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Saturday, December 30, 2017

THE RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOK... one of the hottest trends in cookbooks. Actually, they've been around for
many years, but never in such proliferation. They are automatic best sellers,
since the book can be flogged at the restaurant or TV show and since the
chef ends up being a celebrity somewhere, doing guest cooking or catering
or even turning up on the Food Network. Most of these books will certainly
appeal to fans of the chef and/or the restaurant and/or the media
personality. Many of the recipes in these books actually come off the menus
of the restaurants involved. Occasionally, there will be, in these books,
special notes or preps, or recipes for items no longer on the menu. Stories
or anecdotes will be related to the history of a dish. But because most of
these books are American, they use only US volume measurements for the
ingredients; sometimes there is a table of metric equivalents, but more often
there is not. I'll try to point this out. The usual shtick is "favourite recipes
made easy for everyday cooks". There is also PR copy on "demystifying
ethnic ingredients". PR bumpf also includes much use of the magic phrase
"mouth-watering recipes" as if that is what it takes to sell such a book. I
keep hearing from readers, users, and other food writers that some
restaurant recipes (not necessarily from these books) don't seem to work at
home, but how could that be? The books all claim to be kitchen tested for
the home, and many books identify the food researcher by name. Most
books are loaded with tips, techniques, and advice, as well as gregarious
stories about life in the restaurant world. Photos abound, usually of the chef
bounding about. The celebrity books, with well-known chefs or entertainers,
seem to have too much self-involvement and ego. And, of course, there are
a lot of food photo shots, verging on gastroporn. There are endorsements
from other celebrities in magnificent cases of logrolling. If resources are
cited, they are usually American mail order firms, with websites. Some
companies, though, will ship around the world, so don't ignore them
altogether. Here's a rundown on the latest crop of such books –
CHEESE (Quadrille Publishing, 2017, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-84949-966
-8 $24.99 USD hardbound) is by Michel Roux, who has held three Michelin
stars for over 30 years (The Waterside Inn at Bray UK). He's had many
awards including OBE, and has been a TV personality. He's authored five
other books for Quadrille, selling 2.5 million copies. Here he delves into
cheese. It also includes about 100 preps for canapes, soups. Starters,
snacks, salads, fish and meat dishes, pasta, rice and veggies, plus
desserts. He's got some new classics, such as
pear/Roquefort/honey/almonds pizza, halloumi with roasted peppers, phyllo
wrapped feta and watermelon, and more. The recipes encourage
substitution so that you can use whatever cheese you have around, within
reason. It is arranged by course, not by cheese, beginning with a
cheeseboard. Apart from quality classifications, there are few categories for
cooking: fresh cheese, soft cheeses, hard cheeses, and blue cheeses.
Flavoured cheeses are on the rise, those with the addition of spices, herbs,
dried fruit, and smoked cheeses. They need to be examined before actual
cooking and melted integration. The book could have been improved if it
also used avoirdupois in the recipes, or at least had a conversion chart.
Quality/price rating: 90.
HOME GROWN (Artisan, 2017, 342 pages, ISBN 978-1-57965-674-4 $35
USD hardbound) is by Matt Jennings, formerly of Farmstead in Providence
RI, opened Townsman in Boston in 2015. He's co-founder of the Northern
Chef Alliance and has collaborated with numerous Canadian chefs such as
Rob Gentile of Bar Buca in Toronto. It's a book of New England cuisine,
updated through his contemporary feel for reworking the classics. Basically,
he renovates the meat-heavy boiled dinners and the cream-laden chowders.
He uses more molasses and cider and maple syrup for sweetening. And he
includes Quebecois food such as tortiere pie, but with seafood. Along the
way, he explains why he updates in a sort of memoir type retelling of his
path to New England cuisine roots. Log rollers include Batali ("simple,
approachable, and delicious recipes") and Boulud ("inspired compilation"
among eight or so others. It's arranged by terroir: dairy, ocean, farm,
garden/orchard, and forest, with typical dishes such as fish stew, clam
cakes, cider donuts, fried pike, and pan-roasted venison. The book could
have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes for international
sales. But it does have metric conversion charts. Quality/price rating: 88
SHEET PAN SUPPERS MEATLESS (Workman Publishing, 2017, 250
pages, ISBN 978-0-7611-8993-0 $16.95 USD paperbound) is by Raquel
Pelzel, a food editor and test kitchen director who has authored over 20
cookbooks, and has been a TV judge for Food Network shows. Here she 
concentrates on vegetarian/vegan and gluten-free sheet pan meals – 100 of
them straight out of the oven. It's another cooking treat for the millennials:
quick and easy yet nutritious. She's got the technique of cooking pasta in a
sheet pan, and then cooking soups and stews in a sheer pan, and then
making kale and veggie chips in a sheet pan, pot pies, veggie braises,
risottos, polenta, and of course both granola and desserts (pear galette,
dulce de leche pumpkin squares, and a vegan sticky toffee pudding. As she
says, sheet pan cooking is convenient, versatile and tasty. One for the
plant-based food lovers. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 88.
SHEET PAN MAGIC (Quadrille Publishing, 2017, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-
78713-048-7 $19.99 USD hardbound) is by Sue Quinn, an award-winning
food writer and author of several cookbooks. Here she looks at "one pan,
one meal, no fuss" dishes. The basic arrangement is by course: breakfast,
brunch, snacks, light bites, lunch, warm salads, dinner, and sweet things. It is
basically one-pot roasting, using a heavy 8 x 12 x 2 inch sheet pan.  And it is
a breeze to clean up: just soak it overnight. The preps are straightforward
enough, with roast pear and rhubarb compote; classic full English breakfast
(all in the one pan); ricotta-asparagus and mint tartlets; creamy baked leeks
with apple, theme and goat cheese;sea bass with stewed summer veggies;
orange and caraway slices with orange blossom glaze. Something for
everybody, 70 recipes in all. The book could have been improved if it also
used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart.
Quality/price rating: 87.


Tuesday, December 26, 2017


(Chronicle Books, 2017, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-5502-9 $24.95
USD hardbound) is by Ivy Manning, cookbook author and free-lance food
writer. The title pretty much says it all: 70 recipes to pair and share. There
are meaty stews and bisques, each one paired with a quick bread such as
blue corn and maple skillet bread (with a BBQ pork ramen). The soups are
arranged by type (veggie-centric, bean and grain soups, seafood soups,
meat and poultry soups. The bread types are flatbreads, soda breads and
skillet breads, muffins, rolls and biscuits. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in mainly avoirdupois measurements with some erratic
metric, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: millennials would find this useful
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: zucchini, feta and dill muffins to
pair with either Persian yogurt, lentil and bulgur soup or egg and lemon soup
with toasted orzo and kale.
The downside to this book: I wanted more...
The upside to this book: each prep tells you the quantities, the service, the
active time and the total time.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
4.SUPERFOOD SLOW COOKER (Ryland Peters & Small, 2017, 144
pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-843-7 $19.95 USD hardbound) is by Nicola
Graimes who specializes in vegetarian cooking. She's authored 26 or so
books. It's with Cathy Seward, a consultant home economist and cookery
writer. An electric slow cooker is great for a busy lifestyle (and millennials
love it too). Here are 60 preps, using mainly grains, beans and pulses,
along with superveggies and lean meats. So it is not strictly a vegetarian
book. Fresh herbs and relevant spices also contribute. Each prep gives a
nutritional breakdown. She's arranged it by course, beginning with breakfast
and brunch, light bites, weekday meals, and slow weekends. All dishes are
made in the 3.5 Litre slow-cooker. Preparations have their ingredients listed
in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of
metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: millennials
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: winter beef and prune pot roast;
piri piri lamb salad; bone broth pho; Spanish octopus with white beans and
lemon; sea bass in chile tomato sauce; beet falafel with lemon tahini sauce.
The downside to this book: I wanted more...
The upside to this book: good use of slow cooker.
Quality/Price Rating: 86
5.A TASTE OF LATIN AMERICA (Imagine! Books, 2017, 168 pages, ISBN
978-1-62354-521-5 $19.99 USD hardbound) is by Patricia Cartin, from
Costa Rica and caterer to the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the
United Nations in NYC. These are the culinary traditions and classic recipes
from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Peru,
Puerto Rico and Venezuela. There is also a bit of fusion here, and the
regions do share common foods such as sweet potatoes, squash, corn,
chocolate, and chili peppers. The arrangement is by country with about eight
preps each. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois
measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: Latin American food lovers, libraries
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: coxinhas; farofa; curanto;
chimichurri; empanadas; brigadeiro; manjar; almojabanas; tamales; perico;
arepas; lucuma; nachos.
The downside to this book: The Mexican section has already been well-
documented by countless books, so there isn't really nothing new from that
The upside to this book: a good collection of regional dishes that (apart
from Mexico) have not really surfaced in North America – terrific sampler!
Quality/Price Rating: 88
6.CHICKEN AND RICE (Fig Tree Penguin Books, 2016, 288 pages, ISBN
9780241199077 $42.95 CAD hardbound) is by Shu Han Lee, UK freelance
food writer and stylist and at These are mainly
dishes from Singapore and Malaysia with a Hokkien China influence – her
background in culinary development. The range embraces weeknight food,
weekend foods, snacks, celebrations, and others. The Southeast Asian
foods are arranged by type, from rice through noodles, soups, seafood,
meat, eggs/tofu, veggies, snacks and sweets. Her book was originally
published in the UK last year but is now making its way into North America.
At the back, she has 10 suggested menus (quick midweek suppers for one
or two) through brunches, veggies, through dinner parties and BBQ – plus
some ideas for DIY parties. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
both metric and  avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric
Audience and level of use: SEA food fans, millennials
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: congee with preserved radish
omelette and cabbage; Hokkien prawn noodle soup; fennel pad ka prao
with fried egg; peach on sticky rice with sweet and salty coconut cream;
barbecued sambal lemon sole; nasi ulam; nyonya achar; lamb shank
The downside to this book: the currency exchange rate bringing the book
over makes it a bit pricey, but it is worthwhile overall.
The upside to this book: she's got an interesting pantry selection plus a
glossary of ingredients and kitchen equipment needed.
Quality/Price Rating: 89
7.AUTENTICO (St. Martin's Griffin, 2017, 364 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-
12497-5 $35 USD hardbound) is by Rolando Beramendi, an importer
(Manicaretti). The 120 preps here are classic, and explore regionalisms.
Several important writers on Italian food provide the log rolling (e.g.
Lebovitz, Jenkins). The subtitle is "cooking Italian, the authentic way".
Rolando (with Rebekah Peppler) takes some family preps and others from
his suppliers, and has arranged them by chapters dealing with the pantry (la
dispensa), the prepared and ready to use food, the primo course, the
secundo, the accompaniments, ending with dolce. It's a vividly written book
sure to appeal to food book collectors.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and US avoirdupois
Audience and level of use: Italian food lovers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: zuppa di farro; boiled veal
tongue with green sauce; broken fresh tomato halves; poached baby
pumpkins with traditional DOC Balsamic of Modena vinegar; fennel braised
in Chianti; orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabbe.
The downside to this book: Physically, it is a very heavy book and the
gutters are hard to deal with when looking at text near the spine.
The upside to this book: a good accomplishment, with lots of head-notes for
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
pages, ISBN 978-1-68099-330-1 $19.99 USD paperbound) is by Hope
Comerford. It is one of a best-selling series of cookbooks centered around
the slow cooker. Hope Comerford has taken over the FIFI franchise. Here
she presents well over 150 slow cooker recipes suitable for holiday hosting,
including such as eggnog bread pudding, cranberry brisket, and orange
cheesecake. Once again, it has larger print (including the index) and
conversion charts for the measurements. Of course, everything here can be
braised on top of the stove the old-fashioned way. But if you have a slow
cooker (or an instant pot), you could do worse than "chicken broccoli rice
casserole". This prep comes from Gloria Julien in Michigan (all preps are
sourced), and gives the time as 30 minutes prep, 2 – 3 hours cooking, 5
quart slow cooker size. It's an easy-peasy recipe, slightly upscale for any
holiday feast. It is useful for potlucks or friendship dinners, especially for
people who are not terribly big meat eaters. And, as usual, there is a photo
of the finished product. The 150 preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is a table of metric equivalents and
conversions. All courses are covered, and the print is large.
Audience and level of use: beginners, slow cooker aficionados.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: slow cooker turkey and dressing;
ham with sweet potatoes and oranges; gingerbread puffing cake; creamy
chive and onion mashed potatoes; cranberry pork loin.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
9.HOW TO INSTANT POT (Workman Publishing, 2017, 280 pages, ISBN
978-1-5235-0206-6 $16.95 USD paperbound) is by Daniel Shumski, who
has authored "Will It Waffle?" and "Will It Skillet?". He currently lives in
Montreal. Here he tells us about the Instant Pot: a slow cooker, pressure
cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, rice cooker. It's just about perfect for the
single person, making a variety of dishes with leftovers for other meals.
Over 1.5 million have been sold to date in the USA. It is organized with a
primer at the front, followed by function, with measurement conversion
tables, general times for pressure-cooking, recipe conversion formats, high
altitude modifications, and so forth. His 100 recipes include a six minute
no-stir risotto, five kinds of yogurt, soups with dried ingredients from scratch,
quick pickles, even "baked" potatoes. He's also got quite a few instant pot
shortcuts. Preps are meant for the six quart IP models.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but
there are also tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: Instant Pot fans
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: pork shoulder ragu; French onion
soup; Korean short ribs; French toast casserole; beef barbacoa tacos;
chocolate lava cakes with dulce de leche; faux cassoulet.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.


Sunday, December 24, 2017


...all reflect a boom in the cookbook publishing business. A paperback reprint will lower the cost to the purchaser, and also give a publisher a chance to correct egregious errors or add a postscript. Some will reissue a book in paper covers with a new layout or photos. Others will rearrange existing material to present it as more informative text while keeping the focus tight. Some magazines will reissue popular or classic recipes in an "easy" format. Here are some recent "re-editions"...
18.HOME SAUSAGE MAKING. 4th ed. (Storey Publishing, 1981, 1987, 2003, 367 pages, ISBN 978-1-61212-869-6 $24.95 USD paperbound) is by Charles G. Reavis and Evelyn Battaglia (who has completely revised and updated this book with new text and 120 new recipes out of the 200 total). It has been around since 1981 and has sold more than 277K copies thus far. The recipes cover fresh, cooked, smoked, dried and cured sausages, and include andouille, linguica, chorizo, bangers, kosher salami, breakfast sausage – about 100 recipes for beef, poultry, pork, lamb/goat, wild game, seafood, and veggies. Then there are 100 preps for sausage-based recipes such as skillet strata with greens and sausage, savoury quinoa breakfast bowl with vegetarian sausage, Scotch quail eggs, Spanish tortilla and mortadella mousse. Of course, there's the basic primer and some 20 profiles of professional sausage makers (including Blake Royer of Toronto who is listed as a "hobbyist"). The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, but at least it had metric conversion charts. Maybe next revision? Quality/price rating:  89.
19.HOW I COOK (Quadrille Publishing, 2010, 2017, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-84949-950-7 $22.99 USD paperbound) is by Skye Gyngell, an Australian chef who has worked in Sydney, Paris and London, opening her UK restaurant Spring in 2014. It's a paperback reprint from 2010 and now available in North America. She has a basic collection of 100+ recipes dealing with her home cooking, ranging from breakfast and brunch through afternoon teas, weekday suppers, celebrations, and meal planning. There is also a large 40 page section on alfresco eating. It's an engaging book with an Oz-UK sensibility (huge prep for Christmas pudding). Try chicken with rice and basil, meringues with strawberries and cream, or cucumber sandwiches. Home life is the great life. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements. Quality/price rating: 87
20.CANADIAN WHISKY; the new portable expert. Rev and Updated 2d ed. (Appetite by Random House, 2012, 2017, 236 pages, ISBN 978-0-14-753075-2 $20 USD paperbound) is by Davin de Kergommeaux, a sommelier and whisky expert who has been writing for more than decade about whisky through print and his award-winning blog at <> . This book is a revised paperback edition of the 2012 edition. At the time, it became a finalist of the 2013 Taste Canada Food Writing Awards, and then went on to win IACP Award for wine, beer and spirits. As a basic book, it covers what Canadian whisky contains (grains, water, wood), how it is made, flavours and tasting techniques, plus a concise history of the industry, with extra notes on the eight large distillers of Canadian whisky. There have been some changes here, including ownership and name changes, since 2012. And there is more material on micro-distillery bottling. About 100 new tasting notes have been added. A great basic book about Canadian whisky and the industry, made better for most people by the inclusion of a section about tasting techniques. There is a bibliography, a glossary, and two indexes: a general one and an index to the tasting notes. Quality/price rating: 89.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

MORE TOP GIFT BOOK IDEAS FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON: Reference Books/Memoirs/Polemics, et al

C.Perhaps some reference books? Such as:
--KITCHEN SMARTS (America's Test Kitchen, 2017, 310 pages, $19.95
CAD paperbound) is from Cook's Illustrated magazine. It is in a Q & A
format designed to draw in the curious cook. Topics deal with myths,
substitutions, confidence, science, and terminology. There's a thematic
table of contents, covering baking, coffee, meat, pasta, seafood, salt,
equipment, veggies, dairy, etc. Plus an extended index.There are cheat
sheets galore plus advice on how to better use your fridge and oven, among
other appliances (such as ricers and food mills). It's a good tool, but a little
awkward and heavy to hold. Great for two-minute reading.
--THE BOOK OF CHEESE: the essential guide to discovering cheeses
you'll love (Flatiron Books, 2017, 406 pages, $56 CAD hardbound) is by Liz
Thorpe who has been working with cheese since she left a cubicle in 2002,
beginning with Murray's Cheese and now dealing with cheese in the New
Orleans area. Along the way she has authored The Cheese Chronicles.
Here she begins with exploring a world of cheese based on what you
already like or love via what she calls the Gateway cheeses: Swiss, blue,
Cheddar, Brie, and so forth. It's arranged by type, including Mozzarella,
Havarti, Taleggio, Manchego, Parmesan, and "Misfits", with appendices on
pasteurization, cheesemaking, flavours of gateways. Each type comes with
vertical and horizontal tastings for comparisons (e.g., gouda made from
goat, made from sheep, and made from cow milk).  There are also a few
recipes using cheeses from each section. A nice, nifty, and new approach.
--THE BOOK OF SPICE (Pegasus Books, 2016, 273 pages, $35.95 CAD
hardbound) is by John O'Connell. It's a dictionary-arranged tool A – Z, from
"ajowan" (used mainly  for Indian savouries and snacks, sometimes referred
to as Ethiopian cumin) to "zedoary" (widely used in Indonesian and Thai
food preps). Each is given a botanical name, none are illustrated, and there
are internal cross-references.  Also, there are end notes and  a bibliography.
The introductory chapter covers the importance and cultural history of
spices; the last chapter is a directory of 36 spice mixes, such as apple pie
mix, Cajun, Chinese five-spice powder, curry powder, harissa, quatre-
epices, za'atar, and more. No recipes, except for some of the mixes.
--PEPPERS OF THE AMERICAS (Lorena Jones Books, Ten Speed Press,
2017, 342 pages, $47 CAD hardbound) is about as comprehensive as they
come. Maricel E. Presilla is chef-owner of two restaurants, Cucharamama
and Zafra in New Jersey. She was a Beard Best Chef, Beard Cookbook of
the Year 2013, and has other accolades. As a food writer/columnist, she is
eminently qualified to write this researched reference tool on the Latin
American pepper. This the history of how "capsicum" traversed the various
foodways around the world, from its home in the  Amazon. She describes in
detail the 200 varieties, with illustrations (225 colour pix) and botanical
terms, tasting notes, recommended uses, plus info on growing. Buying,
storing, processing, and cooking. She's got the practical here: 40 recipes
for ground pepper blends, vinegars, sauces, and sides. A terrific gift for your
Scoville hound.
--HOW FOOD WORKS (DK, 2017, 256 pages, $26 CAD hardbound) is
from the project art team at DK. The shtick: the facts are visually explained,
So there are issues explored on nutrition basics, hunger and appetite,
flavour, smell and taste, digesting nutrients, carbos, fibre, fats, proteins, etc.
And more: water, fermentation, raw foods, processing, freezing, types of
food, drinks, diets, and the environments. Millennials will go nuts over this
multiple typeface, graphs, pix, timeline characterizations. Talk about rapid
eye movements! Usually it is two pages a topic. So diabetes is covered in
three body shots, a q & a, some graphs, and a lot of colour. Well-worth the
--THE FOOD LOVER'S HANDBOOK (Ebury Press, 2017, 319 pages,
$31.99 CAD paperbound) is by UK grocer Mark Price, formerly of
Waitrose. He deals with how history, geography and production affect
quality and price, albeit from a British perspective. It's a good tool for
uncovering data about beverages (tea, coffee, whisky, cider, beer), oils,
preserves, desserts, butter-milk-flour-eggs-sugar, meats, veggies, fruit, salt,
pepper, herbs and spices. Each has an invariable rationale about why the
price varies. Typical answers here include which tea has expensive buds
and needs golden scissors, how to  make the perfect cup of coffee, where
to find the world's best beef, and others in this treasure trove. A bibliography
and index concludes the tome.
--THE BAKER'S APPENDIX (Clarkson Potter, 2017, 112 pages, $24.99
CAD hardbound) is by Jesica Reed. It's a handbook of tables with
conversions to/from avoirdupois and metric, fractions/decimals, unusual and
historical  measurement conversions (pinch, drops, gill, tumbler, wineglass,
dash, dram, jigger), sugar syrup temperatures, ingredient substitutions, DIY
extracts and natural food colourings, sprinkles, decorating tips for cakes
and cookies, adjustments for baking at high altitudes, and volume charts for
baking pans of all sizes. She's also got some basic recipes for cakes, quick
breads, cookies, frostings – all with variations.
--KNIFE (Quadrille, 2017, 224 pages, $41.99 CAD hardbound) is by food
writer Tim Hayward. It's an appreciation of the culture, the craft, and the cult
of the cook's knife. As log roller Anthony Bourdain manplains, it is "sheer
blade porn". He details the "anatomy" of the knife, the grips, the strokes,
knifemaking, knifemakers, and the differences and similarities of the major
40 knifes of the Western world, China , and Japan. Plus, of course, there is
the issue and technique of sharpness. No bibliography for further reading,
but there is a thorough index.
--9000 YEARS OF WINE; a world history (Whitecap, 2017, 438 pages,
$19.95 CAD paperbound) is by Rod Phillips. It's a revision of his earlier
work "A Short History of Wine" published in 2000, fully updated and
extended to the 21st century. He's comprehensive in coverage, looking at
different social classes and wine, trends in consumption, wine as a source
of pleasure through history, and as a cultural product, It's an engaging
reference tool noting dates, places and people, all with an index and a
bibliography. Illustrated with a few historical engravings. Nice little gift
package for your wine lover friends.
--THE NEW WINE RULES (Ten Speed Press, 2017, 152 pages, $19.99
CAD hardbound) is by Jon Bonne, award winning (Beards, Roederer) wine
writer and wine book author. Here he delves into 89 new rules of the wine
world, a tool which he says is a "genuinely" helpgul guide to everything you
need to know. His first new rule is to "drink the rainbow" -- all the colours of
wine from the clearness of Chablis through the ochreness of Syrah. His last
rule (#89) is "don't save a great bottle for anything more than a rainy day".
It's all wonderfully illustrated and can be read intermittently. My fave rule?
#39 - "the best time to buy a wine is when it's out of style" (as he points out,
"the upside to hating Merlot was that Merlot got much better").
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…
--A HISTORY OF COOKBOOKS (University of California Press, 2017, 384
pages, $49.95 CAD hardbound) is by Henry Notaker, a literary historian
who has taught food culture. His numerous books and articles cover
European and Latin American food history and culinary literature. The dust
jacket promises a "sweeping"  overview of the cookbook genre, from the
Late Middle Ages onwards. It seems like a good survey text for the
burgeoning series of gastronomy courses. He's good at tracing the
transformation of recipes from brief notes with ingredients to detailed
recipes with a specific  structure, grammar and vocabulary. Along the way
he explores a lot of non-recipes found in cookbooks, that deal with nutrition,
morals, manners, history,  menus, and reflections/memoirs. Sub-genres
here include recipe naming, cookbook organization, didactic approaches,
recipe forms, vegetarian cookbooks, Jewish cookbooks, and the role of
cookbooks in promoting nationalism. There are also plenty of notes,
bibliographic references, and an index. With illustrations based on pages
from books and engravings of covers, this is a terrific tome for a gift.
--APRON STRINGS (Goose Lane, 2017, 380 pages, $24.95 CAD
paperbound) is by Jan Wong, an award-winning journalist who has written
about food off and on. Her father owned Ruby Foo's in Montreal. Here she
crafts a memoir with the subtitle "navigating food and family in France, Italy,
and China". These three countries excel at daily "haute cuisine" without
batting an eye, taking it all in stride. As a true reporter, Jan Wong narrates
the memoir of the journey she takes with her 22-year-old son Sam. She's full
of observations about the  globalization of food, families and culture. In
southeast France, they share with a family sheltering undocumented
immigrants; in Italy's slow food country they pick up authenticity of style; in
Shanghai they labour in the kitchen with some migrant maids of some of
China's "nouveaux riches". As with many mother- son stories there are levels
of disagreements, but they both share a central core. There are a dozen
recipes per country, but that's not really the point of the memoir. Good
stories, compellingly told.
--IN VINO DUPLICITAS (The Experiment, 2017, 248 pages, $37.95 CAD
hardbound) is by Peter Hellman, a long time journalist with writing credits at
Wine Spectator, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and others, along with
a string of investigative books (e.g. Kitty Genovese). Here he tackles the
"rise and fall of a wine forger extraordinaire", the Indonesian Rudy
Kurniawan, who, with a skilled palate, began promoting a limitless supply of
the rarest wines in the world. It reads like a crime novel, with tens of  millions
of dollars at stake in what later became spurious wines. Rudy slipped when
he tried to sell a particular red burgundy from 1945:  the winery was actually
first producing wine in 1982. Hellman does many skilful interviews to come
up with the story, which had appeared earlier as the 2016 documentary
"Sour Grapes".  (Duplicitas is a play on the word Veritas; it is actually a
medical term related to siamese twins). A fascinating read.
--SWEET SPOT (Dutton, 2017, 309 pages, $35 CAD hardbound) is by Amt
Ettinger, free lance writer. Here she  crosses the USA looking for the best
artisanal ice cream brands. In addition, she evokes childhood memories of
her love for ice cream, writes a few chapters on the cultural-social history of
ice cream in the USA, and attends seminars on making it. Her trips include
a visit to the one place in the USA that makes real frozen custard in a huge
machine known as the "iron lung", turf wars among ice cream trucks,
artisanal competitions, and even extreme flavours such as foie gas and
oyster. It comes complete with end notes that can serve as a bibliography,
and a great topical index.
--WHAT SHE ATE: six remarkable women and the food that tells their
stories (Viking, 2017, 307 pages, $36 CAD hardbound) is by culinary
historian  Laura Shapiro (Pefection Salad, Something from the Oven). Here
are stories about women who, apart from Rosa Lewis, have a tenuous
relationship with food. Yet good memoir writers can relate fascinating
stories about anybody from a specific angle, whether it is their relationship
to driving a car, doing home repairs, or just simply eating. Eva Braun is
here, with the food angle of Hitler; Eleanor Roosevelt and the menus at the
White House; and writer Barbara Pym. Also: Dorothy Woodsworth and
Helen Gurley Brown, and, in an Afterword, Laura Shapiro herself. Parts of
the work have appeared in The New Yorker. There are end notes, sources
and bibliographies, and even an index. Marvellous gift book.
--THE TEN (FOOD) COMMANDMENTS (Penguin, 2017, 140 pages, $15
CAD paperbound) is a worthy commentary. The "original" Ten
Commandments do not offer much in the way of food advice, so Jay Rayner
(restaurant critic for the Observer for 15 years, multiple appearances on UK
TV) has stepped in. In separate chapters, he deals with 10 Thou Shalts
(e.g., eat with thy hands, honour thou leftovers, not cut off the fat, celebrate
the stinky,  honour thy pig). Something decent to read on the commuter
--GIVE A GIRL A KNIFE (Clarkson Potter, 2017, 311 pages, $35 CAD
hardbound) is by Amy Thielen, a Beard cookbook winner and host of a TV
show on the Food Network. This is a food memoir about her life's journey
from the US Midwest to New York City and then back again. It's a
humourous coming-of-age story, made all the better by the inclusion of a
index for retrieving specific stories, such as those about women working in
restaurants (many references here). Check out the work in  top end NYC
restaurants. Nicely written and worth reading, a good gift for the holiday
--MEXICAN ICE CREAM (Ten Speed Press, 2017, 174 pages, $29 CAD
hardbound) is a delicious cookbook by Mexico City native Fany Gerson.
These are stories and cultural histories of the ice cream tradition in Mexico:
tropical fruits, chiles, and nuts. The range is from the ice cream parlours
(heladerias) to the mobile carts and roadside stands. Classic recipes
include Oaxacan lime sherbet, chocolate-chile ice cream, and horchata
(almond) ice cream with cinnamon. Added attractions include preps with
spicy and boozy flavours, plus an unusual assortment of toppings and
sauces. Great niche cookbook gift.
cooking with a Canadian Classic (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2017,
540 pages, $39.95 CAD paperbound) has been edited by academic
Nathalie Cooke (editor of "What's to Eat?") and Fiona Lucas (co-founder of
the Culinary Historians of Canada). It is an amazing work. Originally
published in 1855, the Traill classic is full of recipes and advice, with tips on
local food sourcing (in 1855) and  describes daily domestic and seasonal
routines of settler life: make your own cheese, butcher your own hog, collect
your own eggs, drink your own homemade beer (reserve dregs for bread
yeast risings). The book has been annotated for modern living, with updated
preps, conversion charts, a large glossary, and an index for retrieval. Not
only is it about survival in Victorian Ontario, it is about the emigrant
experience. Very difficult to put down, and a perfect gift for the millennial to
understand context in life.
--IN MEMORY OF BREAD (Clarkson Potter, 2016, 262 pages, $35 CAD
hardbound) is by Paul Graham, an academic who teaches English. He's an
essayist, and these 20 gems take us through his new life as a celiac victim
and forced to rethink his eating and cooking patterns. It's a paean to the
memory and to the cherishing of food.  Gluten-free eating  is his journey.
He's got end notes and a bibliography, and there is even an index!  But no
--TASTES LIKE CHICKEN (Pegasus Books, 2016, 273 pages, $36.95
CAD hardbound) is by Emelyn Rude. It is a history of North America's
favourite poultry. The first 50 pages covers the essentials of the bird in
history; the rest of the book is about the US development of the bird through
the fast food movement and the military might of  Colonel Sanders and
General Tso, leading up to the Freedom Rangers (my own term for free-
range chicken). Eggs are also discussed, and there are extensive end
notes and bibliography. Older recipes (and some modern ones) are used
and cited. In the middle of the book there is a collection of archival shots of
ads and people and farms from the past.
--THE NEW FOOD ACTIVISM (University of California Press, 2017, 336
pages, $37.95 CAD paperbound) is a collection of 11 major essays on
opposition, cooperation and collective action on food issues of today. In
addition to statements about pesticide regulatory-reform in California, there
are essays on food workers and food justice, Boston's emerging food
solidarity, and cooperative social practices in Chicago. There's even a
chapter on how Canadian farmers fought and won the battle against GM
wheat. The collection has been curated by Alison Hope Alkon and Julie
Guthman, both west coast US academics. They provide an introduction and
an epilogue for constructing a new food politics schematic. There are also
end notes and references plus a description of the contributors and an index
to tie it all together. Engaging, and well-worth reading over the holidays as a
reminder of what we are and how privileged we all are in North America
within the current global food structure.
--THE MEATY TRUTH (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017, 224 pages, $ 25.99
CAD paperbound) is a polemic by Shushana Castle and Amy-Lee
Goodman, outlining why our food is destroying our health and environment –
and who is responsible for the massive problems caused by the food supply
chain. Water, meat and milk-dairy are filled with toxins, antibiotics, growth
hormones, ammonia, and animal waste. Eating organic is not enough –
because there is not enough organic food for the world. So what to do? One
possibility is to shift to a plant-based diet.
--MY MOTHER'S KITCHEN (Henry Holt and Company, 2017, 306 pages,
$39 CAD hardbound) is a combo biography and autobiography by prolific
author Peter Gethers. His mother Judy Gethers was the daughter of a
restaurateur (Ratner's) in New York and a cookbook writer. In her 80s she
suffered a bad stroke and could no longer cook. Son Peter eventually
decided to prepare a birthday meal for her. But first he had to learn how to
cook better! He visits her regularly, they share meals together, they talk
about the meal that he will cook for her to tell the story of her life. His
mother's friends and  family will be brought to the table one last time. She
passed on but not before  tasting most of his food. She did not experience
the salmon coulibiac, filet mignon, tarte tatin or the challah. Scattered
throughout there are some recipes. This is a terrific memoir about how food
and family can do much more than feed us.
--EAT THIS POEM (Roost Books, 2017, 206 pages, $24.95 CAD
paperbound) is by Nicole Gulotta. She's got 25 inspirational poems dealing
with food and 75 recipes that were relevant to the poem. For example, to
Mary Oliver's "Mushrooms", she has preps for truffle risotto with
chanterelles, mushroom pizza with taleggio and thyme, and mushroom and
brie quenelles. Great fun for the poetry lovers among your friends. Recipes
are indexed and there is a listing by category for breakfast, soups, mains,
--FOOD, HEALTH AND HAPPINESS (Flatiron Books, 2017, 232 pages,
$45 CAD hardbound) is by Oprah Winfrey She's got 115 recipes for great
meals and a better life. Her preps, some with seven named chefs, are
paired with personal essays and memoirs from her life. There is also an
insight into her kitchen and how she works. Lots of it is simple, such as
"unfried chicken" or "kale and apple salad". She strongly believes that food
is a ritual to be shared in life, although I suspect that there is unfortunately 
strong competition from "texting". WeightWatchers SmartPoints are in each
--EMPIRE OF BOOZE (Unbound; Random House Canada, 2017, 291
pages, $27.99 CAD hardcovers) is by Henry Jeffreys, a freelance UK wine
writer. His premise: "if not for Britain, most of the world's favourite drinks
would not exist, not even the French ones." His history of  the British Empire
is told through the filter of how the fave alcoholic beverages came to be. He
starts with cider, port, marsala, beer, madeira, gin, cognac, "claret",
champagne (with a direct connection to cider), and whisky. Compelling
evidence, or is it just coincidence? Also covered is the impact of alcohol on
literature, science, philosophy, and culture – quite a big overview here, with
interesting trivia and nicely written.
--AN IRISH COUNTRY COOKBOOK (Forge Books, 2017, 368 pages,
$24.99 CAD paperbound) is by Patrick Taylor, originally from Northern
Ireland but now living in BC. It's a collection of ten new short stories with
Kinky Kincaid, Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly, and others, complemented by 140
authentic family recipes such as champ, potted herrings, sweet mince,
potato and pumpkin seed bread, and classics such as colcannon and soda
bread. For your Irish friends, or Irish lovers.
240 pages, $22.95 CAD softcovers) is by Marissa Landrigan, a professor
of creative writing. It is the story of a young woman's search for ethical food,
told in memoir form. She grew up in a food-loving Italian-American
household, but transformed into a vegan activist at college. She says that
eating ethically was far from simple and cutting out meat was not the
answer. She then realized that the most ethical way of eating was to know
her food (meat or veggie) and prepare it herself. Read how she found the
ethical approach.
--PRESERVING ON PAPER: 17TH century Englishwomen's receipt books
(University of Toronto Press, 2017, 352 pages, $34.95 CAD softcovers) has
been edited by Kristine Kowalchuk. It's a critical edition of three handwritten
"receipt" books that includes culinary recipes, medical remedies, and
household tips which document the work of women at home. This was
shared knowledge that was passed on from generation to generation. Her
study offers insights into early women's writings and the original sharing
economy. Typical preps include stewed calf's head, boiled capon larded
with lemons, and plague water.
--BADDITIVES! (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017, 181 pages, $22.99 CAD
softcovers) should win  the award for the best play on words in titling. Food
safety journalists Linda and Bill Bonvie take on food corporations with their
notes about the 13 most harmful food additives in our diet. Then they tell us
how to avoid them. A well-researched account of toxicity: aluminum, artificial
colours, aspartame,  BHA/BMT, GMOs, High Fructose Corn Syrup, MSG –
and more, about 15 pages on each, along with an index, end notes and
bibliography. Well-worth reading.
--A GEOGRAPHY OF DIGESTION (University of California Press, 2017,
222 pages, $43.95 CAD paperbound) is by Nicholas Bauch, an academic
at the University of Oklahoma. It's all about biotechnology and Kellogg
cereals, number 62 in the California Studies in Food and Culture. It's
scholarly, of course, with many end notes, bibliography, and an index.
Kellogg was experimenting with nutritional and medical science at his
sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. He believed that good health
depended on digesting the right food in the right manner. He created a
relationship between food, body and the environment. This is his story, as
researched and told by the author, and involves Seventh Day Adventists, the
Sanitarium, modern nutrition and health, and the rise of new medical
technologies. Fascinating.
--CORK DORK (Penguin Books, 2017, 329 pages, $23 CAD paperbound)
is by Bianca Bosker, who writes about food and wine for major US and UK
magazines and newspapers. The subtitle pretty well says it all -- "a wine-
fueled adventure among the obsessive sommeliers, big bottle hunters, and
rogue scientists who taught me to live for taste." It is also about a wine
epiphany: tasting wine. She looks at what drives people's tastings –
pursuing flavours through underground tasting groups, sommeliers at
restaurants, large wineries, neuroscientists, and the like. She briefly alludes
to the concept of "supertaster": one-quarter of the population has a higher
concentration of taste buds on the tongue, and with training, can pick out a
larger variety of flavours. I'm a verified supertaster; unfortunately, she is not.
So that makes it harder for her, and she spends 18 months pursuing this
goal of tasting. Does she succeed? Well, read the book, it's worth a shot.


Monday, December 18, 2017


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 2017 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 (free delivery and no GST from the UK).
Price Alert: because of US dollar fluctuations with Canada, all prices will 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:
--DAVID TANIS MARKET COOKING (Artisan , 2017, 480 pages, $58 CAD
hardbound) is by, well, Chef David Tanis. You know the chef has arrived
when the publisher puts the name as part of the actual title. He's worked as
a chef for three decades, notably at Chez Panisse and Cafe Escalera. He's
also the author of several cookbooks, and is currently writing a weekly food
column for the New York Times. Here is a collection of 200 recipes and
thoughts, ingredient by ingredient, on food likely to be found at farmers'
markets, or, as the French say "la cuisine du marche". As he says, it means:
I go to the market, see what looks best, and then decide what will go in the
meal. Fresh ingredients provide the inspiration, and the majority of the
preps are veggie-based and global in scope. Indeed, the arrangement is by
vegetable, with alliums (garlic, onions, leeks, shallot, scallions) having a
chapter all to themselves. There is also material on seasoning and kitchen
essentials (eggs, dairy, rice, pasta, noodles, et al).
144 pages, $29.95 hardbound) is by Lachlan Hayman, who also wrote
Killing Me Souffle (a collection of music-based recipes). Here he has
collated 50 movie-inspired recipes. Although Silence of the Lambs is here
renamed Silence of the Clams (and comes in as a bacon and clam
chowder), I think the original fava beans and liver with Chianti would have
been  more appropriate. But chacun a son gout. Most of the dishes relate to
a re-titling of the films, such as Bratwurst at Tiffany's, The Hummus Crown
Affair, The King's Peach, or My Big Fat Greek Salad. Jurassic Pork also
works for me.  Good idea for the movie mavens.
--ISTANBUL & BEYOND (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017, 352
pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is by food writer Robyn Eckhardt. It's an
exploration of the diverse cuisines of Turkey, with excellent travel and food
photography by David Hagerman. There is also material on stocking the
Turkish pantry for the serious cook, and a glossary. This is the cross-roads
country between Europe and Asia, and shows heavy influences from the
surrounding countries such as Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria
and Greece. All courses are covered, and there is a separate index to
recipes by category. For example, breads include borek, tahini buns, pan
bread, kete, corn breads, flatbreads, hand-pies, and bread rings. Plenty of
meat, but no pork. Historical cultural and travel notes accompany just about
every recipe.
--VENETO: recipes from an Italian country kitchen (Guardian Books/Faber
and Faber, 2017, 288 pages, $42.95 CAD hardbound) is by Valeria
Necchio, who grew up in the countryside of inland Veneto (not Venice itself).
Here she tells stories of food, people and places, sharing recipes with
credit. This is, as Alice Waters endorsed, regional home cooking at its best.
The first part explores "then", the second part does "now" (both 125 pages
each) while the third part is the Venetian seasonal pantry.  There's baccala
mantecato, schie frite, sarde in saor, ovi e sparsi, maroni rosti, fritaja de
erbe – and scores more. Good company for Brunetti when he travels inland.
--LISBON (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 256 pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is
by UK freelance food writer and TV presenter Rebecca Seal who has
written other food travel books (Istanbul, The Islands of Greece). She's got
some culinary links to former Portuguese colonies such as Goa,Brazil and
Mozambique, which have added to the local Lisbon food scene  Each
recipe has a story. The classics are here: salt cod and chickpea seals, piri
piri chicken, Goan fish curry, and, of course, clams with pork (or is it pork
with clams?). Preps are titled in both Portuguese and English, and the index
provided a comprehensive analysis. Travel and plated photos  are by her
husband food and drink photographer Steven Joyce. A very worthwhile gift
for people who have already been there and want to refresh their memories.
--RIVER COTTAGE A TO Z: our favourite ingredients and  how to cook them
(Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017, 708 pages, $86 CAD hardcovers) is by
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall plus contributions from eight others on the River
Cottage team. They go to work with short notes and cross-referenced
recipes for each ingredient (with writer attribution). It is this year's monster
gift at this price and weight of just under six pounds (2.6 kilos). Not for the
slight. It is a fine reference tool as well since there is a lot here that you may
never see or use, such as puffballs, woodcock, winkles, purslane, or snipe.
But the common are also covered, such as eggs, bacon, cheese, salt, and
allspice.  Each mini-essay details  the origins, propagation, and culinary
uses of vegetables, herbs, seafood, and meats. Beware, though, of the
distinct British orientation (eg, aubergines).
--BANGKOK (Ten Speed Press, 2017, 360 pages, $47 CAD hardbound) is
by Leela Punyaratabandhu, who writes about Thai food (she had previously
authored Simple Thai Food). This one covers the food of Bangkok, her
hometown. It's loaded with street food which, of course, needs a strong
urban/tourist environment. In addition to the photos of plated recipes, there
are many stories of Bangkok with photos of the landscape. Here are 120
preps ranging from curried chicken puffs, omelette rolls with crabmeat and
shrimp paste relish, chicken matasman curry, noodles and desserts. She's
got strong notes on pantries and rice, as well as the engaging stories of
Bangkok foods.
--DALMATIA (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 224 pages, $57 CAD hardbound)
is by Ino Kuvacic, who owns and chefs at  Dalmatino in Melbourne. It's this
year's Croatian cookbook (there is usually one a year). These are preps
from Croatia's  Adriatic coast, with four chapters covering veggies, seafood,
meat and sweets. Most of the photos are of the plated foods, but there are
some obviously tourist-y ones from along the coast. Try brudet (Dalmatian
fish stew), crni rizot (black risotto) and duved (sauteed veggies with rice).
--LURE (Figure 1, 2017,  240 pages, $38.95 CAD hardbound) is by Ned
Bell, once executive chef of Four seasons Hotel Vancouver and other
places but now heavily involved with seafood sustainability groups such as
"Chefs for Oceans" which he founded in 2014. He's writing with Valerie
Howes, food editor of Reader's Digest Canada and currently writing a work
on edible landscapes and seascapes of Fogo Island, Newfoundland. These
are sustainable seafood recipes from the West Coast of Canada. The
recipe section is arranged by type: white fish, fatty fish, shellfish, and sea
greens. It is headed by a recipe list by course, so you can always find a
sandwich or soup or app. There is a 50-page chapter on specie profiles, so
you can get the lowdown on what to look for when buying and how to prep.
There's one dessert here (seaweed brownies), and one drink (seaweed
vodka caesar) plus salads, mains, snacks, appetizers, sandwiches, and
soups. He's identified all the healthy fish and shellfish species on the West
coast, so it is a useful tome to assuage any feelings of irresponsibility.
2017, 320 pages, $66 CAD hardbound) is from a London restaurant in a
Victorian building which also houses a 26-suite hotel. The building, in
Marylebone, was once the Manchester Square Fire Station, but was
renovated by Andre Balazs (who also owns hotels in New York and
Hollywood). He's on the title page, as is Nuno Mendes the chef. The
Firehouse is strong on cocktails and snacks. Stephen Fry's faves are the
Firehouse Sazerac, bacon cornbread fingers with chipotle maple butter and
fried chicken with smoky bacon ranch dip. Among the mains you will find
the red mullet with endive hearts, mussels and marcona almonds. To
conclude, Fry wants to die with the frozen apple panna cotta on his lips. A
third of the (oversized) tome is cocktails and snacks, and if you add starters
(which are actually large snacks or small plates), then you are up to page
170  -- more than half the book. Mains and deserts are about 100 pages.
Add brunch and a lot of well-sited photos with a history of the establishment.
Recommended strongly as a gift for the millennials.
--THE DESSERTS OF NEW YORK (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 242
pages, $34.99 CAD softbound)  is by travel cookbook author Yasmin
Newman. It is a detailed survey guide to the various places one can find
desserts in NYC, with info on places, people and areas. She's got the
recipes for the "best" NYC cheesecake, NYC cupcakes, and NYC banana
cream mille crepes – among others. For your NYC friends and visitors.
256 pages, $40 CAD hardbound) is by Adele Yellin (her firm owns and has
operate the GCM since 1984) and Kevin West. This is cuisine and culture 
from downtown Los Angeles. The GCM has been here since 1917; this is its
centennial year. The 34 stalls are a mix of legacy tenants and new vendors –
all culturally diversified with a great ethnic mix of food. There are 85 recipes
to make at home, plus pix of the buzz at the market. Narratives include
behind-the-scenes stories and interviews with popular vendors and longtime
shoppers. Preps have been sourced from the stalls and the whole book has
been wrapped around excellent photography and illustrations.
--IN MY KITCHEN (Ten Speed Press, 2017, 286 pages, $42.50 CAD
hardbound) is by the indefatigable Deborah Madison, one of the most
important cookbook authors (14) with major awards (Beard, Fisher, IACP)
working in the area of vegetarian food. More than 100 recipes here come
from her personal selection of what she eats today in New Mexico. It's all
organized by major ingredient, and each prep has some vegan and gluten-
free variations. Consider the basic tomato and red pepper tart in a yeasted
crust, or the Japanese sweet potato soup with ginger and smoked salt.
She's got lots of cook notes and tips for the preps, complemented by
sterling close-up photography. A great gift idea – in fact, buy two and keep
one for yourself.
--PROVENCE TO PONDICHERRY (Quadrille, 2017, 288 pages, $50 CAD
hardbound) is by Tessa Kiros, with photography by Manos Chatzikonstantis
and food styling by Michail Touros. It's about the French threads in food and
travel, and goes through Provence, Guadeloupe, Vietnam, Pondicherry, La
Reunion, and Normandy – all within 300 or so pages. Part memoir and part
recipes, with lots of photos. There's rougail tomate, coriander chutney, sticky
rice with coconut and ginger, tapenade, fried shallots – and more. A great
guide for the traveller.
--FRANCE: from the source (Lonely Planet Books, 2017, 288 pages,
$34.99 CAD hardbound) is by Carolyn Boyd. Each chapter covers  a
specific geographical area; there are four of these (northern, central,
southeast and southwest France), plus recipe sources. These are the best
local dishes from restaurant chefs, such as snails with butter and parsley  or
salade lyonnaise or salade nicoise. And, of course, there are cultural notes
about the dish, the region, and the chef. One of a very impressive series
(which already has Japan, Spain, and Mexico).
--MEXICO: from the source (Lonely Planet Books, 2017, 288 pages,
$34.99 CAD hardbound) is by five different authors, each to a region. There
are five  geographical regions (Baja California, Yucatan, Oaxaca, Pacific
Coast and Mexico City) plus recipe sources. These are the best local
dishes from restaurant chefs, such as habanero salsa, tuna tostados,
ceviche, chicken legs with red chile spices, pozole, and turkey soup with
meat balls. And, of course, there are cultural notes about the dish, the
region, and the chef. One of a series.
--STREET FOOD ASIA (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 306 pages, $60 CAD
hardbound) is by Luke Nguyen of Saigon who travels through Malaysia,
Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, with photography by Alan Benson. It's an
oversized tome concentrating on both the street food (such as duck egg and
beef martabak) and the vendors, with cultural stories about the food. It is all
aromatic fragrant food, full of baguettes and banana leaves, pork and rice,
tamarind water, tea and tofu. And now you can make the foods at home with
the given recipes.
--DINNER (Clarkson Potter, 2017, 400 pages, $47 CAD hardbound) is by
award-winning IACP and Beard author Melissa Clark, staff food writer for
the New York Times. She's got 200 recipes that, in her opinion, "change the
game". It's arranged by main ingredient: chicken, meat (but including duck
and turkey), ground meats, seafood/fish, eggs, pasta, tofu, veggie dinners,
rice, pizzas, soups, salads, and add-ons such as dips/spreads/breads. It is
an oversized and heavy tome, very impressive as a gift.
--ACQUACOTTA (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 272 pages, $50 CAD
hardbound) is by Emiko Davies, who has lived in Tuscany for many years.
This is the cuisine of Tuscany's Silver Coast by the Tyrrhenian Sea (Monte
Argentario, with its Port Ercole where she lived for awhile:  "Cucina
Maremmana"). These recipes and stories are dominated by the water and
lagoon, although there are preps from the surrounding woods and cultivated
farms. The chapter "Dal Mare e Dalla Laguna" seems to have many ancient
seafood dishes from the fishing towns. She's even got a bibliography for
further reading. Lots of non-food photos and stories also makes this a travel
--THE COMPLETE ASIAN COOKBOOK (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 640
pages, $75 CAD hardbound) is by Charmaine Solomon. It was first issued
in 1976 and extensively revised in 2011; over its life it has sold more than a
million copies. The collection of 800+ recipes from Asiatic countries (India,
China, Japan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Burma,
Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, Korea, and Thailand) has been
translated into other European languages. This is its 40th anniversary
celebration edition. It's a huge oversized tome but is very comprehensive
and well-written – it is sure to please as a terrific gift.
--MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME (Gibbs Smith, 2017, 208 pages, $50
CAD hardbound) is by Sharon Santoni,  whose blog is the same as the
book's title.  It deals with entertaining through the seasons (beginning with
spring), and comes with gorgeous photography by Franck Schmitt.
Scattered throughout are easy versions of classic French cuisine, such as
cherry clafoutis, quiche Lorraine, fougasse bread, tarte Tatin, and roast duck
– about 15 in all. A  definite coffee table tome; indeed, it IS a coffee table –
just attach legs (available separately). Her topics are universal: daily life in
rural France (here, Normandy) with its ups and downs; French girlfriends;
intricacies of village life; and searching for brocante treasure in the flea
markets of Paris and the countryside. Well-worth a look.
--KING SOLOMON'S TABLE (Knopf, 2017, 386 pages, $47 CAD
hardbound) is by Jean Nathan, multiple cookbook award winner (Beard,
IACP, Child) and host of PBS cookery shows. For forty years she has
specialized in Jewish cooking themes, and here gives us a culinary
exploration of Jewish diaspora cooking from around the world. It is an
informative guide to the international global scope of Jewish cooking,
arranged by course and major ingredient: pantry matters, morning dishes,
starters, salads, soups, grains, veggies, fish, poultry, meats and sweets.
She's got socca, spanakit (Georgian spinach salad) and keftes garaz
(Syrian meatballs). Most of the 170  preps are accompanied by detailed
cultural notes and photos. There is also an in-depth bibliography and a
thorough index. Well-worth perusing.
--PORTLAND COOKS (Figure 1 Publishing, 2017, 226 pages, $37.95
CAD hardbound) is by local cookbook author and food writer/blogger
Danielle Centoni, who also has a Beard Award. It is another in the great
series from Figure 1 detailing recipes from a city's best restaurants and
bars. Having done the major cities of Canada, the Canadian publishers are
expanding to contiguous locations such as Portland (can Seattle be far
behind?). The series is fairly straightforward: there is an introduction to the
restaurants and the local food scene, followed by a home version of the
restaurant's recipe (usually one or two) and some detail about the
establishment with pix. Copyright to the preps is normally held by the
restaurant; they are loaded with ideas.   It's a great tome for any fan or
resident of Portland.
--TORONTO EATS  (Figure 1 Publishing, 2017, 238 pages, $37.95 CAD
hardbound) is by Amy Rosen, author of Toronto Cooks (2014) in the Figure
1 series. That  work sold pretty well, and as she says "now we're back for
seconds". Here are 100 signature recipes from 50 chefs (some of whom
were in the first one). Restaurants here include Boralia, Byblos, Honest
Weight, Lena, Nota Bene, Pizzeria Libretto, Zucca Trattoria. There are
stories from the restaurants (who hold the copyrights to the recipes)  and
photos, plus pix of plated dishes.  A great addition to the Toronto scene, and
a must-read for the Holidays.
B. And how about gift books for the beverage drinker? Try –
--HALLIDAY WINE COMPANION 2018 (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 776
pages, $57 CAD paperbound) by James Halliday, who has been at wine
writing for about 47 years. This is the definitive guide to Australian wines.
He gives us data about the wineries and their vineyards, deets on
addresses, social media, opening hours, names and other numbers,
followed by detailed tasting notes, vintage-specific ratings, advice on
optimal drinking period, ABV, and prices. There are supposed to have been
some 10,000 wines tasted for this edition, and he has full tasting notes for
3859 (couldn't he push it up to 4K?), ratings and prices for 2979 other
wines, 1237 winery profiles (77 are new wineries), "best of" lists and five-
star wineries listed. There are vintage charts and maps plus multiple
indexes. But I am sure if he got together with his Kiwi counterpart, they could
come up with some antipodean pocket guide at 256 pages to cover both
countries and sell it in North America and the UK; it's sure to be a winner.
--DR. ADAM ELMEGIRAB'S BOOK OF BITTERS (Dog 'n' Bone, 2017, 160
pages, $30 CAD hardbound) is "the bitter and twisted history" of one of the
cocktail bar's most fascinating ingredient. There is a brief history, followed
by the "myth of Angostura". Fascinating indeed is the manufacturing
process. Tastewise, a light use of bitters picks up flavours in the cocktail
and emphasizes them with a slight tang. Elmegirab, a bar writer and
educator who also owns a bitters company, provides us with 50 cocktail
recipes created by bartenders (including himself) from around the world.
They showcase the different intents of bitters: acidity on the palate, saltiness
enhancement, savoury umami, and the like.  A good book to have.
Small, 2017, 256 pages, $37.50 CAD hardbound) is by Tristan
Stephenson, who has authored four other Curious Bartender books
(Whiskies, Cocktails, Gin, plus one on Coffee) over the years. This is a
guidebook to the rum revival, with cultural and historical notes and photos.
Yesterday's grog has become a range, from white rum through aged and
spiced varieties – just about all of it premium spirits. Sugarcane and
molasses never had it so good! He's got notes on 50 or so rum distilleries
throughout the world, 250 tasting notes, plus the stories behind the iconic
drinks of Mai Tai, Mojito, Pina Colada, and Planter's Punch.
--THE CHAMPAGNE GUIDE 2018-2019 5th edition (Hardie Grant Books,
2017, 368 pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is by Tyson Stelzer who covers 625
Champagnes from 113 important producers. It is as up-to-date as it can be,
with new chapters on tips for buying Champagne this year, a  chapter on
Champagne and food matching, and updated deets on 95 producers (a few
have been dropped but 40 new players have been added). Houses and
cuvees that did not make the cut are featured in the index only.  Some wines
are tasted on the Champagne site while others were tasted in Australia (and
can be indicative of travel and storage). Grape varieties and percentages
are indicated as well as long tasting notes and points out of a hundred.
Glossaries are also included. Great guide for travellers too. A posh book for
a posh wine.
& Company, 2017, 291 pages, $35.95 CAD hardbound) is by Patrick E.
McGovern, an adjunct professor of anthropology  at U Penn who has written
two other "ancient" drink books: "Uncorking the Past" and "Ancient Wine".
Here he looks at beer and the early experimentation with high-sugar fruits,
honey, roots, cereals, herbs and tree-resins. He combines archaeology with
science to cover China, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, Scandinavia, Peru – and more
– in their attempts at the perfect brew. Along the way he has the original
recipes, the re-created preps (not guaranteed, says the publisher), and food
pairing. Plus archival illustrations and a chapter-by-chapter bibliography.
--NEW ZEALAND WINE: the land, the vines, the people (Hardie Grant
Books, 2017, 376 pages, $85 CAD hardbound) is by geographer Warren
Moran, professor emeritus at the University of Auckland, which originally
published this tome late last year. Here is the international edition published
in Australia and now being made available in North America. Moran has
extensively covered the rural industries of New Zealand. This is a great
introduction to the wines: the terroir, the grape varieties, the families and
personalities, the companies, and the wines themselves. There's a brief
history and then a swing through the eight wine regions. All with maps,
archival photos, panoramic views, and the rise (and importance of )
sauvignon blanc on the world stage. Pricey, but definitive – and more than
just a coffee table addition.
--NATURAL WINE; in introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made
naturally. 2nd Edition. (CICO Books, 2014, 2017 $34.95 CAD hardbound)
is by Isabelle Legeron, MW
There is a large argument raging in the wine world over what is a natural
wine. Some believe that it should be applied only to organic and
biodynamic farms; others think it should also mean "sustainable" or "green",
etc. The key would simply be to get rid of the word "natural" and just have
"organic or biodynamic" and "sustainable". It is only the organic and
biodynamic wines that are certifiable. There are no controls over the rest of
the "natural" wording on the label. Indeed, some organic wineries just press
organic grapes and then use regular winemaking techniques. They can still
call their wines organic. I know of many farms who use the term "natural" to
reflect their organic practices, because they just do not have the money nor
the wait time to apply for certification. Wine is a process, and it is also an
industry. Wineries try to be consistent from year to year because they have a
product to sell. The weather determines the  "corrections" the winemaker
needs to take (more acid, earlier/later picking, more sugar, more irrigation,
etc.), but a  natural O or  B winery rolls with the punches and produces wine
"as is". The author takes us through the year and discusses wine faults,
stability, health issues, taste, fermentation, sulphites, and a load of
contentious issues. She gives notes on over 150 wines, sorted by types
(bubbly, red, white, orange, rose, sweet). Not surprisingly, France has the
most listings, followed by Italy: these are the two leaders by production. 
Other additional sections cover a glossary, lists of associations and wine
fairs, restaurants and stores for the US and UK, and a bibliography.
--THE ESSENTIAL COCKTAIL BOOK (Ten Speed Press, 2017, 342
pages, $24.99 CAD hardbound) is by a former wine editor at Food & Wine
magazine, Megan Krigbaum. It is a guide to modern drinks with about 150
recipes. There is the usual primer on bar essentials covering ingredients
and glassware plus garnishes. This followed by the classic recipes (170
pages) and then the modern recipes (130 pages), ending with a collection
of syrups. All of the modern ones come from current bartenders at current
bars, all of the preps being sourced. Good photos for the presentation and
the garnishes. You won't need more than this charming tool unless you just
want to improvise on your own...and why not?