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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FOOD SHOW: 4th ANNUAL NOUVELLES SAVEURS DE FRANCE (French Food Connection), September 29, 2009

The Time and Date: Tuesday, September 29, 2009  11AM to 12:30 PM

The Event: 4th annual Nouvelles Saveurs de France – French Food Connection

The Venue: The Loft@Andrew Richard Designs, Adelaide Street East

The Target Audience: food importers and media.

The Availability/Catalogue: 17 companies from France are seeking Ontario representation (or already have it but want to broaden their publicity), with the help of the French Trade Commission (Ubifrance).

The Quote/Background: the show went to Vancouver on October 1.

The Wines: Only one winery was in the show, and that was Champagne Cuillier Pere et Fils, repped by Signature in Ontario. Maryline Cuillier was pouring her Brut Selection ($55) and her Cuvee de Grand Reserve ($65, more hazelnut and toast tones). She also has a Cuvee Bleue ($69, cobalt blue bottle) and a Pink ($57).

The Water: Evian and Badoit were major sponsors of the tour; I refreshed with the Badoit sparkling water.

The Food: Chef Marc Thuet seemed to be in charge of the food for sampling. He brought along a half-dozen different artisanal breads (conveniently stored in blue Weston bread cases!), and produced a killer boeuf bourguignon using pasta from La Financiere Heimburger in Alsace, fleur de sel from Aquasel, and olive oil from Les Bastidettes. There were escargots from Groupe Francaise de Gastronomie, with Provence mixed herbs from Aux Anysetiers du Roy. The Groupe also had some scallops to be sampled. Maison Riviere showed off their canned cassoulet. From Gelagri Bretagne there was an individual potato au gratin (previously frozen), and from Traou Mad de Pont-Aven, some lovely Breton biscuits such as the savoury flavoured mini-crepes with cream or cheddar cheese and their crepes dentelles. There were a range of jams, nut spreads, sauces, macarons, petits fours, cookies, olives, chocolate fondues, teas, candies, toasts, relishes, frozen fruits and veggies, pastas, and frozen shellfish.

The Downside: it was lightly attended by media.

The Upside: the processed foods were surprisingly good.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): for the media, about 76.


Monday, September 28, 2009

TASTING: Range of Bod Catena Zapata wines from Laura and Ernesto Catena, Sept 14, 2009

 The Time and Date: Monday, September 14, 2009   10AM to 12:30PM

The Event: a tasting of Alma Negra/La Posta/Luca/Tikal wines from Bodegas Catena Zapata in Argentina. The wines are repped by Calibrium.

The Venue: Liberty Village offices of Calibrium.

The Target Audience: wine media.

The Availability/Catalogue:

The Quote/Background: Celeste Pesce, Assistant Winemaker & Export Manager, led us through the 11 wines. These wines are made by Laura Catena in conjunction with her brother, Ernesto Catena. They are skillful wines: small quantities, artisan quality, and reflective of the terroir. Fruit is low-yielding from high elevation vineyards. Primarily French oak is used. For example, total production of Luca wines is 6000 cases spread across six wines. La Posta wines come from Catena's winegrowers. Tikal and Alma Negra are from Ernesto Catena, and reflect a full-bodied breezy style. Laura Catena has a spread of about 60% Malbec, 20% cabernet sauvignon, 15% chardonnay, and a few other grape varieties for the balance. All the wines are available through various distribution channels in Ontario: mostly consignment but also private orders.

The Wines: Most wines were high in alcohol, about 13.5% or more.


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

-Luca Chardonnay 2007, $29.95. elegant, somewhat burgundian in style, precise.

-Tikal Jubilo 2006, 50% cabernet sauvignon, 50% Malbec, $53.95. great cab hit. Six packs.

-Luca Nico 2004 (Malbec), $145. barrel fermented in oak, only 4 barrels produced each year (200 cases)


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

-La Posta Cocina Blend 2008, $16.90. soon through consignment. 20% bonarda, 20% syrah, and 60% Malbec.

-La Posta Pizzella Family Vineyard Malbec 2008, $16.90. very ripe

-Alma Negra 2005 (bonarda), $23.45. second vintage.

-Tikal Patriota 2007 (60%bonarda,40%malbec), $29.95. 70% US oak.

-Luca Laborde Double Select Syrah 2007, $32.95. Rhonish


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

-La Posta Estela Armando Vineyard Bonarda 2008, $13.45

-La Posta Angel Paulucci Vineyard Malbec 2008, $17.95. 2007 is in Vintages, 2008 coming in March 2010 (600 cases)

-Luca Malbec 2007, $36.95. 14% ABV


The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 87.


Saturday, September 26, 2009


Ten Speed Press, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-84400-604-5, $37.95 US, hard
covers) is by Theodore Kyriakou, He has worked as a chef in London, but
now organizes week-long Greek cooking courses on board a large gullet
sailing the Aegean. So this book closely follows what he teaches. Here
are 90 preps plus gastronomic tour, from breakfast to late night
coffee. Cultural history stories clearly show the differences between
and among the islands. The photography also makes this a great travel
book. Classic dishes are the traditional regional specialties. Cook's
notes precede the recipes, and detail a lot of anecdotes and local
lore. At the back, there is a calendar guide to annual festivals, very
useful if you are planning an itinerary. The book concludes with a
glossary of Greek ingredients. But there is no discussion on Greek
wines, which could have proved useful. Metric measurements are used,
but there is no table of avoirdupois equivalencies.
Audience and level of use: armchair travelers, Greek food lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: omelette with honey and
sesame seeds, bougiourdi (roast feta en papillote), mussel soup, rabbit
and peas hotpot from Halki, mosxaraki kapama (veal stew), bonito and
Santorinian sprig vine leaf rolls.
The downside to this book: somewhat overly detailed instructions.
The upside to this book: good selection of recipes.
Quality/Price Rating: 85,
4. THE SPANISH TABLE; traditional recipes and wine pairings from Spain
and Portugal (Gibbs Smith, 2009; distr. Raincoast, 224 pages, ISBN 978-
1-4236-0373-3, $30 US, hard covers) is by Steve Winston. He owns a
small chain of specialty cookware shops called The Spanish Table. Hence
the title of the book? It makes better sense to name it after its
contents, since the book also covers Portugal: try The Iberian Table.
The Portuguese are getting shorted here. And so might the cooks, since
there are very few photos of plated dishes (that's one way to cut
expenses). Logrolling comes from both Paul Wolfert and Penelope Casas.
He begins with spices, moving on to the pantry (beans, wine vinegars,
hams, cheeses, fish in tins, etc.). There are 18 recipes for the paella
pan, which includes Portuguese spaghetti and piri-piri basted game
hens; there are 23 terracota cookware recipes, which include Portuguese
bean soup, white beans with linguica, Catalan chicken, and halibut with
prawns; and there are 12 recipes for the cataplana (lots of clam
dishes). There is a good assortment of preps here, mostly two recipes
on a page. There's a chapter on entertaining with menus, having a wine
tasting, a beach paella party for 40, and a dessert wine tasting.
Avoirdupois measurements are used, and there is a metric table of
equivalents at the back. Sources for food and cookware are all Spanish
Table locations (why am I not surprised?).
Audience and level of use: armchair travelers, lovers of Spanish and
Portuguese foods.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: garbanzo and gamba paella,
lentils with Portuguese sausage and red finger peppers, Azorean beef
stew, Sephardic migas, Madeiran fried polenta cubes, egg yolk Romesco
montaditos, cardoon gratin.
The downside to this book: there are many touristy photos here, ones
that really have nothing to do with food.
The upside to this book: a large collection of Iberian food under one
set of covers.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
5. THE BRZILIAN TABLE (Gibbs Smith, 2009; distr. Raincoast, 208 pages,
ISBN 978-1-4236-0315-3, $30 US hard covers) is by Yara Castro Roberts
and Richard Roberts. Chef Yara had hosted the PBS show "Cook's Tour"
before she moved to Brazil to open a cooking school. Richard is a
professional photographer. Preps here blend indigeous foods of manioc,
cachaca, pequi, palm hearts, and palm oil with cuisines of Portugal,
Africa, Japan and the Middle East. There's a history of food culture in
Brazil, followed by a regional approach with local recipes: Amazon,
Bahia, Mina Gerais, and Cerrado. There's a chapter on elegant dishes,
and a chapter on immigrant food contributions such as okra robata,
linguica risotto, star fruit strudel. Great food pictures and local
onsite shots. There's a bibliography and a listing of resources (web
sites too). Toronto, Canada is included here, with Perola Supermarket
being listed. Avoirdupois measurements are used, and there is a metric
table of equivalents at the back.
Audience and level of use: lovers of Latin American food, armchair
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: para fish stew; tucupi duck
soup; vatapa fish chowder; okra tomato salad; tapioca muffins; collard
green farofa; beef with pequi sauce.
The downside to this book: no details about Brazilian wines which are
really beginning to come into their own.
The upside to this book: good layout
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
6. TOMATO; a guide to the pleasures of choosing, growing, and cooking
(DK, 2009, 192 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-5094-0, $18 US hard covers) is by
Gail Harland, a UK tomato grower, and  Sofia Larrinua-Craxton from
Mexico but now developing recipes and menus for her own UK firm. This
is a visual guide to over 160 varieties of tomatoes from around the
world. The authors show how to grow and how to harvest, as well as
cooking and preservation. Most of the book is on gardening, and most of
the recipes call for beefsteak or plum or just "ripe" tomatoes. For
each tomato, there is basic information about hybrid, time of growth,
characteristics, how to grow, plus a picture and how to best enjoy the
variety. There's one called "Extra Sweetie", and they recommend that
you pack it in children's lunch bag, since the variety is so sweet.
Audience and level of use: tomato lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: tomato borscht; salsa
Romesco; chutneys; sofritos; tomato summer pudding; beef cheeks.
The downside to this book: the authors could have given us a few more
The upside to this book: the chapter on preserving is good.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
7. FROMMER'S 500 PLACES FOR FOOD & WINE LOVERS (Wiley Publishing, 2009,
471 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-28775-0, $19.99 US soft covers) is the latest
in Frommer's 500 Places series. Holly Hughes, who has done two other
500 Places books, is aboard as this first edition's collator. She is
assisted by wine tour operator and writer Charlie O'Malley. Here, then,
are 500 top destinations. Included are open-air markets, farms,
culinary festivals, street food locations, kitchenware shops, specialty
gourmet stores, gourmet inns, cooking schools, cruises, chef's tables,
vineyards and wineries, breweries, distilleries, restaurants, food
museums – and, as they say, more!! You can use the book as a checklist
on what to see before you die, or just check off where you have been.
Each name has a description which tells you why it is important, an
address, phone number and website. If you don't visit, then you could
at least sample the website and maybe buy something. There's an
alphabetical index at the back, so you could check out your fave place
to see if it is listed or not. There is also a regional index: Canada
has 14 entries (Cookbook Store, Toronto's Chinatown, Cave Spring
Cellars, Au Pied du Cochon, Schwartz's, Sooke Harbour House, et al).
There are also a small number of black and white photos.
As with any book of lists, there are bound to be favourite places that
have been left out. And places that shouldn't be there. But it is a
beginning, and the next edition will be better.
Audience and level of use: travelers, hospitality schools.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Culinary tourism now
comprises about 17% of all US leisure travelers, and continues to grow.
The downside to this book: names of the places are in faded green while
a subhead is in bold black – this is too confusing and should be
changed for the next edition.
The upside to this book: I especially liked the section on chef's
tables. Such a listing is hard to come by. And besides, Claudio
Aprile's Colborne Lane in Toronto made the chef table's list.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

8. WHAT WE EAT WHEN WE EAT ALONE; stories and 100 recipes (Gibbs Smith,
2009; distr. Raincoast, 272 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-0496-9, $24.99 US
hard covers) is by Deborah Madison, probably the best food writer in
the United States today. She has won countless Childs and Beards,
served on several food preservation and slow food boards, and done
Edible Kitchen Gardens. She has taken on a decade-old project once
suggested by her husband, Patrick McFarlin, a painter and graphic
designer: what do people eat when they are alone. He contributes a ton
of illustrations here, on virtually every page, plus writing and ideas.
They mainly asked everybody they met what they did for food when they
were by themselves. Back came stories of survival by men, enjoyment by
women, and specialty cooking by many. This is good reading. The recipes
are, of course, for one person. They are based on ideas and suggestions
from the people they talked with. Avoirdupois measurements are used,
and there is a metric table of equivalents at the back.
Audience and level of use: hospitality schools, the curious, single
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: omelet with crunchy buttered
breadcrumbs; ricotta frittata; chicken fajitas with black beans; salmon
cakes; scallops with slivered asparagus; spicy tapenade; frito pie.
The downside to this book: not enough of it!
The upside to this book: gorgeous watercolours
Quality/Price Rating: 93.
9. MEDITERRANEAN HOT AND SPICY (Broadway Books, 2009, 228 pages, ISBN
978-0-7679-2745-1, $19.95 US soft covers) is by Aglaia Kremezi, who has
written other foodbooks such as "The Mediterranean Pantry" and
"Mediterranean Hot" in the 1990s. Indeed, versions of some of the
recipes in this current book were published previously in those two
books. She's also crafted "The Foods of Greece" which won a Child
award. She now runs a cooking school on the Greek island of Kea.
Nevertheless, there is excessive log rolling from Claudia Roden, Joan
Nathan, Deborah Madison, Fred Plotkin, and Paula Wolfert. There are
over 100 preps here, and the emphasis is on Mediterranean and "spicy".
Foods full of zest. The full range of food is here, but the
concentration is obviously on the eastern end of the Mediterranean,
from Italy and Malta to Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East. The 100 or
so recipes cover all courses. The book is arranged from apps to
desserts. Sources are all US. Avoirdupois measurements are used, but
there is no metric table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: Mediterranean and/or spicy food lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: sweet-sour eggplants;
grilled whole fish in chile; Arab pizza; roasted leg of lamb; fried
calamari rings; orzo risotto; grilled skewered sausages.
The downside to this book: well, do we need another Mediterranean book?
The upside to this book: recipes are guaranteed to be spicy.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.

10. TACOS (Ten Speed Press, 2009, 174 pages, ISBN 978-1-58008-977-7,
$21.95 US soft covers) is by Mark Miller, the acclaimed chef-founder of
Coyote Café in Santa Fe; he's also written some nine books on food. He
is assisted by one of his sous-chefs, Ben Hargett, and Jane Horn, a
cookbook writer and editor. Miller gives us 75 recipes for this epitome
of street food. The filling is the heart of the taco, and Miller
concentrates on that aspect. His chapters are divided by content:
vegetables, chicken, seafood, pork, beef, lamb, with others covering
breakfast, salsas, sides and drinks. The preps are nicely complemented
by the photography. His techniques are useful for making your own
tortillas and then crisping them into tacos. Other techniques cover
blackening tomatoes and roasting chiles. He has many preps for salsas
and accompaniments. Each filling recipe has suggestions for the best
tortilla choices, salsas, sides and drink. Heat levels are indicated in
the cook's notes, as are prep times. There is a concluding glossary
section on ingredients and techniques. Sources of supply are all US.
Avoirdupois measurements are used, but there is no metric table of
Audience and level of use: Tex-Mex food lovers who want to expand their
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: chicken tinga; Yucatan
chicken with achiote; Thai shrimp; lobster and avocado; grilled beef
with porcini; blackened jalapenos with eggs and cheese; potatoes with
chile rajas and scrambled eggs.
The downside to this book: nothing obvious.
The upside to this book: there are drink recommendations (wines,
cocktails, beers) for each dish.
Quality/Price Rating: 93.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vintages: World Wine Watch for Sept 26, 2009

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. Tawse Sketches of Niagara Chardonnay 2007: one of the best Ontario
chardonnays at just under $20, capable of aging. Euro mode. +89037,
$19.95, QPR: 91.
2. Clos du Bois Chardonnay 2007 North Coast California: one of the
fighting varietals, a restaurant-ready wine, often on sale at US stores
for $9.99US plus taxes. +124867, $17.95, QPR: 90.
3. Irony Chardonnay 2007 Napa Valley: 14.5% ABV, lots of fruit and
minerality, toast, better with food. +27409, $19.95, QPR: 90.
4. Dog Point Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Marlborough: very crisp and
gooseberries, first course wine. +677450, $19.95, QPR: 90.
5. Sileni Cellar Selection Pinot Gris 2009 Hawkes Bay: ripe and fresh,
one of the first of the 2009s to be tasted in Ontario, with some body
(useful quaffer) or first course. 12.5% ABV. +32292, $16.95, QPR: 90.
6. Domaine Saint-Remy Reserve Gewurztraminer 2007 Alsace: delicious,
off-dry complexity, reserve level bitterness on finish. Organic too.
+61150, $19.95, QPR: 90.
7. Domaine des Quatre Routes Muscadet Sevre & Maine 2007 Sur Lie: Gold
Medalist in France, yet value priced for Ontario, first course wine.
+608893, $11.95, QPR: 90.
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1. Sumac Ridge Black Sage Vineyard Merlot 2006 Okanagan Valley: good
oak hit on the finish, MVC softness and chocolate, aged well. +593053,
$19.95, QPR: 90.
2. Zuccardi Santa Julia Organica Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Mendoza:
delicious, soft berries, almost merlot-like, black fruit and some
mocha. Value priced. Organic. +68452, $12.95, QPR: 93.
3. Coriole Redstone Shiraz 2006 McLaren Vale: depth from aging, twist
top, 14.5%, ripe and soft. +59915, $17.95, QPR: 90.
4. Richard Hamilton Hut Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 McLaren Vale:
minty, deep cabernet sauvignon tones, twist top, 14% ABV, creamy mocha.
+567917, $18.95, QPR: 90.
5. Chateau Fongaban 2005 Cotes de Castillon: useful purchase for a
well-priced Bordeaux, better after another year. +138735, $17.95, QPR:
6. Mas des Bressades Cuvee Excellence 2007 Costieres de Nimes: great
blend of flavours, chocolate and oak for the syrah. +708750, $18.95,
QPR: 90.
7. Beronia Elaboracion Especial Tempranillo 2007 Rioja: ripe with wood
tones, plumy, some anise, and mocha. Delightful. +723643, $16.95, 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. Le Clos Jordanne Talon Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 VQAQ Niagara
Vinemount Ridge, +0143974, $37 retail.
2. Domaine Bernard Millot Les Petits Charrons Meursault 2006, +130922,
$49.95 retail.
3. Domaine La Soufrandise Clos Marie Pouilly-Fuisse 2007, +42622,
$29.95 retail.
4. Frog's Leap Merlot 2006 Rutherford Napa, +707489, $44.95 retail.
5. Stonehedge Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Napa, +25122, $24.95.
6. Chateau Tour Marcillanet 2005 Haut-Medoc, +125880, $27.95.
7. Condado de Haza Crianza 2006 Ribera del Duero, +963348, $27.95.
HALF-BOTTLE ALERT: Rutherford Hill Merlot 2004 Napa, +948935, $13.95
375 mL
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.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


...are one of the hottest trends in cookbooks.
Actually, they've been around for many years, but never in such
proliferation. They are automatic sellers, since the book can be
flogged at the restaurant or TV show and since the chef ends up being a
celebrity somewhere, doing guest cooking or catering or even turning up
on the Food Network. Most of these books will certainly appeal to fans
of the chef and/or the restaurant. Many of the recipes in these books
actually come off the menus of the restaurants involved. Occasionally,
there will be, in these books, special notes or preps, or recipes for
items no longer on the menu. Stories or anecdotes will be related to
the history of a dish. But because most of these books are American,
they use only US volume measurements for the ingredients; sometimes
there is a table of metric equivalents, but more often there is not.
I'll try to point this out. The usual schtick is "favourite recipes
made easy for everyday cooks". There is also PR copy on "demystifying
ethnic ingredients". PR bumpf also includes much use of the magic
phrase "mouth-watering recipes" as if that is what it takes to sell
such a book. I keep hearing from readers, users, and other food writers
that some restaurant recipes (not necessarily from these books) don't
seem to work, but how could that be? They all claim to be kitchen
tested for the home, and many books identify the food researcher by
name. Most books are loaded with tips, techniques, and advice, as well
as gregarious stories about life in the restaurant world. Photos
abound, usually of the chef bounding about. But of course there are a
lot of food shots, verging on gastroporn. The endorsements are from
other celebrities in a magnificent case of logrolling. If resources are
cited, they are usually American mail order firms, with websites. Some
companies, though, will ship around the world, so don't ignore them
altogether. Here's a rundown on the latest crop of such books –
10. PINTXOS; small plates in the Basque tradition (Ten Speed Press,
2009, 202 pages, ISBN 978-1-58008-922-7, $24.95 US, hard covers) is by
Gerald Hirigoyen, chef-owner of two San Francisco restos (Piperade and
Bocadillos). He was named or nominated for several "best chef" awards
in California. The focusing food writer is Lisa Weiss, who has co-
written many other cookbooks. Top notch log rollers here are Eric
Ripert, Paula Wolfert, and Chuck Williams (Williams-Sonoma). With
"small plates" as the single hottest menu trend in North America, it
seems appropriate to begin specializing beyond Spain and the Eastern
Mediterranean. Here are 75 preps for appetizer-sized French Basque and
Spanish Basque dishes, albeit with some California influences. The
arrangement is by type of dish (griddle, beans, sandwiches, braises,
innards, fried bites, salads, skewers, montaditos, and soups). He has
wine notes that offering pairings for each dish, as well as tips for
cooks to make their own pairings. Avoirdupois measurements are used in
the recipes, but there is no metric table of equivalencies. There are
notes about the Basque pantry, US sources of supply, and a large
typeface index. Try hanger steak with chimichurri, calamari with
peppers and wild mushroom salad, white bean and salt cod stew, fava
beans with crème fraiche and mint, oxtail empanadas, sweetbreads,
artichoke chips with lemon aioli, or sardines escabeche. Quality/Price
rating: 88.

11. DIRTY DISHES; a restaurateur's story of passion, pain and pasta
(Bloomsbury, 2009, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-59691-442-1, $25 US hard
covers) is by Pino Luongo, who has owned and operated several
restaurants, since 1983, in New York and Chicago. Currently, he is chef
and owner of New York's Centolire. As he says, "Everybody has an
opinion about me…A lot of people love me, and a lot of people hate me…a
lot of what you've heard about me is true". His memoir covers his
Tuscan boyhood right up through his business partners, former partners,
food critics, and others. He is also the author of several cookbooks.
He rose from dishwasher to owner-operator. But after dealing with a
corporate chain (the relationship went sour), he left everything behind
and returned to cooking. Here are his stories about the rich and
famous, ably assisted by collaborator Andrew Friedman, who has co-
authored many cookbooks with celebrity chefs. Portions of the book were
in "Don't Try This at Home", a collection of kitchen disasters. And for
the first time since 1988, he's back to just one restaurant. There is
index to the contents, so you cannot look up Warhol, Zagat, Stallone,
or Onassis to see what he says about them – you must browse. There are
10 recipes, mostly for basic Tuscan dishes. Quality/Price rating: 88.
12. SIZZLE IN HELL'S KITCHEN; ethnic recipes from restaurants of New
York City's Ninth Avenue neighborhood (Gibbs Smith, 2009; dist.
Raincoast, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-0445-7, $30 US hard covers) is a
collection of preps collated by Carliss Retif Pond, a culinary advisor
living in New York. Arranged by course (apps to desserts), this
collection reflects the preps as presented by 43 local restaurants
reflecting the cuisines of Africa, Louisiana, Belgium, Brazil, Chile,
Asia, Cuba, Druze (Israel), the Mediterranean, Russia, Puerto Rico,
Argentina, even Ireland: all of course reflective of the waves of
immigrants that have arrived through the Hell's Kitchen area. Recipes
are sourced, and include such as railroad pork chops with apricot-mango
sauce, yebeg tibs (Ethiopian), spiedino macelleria, spiha (Deuze), pla
lad prik (Thai), molokhia (Egypt), kartoffelsuppe (Germany), pistou
soup, and samosas with potato and peas. All of it perfect street or
diner food. There are some photos and stories about the restaurants and
their owners, many of which have been ion the same family hands for
generations. Avoirdupois measurements are used in the recipes, but
there is a metric table of equivalencies. Quality/Price rating: 89.
13. CANYON RANCH: NOURISH; indulgently healthy cuisine (Penguin Viking
Studio, 2009, 372 pages, ISBN 978-0-670-02073-7, $40 US hard covers) is
by Scott Uehlein, executive chef at the Canyon Ranch Health Resort in
Tucson since 1999. For almost thirty years, it has been a top spa
destination for health and wellness. The culinary philosophy here is
the same as at all spas: natural, nutritional, wholesome ingredients
must be fresh and seasonal. Each prep includes nutritional data and
techniques. The book is arranged by course, from beverages and snacks
through to desserts, with vegetarian entrees and all of the major food
groups. Avoirdupois measurements are used in the recipes, but there is
no metric table of equivalencies. There is, however, a useful chart of
ingredient conversions from weights to volumes, so that a pound of
acorn squash could be three cups. There are lists of gluten-free
recipes and dairy-free recipes, but no page references are given. There
is also a US web resources listing. Uehlein emphasizes colour and
downplays white. Try his chilled cucumber soup with arugula, apple-
cranberry salmon salad, tomato feta relish, grilled beef tenderloins
with tomato-blue cheese salsa, and almond macaroons. Quality/Price
rating: 87.

14. SEVEN FIRES; grilling the Argentine way (Artisan, 2009; dist. T.
Allen, 278 pages, ISBN 978-1-57965-354-5, $35 US hard covers) is by
Francis Mallmann, who owns two restaurants in Mendoza and Buenos Aires,
plus a third in Uruguay. This Patagonian chef has applied his skills
for the home cook. According to the publisher, the Argentines grill
more meat per capita than any other country. Since 1995, Mallmann has
been working exclusively with wood-fired cookery, both rustic and
refined. He has burnt stories and crusty stories here. He has seven
methods of cooking. Parilla is the most prominent, since this is
basically what's called BBQ in North America. But the other six can be
employed as well, although asador (whole pigs or lambs affixed to an
iron cross that faces a bonfire) and rescoldo (cooking food by burying
in hopt embers and ashes) may not be too practical at home. Most
recipes are adapted for cooking indoors, so the book is useful for any
kitchen in any season. Preps cover the whole range of food from apps to
desserts; the arrangement of the book includes extensive chapters on
beef, lamb, chicken, pork, plus seafood and vegetables. Try fresh figs
with mozzarella, pears and iberico ham, bricklayer steak, lamb Malbec,
salt crust chicken, salmon a la vara, or carmelized endives with
vinegar. There are, of course, sections on techniques and equipment
needed. Absolutely gorgeous photography. Avoirdupois measurements are
used in the recipes, but there is a metric table of equivalencies.
Quality/Price rating: 90.

15. TEA & CRUMPETS; rituals & recipes from European tearooms and cafes
(Chronicle Books, 2009, 180 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-6214-1, $19.95 US
hard covers) is by Chronicle cookbook author Margaret M. Johnson, who
also writes food articles for the press. Here she collects and collates
recipes from tearooms throughout Europe, in some cases adapting them
for home use. Preps concern mainly sandwiches, pastries, cakes and
scones, crumpets, et al. After the primer material on teas and some
history, she has separate chapters on the sandwiches, the breads, and
the sweets. Preps are sourced. Thus, there is The Clarence (Dublin) 
and its spiced egg sandwiches, the cucumber sandwiches from Claridge's
(London), tea brack from the Quay House in Galway, meringues from
Willow Tea Rooms (Glasgow), and gooseberry mousse from Llangoed Hall in
Wales. Most tearooms are in the UK and Eire. Others are spotty in Paris
and Switzerland (in the French cantons), principally at hotels with an
English clientele. She has a concluding chapter on the French style of
teas, along with recipes for madeleines, crème caramel, and petit pains
au chocolat. There is a US resource list for ingredients. Avoirdupois
measurements are used in the recipes, but there is a metric table of
equivalencies. Quality/Price rating: 87.
16. RUSTIC FRUIT DESSERTS; crumbles, buckles, cobblers, pandowdies, and
more (Ten Speed Press, 2009, 164 pages, ISBN 978-1-58008-976-0, $22 US
hard covers) is by Cory Schreiber (founder of Wildwood Restaurant) and
Julie Richardson (founder of Baker & Spice), both of Portland, Oregon.
I am not sure what is in the publisher's mind here: most of the preps
come from Richardson (she's the baker) but it is Schreiber's attributed
book as first author. In addition, the publisher felt it necessary to
have heavy duty log rolling from such as Sara Moulton (exec chef of
Gourmet) and David Lebovitz (former top dessert chef from Chez
Panisse). This is a basic book of old time cooked fruit desserts,
generally without pastry crusts. Anyone can make them. Included are
crisps, slumps, betties, buckles, grunts, crumbles, cobblers,
pandowdies, bread puddings, cakes, compotes, custards, fools (but no
syllabubs), galettes, teacakes, and trifles. Generic preps are listed
for stone fruit slump, stone fruit tea cake, stone fruit crisp, and
stone fruit upside-down cornmeal cake. Substitutions are encouraged.
Apples, stone fruit, and berries are the main three categories of
fruit. The book is arranged by season as it follows the course of
development of the fruit. And it is also based primarily on what is
available in the Pacific Northwest. Try raspberry red currant cobbler,
upside-down sweet cherry cake, maple apple dumpling, cranberry buckle
with vanilla crumb, or caramel peach grunt. There's a short US sources
lists. Avoirdupois measurements are used in the recipes, but there is
no metric table of equivalencies. Quality/Price rating: 89.
118 pages, ISBN 9788-0-1-58008-980-7, $16.95 US hard covers) is by
Mollie Cox Bryan, a food writer. Here are more than 65 recipes for pies
from the family-owned "Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant and Bakery" in the
Shenandoah Valley, VA. It is sixty years old, and her family now runs
it, along with some cafeterias, a buffet, catering business and a take-
out counter which sells 100 pies a day. To me, the classic US Southern
pie has always been Chess Pie, made with either lemons or vinegar or a
combination. But try to find it in this book. There is no index entry
for "Chess" Pie. The inside front cover says that there is a Lemon
Chess Pie in the book. Most references I've seen to Chess Pie don't
mention "Lemon" in the title. I look up Lemon in the index, and find an
entry for "Lemon pies" on page 73 and 110. Not on 73, but it is on page
110. Are they trying to hide something? Other deficiencies of the index
include a Make-Your-Own-Flavor Chiffon Pie entry, but none for Chiffon
Pie. Streusel Topping has its own entry, but it is not cross-listed
under Toppings and sauces as it should be. Part one of the book covers
crusts and toppings. The second part deals with fruits and nut pies.
Cream and custards are up next, followed by frozen/icebox pies, and
"pies for the cupboard". There's some good primer material on how to
make pie crusts and cooking times. Try weepless meringue, caramel apple
nut pie, chestnut pie, winter squash pie, brown sugar pie, raisin pie,
and shoo fly pie. Avoirdupois measurements are used in the recipes, but
there is no metric table of equivalencies. Quality/Price rating: 88.

18. SMOKED, SLATHERED, AND SEASONED; a complete guide to flavoring food
for the grill (Wiley, 2009, 334 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-18648-0, $19.95
US, soft covers) is by Elizabeth Karmel, owner of the Grill Friends
line of grilling products and the executive chef for Hill Country
barbecue restaurant in New York City. She also runs
and Here she offers a booming 400 recipes for
marinades, brines, barbecue sauces, glazes, mops, salsa, jellies,
dipping sauces, pestos, and tapenades. All of these can be applied to
hot-and-fast grilling or low-and-slow BQ. The essence is in balancing
the flavours for the likes of ribs, burgers, steaks, poultry, seafood,
vegetables and fruit. The book is arranged by the title: there's a
section of items to be soaked, another for slathered items, and a third
for seasoned (rubs). Double-columns throughout are used, with
economically smaller pictures. There is good use of typefaces and
sizes. Sidebars are used wherever appropriate. Avoirdupois measurements
are used in the recipes, but there is no metric table of equivalencies.
Try pomegranate BBQ sauce, carrot-jalapeno relish, cherry-chile steak
sauce, sesame-soy mop, or roasted garlic-Dijon butter. Quality/Price
rating: 90.

19. A TOUCH OF TROPICAL SPICE; recipes from chili crab to Laksa (Tuttle
Publishing, 2009; distr. Ten Speed, 144 pages, ISBN 978-0-8048-4081-1,
$24.95 US hard covers) has been collated by Wendy Hutton, an Asiatic
food specialist. These 75 preps all come from four Four Seasons Resorts
and Hotels – the ones in Bali at Jimbaran Bay and Sayan, the Maldives
resort at Kuda Huraa, and Hotel Singapore. This is high level spicy
Asiatic cooking at its best from the world-renowned Four Seasons teams.
The range is India, Maldives, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand,
and Vietnam, and covering virtually every course from breakfast and
snacks through to evening mains. Brunches and picnics are also
included. In addition to the 75 preps, there are 34 recipes for basics
of sambals, sauces, dips, dressings, jams, chutneys, and pickles. The
list of web-based resources includes Australia, Germany, Scandinavia,
the UK, and the USA. Executive chefs responsible for the home versions
of the food are named, and ingredients are expressed in both
avoirdupois and metric weights and measures. Try passionfruit
cheesecake, pan fired fish fillets with mango, grilled rending rib-eye
steaks, sweet corn and leek soup with crab dumplings, BBQ jumbo shrimp
with vindaloo dip, or even "coconut rice with assorted side dishes". 
All with gorgeous photography. Quality/Price rating: 89.

20. THE RUSTY PARROT COOKBOOK; recipes from Jackson Hole's acclaimed
lodge (Gibbs Smith, 2009; distr. Raincoast, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-
0347-4, $50 US hard covers) is by Darla Worden and Eliza Cross. Both
are lifestyles writers; Worden lives in Jackson Hole (Wyoming) and
Cross lives in Centennial, Colorado. The Rusty Parrot Lodge & Spa seems
to make everybody's top ten lists. Indeed, it has been AAA Four Diamond
for 15 consecutive years. Their Wild Sage Restaurant specializes in
"over-the-top" breakfasts. This is a typical souvenir type book,
featuring the home kitchen version of their most popular dishes. It has
a lot of photography and essays, historical gleanings from the area.
And of course it has to be nicely recommended for anyone who has had a
good experience there. It is an oversized book, and it is very heavy in
weight. The arrangement is seasonal, with a source directory that is
all US. Surprisingly, they recommend a local Wyoming source for
seafood. Avoirdupois measurements are used in the recipes, but there is
a metric table of equivalencies. Try a jumbo lump crab cake, opal basil
stuffed chicken breast, yakinori salad roll, hazelnut blanc mange, sake
and green curry-braised pork belly, or griddled haystack mountain goat
cheese. Quality/Price rating: 85.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Francois Lurton Tasting at Le Select, Sept 10, 2009

The Time and Date: Thursday, Sept 10, 2009  11:30AM to 3 PM

The Event: a Francois Lurton tasting, with Diamond Estate agency and Francois himself leading the Powerpoint discussion.

The Venue: Le Select

The Target Audience: wine writers

The Availability/Catalogue: we were able to taste about 23 wines. Not all are in the Ontario market, but many (and others not tasted) have been submitted to the LCBO.

The Quote/Background: The wines come from different countries, and from within, different regions: France, Spain, Portugal, Chile, and Argentina. Lurton makes about 70 different wines, and he makes more white wines than red. He uses grapes from his own or contracted vineyards.

The Wines:


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

-F. Lurton Quinta do Malho 2007 Douro, about $100 – blend of port wine varieties, brimming with fruit and character

-F. Lurton Gran Lurton Corte Friulano 2007 Uco Valley Argentina - +66829, $19.95 Vintages – softy caramel nose, woody palate, floral muscat tones from the Tokay Friulano grape.

-F. Lurton Gran Lurton Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Uco Valley Argentina, +980334, $20.95 Vintages – lots of character at this price point.


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

-F. Lurton Terra Sana 2008 V d P de Vignobles de France, about $15, organic syrah grapes.

-F. Lurton Les Hauts de Janeil 2008 V de P d'Oc, $12.95 – mid-November – syrah and grenache

-F. Lurton Mas Janeil 2006 Cotes du Roussillon Village, $19.95 – Grenache, syrah and carignan.

-F. Lurton El Albar Barricas 2006 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon, $20-25 – Tempranillo variant.

-F. Lurton Pilheiros 2005 Douro, $19.95 – Port wine grape varieties

-F. Lurton Vina Hacienda Araucano Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Chile Central Valley, $13.

-F. Lurton Vina Hacienda Araucano Pinot Noir Chile Central Valley, $16

-F. Lurton Le Chateau des Erles Fitou, $45

-F. Lurton Alka Gran Vino de Carmenere 2002 Colchagua, $89.

-F. Lurton Chacayes 2006 Gran Vino de Argentina Uco Valley, about $100

-F. Lurton Gran Araucano Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Colchagua Valley, $30


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

-F. Lurton Les Fumees Blanches Sauvignon Blanc 2008 V d Pays du Comte Tolosan, +472555, $11.45 – 4 million bottles produced.

-F. Lurton La Recaoufa du Chateau des Erles 2004 Corbieres - $24.95, syrah, grenache, carignan

-F. Lurton Hermanos Lurton Verdejo 2008 Rueda, $13.

-F. Lurton Campo Alegre Gran Vino de Tinta de Toro 2007 – Tempranillo variant.

-F. Lurton Barco Negro 2007 Douro, $14.95 – Port wine grape varieties

-F. Lurton Humo Blanco Pinot Noir 2008 Chile Lolol Valley, $20-25

-F. Lurton Clos de Lolol 2007 Chile, $20-25

-F. Lurton Bodega Lurton Pinot Gris 2009 Uco Valley Argentina, +556746, $10.95 General List

-F. Lurton Pilheiros Alvarinho Vinho Verde 2008, $25


The Food: we had a variety of expensive wines with the lunch, but wine service was erratic. There was just one white wine, followed by heavier reds, and those who had ordered a salmon were out-of-luck in cross-tasting food and wine. The Pilheiros Vinho verde Alvarinho 2008 we had went terrific with the opening mesclun salad, but its price point of $25 made one pause. The four reds went marvelously with the steak and/or mushroom risotto – they were about $45 to $100 in price.

The Downside: we started late due to a late arrival of some wine writers. Also, because we covered five countries with different regions, and because Lurton is a terroirist, much time was spent on discussing climate and soils in terms of the wine. Lunch was for 1 PM, but it was after 2 PM before we started – and several wine writers had already left.

The Upside: a great opportunity to catch a house style through several different wine regions of the world. I'm glad I stayed.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 84




Friday, September 18, 2009

Wines of Chile Media Preview Tasting, Toronto, for Oct 7 show

The Time and Date: Wednesday, September 9, 2009  11AM to 2PM

The Event: Wines of Chile Preview Media Tasting

The Venue: Crush Wine Bar

The Target Audience: wine writers

The Availability/Catalogue: with the exception of a couple of items in the Consignment program, all wines were available (or will be) via Vintages or the LCBO General listings.

The Quote/Background: we were served seven blind flights of wine, arranged by grape variety. 42 wines were tasted, and all will be in the Chilean wine show, October 7, Fermenting Cellar.

The Wines: Here are my rankings --


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

-Vina Sena Arboleda Chardonnay 2008 Casablanca, Vintages, $15.95

-Vina Emiliana Organico Novas Winemaker's Selection Chardonnay/Viognier/Marsanne 2007 Casablanca, $18.95 Vintages +63909 March 2010 [nobody could verify if the year will be 2007 or 2008]


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

-Vina Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Leyda Valley, +32060, $14.95

-Vina Veramonte Reserva Chardonnay 2007 Casablanca, +49443 Vintages, $14.95, Oct 24/09

-Vina Casa Tamaya Reserva Syrah 2007 Limari, +135418, $15.85

-Vina Nativa Gran Reserva Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Maipo (organic), +975359, $19.99 Vintages Dec 5, 2009.


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

-Vina Anakena Single Vineyard Viognier 2009 Rapel, Consignment (Kylix), $14.95

-Vina Cono Sur Viognier 2008 Colchagua, LCBO $9.95

-Vina Santa Carolina Barrica Selection Chardonnay 2007 Casablanca, +981621, $17.95.

-Vina Cousino Macul Antiguas Reservas Chardonnay 2008 Maipo, +730044, $14.95 Feb 2010

-Vina Veramonte Reserva Pinot Noir 2008 Casablanca, +134973, $15.95

-Vina Errazuriz Max Reserva Shiraz 2007 Aconcagua, +614750, $17.95

-Vina Maipo Reserva Carmenere 2008 Rapel, $12.95 Vintages

-Vina Terra Andina Reserva Carmenere 2007 Rapel, $13.95, +128637

-Vina Emiliana Organico Novas Limited Selection Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Colchagua, +14.95 Vintages

-Vina Cousino Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Aconcagua, $17.95 Vintages

-Vina Sena Arboleda Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Aconcagua, $17.95 Vintages.

-Vina Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Colchagua, +322586, $19.95.

-Vina Concha y Toro Winemaker's Lot 115 Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Maule, Vintages +30965, $17.95.

-Vina Undurraga Founder's Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Maipo, +726646 Vintages, $36.95.


The Food: gourmet, upscale sandwiches.

The Downside: too many writers turned up late, so we started late. Boo…

The Upside: good cross-selection of Chilean wines.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 87.