ON THE DEAN'S LIST:
MY 23rd (!!) ANNUAL SURVEY OF FOOD AND DRINK-RELATED BOOKS
SUITABLE AS HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR THE 2019/20 PARTY PERIOD
NOVEMBER 19, 2019
By Dean Tudor, Ryerson Journalism Professor Emeritus and Gothic
Epicures Writing, www.deantudor.com (World Wine Watch Newsletter).
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.
Part One: TOP GIFT BOOKS
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 giftbook...to 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 https://hosemasterofwine.blogspot.com/2018/11/what-makes-wine-worth-drinking-in.html
--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.