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Saturday, September 26, 2009


Ten Speed Press, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-84400-604-5, $37.95 US, hard
covers) is by Theodore Kyriakou, He has worked as a chef in London, but
now organizes week-long Greek cooking courses on board a large gullet
sailing the Aegean. So this book closely follows what he teaches. Here
are 90 preps plus gastronomic tour, from breakfast to late night
coffee. Cultural history stories clearly show the differences between
and among the islands. The photography also makes this a great travel
book. Classic dishes are the traditional regional specialties. Cook's
notes precede the recipes, and detail a lot of anecdotes and local
lore. At the back, there is a calendar guide to annual festivals, very
useful if you are planning an itinerary. The book concludes with a
glossary of Greek ingredients. But there is no discussion on Greek
wines, which could have proved useful. Metric measurements are used,
but there is no table of avoirdupois equivalencies.
Audience and level of use: armchair travelers, Greek food lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: omelette with honey and
sesame seeds, bougiourdi (roast feta en papillote), mussel soup, rabbit
and peas hotpot from Halki, mosxaraki kapama (veal stew), bonito and
Santorinian sprig vine leaf rolls.
The downside to this book: somewhat overly detailed instructions.
The upside to this book: good selection of recipes.
Quality/Price Rating: 85,
4. THE SPANISH TABLE; traditional recipes and wine pairings from Spain
and Portugal (Gibbs Smith, 2009; distr. Raincoast, 224 pages, ISBN 978-
1-4236-0373-3, $30 US, hard covers) is by Steve Winston. He owns a
small chain of specialty cookware shops called The Spanish Table. Hence
the title of the book? It makes better sense to name it after its
contents, since the book also covers Portugal: try The Iberian Table.
The Portuguese are getting shorted here. And so might the cooks, since
there are very few photos of plated dishes (that's one way to cut
expenses). Logrolling comes from both Paul Wolfert and Penelope Casas.
He begins with spices, moving on to the pantry (beans, wine vinegars,
hams, cheeses, fish in tins, etc.). There are 18 recipes for the paella
pan, which includes Portuguese spaghetti and piri-piri basted game
hens; there are 23 terracota cookware recipes, which include Portuguese
bean soup, white beans with linguica, Catalan chicken, and halibut with
prawns; and there are 12 recipes for the cataplana (lots of clam
dishes). There is a good assortment of preps here, mostly two recipes
on a page. There's a chapter on entertaining with menus, having a wine
tasting, a beach paella party for 40, and a dessert wine tasting.
Avoirdupois measurements are used, and there is a metric table of
equivalents at the back. Sources for food and cookware are all Spanish
Table locations (why am I not surprised?).
Audience and level of use: armchair travelers, lovers of Spanish and
Portuguese foods.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: garbanzo and gamba paella,
lentils with Portuguese sausage and red finger peppers, Azorean beef
stew, Sephardic migas, Madeiran fried polenta cubes, egg yolk Romesco
montaditos, cardoon gratin.
The downside to this book: there are many touristy photos here, ones
that really have nothing to do with food.
The upside to this book: a large collection of Iberian food under one
set of covers.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
5. THE BRZILIAN TABLE (Gibbs Smith, 2009; distr. Raincoast, 208 pages,
ISBN 978-1-4236-0315-3, $30 US hard covers) is by Yara Castro Roberts
and Richard Roberts. Chef Yara had hosted the PBS show "Cook's Tour"
before she moved to Brazil to open a cooking school. Richard is a
professional photographer. Preps here blend indigeous foods of manioc,
cachaca, pequi, palm hearts, and palm oil with cuisines of Portugal,
Africa, Japan and the Middle East. There's a history of food culture in
Brazil, followed by a regional approach with local recipes: Amazon,
Bahia, Mina Gerais, and Cerrado. There's a chapter on elegant dishes,
and a chapter on immigrant food contributions such as okra robata,
linguica risotto, star fruit strudel. Great food pictures and local
onsite shots. There's a bibliography and a listing of resources (web
sites too). Toronto, Canada is included here, with Perola Supermarket
being listed. Avoirdupois measurements are used, and there is a metric
table of equivalents at the back.
Audience and level of use: lovers of Latin American food, armchair
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: para fish stew; tucupi duck
soup; vatapa fish chowder; okra tomato salad; tapioca muffins; collard
green farofa; beef with pequi sauce.
The downside to this book: no details about Brazilian wines which are
really beginning to come into their own.
The upside to this book: good layout
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
6. TOMATO; a guide to the pleasures of choosing, growing, and cooking
(DK, 2009, 192 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-5094-0, $18 US hard covers) is by
Gail Harland, a UK tomato grower, and  Sofia Larrinua-Craxton from
Mexico but now developing recipes and menus for her own UK firm. This
is a visual guide to over 160 varieties of tomatoes from around the
world. The authors show how to grow and how to harvest, as well as
cooking and preservation. Most of the book is on gardening, and most of
the recipes call for beefsteak or plum or just "ripe" tomatoes. For
each tomato, there is basic information about hybrid, time of growth,
characteristics, how to grow, plus a picture and how to best enjoy the
variety. There's one called "Extra Sweetie", and they recommend that
you pack it in children's lunch bag, since the variety is so sweet.
Audience and level of use: tomato lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: tomato borscht; salsa
Romesco; chutneys; sofritos; tomato summer pudding; beef cheeks.
The downside to this book: the authors could have given us a few more
The upside to this book: the chapter on preserving is good.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
7. FROMMER'S 500 PLACES FOR FOOD & WINE LOVERS (Wiley Publishing, 2009,
471 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-28775-0, $19.99 US soft covers) is the latest
in Frommer's 500 Places series. Holly Hughes, who has done two other
500 Places books, is aboard as this first edition's collator. She is
assisted by wine tour operator and writer Charlie O'Malley. Here, then,
are 500 top destinations. Included are open-air markets, farms,
culinary festivals, street food locations, kitchenware shops, specialty
gourmet stores, gourmet inns, cooking schools, cruises, chef's tables,
vineyards and wineries, breweries, distilleries, restaurants, food
museums – and, as they say, more!! You can use the book as a checklist
on what to see before you die, or just check off where you have been.
Each name has a description which tells you why it is important, an
address, phone number and website. If you don't visit, then you could
at least sample the website and maybe buy something. There's an
alphabetical index at the back, so you could check out your fave place
to see if it is listed or not. There is also a regional index: Canada
has 14 entries (Cookbook Store, Toronto's Chinatown, Cave Spring
Cellars, Au Pied du Cochon, Schwartz's, Sooke Harbour House, et al).
There are also a small number of black and white photos.
As with any book of lists, there are bound to be favourite places that
have been left out. And places that shouldn't be there. But it is a
beginning, and the next edition will be better.
Audience and level of use: travelers, hospitality schools.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Culinary tourism now
comprises about 17% of all US leisure travelers, and continues to grow.
The downside to this book: names of the places are in faded green while
a subhead is in bold black – this is too confusing and should be
changed for the next edition.
The upside to this book: I especially liked the section on chef's
tables. Such a listing is hard to come by. And besides, Claudio
Aprile's Colborne Lane in Toronto made the chef table's list.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

8. WHAT WE EAT WHEN WE EAT ALONE; stories and 100 recipes (Gibbs Smith,
2009; distr. Raincoast, 272 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-0496-9, $24.99 US
hard covers) is by Deborah Madison, probably the best food writer in
the United States today. She has won countless Childs and Beards,
served on several food preservation and slow food boards, and done
Edible Kitchen Gardens. She has taken on a decade-old project once
suggested by her husband, Patrick McFarlin, a painter and graphic
designer: what do people eat when they are alone. He contributes a ton
of illustrations here, on virtually every page, plus writing and ideas.
They mainly asked everybody they met what they did for food when they
were by themselves. Back came stories of survival by men, enjoyment by
women, and specialty cooking by many. This is good reading. The recipes
are, of course, for one person. They are based on ideas and suggestions
from the people they talked with. Avoirdupois measurements are used,
and there is a metric table of equivalents at the back.
Audience and level of use: hospitality schools, the curious, single
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: omelet with crunchy buttered
breadcrumbs; ricotta frittata; chicken fajitas with black beans; salmon
cakes; scallops with slivered asparagus; spicy tapenade; frito pie.
The downside to this book: not enough of it!
The upside to this book: gorgeous watercolours
Quality/Price Rating: 93.
9. MEDITERRANEAN HOT AND SPICY (Broadway Books, 2009, 228 pages, ISBN
978-0-7679-2745-1, $19.95 US soft covers) is by Aglaia Kremezi, who has
written other foodbooks such as "The Mediterranean Pantry" and
"Mediterranean Hot" in the 1990s. Indeed, versions of some of the
recipes in this current book were published previously in those two
books. She's also crafted "The Foods of Greece" which won a Child
award. She now runs a cooking school on the Greek island of Kea.
Nevertheless, there is excessive log rolling from Claudia Roden, Joan
Nathan, Deborah Madison, Fred Plotkin, and Paula Wolfert. There are
over 100 preps here, and the emphasis is on Mediterranean and "spicy".
Foods full of zest. The full range of food is here, but the
concentration is obviously on the eastern end of the Mediterranean,
from Italy and Malta to Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East. The 100 or
so recipes cover all courses. The book is arranged from apps to
desserts. Sources are all US. Avoirdupois measurements are used, but
there is no metric table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: Mediterranean and/or spicy food lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: sweet-sour eggplants;
grilled whole fish in chile; Arab pizza; roasted leg of lamb; fried
calamari rings; orzo risotto; grilled skewered sausages.
The downside to this book: well, do we need another Mediterranean book?
The upside to this book: recipes are guaranteed to be spicy.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.

10. TACOS (Ten Speed Press, 2009, 174 pages, ISBN 978-1-58008-977-7,
$21.95 US soft covers) is by Mark Miller, the acclaimed chef-founder of
Coyote Café in Santa Fe; he's also written some nine books on food. He
is assisted by one of his sous-chefs, Ben Hargett, and Jane Horn, a
cookbook writer and editor. Miller gives us 75 recipes for this epitome
of street food. The filling is the heart of the taco, and Miller
concentrates on that aspect. His chapters are divided by content:
vegetables, chicken, seafood, pork, beef, lamb, with others covering
breakfast, salsas, sides and drinks. The preps are nicely complemented
by the photography. His techniques are useful for making your own
tortillas and then crisping them into tacos. Other techniques cover
blackening tomatoes and roasting chiles. He has many preps for salsas
and accompaniments. Each filling recipe has suggestions for the best
tortilla choices, salsas, sides and drink. Heat levels are indicated in
the cook's notes, as are prep times. There is a concluding glossary
section on ingredients and techniques. Sources of supply are all US.
Avoirdupois measurements are used, but there is no metric table of
Audience and level of use: Tex-Mex food lovers who want to expand their
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: chicken tinga; Yucatan
chicken with achiote; Thai shrimp; lobster and avocado; grilled beef
with porcini; blackened jalapenos with eggs and cheese; potatoes with
chile rajas and scrambled eggs.
The downside to this book: nothing obvious.
The upside to this book: there are drink recommendations (wines,
cocktails, beers) for each dish.
Quality/Price Rating: 93.

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