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Friday, July 31, 2009

Hesitating at the Gate (shameless plug)

Hesitating at the Gate
Reflections on Aging
by Ann Tudor
Toronto: Molten Gold (a division of Gothic Epicures), 2009. 96p. pa. illus.
ISBN 13-978-0-92000307-7.
PRICE: $15.00 plus $3.00 shipping & handling
ORDERING INFORMATION: Order through (using PayPal) or email
the author at

This collection of wry, dry essays and poems is an answer to the heartfelt
plea: "Help! I'm entering the Land of Old!" Ann Tudor says things about
aging that no one else is saying, in a unique voice. She offers insights
but no solutions. This is not inspirational writing on the topic of growing
old; the word "subversive" comes to mind. Or the phrase "a breath of fresh
air." You might laugh. You might cry. But you will surely have a different
view of aging after reading this book.

The Land of Old isn't nearly as lonely and frightening when you go there in
the company of this unorthodox author, whose frank response to the aging
process will make you grimace with recognition.

Anyone who has ever grown old, who is currently growing older, or who
suspects that growing older is in his/her future will want to read this
book. It is also an ideal gift for friends and relatives who have grown
old, are currently growing older . . . and so forth.

Ann Tudor uses the events and emotions of her life in all her writings. She
is the author and narrator of three spoken-word CDs: Tales from My Table:
Food for Thought; Rosie & the Angels: Scenes from the Journey; and I Love
Pie: An Opinionated Hands-on How-to for Making Pie Crust, Biscuit Dough,
and More. In her lifetime she has been and done many things, either full-
or part-time: copy editor, managing editor, church organist,
artist/craftsperson (altered and handmade books, fiber arts), pianist,
cellist, hands-on healer, and avid reader. At various times she has taught
breadmaking, French, and overtone singing and has read her work to
enthusiastic audiences. Visit for more information.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

LCBO Vintages Release of August 1, 2009: reviews

By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing <>
Always at since 1995. Also visit my "Wines, Beers and
Spirits of the Net Compendium", a guide to thousands of news items and
RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits.
My tastings are based on MVC (Modal Varietal Character); ratings are
QPR (Quality-to-Price Ratio). Prices are LCBO retail. Only my top rated
wines are here. NOTE: The LCBO does NOT put out all of the wines of the
release for wine writers or product consultants. Also, some defective
or corked wines are not available for re-tasting.
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
1. Angels Gate Mountainview Chardonnay 2007 Niagara: wooded, 8 months
in toasted French oak, 13.5%. +116384, $18.95, QPR: 90
2. Coyote's Run Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Gris 2007 VQA Four Mile Creek:
body and soul, slightly off-dry, summer sipper or first course wine
accompaniment. +116582, $17.95, QPR: 90
3. Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2008 VQA Twenty Mile Bench: floral
entry, dry complexity on finish. +80234, $16.95, QPR: 90.
4. Flagstone Free Run Sauvignon Blanc 2008 WO Elim South Africa:
delicious, good off-dry in mid-palate, not as nervy as other New World
sauvignon blanc. +96537, $15.95, QPR: 90.
5. E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2007: great viognier nose (50% of
total), good floral complexity, long enjoyable finish, first course
food wine or summer sipper. +290296, $17.95, QPR: 90.
6. Hans Lang Riesling Spatlese 1992 QmP Hattenheimer Hassel: 10.5% ABV,
17 years old and never been kissed, still fresh. Buy a lot of it at
this price. Very off-dry and intense. +127100, $18.95, QPR: 92.
7. Miguel Torres Vina Esmeralda 2008 DO Catalunya: this wine has always
been one of my fave quaffers for summer, 11.5% ABV, 85% muscatel and
15% Gewurz, and 100% aromatic floral complexities. Perfect for summer
sipping, absolutely fresh from 2008 vintage. +113696, $12.95, QPR: 90.

TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1. Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot 2005 Columbia Valley: wall-aged,
13.5% ABV, big Merlot, restaurant ready. +263418, $19.95, QPR: 90.
2. Aresti Reserva Merlot 2006 Curico Valley: juicy and herby, long
length, better next year but good price to retain in your cellar.
+726760, $12.95, QPR: 90.
3. Deep Woods Estate Block 7 Shiraz 2007 Margaret River: good Euro
style syrah, twist top, 13.5% ABV. +109355, $16.95, QPR: 90.
4. Robertson Winery Prospect Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 South Africa:
juicy, mocha tones, some smoke on the finish. +687814, $17.95, QPR: 90.
5. Robertson Winery Wolfkloof Shiraz 2006 South Africa: good syrah
component, mostly Euro style but with US oak coconut flavours. +626341,
$17.95, QPR: 90.
6. Domaine le Grand Retour Plan de Dieu Cotes du Rhone Villages 2007:
off-dry fruit on mid-palate, a grenache-syrah-mourvedre (GSM) blend,
14.5% ABV, true to Euro style. +127167, $11.95, QPR: 90.
7. Tsantali Reserve Nemea 2003 Greece: well-balanced, good aging, taut
enough for BBQ and lamb. +13524, $14.95, QPR: 91.
8. Terra D'Aligi Tatone Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005: fat, New World
style appreciation, juicy. +994616, $15.95, QPR: 90.
9. Cantina Parroco Nebbiolo Langhe 2007: faster maturing nebbiolo, a
thinner Barolo at a great price, and ready sooner. +117192, $18.95,
QPR: 90.
10. Castellani Chianti Riserva 2004: very Italianate, and strong cherry
flavours. +970707, $14.95, QPR: 90.
11. Bod. Olarra Cerro Anon Reserva 2004 Rioja: needs two more years,
but it is a dramatic wine, complex Rioja, worth the wait. +114306,
$18.95, QPR: 90.
Restaurants should consider offering these FINE VALUE wines at a $10
markup over retail; the wines are ready to enjoy right now. Consumers
could buy and bring to those restaurants with corkage programs.
1. Angels Gate Old Vine Chardonnay 2005 VQA Beamsville Bench, +116350,
$23.95 retail.
2. Robert Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Paso Robles, +25205, $29.95.
3. Mr. Riggs Cabernet 2007 Coonawarra, +126896, $23.95.
4. Chateau Cherchy-Desqueyroux 2005 Graves, +125518, $23.95.
Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.

Sunday, July 26, 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. GUIDE TO HEALTHY RESTAURANT EATING. 4th edition (American Diabetes
Association, 2009; distr. McGraw Hill, 830 pages, ISBN 978-1-58-040315-
3, $17.95US paper covers) has been put together by Hope S. Warshaw, RD,
MMSc, CDE – a nationally recognized expert on healthy eating and
diabetes. This is a hard to beat book if you eat out a lot and are
diabetic or just want to cut back on superfluous calories, sugars and
fats. The coverage is for American chain restaurants, and (for the most
part) these same chains also exist in Canada. Six meals a week are
eaten out in restaurants, mostly at chains where you just walk in and
go up to the front. 61 chains are covered (although Tim Horton's is
listed as only available online at the website below), and almost 7,000
items are analyzed. The arrangement is by loose type of diner:
breakfasts, snacks, chicken, seafood, burgers, family fare, soups and
sandwiches, pizza, tacos, Asiatic, and frozen desserts. Nutritional
analyses for each item include calories, fat content, saturated fats,
cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fibre and protein. Choices and
Exchanges are also listed. So you can go through all the burger and
pizza joints to find the "best" possible foods. She has sample meals
that show readers how to make healthy meals from the menu of each
resto, and related to this she also indicates "Healthiest Bet" choices
from every establishment. I wish she had also done highly refined corn
fructose (HRCF) as well. This is a survival kit; it has been published
since 1999. More can be found at,
especially searching for key terms. Quality/price rating: 95.
12. CRUSH ON NIAGARA; the definitive wine tour guide for Niagara, Lake
Erie North Shore, Pelee Island and Prince Edward County (Whitecap,
240 pages, ISBN 978-1-55285-980-3, $19.95 paper covers) is by Andrew
Brooks, a sommelier who not only owns a Niagara vineyard but also a
wine tour company (Crush on Niagara Wine Tours. It was originally
written in 2004 and published as 160 pages. It is now five years later,
and there are 50% more pages. The industry has grown dramatically. The
original coverage was just Niagara (56 wineries). But now he has 98.
in the Niagara Peninsula, from the smallest (Domaine Vagners, 1000
cases) to the largest. And, of course, the industry continues to shake
out, with a handful of wineries disappearing or merging. The directory
data includes winery hours, contact information, annual production,
acreage (not hectares), and where to purchase the wine. Other basic
contents include wine serving and wine pairing suggestions, glassware
tips, accommodation, shopping, and eating places. The book is very
useful for information about the smaller and newer wineries, such as
Caroline Cellars, Palatine Hills, and the organic Frogpond Farm. Each
Niagara profile gets two pages, accompanied by photos. There are no
pictures for the other regions' wineries. Chase gives an assessment of
the better wines and his recommendations ("Sommelier's picks"). But the
photos are often small and dark, and there are no real Tasting Notes.
The front and back French covers have page references to wineries,
listed in alphabetical order. There is a good chapter on tips on buying
Ontario wines. But there are no fruit wineries except for Sunnybrook
Farms. Quality/Price Ratio: 90.

13. FLAVORS OF PROVENCE (Ryland Peters & Small, 2007, 2009; distr.
160 pages, ISBN 978-1-84597-854-9, $21.95US paper covers) is by Clare
Ferguson, a British food and travel writer who also lives in Greece,
North America, and other parts of the world. It's a very appealing
book, good for armchair travelers, and one of a regional series, which
began with Tuscany. Here, there are 90 recipes. There is a discussion
on ingredients but these are scattered through the book (olives,
walnuts and their oils; herbs and garlic; fish and poultry; sweets;
sheep and goat cheese; wines). The recipes are arranged by course from
apps to desserts to beverages. Websites are noted. Recipes are the
classics of salade nicoise; pan bagna; ratatouille; pistou;
tians; tapenade; and fougasse. The pissaladiere uses 80 – 100 black
olives for 8 people. And there are some obscure regional dishes as
well. But there are too many locational pictures at the expense of demo
pix. Avoirdupois measurements are used, but there are metric conversion
charts. Quality/price rating: 85.

14. SEASONAL FOOD; a guide to what's in season, when and why (Eden
Project Books, 2009; distr. Random House, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-905-
81136-6, $21.95 Canadian paper covers) is by Paul Waddington. It was
originally published in 2004; this is the paperback reissue. Waddington
is an environmental writer. This is a guidebook to seasonal food "in
Britain, so that locals can eat produce at its best, contribute to a
renaissance in local production, and simple revel in the variety of the
seasons." There are charts and chapters starting with January through
December, listing what's available and when. There are also some common
but useful recipes (morels on fried bread, ratatouille, et al), all
indexed. Both avoirdupois and metric forms of weights and measures are
listed with the ingredients. BUT – the scope is British, and the book
appears not to have been updated since 2004 (certainly, the former
bibliography is listed as it was). Quality/Price rating: 82.

15. EASY MEDITERRANEAN; simple recipes from sunny shores (Ryland Peters
& Small, 2007, 2009; dist. Thomas Allen, 240 pages, ISBN 978-1-84597-
814-3, $16.95 US soft covers) is a collection of about 100 recipes from
11 authors who have written books for this publisher. Most of the preps
are from Maxine Clark and Clare Ferguson. So it is an omnium gatherum
in the truest anthological sense. Ryland has a whole series of "Easy"
books, all at the same price, and all in this same format. All courses
are covered here, from apps to sweets, mainly from Southern France,
Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, and Morocco. The major classics are here,
with well-framed photos: fish baked with lemon, oregano, and potatoes;
Sicilian green vegetables; soupe au pistou; Spanish fish cakes; okra
with dried limes; and Turkish pizza turnover. Avoirdupois measurements
are used, but there are metric conversion charts. Quality/Price Rating:
16. THE ACCIDENTAL VEGAN (Celestial Arts, 2009, 228 pages, ISBN 978-1-
58761-338-8, $16.95 US paper covers) is by Devra Gartenstein, chef-
owner of the Patty Pan Grill in Seattle; it is a vegetarian-vegan
resto. More than 25 percent of North Americans have some form of
lactose-intolerance, making dairy-free cooking increasingly popular.
Vegan cookbooks are selling briskly. Gartenstein has revised her 2000
book, and added 20 new recipes. Instructions have been simplified, and
the emphasis is now on local and fresh foods. The full range of
appetizers to desserts has been maintained, and there is a strong
Asiatic influence plus popular Italian and Mexican dishes. Good leading
in the recipes. Avoirdupois measurements are used, but there is no
metric table of equivalents. Try tamari-roasted sunflower seeds, Thai
noodle salad, Lebanese white been salad, Spanish veggie stew, or barley
with almonds. Quality/Price rating: 87.

17. TABLE INSPIRATIONS; original ideas for stylish entertaining (Ryland
Peters & Small, 2001, 2005, 2009; distr. by T. Allen, 143 pages, ISBN
1-84172-823-5, $19.95 paper covers) is by Emily Chalmers, a freelance
stylist and writer. She firmly believes that a decorative table (at
home or in a restaurant) gives a sense of occasion and heightens
anticipation. Even simple meals can be made memorable this way. She
gives 20 themed occasions or festive meals: a brunch, alfresco, Asian-
style elegance, Christening tea and other events, children's party,
surprise birthday buffet. At the end, for reference, there is a visual
directory of seven international place settings, both formal and
informal. The source lists cover both UK and US stores. Settings are
easy to create for busy people. Food does taste better when it is
beautifully presented. Everything here is both interesting and doable.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.

18. D.K.'s SUSHI CHRONICLES FROM HAWAII; recipes from Sansei Seafood
Restaurant & Sushi Bar (Ten Speed Press, 2009,244 pages, ISBN 978-1-
58008-963-0, $24.95 US paper covers) is by Dave Kodama, now an
executive chef/owner of four Sansei restos and other dining
establishments in Hawaii. He is assisted by Bonnie Friedman who does
the PR for Kodama's companies. The book was originally published in
2003; this is the paperback reissue of favourite dishes from his
restaurants. For the most part, it is Pan Asiatic fusion cuisine, with
bits of Hawaiian, American and European ingredients and techniques.
Arrangement is for sushi and sashimi, shikomi and sauces, "small
plates" and "big plates" and "sweet plates". Avoirdupois measurements
are used, but there is no metric table of equivalents. Try foie gras
nigiri, unagi and avocado nigiri with raspberry coulis, sweet miso
scallops, Pacific Rim salmon, or seared buffalo strip loin sashimi.
Quality/Price rating: 88.

19. BAKING & PASTRY; mastering the art and craft. Second edition (John
Wiley & Sons, 2009, 932 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-05591-5, $70 US hard
covers) is from the Culinary Institute of America. It was originally
published in 2004. It's one of those books which can serve as a text at
a hospitality school and/or as a useful reference book for home cooks.
There are 625 recipes, covering the entire range, from primer
(ingredients, baking formulas, percentages, techniques) to yeast-raised
breads, pastry dough, batters, cakes, custards, creams, icings, frozen
desserts, pies, etc. etc. 244 of the 461 photos and illustrations are
new to this edition. Newer material covers vegan items, kosher, frozen
desserts, breakfast pastries, savoury braking, healthy nutrition,
design and display, plus wedding cake décor. Recipes are scaled to home
cooking, and measurements are in both metric and avoirdupois, and
sometimes with percentages. The book weighs six and a quarter pounds.
Quality/Price rating: 87.
20. PURE SIMPLE COOKING; effortless meals every day (Ten Speed Press,
2009, 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-58008-948-7, $21.95 US paper covers) is by
Diana Henry, a prominent British cookbook author, award winner, TV
host, and food columnist for the Sunday Telegraph. It was originally
published in Britain as "Cook Simple" in 2007. The publisher says that
it is an everyday cookbook with 150 recipes that feature simple food
enhanced with fresh ingredients. Still, log rolling must have been
needed since both Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall ("The River Cottage Meat
Book") and Deborah Madison (multiple cookbooks) lend their
endorsements. Classic recipes dominate, but each has been gussied up
with additional taste points and variations. For example, for desserts,
try peaches with gorgonzola and mascarpone, peaches in moscato,
Prosecco with sorbet and summer berries, figs and raspberries with
mascarpone, drained yoghurt with honey and pistachios and berries,
strawberries in Beaujolais, cherries on ice, boozy raisins and about a
dozen more. Arrangement is by major ingredient – chicken, chops,
sausages, leg of lamb, fish, pasta, veggies, fruits, and desserts.
Avoirdupois measurements are used, but there is no metric table of
equivalents. The picture of a lamb stuffed with goat cheese, tomatoes
and basil is dynamite. Mediterranean recipes predominate, mainly
Provence, Italy, North Africa and Greece. Quality/Price rating: 90.

21. MAXINE CLARK'S ITALIAN KITCHEN; simple steps to great tasting
Italian food (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2009; distr. T. Allen, 192
pages, ISBN 978-1-84597-829-7, $29.95 US hard covers) is by Maxine
Clark. Some of this book comes from her previous Italian cookbooks (Al
Forno, Bruschetta, Flavors of Tuscany, Italian Salads, Italian
Vegetables, Pizza, Risotto, and Trattoria). These 75 recipes make a
good all-round collection, with great photography. These are all the
fave dishes of everyday food of pasta, gnocchi, risotto, and polenta.
Lots of detail on prep work. Chapters are arranged by course beginning
with antipasti and moving to dessert. The weights and measures are in
avoirdupois, but there are tables of metric conversions. Most of the
book is primer-type and the recipes are basic classics, but that's
needed for beginners. Try zucchini and mint fritters, spinach and
ricotta timbales, fennel and leeks braised in cream and lemon, warm
lentil salad, creamy tomato and bread soup, pizza Bianca. Quality/price
rating: 84.

22. THE FILIPINO-AMERICAN KITCHEN; traditional recipes contemporary
flavours (Tuttle Publishing, 2006, 176 pages, ISBN 978-0-8048-3836-8,
$24.95 US hard covers) is by Jennifer M. Aranas, formerly chef-owner of
Rambutan Restaurant in Chicago. Now she teaches and writes about
Filipino foods. This is both a basic book and a fusion book, with over
100 recipes. There's not a lot about Filipino cuisine and culture, but
enough to get you started. The Philippines were a crossroads culture,
with influences from China, Spain, US and Mexico. I read somewhere that
Mexico was most highly influential. The book is arranged by course,
from apps to desserts. But there are only three adobo recipes in all,
which is a bit strange since adobo is the national dish. You'll have to
read the recipe for duck adobo in order to find out what adobo is (and,
or course, it can be used with any meat or vegetable). Both avoirdupois
and metric measurements are used. Unfortunately, while all the preps
are listed with page references in the table of contents, there is no
index. Quality/Price rating: 82.
Press, 2006, 160 pages, $19.95 US hardbound) is a book package, with
Marty Olmstead a travel writer, and Robert Holmes a photographer (there
are over 200 photos here), plus a slew of designers and copyeditors.
Sixty-nine wineries are covered, in Napa (31), Sonoma (32) and
Mendocino (6). Each is profiled and is physically described (layout of
winery operations, buildings, gardens), along with reproductions of
labels. Various sidebars list directions, vineyard tours, wine
tastings, culinary events, and nearby attractions. Maps show these
wineries plus about 100 others within the counties. For example, in
Napa, there are Beringer, Clos du Val, and Silver Oak. In Sonoma, there
are Arrowood, Benziger, and Chateau St.Jean. There are also no tasting
notes, nor any recipes, but the book is very useful for trips and
tastings. Quality/price rating: 84.
24. A RETURN TO COOKING (Artisan, 2009; distr. by T. Allen, 330 pages,
ISBN 978-1-57965-393-4, $25.95 US soft covers) is by Eric Ripert, chef
and part owner of Le Bernardin. He also is associated with restos in
Grand Cayman, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia. Sharing the writing
credits is Michael Ruhlman, cookbook author and memoirist. Here are 150
recipes dedicated to the carefully slow approach to cooking. It was
originally published in 2002; this is the paperback reissue. Advanced
log rolling comes from Martha Stewart, Anthony Bourdain, and Suzanne
Goin. The book is also part memoir and part picture-book. His
influences in life came from Sag Harbor, Puerto Rico, Napa Valley, and
Vermont. Thus, he divides the book up that way, with recipes and
thoughts from each place. Try venison loin with parsnip-celeriac puree
and cranberries, shellfish ragout, halibut with grapes and wine sauce,
rice pudding with sautéed bananas and chocolate sauce, Portobello and
eggplant tart, and roasted whole turbot with spring veggies.
Avoirdupois measurements are used, but there is no metric table of
equivalents. Quality/Price rating: 88.

25. REMARKABLE SERVICE; a guide to winning and keeping customers for
servers, managers, and restaurant owners. Second edition (John Wiley &
Sons, 2009, 294 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-19740-0, $29.95 US paper covers)
is from the Culinary Institute of America. The premise here is that
competitive restaurants must have consistent, high-quality service –
and this is hard to do with minimum wages and lowered tips (due to the
economy). While chapters cover every angle such as table service, prep
work, money handling, reservations, seating, wine service, special
functions, safety, customer relations and the like, it falls short on
"motivation" (there is no entry in the index). There is nothing extra
given for great service since all tips are now normally shared, and in
some restos, management/owners also take a portion of the tips. The
best waiter subsidizes the worst waiter. Nevertheless, there is expert
advice here on how to do it all properly and with élan. The first
edition was back in 2001. Newer material concentrates non safety and
customer relations, plus special function events. Quality/price rating:
26. THE END OF FOOD (Mariner Books, 2009, 400 pages, ISBN 978-0-547-
08597-5, $14.95 US soft covers) is by Paul Roberts, an author who
writes on resource economics and politics for magazines and newspapers.
He wrote the doomsday "The End of Oil" in 2004, and now the failure of
the modern food economy is his new theme. His book (this is a reprint
of his 2008 work) is endorsed by Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food).
This is not a hard book to get in to, although it is depressing. It
certainly is a timely book because of the excessive rise in food prices
since January 2008. Indeed, he has an eight page afterword to bring the
book up to date. His scope is broad, ranging from making food to
marketing food and to moving what we eat. Of course, it is all entwined
with OIL, his previous book. So he has done his basic research. And
there are extremes here: the "haves" are now obese while the "have-
nots" are starving. What's new and different over the past few years
have been the incredible amount of international investments and
speculative food futures markets (commodity exchanges). With the
entrance of China as a global player, the whole situation has been
compounded. Commodity producers have taken over: they spend money on
political campaign contributions, lobbying, food security, and
transportation (read: oil) costs. They believe in ethanol which is
raising grain prices. They set prices yet get government subsidies.
Their profit margins grow, they don't cover deficiencies. They
influence trade policies. Worst still, they have managed to convince
pension funds to buy into the investments. There are long-term costs
associated with commodity producers, and we need to be aware of them.
There are extensive endnotes and a bibliography (strangely enough,
though, he does not cite Marion Nestle's 2006 book "What to Eat"
although her two other books are there). Quality/Price Rating: 90.
Small, 2009; distr. T.Allen, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-84597-809-9, $19.95
soft covers) is by Maxine Clark, a cooking teacher and writer who
specializes in Italian food. She has also written other such books for
Ryland in the past. This book was originally published in 2005.
Beginning with the basics (white risotto step-by-step, broths), she
continues with sections on Best Broths, Useful Ingredients, Websites,
and U.S. mail order sources. There is a vegetarian section, but of
course, risottos deal mostly with cheese, egg, poultry, meats, and
seafood. There are 46 recipes here plus six others (e.g., "barlotto"
barley risotto, arancine di riso, and desserts). The book has metric
conversion charts for the U.S. volume measurements. Try gelato di riso,
fennel and black olive risotto, pesto risotto, chicken confit risotto,
or beet risotto. Each recipe is illustrated with a lush presentation
photo. Quality/Price Ratio: 85.

Friday, July 24, 2009




A: From Artisan Wine Company in BC -- two new releases in Ontario.


-Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Ogopogo's Lair Pinot Grigio 2007 VQA Okanagan: more delicate than it should be, unoaked, 13% ABV, tropicality but also peaches, clear and clean finish. $15.15 via Mark Anthony.


-Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Fats Johnson Pinot Noir 2007 VQA Okanagan: medium styled all the way, light and lingering strawbs and tartish cherries, light spices, great for summer. +92304, $15.95 General List.


B: From Stonechurch Vineyards, Niagara


Stonechurch Vineyards Quintet 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $19.95 at winery: smooth, almost ripe tones of hot climate Bordeaux with a cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and merlot blend. Some olives, pepper. 12.8% ABV. Gold Medal at All Canadian Wine Championships.


C: From Stoney Ridge Estate Winery in Vineland


-Stoney Ridge Charlotte's Chardonnay 2008 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, $12.95 at winery: 13% ABV, from the Black Capsule series, named in honour of Jim Warren's wife who didn't want any oak in her chardonnay. All stainless, good minerals, Chablis-like. Cuesta Vineyard, twist top. 555 cases.


-Stoney Ridge Gewurztraminer 2008 VQA Four Mile Creek, $14.95 at

winery. 12.3%. Gold Capsule series. This one is thick in body with mounds of Gewurz flavours, off-dry lingering finish, kind of yummy. Slight petillance, so could settle. Silver Medal in All Canadian Wine competition. 555 cases.


-Stoney Ridge Founder's Pinot Noir 2007 VQA, about $14.95: Vintages has purchased the entire 100 case production, so it will be in limited supply. 11.7% ABV and unfiltered. Expect mounds of flavour in a Euro mode.


-Stoney Ridge Warren Classic Pinot Noir 2006 VQA Niagara, $12.95: 13.4% ABV. Black Capsule series. Barrel aged for 18 months, then blended with 15% Pinot Noir from 2007 to promote that Euro burgundy complexity. Silver Medal in All Canadian Wine competition, 275 cases.


-Stoney Ridge Riesling 2008 VQA, Gold Medal in All Canadian Wine competition, 650 cases. 12% ABV. Dry Alsatian mode, long lingering finish.


-Stoney Ridge Chardonnay Musque 2008 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 13.1% ABV, 500 cases. $14.95. The trendiest grape in Ontario right now, a muscat-like clone of Chardonnay which promotes those peachey and tropical aromas.


D: From Karl Kovacs Agencies,


-Puklus Tokaji Szamorodni Dry 2002, +48058, $13.95 for 500mL (June 20, 2009 Vintages) replaces the previously available 1997 vintage, which was a popular brand. This is a sherry-like wine, made from a late harvest blend of ripe and botrytisized aszu berries (Furmint grapes). Residual sugar is a low 2 g/l, but the flavours are intense. Expect dried apricots, figs, rancio sherry tones (there is a flor sometimes because the barrels are not generally topped up). Not fortified, best with cheeses or just sipped. A gold medalist at the 2005 Hungarian Wine Competition.


E: From Familia Zuccardi, Argentina:


-Fuzion Shiraz/Malbec 2008, +83188, $7.45, 13.5% ABV, twist top, probably needs no introduction. It is off-dry (sugar code = 1) with many black fruit tones, medium palate, and a longer finish than expected. A bit more edgy than the first vintage released in Ontario.


-Fuzion Chenin/Chardonnay 2008, +119800, $7.45, 13% ABV, twist top, just introduced in time for summer. It probably has juice from younger chardonnay vines which could ameliorate the chenin blanc sweetness which is often flabby. It is off-dry (sugar code = 1), showing off some floral-flower complexity on the nose, and some apple-citrus tones on the mid-palate. A real crowd pleaser, better, in my mind, than the red.


-Fuzion Syrah Rose 2008, $7.45 – part of the seasonal rose program, and probably sold out. No sample for review, but sugar code = 1 and alcohol levels are at 13% ABV, and twist top. A question: why is the red listed with shiraz grapes while the rose is listed as syrah grapes? What's the difference here?



Wednesday, July 22, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: THE ASIAN BARBECUE BOOK; from teriyaki to tandoori

THE ASIAN BARBECUE BOOK; from teriyaki to tandoori, 125 tantalizing
recipes for your grill (Tuttle Publishing, 2009; distr. Ten Speed
Press, 176 pages, ISBN 978-0-8048-4044-6, $29.95 US hard covers) is by
Alex Skaria, a cook at a yacht club in Bangkok who also specializes in
huge BBQ gatherings for up to 200 people. Asian BBQ is perfect for the
combination of sweet-sour-hot-spicy dishes. Much of it favours kebabs,
short ribs, wings, and fish – the small stuff. So the grilling elements
can also be small hibachis and similar equipment. The book also
attempts to cover sides, salads, and desserts. Avoirdupois measurements
are used in the recipes, but there is no metric table of equivalencies.
There are 125 recipes in all.
Audience and level of use:  BBQ lovers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: caramelized mangoes, baingan
bhurta, tandoori pork ribs, tomato pomegranate dip, grilled garlic
pepper jumbo shrimp.
The downside to this book: nothing really, looks fairly complete.
The upside to this book: good notes on the Asian pantry.
Quality/Price Rating: 91.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: A Pint of Plain (Irish Pubs)

1. A PINT OF PLAIN; tradition, change, and the fate of the Irish pub
(Walker & Company, 2009; distr. Penguin, 241 pages, ISBN 978-0-8027-
1701-6, $25 US hard covers) is by Bill Barich, a free lance writer
(think New Yorker) living in Dublin. Somewhere along the way, they had
changed the subtitle; it was first announced as "how the Irish pub lost
its magic but conquered the world". And indeed, one log rolling author
says that Barich "voices a reluctant farewell to the old Ireland" as
the new Ireland becomes part of the global mall. There were 12,000 pubs
in Ireland, but Barich wanted one in Dublin that was straight out of
"The Quiet Man", offering talk and drink with no distractions. But
sadly, a dwindling audience meant that pubs had to go after newer,
younger clientele who only wanted games and TV. Pubs had been losing
customers and closing one by one, but two new laws are actually killing
them: strict drunk-driving laws, and no smoking laws. Yet at the same
time, Irish pubs are being replicated all over the world in at least 45
different countries. His narrative combines modern day life with
historical material on the famed pubs of Dublin to tiny village pubs,
along with the denizens of said watering holes. And of course, there is
material on Guinness and other Irish beers. There is some evidence of
cutbacks in the book: there were supposed to be black and white
illustrations throughout, a tie-in with St. Patrick's Day (but I never
got my review copy until June even though I had asked for it months
ago), and a lack of a sorely needed index. The book concludes with a
bibliography for further reading.
Audience and level of use: Irish pub lovers, literate beer drinkers.
Some interesting or unusual facts: more Guinness stout is sold in
Nigeria than is sold in Ireland.
The downside to this book: an index is needed, as well as some
illustrative material.
The upside to this book: well-written and tenderly expressed.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.

Monday, July 20, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Tequila (Ten Speed Press)

TEQUILA; a guide to types, flights, cocktails and bites (Ten Speed
Press, 2009, 130 pages, ISBN 978-1-58008-949-4, $16.95 US, hard covers)
is by Joanne Weir, chef and food writer in San Francisco. She's also
won a Beard for "Weir Cooking in the City". Here she deftly guides us
through the mazeway of tequila, giving us 60 preps for drinks and
tequila-infused foods. There's the basic primer on tequila's history
and culture, and the guide to the various types. There are photos on
the making of tequila, as well as the food preps here. Fortunately,
there are few pictures of cocktail glasses or bottles. Excessive use of
these pictures is ultimately a sign of editorial laziness in a cocktail
book. Not here. Avoirdupois measurements are used, but there is no
metric table of equivalents. Sources of supply are all US.
Audience and level of use: home bartenders, hospitality schools.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: more than 10 million cases
of tequila were sold in the US in 2007.
The downside to this book: a bit short; it needed more recipes.
The upside to this book: a good collection of information.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: The Sweet Life in Paris (Broadway Books)

THE SWEET LIFE IN PARIS; delicious adventures in the world's most
glorious – and perplexing – city (Broadway Books, 2009, 282 pages, ISBN
978-0-7679-2888-5, $24.95 US, hard covers) is by renowned pastry chef,
David Lebovitz. He currently lives in Paris, leads chocolate tours, and
teaches cooking. He moved to Paris in 2002 to start a new life, near
the Bastille. But he soon found that the French were a "strange"
people. It took him awhile to come to grips, and this book is his
story. He deals with the ironclad rules of social conduct (appearance
and image is everything) which dominate life in Paris. Much material is
derived and codified from his blog at Written in
memoir style, he adds about 50 recipes. Avoirdupois measurements are
used, but there is no metric table of equivalents. At the end of the
book, there is a list of some favourite food haunts in Paris. This
appears to be a good guide, based on my own memories. There is no index
but there is a listing of recipes.
Audience and level of use: arm chair travelers, those who have been to
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: absinthe cake (his blog also
has absinthe ice cream), bacon and blue cheese cake, fig-olive
tapenade, chicken mole, peanut slaw.
The downside to this book: the listing of recipes is alphabetical by
title, so you have "warm goat cheese salad" at the end under W.
The upside to this book: good writing style, with sidebars and glosses
of comments.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

* FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! *: Big Green Cookbook

BIG GREEN COOKBOOK; hundreds of planet-pleasing recipes and tips for
a luscious, low-carbon lifestyle (John Wiley & Sons, 2009, 386 pages,
ISBN 978-0-470-40449-2, $24.95 US, paper covers) is by Jackie Newgent,
RD, a cookbook author and freelance food nutritionist writer. Hyped as
"the one cookbook people need to reduce their carbon footprint in the
kitchen", the book provides about 200 recipes in the "sustainable
lifestyle" mode. Of course, green typefaces and colours are used
throughout, and the back cover says "this book is printed on post-
consumer waster paper with soy-based ink." So all the right buttons are
being pushed. Log rolling is by other authors of similar books. Eco-
friendly cooking begins in the home, and the usual is covered: reduce
waste, make everything from scratch, make everything SLO (seasonal,
local, and organic), shop less, low-carbon cooking, and relevant
shopping guides. To help identify the seasonality of goods, all of the
chapters are arranged by season. There are tips on every page, which is
good for the browser. There's a glossary, a guide to farmers' markets,
and a US resources list. There are also 15 menus for "green themes".
But shouldn't we be green all the time? Too bad that there are no
metric conversion tables for the avoirdupois weights and measures of
the ingredients. More details are at where you
can also get a newsletter and check out her tweets on Twitter.
Audience and level of use: good sensible advice for beginners.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: strip steak on fresh
spinach; buckwheat blueberry-peach pancakes; julienne of garlic
zucchini; quinoa with eggplant and arugula; blueberry crumble bread
bars; cherry tomato, chard, and black bean salad; butternut squash orzo
with fresh sage.
The downside to this book: with "planet-pleasing party tips" there is
an element of slickness about the book.
The upside to this book: there are good details about "green" cleaning
after a party, recycling materials, and the like.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

VINTAGES July 18, 2009 Releases: tasting notes

By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing <>
Always at since 1995. Also visit my "Wines, Beers and
Spirits of the Net Compendium", a guide to thousands of news items and
RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits.
My tastings are based on MVC (Modal Varietal Character); ratings are
QPR (Quality-to-Price Ratio). Prices are LCBO retail. Only my top rated
wines are here. NOTE: The LCBO does NOT put out all of the wines of the
release for wine writers or product consultants. Also, some defective
or corked wines are not available for re-tasting.
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
1. Cave Spring Chardonnay Musque 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench: light and
sort of musky, useful for summer patios. +246579, $15.95, QPR:90.
2. Flat Rock Cellars Riesling 2008 VQA Twenty Mile Bench: off-dry, long
fruity and citric finish, 9.5% ABV. +43281, $16.95, QPR: 90.
3. Santa Ana La Moscota Chardonnay 2008 Mendoza: lightly toasted wood,
fresh chardonnay tones, citrus and apples. 14% ABV. +126870, $15.95,
QPR: 90.
4. Kim Crawford Pinot Gris 2007 Marlborough: some body, leafiness,
length, good for first course food, or sip on summer patio. 13.5% ABV.
Twist top. +680983, $19.95, QPR: 90.
5. Domaene Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner 2007 Kamptal: off-dry but with a
great finish, summery wine. Twist top. +965368, $14.95, QPR: 90.
6. Vinosia Essenza di Malvasia 2007 Salento: first course food wine,
upfront apricots and melons. +122341, $15.95, QPR: 90.
7. Gramona Gessami 2007 Penedes: tasty blend of muscats and sauvignon
blanc for length, multi-purpose sipper. +115782, $19.95, QPR: 90.
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1. Kim Crawford Hawkes Bay Merlot 2007: good blend with some obvious
franc showing, slightly leafy and herbal. 13.5% ABV. +680967, $19.95,
QPR: 90.
2. Kumkani Cradle Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Stellenbosch: very Euro
in style, earthy, black fruits. +107391, $19.95, QPR: 90.
3. Domaine de la Sauveuse Cuvee Carolle 2007: very expressive of the
region, good blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon, Grenache, and
mourvedre. 13.5% ABV. Organic. +43174, $19.95, QPR: 90.
4. Domaine de Poujo Madiran 2005: Delivers rich complexity. Needs time
but don't pass up this value. +719674, $14.95, QPR: 90.
5. La Casa dell'Orco Aglianico 2005 Irpinia: deep, dense, delightful,
slightly bitter-sourish finish. Needs food. +123406, $15.95, QPR: 90.
6. Gladiator Primitivo di Manduria 2006: made for North Americans
watching the "Rome" DVD. 14% ABV, Zin-like, strong. +23119, $14.95,
QPR: 90.
7. Messapicus Riserva Salice Salentino 2005: tasty, cherries are
suggested, some mocha tones, longer than expected length. +121087,
$16.95, QPR: 90.
8. Tharru Cannonau di Sardegna 2006: herby, dry complexity, useful with
all manner of foods. +121053, $14.95, QPR: 90.
9. Can Bonastre Crianza 2006 Penedes: juicy, mostly merlot and cabernet
sauvignon with a touch of syrah. Ozzie anyone? +115733, $18.95, QPR:
Restaurants should consider offering these FINE VALUE wines at a $10
markup over retail; the wines are ready to enjoy right now. Consumers
could buy and bring to those restaurants with corkage programs.
1. Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2006 Lodi, +942599, $22.95 retail.
2. Chateau Cote Montpezat 2003 Cotes de Castillon, +045658, $21.95.
3. Terre da Vino Essenze Barolo 2004, +92460, $44.95.
4. Conde de Valdemar Reserva 2003 Rioja, +947309, $24.95.

Friday, July 10, 2009

MEDIA TASTING: Latin American Wines, June 17, 2009

The Time and Date: Wednesday, June 17, 2009  10AM to 1 PM

The Event: Wine Writers Circle of Canada tasting of Latin American wines.

The Venue: LCBO Scrivener Square

The Target Audience: wine writers

The Wines:


**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

- Concha y Toro  Marques de Casa Concha   Cabernet Sauvignon  2007   Maipo Valley   14.5% alc  LCBO #337238  Vintage Essentials  $19.95

-Kankura  Malbec  2007  Edition Limitee  Valle de Colchagua   14.5% alc  Consignment  Small Winemakers Collection $24.95

-Sociedad Agricola los Maquis  Calcu  2006  Valle de Colchagua  14.1% alc  Consignment  Small Winemakers Collection $14.95 

-Dominio Del Plata  BenMarco  Malbec  2006  Mendoza  14% alc  Consignment  Profile Wine Group $22.95

-Bodega Catena Zapata   Catena  Malbec  2006  Mendoza  14% alc  Vintage Essentials


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (8890 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

- Concha y Toro  Marques de Casa Concha  Syrah  2006  Rapel Valley   15% alc  Vintages Jan 31/09  #19042  $19.95

-Trivento  Golden Reserve     Malbec  2006  Mendoza

14.8% alc  Vintages avail June 20/08  #588731  $24.95

-Sociedad Agricola los Maquis   Lien  2005   Valle de Colchagua   14.5% alc  Consignment  Small Winemakers Collection $24.95

-Vicar SA  G7  Chardonnay 2006  Gran Reserva  Casablanca Valley  13.5% alc  Consignment  Small Winemakers Collection $19.95

-Vicar SA  G7 Cabernet Sauvignon  2006  Gran Reserva  Concomilla Valley  13.5% alc  Consignment Small Winemakers Collection $19.95

-Cono Sur  Chardonnay  2007  20  Barrels   13.5% alc  Casablanca Valley +127498 $24.95  

-Cono Sur  Cabernet Sauvignon  2006  20 Barrels  14% alc  Maipo Valley 

-Vina Calina   Alcance   Cabernet Sauvignon  2006  14.5% alc  Maule


*** Three Stars (8587 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Vicar SA  G7  Shiraz  2007  Reserva  Loncomilla Valley  13.5% alc  Consignment Small Winemakers Collection $19.95


The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90


Thursday, July 9, 2009

* DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH! *: Passion for Pinot

1. PASSION FOR PINOT; a journey through America's pinot noir country
(Ten Speed Press, 2009, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-58008-986-9, $30 US hard
covers) is by Jordan Mackay, a Texas and California wine writer. The
photography for this (largely) picture book is by Andrea Johnson and
Robert Holmes. Both are experienced travel photographers. "Pinot noir
country" actually just refers to the American West Coast. There is
nothing here on British Columbia, or on New York State. Nor is
sparkling wine covered. The blurb says that this is a portrait of the
most fashionable grape in the wine world, showcasing California and
Oregon producers. Pinot noir has been described as the perfect food
wine, with occasional silkiness for sipping. But most pinot noirs on
the US west coast don't even taste like a pinot noir should; they just
don't have the Modal Varietal Characteristics (MVC) of what makes pinot
great (i.e., classified Burgundy). Pinot noir come from Burgundy, and
it should taste Burgundian. There is nothing wrong with that.
Nevertheless, this is an engaging book, with profiles of top US pinot
producers, terroirs, and bottles. The text promotes the different
styles and approaches to the viticulture and viniculture of the pinot
grape. The photography clearly shows most of the terroir through the
many landscapes and seasons. Additional material is found in quotes and
sidebars and maps. All the AVAs are described, and there are photos of
the winemakers and owners. Typical estates covered include Calera,
Abbott Claim Vineyard, Acacia, Domaine Drouhin, Donum, Tualatin, Quail
Ridge, and many more.
Audience and level of use: travelers, pinot noir fanatics.
Some interesting or unusual facts: Statistics show that pinot noir
sales have increased 120 percent in the last two years. This is due to
the "Sideways" factor and to increased mass production of the lower
quality wines.
The downside to this book: there are very few actual tasting notes.
The upside to this book: great photography.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

LUNCHEON TASTING: Treana Red and White, Toronto, June 4, 2009

The Time and Date: Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Event: a tasting of 10 vintages of Treana Red Paso Robles, from Hope Family Wines, led by Austin Hope, proprietor and winemaker.

The Venue: National Club

The Target Audience: wine media, sommeliers, clients.

The Availability/Catalogue: only Treana Red 2003 is currently available, although Liberty School labels are in Vintages.

The Quote/Background: The blend has varied over the years, beginning with sangiovese and petit syrah in its first vintage of 1996. Cabernet sauvignon and merlot and some syrah have been the anchors, but the Hope Family has also played around with mourvedre. With the Treana Red 2000, the blend became a consistent cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah, with 14 months in all French oak (40% new). Then, in 2004, it became just cabernet sauvignon 70% and syrah 30%. This ratio moved forward into the 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 vintages, with now 65% new French oak. The 2002 wine was declassified because it was not up to their standards.

The Wines: we tasted 10 Treana Red vintages, with the Liberty School wines at lunch. We also had the current vintage of Treana White, a blend of viognier 53% and Marsanne 47% grapes. It showed mounds of fruit and Rhonish character (Consignment Bridge and then Vintages, +11247, $33.95). The 1996 Treana Red was their first vintage; no wine was bottled as Treana Red in 2002.


**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Treana Red 1996 (with petit syrah and sangiovese added), not available

-Treana Red 1997, same blend

-Treana Red 2004 (70% cab, 30% syrah, +11221 Consignment Bridge and then Vintages, $44.95)

-Treana Red 2005


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (8890 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Treana Red 1998 (with added mourvedre but no sangiovese)

-Treana Red 2001 (cab, merlot, syrah)

-Treana Red 2003 (cab, syrah, merlot: $48.95 Vintages +11221)

-Treana Red 2006


*** Three Stars (8587 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Treana Red 1999 (with added mourvedre), a bit leafy.

-Treana Red 2000 (cab, merlot and syrah)


The Food: at lunch, we had tiger shrimps with Liberty School Chardonnay 2007, +960120, $16.95 at Vintages August 15, 2009, a decidedly unabashed California chard with 50% French oak. Gnocchi with a mushroom ragout was accompanied by Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, +738823 Vintages Essential at $18.95, very robust with the potato component of the dish. Braised short ribs had a delightful Liberty School Syrah, +942383 $17.95 Vintages, with added viognier. Best wine at the meal.

The Downside: there were some vacant seats at this major tasting, which I found distressing…where were these people?

The Upside: it is very rare in Toronto to have a vertical tasting of a California wine, and I was glad to have participated.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 92.