten year gig. Then the magazine shut down, primarily because of the incursion of the Internet where recipes abound. This is her story, her memoir of the glamourous, high-stakes world of magazine publishing. Under her management, Gourmet flourished as a cutting-edge food magazine, far from its stodgy beginnings. It is also the story of how Reichl grappled with the changes and how the changes affected her and then how the shutdown affected her. There are about a dozen recipes here, but one caveat: no overall index to neither the preps or the subject content.
--THE DEVIL'S DINNER (St. Martin's Press, 2018, 296 pages, $36.50 hardbound) is by Stuart Walton. It's a gastronomic and cultural history of chili peppers. He also manages to go into depth about the biological impact, beginning with Mexico and South America. Spaniards returning to Europe brought chilis back with them, and this produced piri-piri and pimientos (Iberia), paprika in Austro-Hungary, and permeated the Indian sub-continent. There is much detail here in this look, culminating with a discussion on the hotness of chilis and how it became a guy thing. Notes and a bibliography complete the work.
--WHAT MAKES A WINE WORTH DRINKING (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,  2018, 182 pages, $36 hardbound) is by Terry Theise, an importer of boutique wines from Germany, Austria and Champagne. He's also authored the title  "Reading Between the Wines" and has written wine articles for magazines. Here he concentrates on praising the sublime in wine. It's in a somewhat autobiographical tone, but he does tell us how to find and appreciate exceptional wine and how it can lead to a richer and fuller life. Just the perfect gift for the oenophile in your life. What makes a wine worth drinking is its authenticity: it's usually small-scaled artisanal wine of subtlety.  Taste matters, so that is first on the table in his tome – what does a good wine actually taste like?  Enjoy...and try also
--FRUIT FROM THE SANDS; the silk road origins of the foods we eat (University of California Press, 2019, 374 pages, $43.95  hardbound) is by Robert N. Spengler III, the Archaeobotany Laboratory Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. He's traced the history of many foods back to prehistoric Central Asia (the crossroads of the ancient world)  and the Silk Road, from where the foods moved to Europe, America, and East Asia. Covered then are apples, millet, barley, wheat, grapes, tea, legumes, rice and others,  The exchange of goods started over 5000 years ago, and the actual "organized" trade along the Silk Route can be traced back to Han Dynasty China (206 BCE). The major source of evidence are the preserved remains of plants found in archaeological sites. The Silk Road exchange (overland route) and the "accidental" Columbian exchange (maritime route) were similar attempts to get to the spices and foods of Central Asia. Fascinating reading complemented by notes and references.
--BELLA FIGURA (Appetite by Random House, 2018, 284 pages, $29.95 hardbound) tells us how to live, love, and eat the Italian way. It's by Kamin Mohammadi, a now-British journalist and broadcaster living and working outside Florence and in London. Living in Florence had changed her life, and she makes it a great spin on armchair travel. It's the "slow food" approach to life – taking the time to do things well.  Her memoir opens in January 2008 and moves through, monthly chapter by chapter, to the end of that year.  Topics include: how to taste the sweetness of life, how to celebrate being a woman, how to eat and not put on weight, and how style has nothing to do with money.  Recipes are scattered throughout, and at the end there is a summary of 21 different "rules".
--RITZ & ESCOFFIER (Clarkson Potter, 2018, 312 page, $35 hardbound) is by Luke Barr who wrote the amazing bestseller "Provence, 1970".  He deals with the hotelier Ritz and Chef Escoffier in the context of the rise of the leisure class.  In essence, he covers not just the two men but also the social aspects of the hospitality industry in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Savoy in London was the first hotel with electricity and elevators; all rooms had baths. "Toute le monde" stayed there, and Escoffier ran the first restaurant in Europe to welcome unaccompanied women. Barr covers the relationship between the two, and (after disaster and opulence) follows them to Paris  and the Hotel Ritz. Notes and sources, plus an index, are included.
--AMERICAN CUISINE AND HOW IT GOT THIS WAY (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2019. 451 pages, $53.95 hardbound) is by Paul Freedman, author of "Ten Restaurants that Changed America" . He's followed up on that earlier tome by covering more of the Colonial period up through processed industrial food, ethnic cultural diversified foods, and the farm-to-table movement. It's an ambitious too, covering regional cooking styles of the colonies and the westward evolution of the USA. His main thrust is the progression from regionality through national standardization and then variety (as a backlash). Thoughtful, interesting reading for the holidays.
--THE MUNCHY MUNCH COOKBOOK FOR KIDS (Familius, 2019, 170 pages, $28.99 spiral-bound) is by Pierre A. Lamielle, and award-winning kids' cookbook author with titles such as "Alice Eats" and "Kitchen Scraps: a humourous illustrated cookbook".  He's also competed on Top Chef Canada and Chopped Canada (which he won). Great illustrations that even adults or new cooks will enjoy. These are the essential skills and recipes every young chef should know, beginning with ten pages of "safety". That deal with hot, sharp, and germs.
--COOKING CLASS GLOBAL FEAST! (Storey Publishing, 2019, 144 pages, $28.95 spiral bound) is by Deanna F. Cook, and it is  her third work in this series meant for food adventures for kids. It's a tour of 44 ethnic dishes from around the world – there's fried bannock bread from Canada, beans on toast from the UK, soda bread from Ireland, kasha from Russia, mealie meal bread from South Africa, coconut bread from Tonga, fried rice from China, et al. There are also pop-out food passports, world language flash cards, flag stickers, infographics for taste-test explorations of fruits, breads, veggies and ice creams from around the world. Great fun for over the holidays.