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Friday, March 6, 2009



...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. Here are some recent "re-editions"...

11. PACIFIC PINOT NOIR; a comprehensive winery guide for consumers and
connoisseurs (University of California Press, 2008, 454 pages, ISBN
978-0-520-25317-9, $21.95 US soft covers) is by John Winthrup Haeger,
author of "North American Pinot Noir", a book award winner in 2005.
Here he has revised, updated, expanded, and refocused on Pinot Noir as
found only in California and Oregon (New York, British Columbia,
Ontario, and a few other places were left out). Both states are
responsible for 95% of North American pinot noir. Even with the change,
the 72 profiles in the 2004 book became 216 in this one. Each profile
contains history, background, contact info, a summary of wines produced
now and in back vintages, vineyard sources, notes on winegrowing and
winemaking, assessment on producer's style, and tasting notes. There
are some tie-ins with the earlier book, such as for maps and
information cross-references of regions, plant material, and so forth.
But these will only be useful if you have the other book. There is
really no point, at this time, in buying that book, since it costs
$35.95 US, and has a whack of outdated information, and of course, many
fewer profiles. In fact, Haeger himself redirects the reader to the
"Oxford Companion to Wine" for overall help. His newly written
introductory essay on pinot noir in the US is a gem, exploring the
"Sideways"-effect. Quality/Price rating: 92.
12. 125 BEST ITALIAN RECIPES (Robert Rose, 2008, 192 pages, ISBN 978-0-
7788-0198-6, $19.95 Canadian paper covers) is by cookbook author
Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh who now also runs the Black Dog Village Pub and
Bistro in Bayfield, Ontario. It was originally published in 1998 as
"Rustic Italian Cooking", which explains its peasant base of recipes.
Not only are most of these preps useful as the standard recipe for
classic Italian food (minestrone, gnocchi, saltimbocca, walnut cake),
but there are also some delightful excursions into food we rarely think
of, some real farmhouse dishes such as pizzoccheri (buckwheat pasta
with Fontina cheese, potatoes and cabbage) or risotto al radicchio e
Gorgonzola. Just about every region in Italy gets covered, s are all
courses from antipasti to dolci. She promises simple, easy preps in 30
minutes or less (if you have a mise en place). Both avoirdupois and
metric measurements are used in the ingredient listings. And a larger
typeface is used. Quality/Price rating: 87.
edition (John Wiley & Sons, 2009, 632 pages plus accompanying CD
MD03741A, ISBN 978-0-471-78347-3) is by Paul R. Dittmer and J. Desmond
Keefe III, both hospitality academics with extensive field experience.
It is one of those textbook bibles that are not only so useful for
culinary hospitality school students but also for working Food and
Beverage managers. The ninth edition has been updated, there are more
computer apps being discussed, as well as a CD with Excel problems.
There is Study Guide and Instructor's Manual, both available
separately. The book includes detailed discussion of several approaches
to beverage sales, with chapters on cost and sales controls. There is a
complete menu for a hypothetical restaurant to illustrate principles.
There are many student exercises on the CD, and there is a companion
website for usage. Each chapter opens with learning objectives and
closes with summaries and discussion questions. Quality/Price rating:
14. RESTAURANT SERVICE BASICS, second edition (John Wiley & Sons, 2009,
196 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-10785-0, paper covers) is by Sandra J. Dahmer
and Kurt W. Kahl, both foodservice educators. There is also an
Instructor's Manual, available separately. All types of service is 
covered, from casual to formal, from making reservations to greeting
the diner to presentation of the cheque. Troubleshooting problems is
the main theme: how to deal with mechanical problems, how to deal with
human failings, how to deal with contentious customers, how to deal
with violence, lack of sanitation, "cleanup on aisle 8", and a whole
pile of other things beyond just bringing the plate to the table. There
is material on the responsibilities, qualifications, and conduct of the
wait staff personnel. New to this edition is more material on POS
systems, tableside service, reservations, and selling the menu. There
are lots of diagrams for service (such as table, positioning, or making
napkins) as well as photos and charts. Each chapter concludes with
questions for discussion. Quality/Price rating: 90.

15. EAT, MEMORY; great writers at the table (W.W. Norton, 2009, 204
pages, ISBN 978-0-392-06763-7, $24.95 hard covers) is a collection of
food essays from the New York Times, collated by Amanda Hesser, former
food editor of the New York Times magazine. Here are 26 reprints, along
with the recipes, from diverse US writers. As is carefully explained,
every one has a great food story to tell. Check out R.W. Apple Jr.'s
story of the dining room wars, with a recipe for Lebanese kofta; or,
Julia Childs' soft-cooked eggs, or Dorothy Allison's roast duck. No
index, but then the chapters are self-contained, although it might have
been nice to have a listing of the recipes. With the leading, it is a
slight book, and it could have been larger. Quality/Price rating: 83.

16. MR. BOSTON OFFICIAL BARTENDERS'S GUIDE; more than 1500 recipes,
tools, and techniques. 67th edition (Wiley, 2009, 298 pages, ISBN 978-0-
470-39065-8, $14.95 US hard covers) has been edited by Anthony Giglio,
with Jim Meehan and about 75 or so named contributors. Mr. Boston has
been published since 1935; previously, it had sold about 11 million
copies. Not bad for an American classic. Mr. Boston claims 200
contemporary and new recipes, and throughout the book, there are
between 4 and 10 cocktails to a page (and it clearly identifies the
glass to be used). All preps are arranged by alcohol product, and
presents basic bar data. There are trade tips from many contributors,
as well as much more info on garnishes and tools. The cocktail has
evolved into an art form. It, and the cocktail party, has become hot.
Caution: Mr. Boston has an extremely short wine cocktail section and a
short non-alcoholic section. Quality/Price Rating: 91.

17. A HISTORY OF FOOD. New and expanded edition (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009,
756 pages, ISBN 978-1-4051-8119-8, $34.95 US hard covers) is by
Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, a French historian and food writer, author
of some 17 books on French cuisine and history. It was originally
published in 1987 in French, 1994 in English, and now in its new
edition. It was one of the first of its kind to take a sweeping
chronicle of food and society and present it to a literate readership.
She traces the origins of foodstuffs such as honey, cheese,
charcuterie, chocolate, coffee, potatoes, and shows how these -- and
other food – transformed cuisine and culture. She has incorporated the
latest scientific and technological discoveries in her revision. There
are 16 colour plates, as well as many black and white illustrations.
Part One deals with "collecting, gathering and hunting".  Part Two
introduces animal husbandry and plant cultivation. Then she moves on to
"sacramental foods": oil, bread and wine. This is followed by the idea
of markets, luxury foods, merchants, the Columbian exchange, orchards,
kitchen gardens, and preservation. It is perfectly obvious that we are
constantly moving away from our closeness to the origins of the foods
that we eat, relying on a whole chain of middle people and preparers.
There's the original bibliography and an updated bibliography of recent
works, compiled by Darra Goldstein. And, of course, the book has been
re-indexed. A bargain price, everybody should be able to afford it,
although the heavy paper makes it awkward to read in bed. Quality/Price
rating: 91.
18. HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING; 2,000 simple recipes for great food. Rev.
ed. (John Wiley & Sons, 2008, 1044 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-39857-9, $35
US hard covers) is by Mark Bittman, a PBS host of a similarly named
show and a weekly New York Times writer called "The Minimalist". He is
mainly responsible for simplifying the cooking process; some would say
"dumbing down". This book was originally published in 1998, and since
then he has been a dynamo in the word and kitchen factories with such
books as "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian", a book on the basics, a
quick and easy book, and books associated with his PBS and other
television shows. But this book is the motherbook (2 million copies
sold, and both IACP and Beard awards winner). It first appeared in
1998, and this is its first revision as a "tenth anniversary edition".
He begins "Much has changed…since 1998…" And so his book has expanded
to include more international and spicy preps. Gone is the attempt at
recreating haute cuisine at home: this is wholesome everyday cooking.
These are the recipes that people cook every day at home on every
continent and region. Many recipes here can be made ahead or prepared
in under 30 minutes. He has plenty of cook notes and sidebars for
explanations of techniques and unusual ingredients. There is material
from some of other books. He has instructional drawings, but his stress
is that many techniques are the same the world over, such as pies, food
wrapped in pastry, soups. The main differences are in the seasonings
and the local ingredients. The book has also been reorganized, to
include new symbols for fast, make-ahead, and vegetarian recipes. He
opens each chapter with an "Essential Recipes" section. He has more
detail in chapters on vegetables and fruits, grains and beans. There
are newer charts and illustrations. There are lists such as "22 Picnic-
Perfect Salads". Recipes use avoirdupois weights and measures but there
are conversion charts on the inside covers. There's a section on menus,
complete with page references, and his top choices for make-ahead,
essential, fast, and vegetarian recipes (about 100 each). Try his baked
macaroni and cheese (with its 10 variations and combos). Quality/Price
Rating: 92.

19. HOW TO TASTE; a guide to enjoying wine. Completely revised &
updated. (Simon & Schuster, 2008,208 pages, ISBN 978-1-4165-9665-3, $26
US hard covers) is by Jancis Robinson, well-known British MW wine
writer who is also the editor of "The Oxford Companion to Wine". It was
first published in 1983 as "Masterglass" and I noted at the time that
her book and Broadbent's book were the only two wine books you would
ever need. In 2000, the revised edition was published as "Jancis
Robinson's Wine Tasting Workbook". Now, it has changed publishers and
has been re-titled yet again. It is more than a "how to taste" book, it
is actually a whole course in wine. And it has been updated to reflect
this: updated vintages and producers, newly emerging wine regions, and
contemporary drinking styles. This is an extremely practical book, made
all the better by not mentioning specific wine labels for purchases.
Topics, arranged by chapters, cover learning to taste, physical matters
of storage and serving, white grapes, red grapes, fortified and
sparkling wines, and food matches. There's a glossary and some pretty
decent photos (including one by my colleague Steve Elphick).
Quality/Price rating: 89.

20. WINE REPORT 2009 (Dorling Kindersley, 2008, 432 pages, ISBN 0-7566-
3983-9, $15 US paper covers) is edited by Tom Stevenson, author of The
New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia and other great and useful reference
books. This is book is now an annual; it first came out in 2004. The
price has also dropped over the years. His book reports on what
happened during the previous 12 months in the wine world. It will never
go out-of-date, so hang onto your copy of the previous year. The Wine
Report is a sort of insiders' guide to the world of wine, with the
latest data from each wine region, plus tips on recent vintages and on
your wine investments. There are sections for new wine finds, bargains,
the latest harvests, wine science and the greatest wines. The contents
are arranged by country and region within, with local experts (each
credited, and with a photo). Many have MWs. Writers include David
Peppercorn on Bordeaux, Clive Coates on Burgundy, Nicholas Belfrage on
Italy, Julian Jeffs on Sherry, Dan Berger on California, and our
own Tony Aspler on Canada. Each writer gets several pages for each
region, and conveys an assessment of recent vintages and hard hitting
opinions, followed by key top ten type lists of the greatest wine
producers, the fastest-improving producers, up and coming producers,
best-value producers, greatest quality, best bargains, and "Most
exciting or unusual finds". Most of the team is back; there are 46
contributors in all, which is the only way to write up something as
comprehensive as this Wine Report. No one writer can keep abreast of it
all, and still offer a book at a decent price. Other textual matters
within each region are topics concerning personnel changes, mergers and
acquisitions, new appellations, new wine laws, legal cases, and new
and changes and new vintages. Local prices of origin are also given,
which is a boon for now we can compare them to the Canadian or LCBO
prices. There is also a large, useful section on resource tools (also
written by individuals) which deals with organic wines, grape
varieties, wine auctions, viticulture, and wine on the web (Tom
Cannavan). Some suggestions for improvement: an annual review (after a
recap) of the existing book and magazine literature, commentaries on
wine software programs (both inventory and professional winery
management such as the Enologix), and email addresses for the
contributors. Caution: this book was set and ready to roll in
summer 2008, so the cut-off for material was early 2008. This makes the
book's coverage a year old by 2009, and thus mainly the picture for
2007/8. Not earth shattering for rumours and gossip. In addition, at
432 clay-coated pages, the book is heavy to pick up and lug
around. I do not think that there is a better
wine book out there for the wine professional or sommelier, especially
since just about everything in this book is NEW and promises to keep
one fully informed and up-to-date. Quality/Price rating: 95 – please
buy this book to ensure next year's publication!

21. EATING FOR ENGLAND (Harper Perennial, 2008, 280 pages, ISBN 978-0-
00-719947-1, $17.95 Canadian, soft covers) is by Nigel Slater, an
award-winning UK cookbook author and food writer. It was originally
published in the UK by Fourth Estate; this is the paperback reprint.
And unfortunately, it still has no index, which is a shame since it is
a hodge-podge collection of tidbits about British food that seem to
have come from his previous columns in the Observer and elsewhere. It
is an extremely funny assortment of jottings about British food despite
the title which was obviously a stretch for alliteration: over 200
nuggets cover After Eight mints, cake forks, biscuit tins, faggots,
pear drops, teacakes, Colman's mustard, haggis, Welsh rarebit, carving,
etc.  Just the thing to read before going to bed or with your
breakfast. And difficult to retrieve information at a later date.
Quality/Price rating: 88.

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