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Friday, October 30, 2009

Some Interesting Cookbooks for the Fall 2009

 RISOTTO WITH NETTLES; a memoir with food (Chatto & Windus, 2009;
distr. Random House Canada, 326 pages, ISBN 978-0-701-18098-0, $34.95
Canadian hard covers) is by Anna Del Conte, who has written a dozen
books on Italian cooking. Many of them have won awards. Here, she
recounts her life in a sort-of memoir/autobiography. She was born in
pre-war Italy, arrived in England in 1949, married an Englishman and
stayed on. She has been well-known for bringing forth Italian food to
the English palate. This is her story of food in her life, and the
tastes associated with her food – with recipes and plenty of cook's
notes. Preparations have their ingredients listed in metric
measurements, but there is no avoirdupois table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: memoir lovers, food historians.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: bollito misto; bomba di
panna e marrons glace; pasta and bean soup; gnocchi; polenta biscuits;
baked sardines; Swiss chard torte.
The downside to this book: the few photos are dark and murky.
The upside to this book: There's a general index to the book, and a
separate index to recipes and food.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.

4. SLOW COOKER: the best cookbook ever with more than 400 easy-to-make
recipes (Chronicle Books, 2009, 544 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-6657-6,
$24.95 US paper covers) is by Diane Phillips, author of 14 cookbooks
and a food consultant/teacher. This is a convenient book in that it
adapts many conventional recipes to the slow cooker. As many readers
know, you put a few items in the slow cooker in the A.M., set it for
some hours, and then it will be ready when you get home. Almost like
magic. Philips gives extensive details on the workings of the slow
cooker, the need for a dry pantry. spices and a larder, plus
maintenance/care of the cooker. There have been other books over the
years, but this one is one of the fattest with a wider range of
applications. It's arranged by technique, from soup and chiles through
casserole and stews, with separate chapters on fish, beef, poultry,
pork, lamb, veggies, breads and desserts. And there are seventy-five
pages on party planning. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is a metric table of equivalents at
the back.
Audience and level of use: home cooks, beginners.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: cheesy broccoli soup, huevos
rancheros, beef enchiladas with chipotle sauce, artichoke spinach dip,
grits casserole, cherries jubilee lava cake, braised root vegetables.
The downside to this book: I found the typeface to be a little on the
light side.
The upside to this book: good database and selection of recipes.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.

5. THE ILLUSTRATED QUICK COOK (DK, 2009, 544 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-
5577-8, $35 US) has been edited by Heather Whinney, a British food
writer and editor. The basics here: 700 plus recipes, many to be ready
in 30 minutes or less, 1,000 photos of finished dishes, quick
techniques, step-by-step master recipes. Categories involve everyday
family meals and express entertaining. Of course you will need three
things that not everyone has: a larder-pantry, a mise-en-place, and
food prepared in advance. She has planners, tables, and an illustrated
table of contents. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both
metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there are also metric tables
of equivalents and conversion charts. Extra features include: menu
planners, recipe chooser galleries, Cheat tips, Cook's Notes, recipe
variations, and practical information to introduce every time-saving
device. Signs are used to indicate prep times and cooking times.
Audience and level of use: harried beginners.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: quesadilla with feta cheese,
green olives and peppers; asparagus and herb tart; spiced pork and
chicken pie; shepherd's pie (which correctly calls for lamb); coq au
vin; pork with fennel and mustard.
The downside to this book: the book weighs too much – it is not
convenient at more than five pounds.
The upside to this book: gorgeous colour photos.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.

6. THE ENTERTAINING ENCYCLOPEDIA; essential tips for recipes and
perfect parties (Robert Rose, 2009, 477 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0219-8,
$24.95 US paper covers) is by Denise Vivaldo, founder of Food Fanatics,
a catering, recipe-development and food-styling firm
( Some of her earlier books start with the title "Do
It for Less" – as guides to parties or weddings. This current book
presents about 200 recipes and scores of proven party ideas, menus and
tips. She neatly divides and conquers by telling us that there are only
six basic elements to entertaining: theme, location, décor, guests,
food and beverages, and entertainment. Then she proceeds to give us an
analysis of each with her advice. In the recipe section (which begins
on page 201), she gives us the essential preps for appetizers, salads,
soups, etc. through to desserts and beverages. Then come the 25 theme
menus with page references fort each recipe suggested. International
cuisine and party favours are highlighted, as in a Turkish Twilight, a
German Feast, a Mexican Fiesta, a Western Hoedown, or a Chinese
Banquet. And there is a quick reference guide which also serves as a
checklist. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric
and avoirdupois measurements, and there is no need for tables of
Audience and level of use: the adventuresome who wish to throw a party.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: oven-roasted kalua pork;
pear bread pudding; smoked turkey on sage mini scones; crab and blue
cheese bundles; rock shrimp salad wraps; petit lobster pot pies;
cheddar cumin scones with Black Forest ham.
The downside to this book: many regular recipes (e.g., French onion
soup) can be located in other, more general cookbooks.
The upside to this book: great collection of ideas, all in one place.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
7. THE NEW THANKSGIVING TABLE; an American celebration of family,
friends, and food (Chronicle Books, 2008, 2009, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-
8118-6493-0, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Diane Morgan, a Portland, OR
freelance food writer and multiple cookbook author for Chronicle Books.
This book is best meant for the US market, since it presents preps from
every region in the US. It is available in time for American purchase,
but not for Canadian (I just got the book near the end of September).
Nevertheless, it does a fine job in presenting the parameters of the
holiday, which appears to loom larger in US minds than in Canadian
minds. There are lots of material on the nature of celebration, the
harvest and seasonal foods, and special holiday equipment and tools.
This is followed by categories of appetizers, soups, mains, sides, and
desserts. There is of course, a special chapter on leftover faves and a
series of menus for regional thanksgivings with their own timetables
for the countdowns, beginning three weeks ahead. There is a New England
dinner, a Heartland, a Southern Style, and a Pacific Northwest. I think
she could have added a Southwest dinner and even a Cajun/Creole dinner
(didn't the deep fried whole brined turkey idea come from Louisiana?).
Each recipe has a page reference. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a metric table of
Audience and level of use: for the consummate Thanksgiving Day lover.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: for leftovers, try – turkey
sandwiches (several styles), turkey enchiladas, pot pie, tetrazzini,
turkey and andouille sausage gumbo, hash and eggs, turkey and veggie
chowder, turkey chili.
The downside to this book: a couple more menus could be useful, and we
can even apply them to Canada.
The upside to this book: good concept.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.

8. A YEAR IN LUCY'S KITCHEN; seasonable recipes and memorable meals
(Random House Canada, 2009, 304 pages, ISBN 978-0-679-31458-5, $29.95
US paper covers) is by Lucy Waverman, acclaimed food writer for the
Globe and Mail and the LCBO's Food & Drink magazine, plus several other
cookbooks. Some of the recipes are from the Globe and the LCBO. There's
even some logrolling from former GG Adrienne Clarkson and Chef Lynn
Crawford. It's arranged by month, instead of by season, which makes it
more manageable in handling the local produce and the local holidays.
Each month also has a theme, such as pasta and marmalade for January.
But otherwise, there are no free-standing recipes – everything is tied
into some celebration or theme. With February come bean soups as a
theme, with celebrations for Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year, plus
a family birthday. Husband Bruce contributes thorough wine notes,
suggesting varieties or regions rather than brand names. Preparations
have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is
no metric table of equivalents. Good use of leading in the layout.
Audience and level of use: for fans and those who want some pre-planned
menus for the year.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: for a Spanish dinner, try –
shrimp with Romesco sauce; fideos (noodle nests) with chorizo, mussels
and clams; salad of arugula and artichoke fritters; tarragon-roasted
strawberries with caramel cream,
The downside to this book: it's a paperback, and it'll get heavier-
than-normal use.
The upside to this book: good tight photography of the finished dish
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

9. SAVORY BAKING; warm and inspiring recipes for crisp, crumbly, flaky
pastry (Chronicle Books, 2009, 168 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-5906-6,
$24.95 US paper covers) is by Mary Cech, a top rated pastry chef in the
USA. She was once Charlie Trotter's pastry chef, and went on to start
the pastry program at the CIA (Greystone) in California. There is a
refreshing lack of logrolling here – she quite plainly does not need
it. The book's arranged by type: quick breads, flaky pastries, rustic,
puff pastries, cookies, and diverse sauces and spreads. She has 72
preps, ranging for easy to engaging. There is the usual baking primer
information on flours, equipment and techniques, including how to work
with pastry. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois
measurements, but there is a metric table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginners and up, plus those who are pastry
AND savoury addicts (like me).
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: buttermilk tarragon loaf;
white cedar-zucchini pancakes; baked pomodori dumplings on an olive
salad; onion and sherry cream turnovers; spicy tomato crumble; chicken
Dijon brown betty; thyme, lemon and sea-salt shortbreads.
The downside to this book: given the need for this book, I should think
that more recipes would have been useful.
The upside to this book: there's a pronouncing glossary in case you
don't know what a pancake is.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

10. NORTH BAY FARMERS MARKETS COOKBOOK (Gibbs Smith, 2009, 216 pages,
ISBN 978-1-4236-0313-9, $24.99 US paper covers) is by Brigitte Moran, a
French woman who started the San Rafael farmers market in 1989. In 2004
she joined the Marin Farmers Markets and Marin Agricultural Institute
as their Executive Director. The book, also written with Amelia Spilger
as a focusing food writer, comes endorsed by Wolfgang Puck. It its
basic form, she gives us a history of farmers markets in California,
noting that there are more than 4500 farmers markets all over the USA.
There are sections on slow food and local sustainable agriculture, plus
a suggested reading list, and a resources list for farmers markets in
the North Bay area (north of San Francisco). Other than that, this is a
straightforward book highly useful for California cooks since the
emphasis is on "local" (i.e. local to California) foods. Soups to
desserts are covered, all using locally available seasonal foods.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is a metric table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: mostly Californian cooks, but others who use
fresh foods.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: pork tamales; rabbit a la
bretonne; chicken with dates and apricots; baked halibut with red
pepper and onion; avocado and zucchini salad; blueberry-orange tartine;
asparagus and grilled shiitake; baked salmon with tomato, cucumber and
basil beurre blanc.
The downside to this book: as she prefers "sustainable", there is not
too much on organic certified foods.
The upside to this book: upbeat and positive account of people, with
good pix.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


 THE NEW PORTUGUESE TABLE (Clarkson Potter, 2009, 256 pages, ISBN
978-0-307-39441-5, $32.50 US hard covers) is by David Leite, a three-
time Beard Award winning writer and website publisher
( He's also a magazine writer with articles in
Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, et al. Notable logrollers endorsing
this book include Anthony Bourdain, Lynne Rosetto Kasper, the Lee
Brothers, and Paula Wolfert. This book is basically a collection of
updated Portuguese classics. Leite was taught by his Portuguese
grandmother to make deeply smoked sausages, use peppers and olive oil,
beans, tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro – as well as seafood. Then he
visited Portugal, and discovered that it had all changed. The cuisine
is lighter and makes use of more ingredients. Here are 100 re-invented
preps for the home cook. All 11 provinces are covered, as well as a
generalized pantry of Portuguese food (complete with a pronunciation
guide) that includes clams, chourico, various herbs and spices, kale,
lard, salt cod, turnip greens and more. He begins with acepipes
(appetizers) and continues with sopas, fish, poultry, carnes, breads,
eggs and veggies, and desserts. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric table of
equivalents. He has no real discussion on wines, just lists. The book
concludes with a listing of US sources.
Audience and level of use: home cooks and those who have traveled to
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: cilantro bread soup with
poached eggs; olive oil poached fresh cod with roasted tomato sauce;
Azorean garlic-roasted pork; sweet-sour carrots; cheese-stuffed pork
tenderloin; mini-lamb meatballs.
The downside to this book: the book is weighty because of the paper
needed for the photography.
The upside to this book: there's a good description of Portuguese
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


1. WHAT PRICE BORDEAUX? (Vendange Press, 2009, 292 pages, ISBN 978-1-
934259-20-7, $34.95 US hard covers) is by Benjamin Lewin, Master of
Wine. As a long-time academic and writer of molecular biology, Lewin is
now focusing on wine. In his first book (there are more on the way), he
explores an overview of the financial forces making Bordeaux wines so
pricey today. He scrutinizes the 1855 classification, looking at the
original motives and its modern relevance. The real value of this
classification was to promote the value of the properties contained
therein, to perpetuate the class structure and the pecking order. He
investigated the unique terroir of chateaux, the many brands they
market, the negociant-broker setup, the en premeur system, the
influence of wine writers and winemakers such as Robert Parker or
Michel Rolland, and the rise and fall of individual chateaux through
ownership changes amongst banks and insurance companies. He proposes a
reclassification based on his forensic investigations. He would like
fewer than half of the chateaux to retain their original
classification, and he would like to drop several altogether.
Throughout the book, there are colourful graphs and charts clearly
illustrating his points. There is also a bibliography and many pages of
end notes.
Audience and level of use: a good marketing book, useful for Bordeaux
specialists and wine schools.
Some interesting or unusual facts: find out who is really making money
in Bordeaux.
The downside to this book: physically, the book is hefty to hold – this
is because of the coated paper needed for the colour charts.
The upside to this book: a must read, gripping in its intensity.
Quality/Price Rating: 92.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Event: Vintages Platinum Wine Tasting from Wine Australia, Sept 30/09

The Time and Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2009   Noon to 4PM

The Event: Vintages Platinum Wine Tasting from Wine Australia

The Venue: Brassaii Restaurant

The Target Audience: wine media

The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are at Vintages, or will be at Vintages through Feb 9, 2010. Some of them will only be available online. Relevant details in the catalogue were clearly spelled out, with names of importers, release dates, quantities, etc.

The Quote/Background: I had already tasted many of these wines at the last Australian show in August (see my August 2009 notes, and the Yalumba wines last week (see above). So I tasted only some of the other wines. My time was limited because I was to go to a matinee at 1:30.

The Wines:


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

-Evans & Tate The Reserve Chardonnay 2004, +140699, $29.95, Oct online (fave white)

-Evans & Tate X & Y Margaret River Shiraz 2004, +41194, $15.95 Dec 5 (fave red)

-Heartland Director's Cut Shiraz 2007, $31.95, +48496 Oct 24

-Katnook Estate Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, +590471, $29.95 Oct 24


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

-Rosedale Winery Cat Amongst the Pigeons Alley Cat Shiraz Grenache 2007, $21.95, +127621

-Grant Burge Filsell Old Vine Shiraz 2007, $29.95, +987463 Oct 10

-Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz 2007, +627869, $29.95 Oct 10

-Stonier Chardonnay 2007, $24.95, +25353 Oct 28 VSO

-Katnook Estate Founder's Block Merlot 2004, +141267, $16.95 Nov 7

-Grant Burge Summers Chardonnay 2007, +67315, $19.95 Nov 21

-Richard Hamilton Gumprs McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007, +600122, $18.95 Nov 21

-Katnook Estate Founder's Block Sauvignon Blanc 2008, +122285, $15.95 Jan 9/10


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

-Coriole Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, +107888, $24.95

-Wakefield Estate Shiraz 2007, +943787, $17.95

-Coriole Redstone Shiraz 2006, +59915, $17.95

-Thorn Clarke Shotfire Shiraz, +18796, $24.95

-Shingleback McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006, +57844, $23.95 Oct 10

-Alkoomi White Label Shiraz, +138560, $14.95, Jan 9/10

-Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz, +743989, $20.95

-Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz, $19.95, +726127

-Glaetzer Wallace Shiraz Grenache 2007, $24.95 +86900 Oct 24

-Glaetzer Anaperenna Shiraz Cabernet 2007, +72926, $59.95 Nov 21


The Downside: I could not stay.

The Upside: My colleagues would be pleased with the quality of the wines.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 87.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

TASTING: Tannin Fine Wines Portfolio, Toronto, Sept. 23, 2009

The Time and Date: Wednesday, September 23, 2009  2PM to 7:30 PM

The Event: Tannin Fine Wines portfolio tasting.

The Venue: Fine Wine Reserve

The Target Audience: wine media, private clients.

The Availability/Catalogue: most items were on their way, in time for the Christmas rush.

The Quote/Background: Tannin has an eclectic mix, with wines from New York, Chile, Australia, Hungary, France, Oregon, Tuscany, and Greece.

The Wines: 28 wines were on show. Prices are retail.


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

-Step RD 2008 "First Step" Chardonnay Langhorne Creek, $16

-Cartagena Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Chile, $17.

-Neyen 2005 Espiritu d'Apalta Red Colchagua Valley, $76

-Clos del Rey 2004 "Clos del Rey" Cotes du Roussillon, $64.95


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

-Matisses Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Chile, $15

-Cartagena Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Chile, $20

-Casa Marin Casona Gewurztraminer 2008 Chile, $34

-Heron Hill 2006 Eclipse Red New York, $24 –54%merlot/46%cabernet franc

-Maretima 2007 Primitivo IGT Puglia, $17

-J & J 2006 Sikhegy Kekfrankos Hungary, $21

-Step RD 2006 Blackwing Shiraz Australia, $19.

-Clos del Rey 2006 "Baby del Rey" Pays d'Oc, $25.

-Clos del Rey 2006 "Mas del Rey" Pays d'Oc, $57.

-Riecine La Gioia IGT 2003 Tuscany, $64.


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

-Trevisani Bali Sauvignon Blanc- Chardonnay 2007, $27

-La Reserve St. Dominique 2007 Cotes du Rhone Blanc, $26

-Heron Hill 2006 Ingle Riesling New York, $22

-Casa Marin Miramar Vineyard Riesling 2007, $34.

-A to Z Pinot Gris 2007 Oregon, $23.

-Step RD 2007 "First Step" Merlot Australia, $15.

-Matisses 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Chile, $15.

-A to Z Pinot Noir 2007 Oregon, $33

-Dalamaras 2006 Paliokalias Xinomavro, $34

-Beresford Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 McLaren Vale, $26.

-Beresford Shiraz 2007 McLaren Vale, $26.


The Food: bread and water

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 85.



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

LCBO Vintages Release Oct 24, 2009: some notes

By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing
"Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net Compendium" is guide to thousands
of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and
spirits, at (since 1995). Creator of Canada's leading wine
satire site at 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. Corked wines are not available for re-tasting.
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
1. Stella Bella Skuttlebutt Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2008 Margaret
River: much like an upscale Graves, great MVC flavours. +47621, $15.95,
QPR: 90.
2. Xanadu Chardonnay 2008 Margaret River: delicious, Burgundian
character, toast in the length. +27888, $19.95, QPR: 90.
3. Sticks Chardonnay 2006 Yarra Valley: oaking dissipates over time,
fruit shines through. +141274, $19.94, QPR: 90.
4. Chateau des Charmes St. David's Bench Chardonnay 2006 Niagara:
Burgundian quality, deliciously fruit forward, 14% ABV. +430991,
$19.95, QPR: 90.
5. Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Rapel: grassy but fresh, young
vintage, good buy. +396994, $13.95, QPR: 90.
6. Crabilis Vermentino 2008 Sardinia: aromatic, floral, longer length,
best with crab. +52068, $13.95, QPR: 90.
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1. Chateau des Charmes Old Vines Cabernet/Merlot 2005 Niagara-on-the-
Lake: a food wine, like an aged Bordeaux, quality for the value
pricing, already 4 years old. +222372, $19.95, QPR: 90.
2. Huntington Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 California: lovely off-dry
chocolate and cherries. +994491, $18.95, QPR: 90.
3. Chakana Reserve Malbec 2008 Mendoza: soft, Merlot-like, affordable.
+18671, $16.95, QPR: 90.
4. Cathedral Cellar Triptych 2006 Coastal Region South Africa: fruity,
aged well, not many oak tones. +53124, $16.95, QPR: 90.
5. Chateau Begadanet 2005 Medoc: MVC, good vintage, approachable now,
what more could you ask for at this price? +138875, $19.95, QPR: 90.
6. Estate Papaioannou Single Vineyard Agiorgitiko 2005 Nemea Greece:
delicious fruity components with a dose of underbrush, garrigue, and
forests. +47977, $18.95, QPR: 90.
7. Monte Antico Sangiovese/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Tuscany:
engaging North American blend. +69377, $14.95, QPR: 90.
8. Sogrape Callabriga 2005 Dao: black fruit, well-developed and aged
wine, best with food. +43638, $19.95, QPR: 90.
9. Beronia Reserva 2005 Rioja: and older feel to the wine, smoke,
mocha, plums, delicious and under-priced. +50203, $17.95, QPR: 91.
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. Pirathon Shiraz 2005 Barossa Valley, +130278, $38.95 retail.
2. Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Adelaide Hills, +965335, $24.95.
3. Tamar Ridge Kayena Vineyard Pinot Noir Tasmania, +962415, $26.95
4. Megalomaniac Sonofabitch Pinot Noir 2007 Niagara, +85134, $24.95
5. 7 Deadly Zins 2007 Old Vines Lodi, +59311, $24.95.
6. Nicolas Maillet Macon Verze 2007, +702605, $22.95.
7. Max Ferd. Richter Riesling Spatlese 1992 Mulheimer Sonnenlay Mosel,
+140780, $23.95.
8. Le Serre Nuove Dell'Ornellaia 2007 Bolgheri Rosso, +606194, $59.95.
9. Stratus Riesling 2007 Niagara, +131011, $35.50.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TASTING: Livio Felluga (Friuli), Toronto September 25, 2009

 The Time and Date: Friday, September 25, 2009  2 PM to 6:30PM

The Event: Tasting of Livio Felluga (Friuli) red and white wines.

The Venue: Fine Wine Reserve

The Target Audience: wine media, private clients of the agent Le Sommelier, clients of the FWR.

The Availability/Catalogue: we tasted seven wines, all private order except one.

The Quote/Background: The Livio Felluga estate, founded in the mid-1950s, has 160 hillside hectares under vine, with an annual production of some 750,000 bottles. It was one of Italy's first sustainable wineries. Livio is now 95, and still helps.

The Wines: All prices are licensee, and all wines come in six packs.


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

-Livio Felluga Illivio Colli Orientali del Friuli 2007, $49.35 – pinot bianco, chardonnay, and picolit, barrel fermentation and storage in small French oak.


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

-Livio Felluga Vertigo Venezia Giulia IGT 2007, $27.50 – merlot and cabernet sauvignon.

-Livio Felluga Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso Colli Orientali del Friuli 2006, $50.83.

-Livio Felluga Sharis delle Venezie IGT 2008, $27.50 – chardonnay and ribolla gialla

-Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio Colli Orientali del Friuli 2008, $36.91 Consignment.


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

-Livio Felluga Friuliano Colli Orientali del Friuli 2008, $37.95

-Livio Felluga Sauvignon Colli Orientali del Friuli 2008, $36.91


The Food: charcuterie, cheese, breads.

The Downside: I had just come from a huge LCBO Vintages pre-release tasting.

The Upside: a chance to taste some very fine wines.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 88.


TASTING: Yalumba Wines, with Jane Ferrari, Sept. 24, 2009

The Time and Date: Thursday, September 24, 2009  Noon to 3 PM

The Event: a tasting of the latest Yalumba current releases in Ontario, with Jane Ferrari, Winemaker/Communications and reps from agents Mark Anthony.

The Venue: Reds Wine Bar

The Target Audience: wine media

The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are at the LCBO or soon will be.

The Quote/Background: Jane is an excellent ambassador for this 160 year old family-owned company. She took us through the wines, step-by-step, how the local terroir works for each, and its treatment in the winery.

The Wines:


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

-Yalumba Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2008, +39271, $17.95

-Yalumba Mawson's Wrattonbully Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, +60228, $19.95 Nov 21/09 Vintages


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

-Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2008, +954644, $22.95 – also a wild ferment but not noted as such on label

-Yalumba Barossa Eden Valley Shiraz Viognier 2006, +524926, $19.95 Vintages Nov 7/09.


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

-Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier 2007, LCBO 624494, $14.95

-Yalumba Y Series Riesling 2008, +625129 Vintages

-Yalumba Y Series Pinot Grigio 2008, +138586 $15.95 Vintages January 2010.


The Food: we began with a charcuterie platter of ten different meats (mortadella, ham hock terrine, squab galantine, chicken liver foie gras pate, chorizo sausage, smoked ham, pate campaigne, and others). Then it was an off-the-menu selection. Some of us had the special burger or the special fried chicken; others had the prix fixe which involved roast quail with caramelized onions, local pickerel, and pumpkin pannacotta. In general, all of the food went with the wines. There was a fair amount of cross-checking and comparison since there were no direct wine pairings. My faves were the Wild Ferment Chardonnay and the Mawson's Cabernet Sauvignon – they seemed to go well with everything.

The Downside: actually, we could have used more time with Jane since she is so knowledgeable about the Australian wine industry.

The Upside: we heard some terrific stories of Jane's holidays and work abroad – she's a great travel companion. Try

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 91.



Monday, October 19, 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 –

11. AMERICA'S MOST WANTED RECIPES; delicious recipes from your family's
favorite restaurants (Atria, 2009; distr. Simon & Schuster, 267 pages,
ISBN 978-1-4391-4706-1, $15 US soft covers) has been pulled together by
Ron Douglas, founder of a copycat recipe website,
The book has more than 200 of these recipes, from 57 of America's
popular restaurants. Most of these are in Canada, such as KFC, Red
Lobster, Olive Garden, and Pizza Hut. But not IHOP or Brooklyn Café.
Nevertheless, this is a good presentation of knockoffs from menu items
found in these chains. With much experimentation, Douglas and his
tester-tasters have come up with reasonable copycat recipes, so that
you can go for Baskin-Robbins' cheesecake ice cream or Benihana's
hibachi steak, or Olive Garden's chicken crostina. All courses are
covered. The recipes are easy to use, but everything is in avoirdupois
weights and measures. Recipes are by establishment, but there is a
category index and an ingredient index. Families can cook these dishes
at home for a fraction of the total cost (the food bill plus taxes,
tips, travel time and expenses). But it does require some thought in
when and what to prepare. Salt levels, though, can be controlled at
home. Quality/Price rating: 85.

12. TAKASHI'S NOODLES (Ten Speed Press, 2009, 168 pages, ISBN 978-1-
58008-965-4, $24.95 US paper covers) is by Takashi Yagihashi, currently
owner of Takashi's in Chicago. In partnership with Macy's, he is
opening Noodle Shops around the USA. He is assisted by Harris Salat who
writes about food and culture for diverse publications (Gourmet, NY
Times, Saveur). This is fairly comprehensive treatment of hot and cold
Japanese noodles from an award-winning chef (he has a Beard). Yet he
still needs extensive log rolling from five chefs, including Boulud,
Trotter, Ripert, and Susur Lee. The range includes hand-cut soba,
traditional and contemporary dishes, hot and cold, clay-pot udo, crispy
gyoza, and the like. This is Japanese comfort food as Yagihashi has
been cooking for the part two decades in the American Midwest. The 75
preps also include ramen, somen, bean threads, and rice noodles, as
well as side dishes. There are tips that emphasize shortcuts, fresh and
dried noodle techniques, and kid-friendly meals. There is also a fair
amount of memoir material here. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric table of
equivalents. Arrangement is by type of noodle, and actually includes
pasta such as penne, gnocchi and orecchiette. There is an ingredient
glossary plus a list of US resources. Try chilled ramen with chicken
and banbanji sauce, curry udon, poached egg and mentaiko udon, or
grilled salmon and chilled somen with yuzu sauce. Quality/Price rating:

13. THE DIABETES SEAFOOD COOKBOOK; fresh, healthy, low-fat cooking
(American Diabetes Association, 2009; distr. McGraw-Hill, 165 pages,
ISBN 978-1-58-040302-3, $18.95 paper covers) is by Barbara Seelig-
Brown, host of a TV cooking show (Stress Free Cooking) and author of a
companion cookbook. Each prep here meets the nutrition guidelines of
the ADA (improved blood glucose management). And proceeds from the book
goes to the ADA. The emphasis here is on low-fat, omega-3 fats, and
protein. Creamy sauces and fried batters are eschewed. There are about
100 recipes here, emphasizing taste. But not much is mentioned with
sodium reduction. Arrangement is by course (starters to mains) with
sauces, dressings, and sides. There are a few tips and suggestions on
handling fish, including a mercury chart-guideline. Try Mediterranean
fish stew (eliminate the salt), salmon tacos, fillet primavera, bloody
Mary shrimp, or baked scallops (hold the salt). More details are at Quality/Price rating: 87.

14. ISLAND LAKE LODGE: the cookbook (Whitecap, 2009, 184 pages, ISBN
978-1-55285-947-6, $29.95 soft covers) is by writer Keith Liggett who
has collated 60 recipes from the eight current and former chefs of
Island Lake Lodge, a 20-year old ski haven in the heart of BC's
Kootenay mountains. The kitchens in this National Geographic-referenced
lodge use local and organic ingredients. Liggett gives chef profiles
and presents about 60 recipes. It's arranged by meal taken and course.
There's star anise French toast, a trilogy of quail eggs benedict,
chickpea-spinach soup with tahini, smoked duck salad, and pan-roasted
black cod with mussels and black-olive gnocchi. Lots of good photos by
Henry Georgi to illustrate the kitchen's environment and the cooking
line, as well as the plated dish. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a metric table of
equivalents. Quality/Price rating: 89.