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Monday, January 18, 2021

THE DOUBLE HAPPINESS COOKBOOK; 88 feel-good recipes and food stories (Figure.1, 2021, 312 pages, $37.99 hardbound) is by Trevor Lui,

--THE DOUBLE HAPPINESS COOKBOOK; 88 feel-good recipes and food stories (Figure.1, 2021, 312 pages, $37.99 hardbound) is by  Trevor Lui, who has been cooking since he was seven, when he first manned the grill at Highbell, his father's North York Chinese restaurant.  This memoir and cookbook has developed Toronto boites which include Kanpai Snack Bar, La Brea Food and Popa. Typical are ramen carbonara,  udon-stuffed meatballs, the Last Samurai, and bulgogi beef tostadas.
A lot of it falls into the category of street food trucks, but the range does include vegetarian, choicen and egg dishes, family style comfort foods, rice and noodles. Many preps are contributed by his fellow chefs, and there are food stories for just about every recipe. A good gift book too. Quality/Price rating: 92
 

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Saturday, January 16, 2021

SOME NEW BEVERAGE SAMPLES SENT TO ME FOR TASTING THIS MONTH –

 
JANUARY 1  -- 10 --
 
 
1.Henry of Pelham Estate Gamay 2019 VQA Ontario, +19903, $19.95 Vintages April 2021: [currently at winery] Aromatic black and red fruit (cherries, raspberries, blueberries), augmented by oak tones with vanilla cake spices, not as lean or Euro as Beaujolais. Fermented in stainless and aged in a mix of US and French oak for about 10 months before bottling. Medium-bodied, good for patio drinking (sangria too), parties, BBQ. Ready now, but with some tannic structure to carry through a whole meal. Hey, summer weather is coming! 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
1.Henry of Pelham Riesling Speck Family Reserve 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, +643361
$27.95 [now available online and at winery]: absolutely delicious MVC intense riesling in a Mosel style (and using a Mosel clone), with an off-dry palate but a dry finish (good acid levels on the finish); broad fruity strokes of peaches and flowers on the mid-palate; quite a blazing riesling with intense pleasure, sip or food. Residual sugar is 15.4g/L, 9.8% ABV, cork closure, from HOP's oldest Estate vineyards (35+ year old riesling vines, handpicked, stainless steel fermentation). Try with rich bivalve dishes or porchetta. Should improve in the bottle over the years. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
3.Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2018 Marlborough, +490326, $21.95 Vintages February 20: a dry summer led to a fruity harvest. The tropical fruit intensity leads to a citric lemony finish for food, typically white fish or seafood. Some creaminess in the texture (60% was fermented in older French oak barrels, and 15% new oak was also used). If you lay it down, it should be even better next year! 12.5% ABV, twist top. Residual sugar 4g/L. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
4.Lapis Luna Zinfandel 2018 North Coast AVA, +17264, $19.95 Vintages February 20, 2021: [cheese and rice, where do they come up with these labels? 400-year-old copperplate engravings]. Anyway, something to look at and something to read while you consume and meditate on the niftiness of the blend (80% zinfandel, 20% sangiovese) done up in 10% new French and US oak for 10 months. The rich zin has been curbed and lightened by the sour cherries of the sangiovese. Think of a variety of flavours: cedar, jammy black fruit (plums, blackberry, blueberry), spicy florets. Dark and bold flavours. 14.3% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
5.Durant & Booth Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Napa Valley, $34.95, +16565, Vintages February 6, 2021: The blend is cabernet sauvignon (87%), petit verdot (6%), merlot (5%), and petite sirah (2%). Chock full of some lightly floating red fruit (think cherries, strawbs, red mulberry) and then some plateaus of darker elements (plum, blueberry, mocha tones). Really good balance, but better after a year more in the bottle. There's some muscle here after 10 months in 25% new French oak. Do a double decant or taste it over a few days as I did. 14.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
JANUARY 10 - 16 --
 
 
1.Troupis Fteri Moschofilero 2019 Greece, +647388 $14.95 Vintages March 20: flower aromatics and some grape tones (much like muscat) and with a deceptive citric finish. So: starts out floral, rises to fat perfume, and then descends to crispness for the food as a first course wine, paired with white meats. 12% ABV. Price dropped $2 since the 2017 vintage was in Ontario. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
2.Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Estate 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench Niagara, +268391 Vintages, February 20, $24.95: Here is a deft Burgundian-character pinot noir wine, with cherry-berry tones, some toast, mildly opulent style, not totally cool climate at all. Fermented in stainless and aged in oak. Ready in a year or two. Dependable. And also available in Denmark, Hungary, Japan, USA and Czech Republic. Needs time; try a double decant. 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
3.Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Chardonnay 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench +616466, $29.95 [currently at winery] Vintages May 1: Grapes come from their oldest estate vineyards (beginning 1988), hand-picked. Barrel fermented in French oak with a portion in 3000L foudres, and then barrel aged for 8 – 10 months in a mix of new and older barrels. This continues the tradition of Burgundian elegance. Expect some ripeness, balance of oaking and fruit, integrated style in place.  Wood integration produces some creaminess in the finish. 12.8% ABV, cork closure. Definitely needs another year – or more – in bottle in order to bring out the nuances. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
4.Henry of Pelham Estate Riesling 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, +557165, $19.95 Vintages March 20: intense riesling in a Rhine style of cool fermentation, with very off-dry palate but dry finish (good acid levels on the finish) – broad grapefruit and lemons on the mid-palate, sip (mainly) or food. 9.8% ABV, 19.5 g/L RS, twist top, from HOP's oldest Estate riesling vineyards (planted 1984). Should also age well. Try with fish that live in water but die in wine. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
5.Buena Vista The Sheriff Sonoma County 2017 +539114, $49.95 Vintages March 6: well, here was a surprise – a really good wine from 10 different red grape varieties, a sort-of California Chateauneuf-du-Pape. For the record, this 2017 vintage has petite sirah (28%), petit verdot (21%), cabernet sauvignon (16%), carignan (9%), grenache (9%), syrah (7%), malbec (4%), cabernet franc (2%), merlot (2%), and mission (2%). The proportions can vary from vintage to vintage. All grapes were grown on different parcels in Sonoma. One of California's first sheriffs, Agoston Haraszthy was elected Sheriff of San Diego County in 1850. He built the first jail. This is a full and firm field blend type of wine, with aromas/palates of every good thing you could find in the "kitchen sink": black fruit cassis, cherries, blackberries, plums, red raspberries – and then drifting off to mocha, followed by savouries such as black pepper and tobacco leaf. Oak aging was 10 months, with 15% new oak. The rich tannins need time, so put it away for a few years. If necessary, do a double decant and taste over several days. 15% ABV. Serve with rich game stews or tomahawk steaks. Quality/Price rating is 91-92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
6.Perdeberg The Vineyard Collection Cinsault 2018 Paarl South Africa +18618, $17.95 Vintages March 6: this is a broad basic, entry-level wine from a grape imported to South Africa via Languedoc and South Rhone. Indeed, cinsault is one of the parents of "pinotage" (the other is pinot noir). Until recently, it had the largest acreage planted in South Africa (cabernet sauvignon now has the largest number of plantings). This particular vineyard in 2018 had 30 year old cinsault vineyards. Expect some heady fruity ripeness aromas, a slight sweetness despite 3.8 g/L residual sugar, with a pronounced peppery backspin, much like grenache. Needs tomato sauce dishes, with veal-beef-pork meats. Cork closure. Ready now. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
7.Gustave Lorentz Sylvaner Reserve 2019 +18160, $16.95, Vintages March 6: sylvaner is the workhorse wine of Alsace. It turns up everywhere by itself or as a zwicker wine. It is light and delicate, somewhat reminiscent of the pinot grigio style and mood. Indeed, it could have been marketed the same way. It's an uncomplicated fresh wine stressing lemons and citric attack with a dry finish. Aperitif wine or first course (seafood/fish). A good entry level wine with lots more body than the pinot grigio style. [a wine colleague of mine had accidentally left a car-trunk full of Alsatian white wines to freeze in the cold – only the sylvaner survived] 13.5% ABV, 1.8 g/L residual sugar. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under $20 for JANUARY 9, 2021 (annual “value” release) --

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under $20 for JANUARY 9, 2021  (annual "value" release) --
 
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. My "Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net", a guide to thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits, has been at http://www.deantudor.com since 1994.
 
....and a Happy New Year to all for 2021!!
 
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at http://www.gothicepicures.blogspot.ca  or at  http://www.deantudor.com No winery can buy their way into – or out of – this publication.
 
Scores are a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, e.g. a Southern Rhone would taste like a Southern Rhone) and QPR (Quality/Price Ratio value in the marketplace above or below its price).
 
Currently, the wine media have no access to the tasting samples usually provided to us in the LCBO lab on a fortnightly basis. This will go on or some time. HOWEVER,  the wine media will still have access to the advance spreadsheet of the wines to be released. So I know what is to be released and when. SOME (but not many) of these 100 or so biweekly released wines I have recently tasted since January 2020 or so, and I can comfortably recommend them based on this prior sampling.
 
 
Some New Wines Tasted Over the Past Little While ---
 
1.Buena Vista Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 North Coast, $19.95 +254458 Vintages January 9, 2021: Buena Vista has been continuing with its historic-looking wine labels (the winery was founded in 1857). It's a nifty blend of cabs from Fountaingrove, Sonoma Mountain, and Alexander Valley (all part of the North Coast appellation). After 11 months in 10% new French oak it was racked. The emphasis is on darkness, with plenty of black fruit (cassis, black cherry) and butterscotch tones with black pepper spices, softish finish. Still needs time, another year. Do a double decant or leave it open for a day to get a taste of its potential. 14.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
2.Monte del Fra Lena di Mezzo Valpolicella Classico DOC 2018 Veneto, +160226, $18.95 Vintages: a fairly basic but inviting Veronese wine full of red cherry-berry fruit, a bit jammy on the finish, ready now. Typical forest floor elements as well. Pretty well goes with everything, good as a sipper and as a food paired wine. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
3.Monte del Fra Lena di Mezzo Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC Ripasso 2017 Veneto, +165662, $24.95 Vintages: bright red fruit dominate both its texture and its palate, evoking some minerality that cuts through the balanced fruity cherry tones. Some forest floor; some mocha tones. Amarone grape pressings are added just before spring, to give it the second fermentation oompf. Great as a sipper or with food or both, ready now at three years after the vintage. It has been aged in large French oak for 18 months. This is a collaborative brand with the LCBO, and there will be a new release in May 2021. The grapes used are corvina veronese and corvinone (80%) with rondinella added. 14% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
4.Westcott Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2019 VQA Niagara Escarpment, +424507, $29.95 Vintages: This Estate wine has had full MLF, 100% wild yeast, barrel fermentation, and French oak aging for 9 months (50% one fill, 50% neutral). Two different clones were used (95 and 96), and the results show a typical Westcott feature of orchard fruit with some tropicality concentrated notes contributed by the oak aging leading to a slight citric finish. Still too young, lay it down – or taste it (as I did) over a stretch of time. A good first course wine since the oak appears in the background as grace notes (it's lighter in toast tones than the 2018). Do not overchill. 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
5.Westcott Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2017 VQA Vinemount Ridge, +424500, $29.95 Vintages: This Estate Pinot Noir (clones 115, 667, 777) has been barrel aqed in French oak (15% new) for 23 months. Overall it is harmoniously silky in a cool climate way, with red cherry-berry fruit and nuances of mocha. Good acid levels and soft tannins highlight an herbal consistency. Definitely a food wine that should appeal to all, especially with simply prepared meats and poultry. A slight chilling can enhance its performance with fish such as salmon or trout. It is still too young, so do a double decant or taste over several days as I did. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
6.Henry of Pelham Family Estate Chardonnay 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, $21.95, +268342 Vintages Essential: this bottling continues the tres elegante Burgundian character of earlier years. Some ripeness, pleasant balance of oaking and fruit, integrated style in place, wood integration produces some creaminess in the finish. Overall balance of fruit and wood, vanilla, modest spices. 12.8% ABV, cork closure, barrel fermentation in French oak, barrel aging (some in 3K litre foudres for 8 months. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
7.Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Speck Family Reserve 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, +657874 Vintages, $34.95: fruit-forward with enough black/dark tones of cherry-berry capable of long cellar aging. The winery says Clones 667 on Block 100 were used for 250 cases. Tank fermentation with 10 months European oak barrel aging (30% new), finishing as blended in an oak tank. Very, very food friendly. 13% ABV. Steady pricing at this level for some years now. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
8.Pencarrow Chardonnay Martinborough NZ, +16028 Vintages, $21.95: one of the nicest balanced fresh chardonnays to come past my palate in quite some time, full of that old style oaking (not too toasty but at least noticeable). Golden hue and golden tastes, stressing a nuttiness from the French oak (20% new) and the wild yeast fermentation (50%). Aged on the stirred lees for 10 months. Plenty of stonefruit nuances. 13% ABV. The buttery finish lingers and nicely accompanies many complex first course dishes. Quality/Price rating is 93 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
9.Quails' Gate Pinot Noir 2018 BC Okanagan VQA, +585760 Vintages, $32.95: typical cool climate approach to pinot noir, emphasizing its savouriness: yellow flower aromatic notes, candied red fruit, sweet green herbals and black pepper on the medium- soft juicy-citric finish. 93% Pinot Noir, 7% Gamay (although this varies from year to year, usually within a percentage point). Aged in French oak barrels for 10 months. Astounding residual sweetness of 0.28 g/L. 13.5% ABV. Tasted over several days. Probably best with any Christmas fowl. Quality/Price rating is 91+ points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
10.Quails' Gate Dry Riesling 2018 BC VQA Okanagan +308312 Vintages $19.95: this particular wine benefits from both an early and a late picked harvest, with the early contributing fresh acid and the later nectarine and citric orange tones. It's very crisp and dry (4.7 g/L RS) and full of orchard fruit (apples, pears, apricots, nectarines, peaches) and sweeter citric fruit such as tangerines and mandarins. There's lots going on here. Best with spiced or vinegared seafood. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
Under $20 [this is the annual "value" release, post-Christmas/New Year, hence few wines are over $20]
=========
W+147975    GÉRARD BERTRAND RÉSERVE SPÉCIALE VIOGNIER    IGP Pays d'Oc    2018    $14.95    MVC/QPR: 92
W+488981    FOLLAS NOVAS ALBARIÑO    DO Rías Baixas 2019    $17.95     MVC/QPR: 89
W+458810    TOM GORE CHARDONNAY    California    2018    $19.95 MVC/QPR: 89
W+328559    CATHEDRAL CELLAR CHARDONNAY    WO Western Cape    2019    $17.95 MVC/QPR: 91
R+631820 DESQUICIADO MALBEC Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza 2017 $16.95MVC/QPR: 89
R+254458    BUENA VISTA CABERNET SAUVIGNON North Coast    2018    $19.95MVC/QPR: 91
R+488015    QUINTA DO ESPÍRITO SANTO    Vinho Regional Lisboa 2017 $14.95 MVC/QPR: 89
 
Over $20 [sorry, I have not tasted any from Jan 9 release at this price level]
========

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

* THE REISSUES, THE REPRINTS, AND THE NEWER EDITIONS...

* THE REISSUES, THE REPRINTS, AND THE NEWER EDITIONS...
  ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 
...all reflect a boom in the cookbook publishing business. A paperback reprint will lower the cost to the purchaser, and also give a publisher a chance to correct egregious errors or add a postscript. Some will reissue a book in paper covers with a new layout or photos. Others will rearrange existing material to present it as more informative text while keeping the focus tight. Some magazines will reissue popular or classic recipes in an "easy" format. Here are some recent "re-editions"...
 
 
14.THE CURIOUS BARTENDER'S GUIDE TO MALT, BOURBON & RYE WHISKIES (Ryland Peters & Small, 2014, 2020, 176 pages, $14.95 USD hardcovers) is by Tristan Stephenson, not only a drinks author but also a brand ambassador and consultant in the UK world of cocktails. This, his second work covers malt, bourbon and rye types of whiskey, with histories, an exploration of the barrel-aging process, and a trip to major distilleries throughout the world (but principally the UK and the US). It's a second edition of a 2014 book but he has updated it and given us many more places to visit in his Directory of Distilleries. He's also got some classic preps for cocktails, such as the Boilermaker. It follows the rising tide of brown spirits that has returned after many years of clear spirits. There are lots of colour photos 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 book for the bourbon, rye, and whiskey lover.
 
 
15.INDIAN CUISINE (DK Books, 2006, 2010, 2020, 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-9941-7, $29.99 CAD hardbound) is a publisher's book, with contributions by Vivek Singh, G. Sultan Mohideenh, Das Sreedharan, and Mahmood Akbar – all international chefs with British and American experiences. This is its third edition, with 200 recipes written for the modern  home cook. The arrangement is by principal ingredient, with veggies up first, followed by fish, poultry, meat, rice and bread, plus sauces and chutneys. The book opens with international ingredients explained, mainly from North India, South India and Pakistan. There is a concluding glossary. Most everything here is a "curry": curry is defined as any fish, meat or vegetables cooked with spices in a liquid. Spices determine the differences. The book could have been improved if it also used all metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 89
 
 
 
16.SURF-SIDE EATING (Ryland Peters & Small, 2020, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-207-3 $24.95 USD hardbound) is a publisher's anthology collection of recipes from 13 different food writers. Valerie Aikman-Smith has the most with 27 preps, followed by Shelagh Ryan and Laura Santini with 15 each. It's a good assembly of food and food ideas for prepping and eating in a relaxed mode while by the seaside. So the emphasis is on coastal seafood such as fish tacos with chipotle-lime cream, spciy tuna and black rice bowl, or a Thai steamed snapper. The arrangement is by time of day: rise and shine, brunch/lunch, all-day dining, BBQ at the beach, sunset dinners and desserts – all along with various beverages with or without alcohol. It's a nifty idea, with many preps involving little or no work, or even sharable work. I particularly enjoyed the quinoa and asparagus salad with matcha lemon dressing, the grilled halloumi with jalapeno and lime and tequila relish, and, of course, the crab with mango and coconut – all from my own imitation seaside kitchen at a lockdown home and supermarket delivery. The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 89.
 
 
17.STREET FOOD    (Ryland Peters & Small, 2020, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-216-5, $19.95 USD hardbound) is a publisher's anthology collection of recipes from 25 different food writers. Nitisha Patel leads the way with 7 preps (pakoras, dhal, kulfi, samosas, rolls) followed by the rest who have about 4 or 5 recipes. Some even have just one or two. The range is international, of course, and this leads to many "food trucks" and stalls. These are all quick bites and mobile snacks, arranged by continent. The range is from the Americas to Europe to Africa and the Middle East, ending up with Asia and India. There is something for everybody, with the inevitable caution that a steady diet of street food may keep you up at night. So: from the USA comes the Hawaiian poke, Peru has the mackerel ceviche, Southern US has pulled pork, Buffalo NY has its wings, New York City has egg rolls, Jamaica has a jerk, Mexico has quesadillas and pork tamalee, and more. There's a whole season's worth of food here for takeaway lovers. Each prep comes with a story and a photo of the plated product. Unfortunately, there is no recipe here for cassava fries which must be the ultimate fried food in the world! But otherwise, what fun! The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 91
----------------------------------------------------

Chimo! www.deantudor.com