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Monday, December 27, 2010


Stocking stuffers are at the top of everybody's gift list: something
affordable (under $10, up to $20) that can also double as a host gift,
something small and lightweight. Most of the books here are paperbacks.
And of course, they can stuff an adult stocking. Typical for food are:
--RECIPES EVERY MAN SHOULD KNOW (Quirk Books, 2010, 144 pages, $9.95 US
hard covers) by Susan Russo and Brett Cohen. "This book is for hungry
guys" – a little black book of primer data plus recipes categorized
into breakfasts, snack, burgers, meat and potatoes, pasta, bar food,
chocolate and cheesecake. Hardly any BBQ and no index!!
--I LOVE BACON! (Andrews McMeel, 2010, 136 pages, $22.99 CAN hard
covers) has more than 50 preps from celebrity chefs in the US,
including Cat Cora (Iron Chef). It begins with making your own bacon,
moving through brunch, salads, sides, pasta, fish and meat, up through
desserts (pig candy ice cream, maple-bacon ice cream). Nice layout,
with metric conversion tables.
--APPLES I HAVE EATEN (Chronicle Books, 2010, unpaged, $14.95 US) is by
Jonathan Gerken. All of the 47 varieties of apples photographed and
mentioned in this book were gathered by Gerken during the autumn of a
single year (2007?). They are local and heirloom varieties acquired
from California farmers' markets, out-of-the-way orchards, neighbours,
and friends. As the book says, "After being photographed, the apples
were eaten. They were really tasty."
--EASY ASIAN NOODLES (Wiley, 2010, 128 pages, $17.95 US soft covers) is
from Helen Chen, owner of Helen's Asian Kitchen in the USA. As she
says, "If you can cook pasta, you can cook Asian noodles." Well,
duh….Helen has a line of Asian cooking equipment, and her earlier books
included Chinese Home Cooking, Peking Cuisine, and Easy Chinese Stir-
Fries. With 60 recipes, Chen shows how to prepare noodles which are
served cold, pan-fried (crunchy), or in soup, stir-fried, sauced, and
in noodle salads. Most can be done in thirty minutes or less. Her range
covers all South-East Asian countries.
--SKINNY DIPS (Chronicle Books, 2010, 144 pages, $20 US paper covers)
is by Diane Morgan. Here are 60 guilt-free recipes for light dips and
the crispy dippers to eat them with. Veggie and herb dips, salsas,
guac, bean and legume drips, crudités. Plus the elements of party
--SIMPLE COMFORTS; 50 heartwarming recipes (Andrews McMeel, 2010, 136
pages, $19.99 CAD hard covers) has recipes from five other cookbooks
put out by the Sur La Table stores. Heart breads, savoury thick soups,
stews, big sandwiches, mains, sides, and desserts. For the hungry guy.
--COOKING WITH WHOLEGRAINS; the basic wholegrain cookbook (Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, 2010, 72 pages, $12 US paper covers) is a reprint of
the 1947 book; it was written by Mildred Ellen Orton who just recently
passed on at age 99. The book was one of the first to re-introduce
stone-ground whole grains to America (she and her husband operated a
stone mill). There are preps for breads, rolls, cakes, scones,
crackers, muffins, and desserts – two or three to a page. It's now a
curiosity, but all the recipes work well, and it's a good small gift
book to the healthy cook.
--A ZOMBIE ATE MY CUPCAKE! (Cico Books, 2010, 64 pages, $17 CAD) by
Lily Vanilli, well-known British baker and graphic artist. Here she
comes up with 25 cupcake recipes, each with sculptured toppings –
eeyrie eyeballs, zombie snacks, mutant ears, bleeding hearts,
radioactive slime. Best at Halloween, but creepy anytime.
--COFFEE AND CAKE; enjoy the perfect cup of coffee – with dozens of
delectable recipes for café treats   AND
--TEA AND COOKIES; enjoy the perfect cup pf tea – with dozens of
delectable recipes for teatime treats. Both are from Chronicle Books
(2010, 152 pages each, $24.99 in Canada). These books, written by Rick
Rodgers, deal with pairing beverage and dessert. In one, there's a
short history of coffee and a primer on cakes. In the other, there's a
short history of tea and a primer on cookies. Learn the differences
amongst these two beverages, along with how to make a perfect cup.  The
three dozen or so cookies and a similar number of cakes are innovative,
and most are elegant. A useful gift, but what if one likes coffee with
cookies? Or tea with cake?
--CANADIAN CHEESE; a pocket guide (McArthur and Co., 2010, 232 pages,
$19.95 CAD soft covers) is by Kathy Guidi, founder of the Cheese
Education Guild and Artisan Cheese Marketing. She's had a lot of
experience in the cheese world, and this is her first commercial book,
detailing 180 cheeses. She says that there are 450 Canadian cheeses,
but space was limited, so some duplicative-style cheeses were omitted.
Cheese are grouped alphabetically by category (fresh through hard and
blue), with primer detail on storage and service and how to buy. It's
pocket-sized, so please take it with you to your cheese monger.
Other little books, for beverages, include:
--ABSINTHE COCKTAILS (Chronicle Books, 2010, 112 pages, $20 US hard
covers) seems to be from the dark side. The whole book is white-on-
black. That'll certainly discourage the photocopiers. This book is a
basic history of absinthe, a spirit which is now legal for sale in
North America. So it is a field guide to buying and mixing. Kate Simon
wrote it up, along with 50 preps for classic drinks, mostly from the
early 20th century. Beware of the absinthe-minded puns in the book.
--A TASTE FOR ABSINTHE; 65 recipes for classic and contemporary
cocktails (Clarkson Potter, 2010, 176 pages, $28.99 CAD hard covers) is
by R. Winston Guthrie. It's a bit bigger than the Absinthe Cocktail
book above, with 65 preps and a higher price. But at least it's normal
– black print on white background. Classics (Sazerac) and modern mixed
drinks are here. The books cover the same ground, and were written to
take advantage of the fact that US-made absinthe was now being
produced. Guthrie runs
--OLD MAN DRINKS; recipes, advice, and barstool wisdom (Quirk Books,
2010, 160 pages, $14.95 US soft covers) is by Robert Schnakenberg. It's
a basic booze book for the aging baby boomer, complete with the
standard preps for Boilermakers, Singapore Slings, Sidecars, Bloody
Mary, Cuba Libre, Gibsons, Gimlets, Rusty Nails, Martini, and others:
all the classics that your grandfather would remember. Nothing "pink"
and nothing with umbrellas. Just the Guy stuff. And there are pictures
and quotes from old men.
--HOW TO BUILD A SMALL BREWERY; draft beer in ten days. 3rd edition
(White Mule Press; distr. McArthur, 47 pages, $24.95 CAD soft covers)
is by Bill Owens. He has a six barrel brewhouse at his brewery (Buffalo
Bill's, in California) and he replicates the same brewing techniques
for home use. A ten gallon brewing system can be built in a few days,
and this includes building a mash tun from a camping cooler,
constructing as heat exchanger from a garden hose, and converting a
beer keg into a kettle. In just ten days, you should be able to produce
cold, clear and carbonated brews. Hey – 30,000 previous purchasers of
this book cannot be wrong!
--THE BARTENDER'S BLACK BOOK. Updated 9th ed. (Bartender's Black Book
Co., 2010; distr. McArthur, 288 pages, $16.95 CAD spiral bound) is by
Stephen Kittredge Cunningham. It was first published in 1994. It is not
like a fancy book which goes on and on with pictures of mixed drinks
and stemware. It is more like just a database. There is only one
drawback here: the print is incredibly tiny, and you just simply cannot
read it without adequate lighting far beyond a bar's capability.
Nevertheless, with about 20 preps a page and an index by ingredient,
the book has the best value of any competitor in the marketplace. There
are over 2800 recipes in all, with 143 being new modern takes, advice
for the bartender plus wine advice which includes Parker's Wine Vintage
Guide through May 2010, and more glossaries. There's even a metric
conversion chart. The publisher claims "over 1 million copies sold".

Annual calendars are always monster hits and are often appreciated,
both the wall and the desk type. The best of the desk are the two
"page-a-day" (PAD) calendars from Workman. THE WINE LOVER'S CALENDAR
2011 (Workman, 2010, $16.99 CAD) has been put together by Karen
MacNeil, author of "The Wine Bible". Saturday and Sunday have been
combined on one page. There is a new varietal highlighted each month,
tips galore for pouring and tasting, food and wine matching, bargains,
pop quizzes, etc. etc. And 100 "must try" wines are highlighted (many
can be found in Canada). 365 BOTTLES OF BEER FOR THE YEAR 2011
(Workman, 2010, $16.99 CAD) too has a combined Saturday and Sunday
page. Most of the beers appear as imports in Canada, but otherwise
there are few Canadian brews included. Lights, lagers, ales, porters,
stouts, and lambrics – they're all here. Other material in this PAD
includes beer festivals, beer facts, label lore and vocabulary. There
are also 100 "must-try" beer recommendations. If you buy any of the PAD
calendars, then you can go online to the website and pick up other
stuff, usually free at For wall calendars, there is
GO VEGAN! 2011 Calendar (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009, $14.95 CAD) which
has full-colours throughout and is the same size as an LP (remember
those?). Susan Kramer has authored many vegan books for this publisher.
She appears here in many re-creations of LP covers, reworked for modern
vegan audiences. There are facts, dates and trivia here. For example,
you can celebrate World Vegan Day on November 1. The Vegan Society was
started in Great Britain in 1944 (that's the year they ran out of every
food possible).
On to the wine annuals. The two leaders are HUGH JOHNSON'S POCKET WINE
BOOK 2011 (Mitchell Beazley, 2010, 320 pages, $17.99 CAD hard bound)
and OZ CLARKE'S POCKET WINE GUIDE 2011 (Sterling Epicure, 2010, 352
pages, $17.95 CAD hardbound). Both are guides to wines from all around
the world, not just to the "best" wines. Similarities: Johnson claims
more than 6000 wines are listed, while Clarke says more than 7000, but
then recommends 4000 producers. News, vintage charts and data,
glossaries, best value wines, and what to drink now are in both books.
The major differences: Johnson has been at it longer – this is his 34th
edition -- and has more respect from erudite readers for his exactitude
and scholarliness. His book is arranged by region; Clarke's book is in
dictionary, A – Z form (about 1600 main entries). It is really six of
one, or half a dozen of another which one to use. Johnson's entry for
Canada is 1.2 pages (big deal). Oz has only one paragraph apiece on
Inniskillin, Okanagan (recommending just red wines), and Niagara
(recommending just icewines). Both books have notes on the 2009
vintage, along with a closer look at the 2008. It is fun to look at
both books and find out where they diverge. As a sidelight, Johnson and
Oz are moving into food: there is a 16 page section on food and wine
matching in the former, while Oz has 6 pages. Johnson also has a
listing of his personal 200 fave wines. Both books could profit from
online accessibility or a CD-ROM production.
Other wine annuals – mostly paperbacks -- deal with "recommended"
wines, not all of the wines in the world. They can afford the space for
more in-depth tasting notes (TNs) of what they actually do cover
(usually just wines available in their local marketplace).
--THE WINE TRIALS 2011 (Fearless Critic, 2010, 288 pages, $18.95 CAD
soft covers) is by Robin Goldstein, with Alexis Nerschkowitsch. Both
have food and wine credentials, in addition to authoring restaurant
review books and travel books. They have been assisted by named
contributing writers and 500 named blind tasters. The object of the
book is to come up with hidden wine values. The cover proclaims brown-
bag blind tastings for wine values under $15. That's $15 US, of course,
and does not allow for discounts and sales so prevalent in the US
marketplace. It is possible that a top rated US wine at $20, going on
sale for under $15, could be well over $30 in Ontario. Most of the
wines sold in Ontario are under $25 – the trick is to find the best
ones. This book could give some guidance. They list 175 wines (up from
150 last year) under $15 US that outscored $50 to $150 bottles, using
hundreds of blind tasters who filled in a simple form. The authors have
lots of material justifying their choices, and there are copious notes
for each of the 175 wines, filling a page apiece. Only about half the
wines are available in Ontario, and many are not value priced because
of the LCBO mark-up policy and lack of sales/discounts. The book just
whets your appetite for a privatized company to sell wine in Ontario.

--THE 500 BEST-VALUE WINES IN THE LCBO 2011 (Whitecap, 2010, 250 pages,
$19.95 CAD paper back) takes a more determined run at the wines at the
LCBO. This fourth edition, by Rod Phillips (wine writer for the Ottawa
Citizen), has wines arranged by wine colour and then by region/country
with price and CSPC number. Each value wine gets a rating (the basic is
three stars out of five), and there is an indication of food pairings.
A good guidebook, but I'm afraid most people will just look through it
for the 5 star selections and leave it at that. Turnover in Ontario is
enormous because this update claims over 160 new wines for a book that
deals with just 500. Coverage is limited to LCBO General Purchase wines
and LCBO Vintages Essentials, the wines that are available (if only by
special order) in every LCBO store.

--BILLY'S BEST BOTTLES; wines for 2011 (McArthur & Company, 2010, 240
pages, $19.95 CAD soft covers) by Billy Munnelly is back for another
round (21st ed), creating more emphasis on wine and food pairing, party
planning, and some social manners. There's some info about country
trends and frequently-asked questions about wine. Plus data on Ontario
winery tours. His whole concept of wine is organized by Mood, with
sections on wine colour and style/weight, and the wines are usually
those available at the LCBO. Most should be available across the
country. He has over 200 best international wine buys, with most under
$20 and many under $12. And there is a wine index at the back where
wines are listed by region. Check out


B. For the more literate person, there are the "memoirs" of writers,
chefs, and wine people. Some have called these memoirs "creative non-
fiction", many suffering from embellishments and gilding. And most of
them suffer from a lack of indexing, which makes it difficult to find
what the writer said about another person or subject. But this also
avoids the potential for lawsuits and disjointed noses. Nevertheless,
they are rewarding to read. Who cares about poetic license? Here then
are some that stood out from last year's run, and any of them would
make great gifts for the reader. Here we go, in no particular order…
--THE SPICE NECKLACE; a food-lover's Caribbean adventure (Doubleday
Canada, 2010, 461 pages, $32.95 CAD hard covers) is by Amy Vanderhoof,
a long-time Toronto food and travel writer. Her previous travel memoir
was "An Embarrassment of Mangoes". She continues to tap her exploits in
the Caribbean with her husband, detailing aspects of local islands and
culture, with about 70 recipes. She goes through markets, rainforest
gardens, family gatherings, and more. Here she travels from Haiti, the
Dominican Republic, and St. Kitts south to Grenada and Trinidad. As is
typical in travel or memoir books, there is no index, not even to the
recipes. There is no way to check on "seacat" or to "provision". But
there is a listing of the preps, from starters to sweets, plus drinks
and spice blends.
---ENTERTAINMENT IN THE FRENCH STYLE (Gibbs Smith, 2010, 144 pages,
$22.99 CAD hard covers) is by Eileen W. Johnson, owner of FlowerSchool
New York and author of books on floral arranging. Here she branches out
with personal stories and recipes from French cities to the provinces.
It is also a memoir of sorts as she writes about the everyday lives and
foibles of French farmers, chefs, cheese makers and others. For her,
entertaining in the French style is all about food and customs.
--EVERY DAY IN TUSCANY; seasons of an Italian life (Broadway Books,
2010, $29.95 CAD hard covers) is by Frances Mayes, who had earlier
penned "Under the Tuscan Sun" (1996) and "Bella Tuscany" (1999). Here,
she continues with her Tuscan rambles from winter through summer at
Bramasole, her second Tuscan home. It is now 20 years since Cortona,
and she begins again in foraging her new locality, describing the new
foods and the new characters. Some recipes, but of course not indexed.
--AVEC ERIC (John Wiley & Sons, 2010, 295 pages, $41.95 CAD hard
covers) is by Eric Ripert, who owns four restaurants in NYC (Le
Bernardin), Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Grand Cayman Island. It
is derived from his TV show, "Avec Eric". He's also written Le
Bernardin Cookbook and On the Line. It's a travel-cooking TV show, and
so is the book. There's a chapter on Tuscany, another on California, a
third on seafood, another on wine. They come with appropriate recipes,
about 100 in all. There's a lot of pictures of Eric and others, as well
as landscapes. The index coves both recipes and memoir-travel pieces.
--THE HUNGER; a memoir of an accidental chef (Ecco HarperCollins, 2010,
233 pages, $15.99 CAD paperback reprint) is by John DeLucie, chef of
the Waverly Inn in Greenwich Village, NYC. He changed careers to be a
cook (didn't we all?) and spent 15 years in and around Manhattan
restos. In 2007 he opened Waverley Inn. This is a memoir about everyday
life in New York city kitchens. No recipes.
--MEDIUM RAW; a bloody valentine to the world of food and the people
who cook (Ecco, 2010, 283 pages, $32 CAD hard covers) is Anthony
Bourdain's complete turnaround and turnabout from his earlier "Kitchen
Confidential". Since that book, he has hosted "No Reservations" on TV
and has gone mainstream. Medium Raw is a collection of his latest
thoughts about some of the characters in Kitchen Confidential, plus new
topics such as confessions, rants and rages, investigations, and chef
mafia summits. It is extremely readable and engaging as he takes on
"Top Chef" television shows, Alice Waters and David Chang, and others.
Currently, then, put him in the Michael Pollan column. But wait and see
if his attitudes change in his next book…
--CHEF; a novel (Vintage Canada, 2020, $19.95 CAD paperback) is by
Jasprett Singh. It is about a young Kirpal Singh who arrives at a
Kashmir military camp. He is immediately apprenticed to the camp's
chef, and he begins to learn all the intricacies of Indian cooking. He
eventually rises as a chef to a top general. There's a lot of local
flavour and character, particularly in descriptions of war and
terrorism. It's not a memoir, but it does seem very autobiographical,
and it is written in  memoir-like style.

C. Family values Christmas gift cook books would have to include:
--TIME FOR DINNER; strategies, inspiration, and recipes for family
meals every night of the week (Chronicle Books, 2010, 272 pages,
$$24.95 US hard covers) comes from the editors of Cookie magazine, an
American parenting publication. It is chock full of advice and ideas
for food-stressed families, ranging from preparing the one meal that
everybody will want to eat to keeping the kids distracted while you
cook to planning and prepping to avoid scrambling to mastering the
basic techniques. Nice layout, with scads of notes and ideas for using
leftovers. Over 225 recipes and variations.
--VERY MERRY COOKIE PARTY; how to plan and host a Christmas cookie
exchange (Chronicle Books, 2010, 248 pages, $19.95 US paper covers) is
by Barbara Grunes, food writer and author of over 45 cookbooks, and
Virginia Van Vynckt, a writer who hangs out at
Here are 100 preps – brownies, spice cookies, nut balls, Xmas
ornaments, stamps, molds, cutters, and presses. Good organizational
material on how to do it all as a cookie exchange with your friends.
--A GREENER CHRISTMAS (DK Books, 2010, 352 pages, $19.95 CAD paper
covers) is another of Sheherazade Goldsmith's books to cross the
Atlantic. At least here, the directory of resources is North American.
Topics include decorating the house, doing the Christmas tree and
decorating, making gifts (such as Advent calendars), decorating and
displaying the table, plus some 30 recipes that are eco-friendly. It's
part Christmas craft book and part Christmas cookbook.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010





...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"...



WILD GARLIC, GOOSEBERRIES…AND ME; a chef's stories and recipes from the land (Collins, 2007, 2010, 320 pages, ISBN 978-0-00-736406-0, $28.99 Canadian soft covers) is by Denis Cotter, Irish author of the Café Paradiso Cookbook and chef-operator of that place in Cork. It is a reprint of the 2007 hardback book. It's a vegetarian book, and the main premise is foraging for food in the wild. It has good application to the local veggie fare of the UK. He tells us what's available and when, and how to use it. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. He has quite extensive notes for most plants, and of course there is also some memoir material. Try chard, new potato, and chickpea soup with lemon and roast garlic, or sea spinach with oyster mushrooms and soba noodles, or even bok choy and rice vermicelli salad with egg, apple, and a peanut dressing. English cognates are used throughout, such as aubergine (for eggplant) and courgette (for zucchini). Quality/price rating: 84.



THE ILLUSTRATED STEP-BY-STEP COOK; more than 300 updated recipes from DK's classic Look & Cook series (DK, 2010, 544 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-6753-5, $35 US hard covers) is based on material from Anne Willan originally published in 1992 through 1995. This is virtually a brand new book since all the preps have been modernized. The whole range is covered: starters, salads, vegetarian, one-pots, comfort food, bread, pies, cakes, desserts, and midweek cooking. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, and there are tables of equivalents on the inside covers, a boon. All recipes have been photographed to illustrate techniques (each prep gets a two page spread), and there are symbols to indicate service, prep time, cooking time, and the like. A good book of basic foods, such as onion and Roquefort quiche, Asian noodle salad, tuna Nicoise salad, Nori-maki sushi, cod and mussel chowder, blackberry and apple pie. Quality/price rating: 85.




THE I HATE TO COOK BOOK. Updated and revised (Grand Central Publishing, 2010, 208 pages, ISBN 978-0-446-54592-1, $22.99 UD hard covers) is the 50th Anniversary Edition of an American classic. It was originally written by Peg Bracken in 1960. Here, it has been updated and tweaked, with new material by Jo Bracken, her daughter. The original had 200 recipes and many "hints" and "tips"; it sold some three million copies. Indeed, I had just read that this Anniversary Edition had already sold 24,000 copies by August. Classics shouldn't be reviewed: they get annotated gracefully. Bracken and her friends wanted to shave a few minutes off the cooking chores, and to some extent, they succeeded. The emphasis was on quick and tasty. There was no concern for preservatives or for dairy fats. As her daughter says, you can now use fresh food or yogurt as appropriate, relevant substitutes. And everything works well. It's all pretty basic, and Bracken continued with eight other books and many articles. So: the steak is made with an onion-soup mix, the stew with the peas and carrot plus a can of thinned down soup, and the stroganoff with a cream of chicken soup can. Some of the others are quite tasty, such as a basic lamb shank recipe with no additions or a meatloaf with swiss cheese. The book has some menus (a boon for any home cook) and some last-minute suppers. Quality/price rating: 85.



BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS NEW COOKBOOK. 15th edition. (Wiley, 2010, 608  loose leaf pages, ISBN 978-0-470-55686-3, $29.95 US ring binder) is from the magazine of the same name. In fact, with each book US residents can get a free subscription for one year (value: $6.13 US). Since the book is widely discounted at box stores and Amazon, with the subscription the book can be had at virtually next to nothing. The 14th edition was published in 2007. The important thing is that this is a classic that keeps getting better for the basic home cook. New to this edition of 1400 preps are 1000 recipes with 1000 photos (800 new) and 400 photos of techniques. New features include a chapter on "Cook Once, Eat Twice", creating two meals out of one, and an exploration of new flavours to perk up basic foods. There is also new stuff on breakfast, brunch, casseroles, sandwiches and pizzas, as well as convenience cooking. Recipes have been laid out in a more eye appealing fashion, and there is advice on how to customize basic recipes. Ingredients are listed in US weights and measures. Quality/price ratio: 85.



THE GREAT DOMAINES OF BURGUNDY; a guide to the finest wine producers of the Cote d'Or. 3rd ed. (Sterling, 2010, 288 pages, ISBN 978-1-4027-7882-7, $35 US hard covers) is by Remington Norman and Charles Taylor. It was originally published in 1992, with a revised edition in 1996 at the same number of pages as now: 288. There are 140 or so Domaines (up from 130), the best of the properties in Burgundy, with an assessment of the vintages 1971 through 2009 (all the data here was collected May through November 2009). 39 entries are new, so 29 Cote D'Or Domaines from the earlier book have been dropped. Norman was a Master of Wine for 20 years, while Taylor was the youngest ever member of that august society. I gather that Taylor did much of the spade work here, with interviews of the owners and winemakers, plus an update on the 25 important communes. There's a page or two for each, with a table of vineyard holdings (with the average age of the vines) and some photographs. Viticulture, viniculture and wine style are discussed. There's a lot of primer, basic information to complete the book (about 40 pages), material on microclimates, grape varieties and clones, oaking, biodynamics, tasting, and a glossary. Frankly, I would have appreciated more Domaines being listed since the primer can be found elsewhere in Coates or in Hanson. Anybody who buys this book will probably know most of the primer anyway. The non-Burgundian specialist will find the Domaine data arcane. For the Burgundy wine lover, this is a terrific book. Quality/price rating: 91.




THE VEGETARIAN COLLECTION; creative meat-free dishes that nourish & inspire (Transcontinental Books, 2010, 288 pages, ISBN 978-0-9813938-0-3, $22.95 Canadian paper covers) has been pulled together by Alison Kent and the Canadian Living Test Kitchen (with its team of seven chefs and stylists). The preps come mainly from the pages of the magazine, and have been grouped around an ingredient category such as pulses and beans, grains, tofu, seeds and nuts, eggs and cheese, and then forty pages devoted to "vegetables". Recipes are one to a page, and there are just over 200 of them. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Nutritional information is listed, as well as some helpful hints from page to page. Expect a savour-flavour with double mushroom hot and sour soup, crunchy almond noodle salad, wild rice with pepitas, or vegetarian ceviche. Another good book for the home cook. Quality/price rating: 89.




BARTENDING FOR DUMMIES. 4th edition. (John Wiley Publishing, 2010, 366 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-63312-0, $16.99 US paper covers) has been revised to include more hip and trendy drinks. Ray Foley, the publisher of "Bartender" magazine, is the author. Preliminary matter deals with home bar setups and the base drinks. The A - Z alphabetical format has been retained, for about 1000 recipes with illustrations of what stemware to use for each drink. There are lots of charts, websites for producers and suppliers and information, a recipe index, and a topical index. This is a value-driven book in a respected off-handed series. Quality/price rating: 89.



MATT KRAMER ON WINE; a matchless collection of columns, essays, and observations by America's most original and lucid wine writer (Sterling Epicure, 2010, 334 pages, ISBN 978-1-4027-7164-4, $19.95 US hard covers) is by the well-known author of the "Making Sense" wine series who is also a columnist for the Wine Spectator. This latest book is a collection of his shorter works, a sort of retrospective, all noted as to original publication source and date. Most are, of course, from the Wine Spectator, but there are also some from the New York Sun and from his books. They cover the gamut of wine knowledge, and his own interest in wines (how to taste, California, older wines, Burgundy, and Italy). He's also an easy reader, with a breezy but literate style. You can always learn something from him. Topics also include Gaja, wine and women, and Bordeaux. There is even a Devil's Dictionary on wine terms from 1995, although some of it can be termed "libelous". As a writer on food and wine, Kramer has been at the top of his game for over 34 years. And the best value of this collection is that, unlike just about all the other anthologies, there is an index! Use it to track down such elusive topics as why wine isn't art, cloning cabernet to meaninglessness, why there is no wine writing in the New Yorker, how Kramer got a $15,000 kill fee (for a Gaja article, included in this book), and much more. Fascinating. Quality/price rating: 91.




THE FRENCH COUNTRY TABLE; simple recipes for bistro classics (Ryland, Peters & Small, 2010; distr. T. Allen, 159 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-023-3, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Laura Washburn, who currently translates French cookbooks into English and tests recipes. It was originally published in hard covers in 2003 (as Bistro) and in 2005 (as French Desserts). Here are the classic recipes for French onion soup, tians from Provence, soupe au pistou, goat cheese tart, Belgian endive salad, pork in cider, cassoulet, and the like. For desserts, there are tarte tatin, soufflé, clafouti, tarte au citron, napoleons, oeufs a la neige, mousse, and parfaits. Everything is relatively easy to make if you apply yourself. Good sharp photography, as always from Ryland. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a metric table of equivalents. Quality/Price rating: 87.




THE FOOD SUBSTITUTIONS BIBLE; more than 6,500 substitutions for

ingredients, equipment & techniques. 2nd ed. (Robert Rose, 2010, 695 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0245-7, $27.95 Canadian paper covers) has been compiled by David Joachim who has authored, edited or collaborated on more than 30 cookbooks. It was originally published in 2005, with 1,500 fewer substitutions. The new edition also has five new ingredient guides and measuring tables, plus 50 new recipes. It's also physically larger, with about 70 more pages. This is a solid reference book emphasizing, through over 1500 complete entries, more than 6500 reasonably approximate substitutions – all of it cross-referenced and arranged alphabetically. The ingredients are listed with both avoirdupois and metric measurements. There are 175 recipes for larder type items (sauces, stocks, spice mixes, herb blends, syrups, flavoured butters, cheese, dips, spreads, relishes, and beverages). There are handy reference charts for metric equivalents, high altitude cooking, stages of cooked sugar, pan sizes. There are ingredient tables for edible flowers, types of salts and vinegars, oil substitutions, picking apples and pears, dried beans and lentils, olives, mushrooms, potatoes, chilies, flours, and rice. He has useful website listings and a bibliography. Quality/Price Rating: 89.




THE BARTENDER'S BEST FRIEND. Updated and revised. (John Wiley & Sons, 2010, 392 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-44718-5, $19.95 US soft covers) is by Mardee Haidin Regan, an American wine and spirits consultant with a Julia Child Cookbook Award nomination. It's a basic book, originally published in 2002, with over 850 recipes (including new ones such as the whole slew of what are now "new martini"). There's about three to a page, with bold face for the ingredients, making it easier to use in a setting of a dim barlight. It is an all-in-one alphabetical listing of cocktails. There are tabs for easier retrieval, plus an index for retrieval by spirit or form of drink, and a waterproof, wipe-dry cover with a book ribbon for bookmarking. There's also a bibliography but with bad indentations. It is all kept up to date at No pictures, which is nice since it keeps the weight and the price of the book down. Quality/Priced rating: 88.




SEASONS; the best of Donna Hay Magazine (HarperCollins, 2010, 324 pages, ISBN 978-1-55468-906-4, $39.99 Canadian soft covers) is by Donna Hay, the foodie Martha Stewart of Australia, with a string of successful cookbooks (17), newspaper articles, and her own self-named magazine. These preps in this book, originally published last year by Murdoch Books in Australia, come from her magazine. And her Canadian fans will lap it up, because the magazine is not that widely available here. It is all arranged by season, with coverage of "savoury" and "sweet" for each. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of equivalents. It is pretty basic, marred slightly by many overly touristy or non-food pictures (some double-spreaded over the book. But the oversized book does give us four or so recipes per page. There's red mullet with cherry tomatoes and garlic crumbs, spinach and feta pies, blistered plums and vanilla mascarpone tart, mixed berry clafouti, cauliflower soup with porcini oil, roasted pumpkin and garlic soup, and three pepper pork stir-fry. Quality/Price rating: 84.



EVERYDAY EASY CAKES & CUPCAKES; cheesecakes, muffins, brownies, sponge cakes (DK 2010, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-6731-3 $20 US hard covers) is a collection of 85 dessert preps from the previously published DK books, The Illustrated Kitchen Bible (2008) and The Illustrated Quick Cook (2009). There's a lot of useful information here, specifically on these types of desserts. As well, the DK photography is pretty good too. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are metric table of equivalents on both the inside covers. The large print is useful, as well as a variety of icons used to show how long to freeze a dish, its prep time, and what kind of equipment is needed. Quality/Price rating: 84.



EXPLORING WINE. Completely revised third edition (John Wiley & Sons, 2010, 792 pages, ISBN 978-0-471-77063-3, $65 US hard covers) is by Steven Kolpan, Brian Smith and Michael Weiss – all professors of wine at the Culinary Institute of America. It is meant as both a textbook for hospitality students, especially those at the CIA, and for the informed consumer who wishes to pursue his vinous knowledge. It has a fairly complicated past. The second edition was in 2004 at 1070 pages (now out of print). The first edition was in 1996 from Van Nostrand Reinhold. Meanwhile, in 2008, Wiley published "WINEWISE; your complete guide to understanding, selecting, and enjoying wine" (360 pages) by these same three authors. So the best way to describe the current book is to say that it is a book that has doubled in size from 2008, borrowing elements from the second edition and with new material by two new authors. It is a fairly complete basic guide within two covers at a decent price. There are over 600 colour photos and over 32 maps (in colour, and with sufficient detail). The authors aim to prepare the basic consumer to appreciate wines, to select and buy the best bottles in both stores and restaurants, and to pair wines with foods (and vice versa). They begin coverage with material on the major white and red varietals. They continue with profiles of the major wine regions in the world. Here, Canada is given the usual three pages. Ok, I can handle that. But (shamefully) there is still nothing on Prince Edward County. Additional material concerns lists of value wines. As for restaurant pricing policies, the authors say "the wine should never cost double its retail price on the wine list." With a straight face, I can say that for Ontario, the wine should ALWAYS cost quadruple its retail price. An $8 bottle from the consignment warehouse is regularly priced in the $30 to $40 range. I wished they had some more details on some

of the minor grapes. We do not really know which will be the next "star". Quality/Price Rating: for this price, try 90.



EVERYDAY EASY FREE-AHEAD MEALS; casseroles, hearty soups, pizzas, one-pots, oven bakes (DK 2010, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-6732-0 $20 US hard covers) is a collection of 85 preps from the previously published DK books, The Illustrated Kitchen Bible (2008) and The Illustrated Quick Cook (2009). There's a lot of useful information here, specifically on these types of vehicles listed in the sub-title. As well, the DK photography is pretty good too. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are metric table of equivalents on both the inside covers. The large print is useful, as well as a variety of icons used to show how long to freeze a dish, its prep time, and what kind of equipment is needed. Try stuffed eggplants (imam bayildi) or fish and lee pie or salmon fish cakes. Quality/Price rating: 84.



Monday, December 20, 2010

Nov 18/10: Tasting Report from the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo, Toronto

The Time and Date: Thursday, November 18, 2010 6Pm to 10PM
The Event: The VIP session of the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo
The Venue: Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building.
The Target Audience: consumers, some media
The Availability/Catalogue: wines were generally supposed to be
available for ordering.
The Quote/Background: There was an LCBO store on site as well. I tried
to taste a wide variety of wines. I visited the Fine Wine lounge
(Select Wines, Spectrum Wines, Eurovintage Wines, and Nokhrin Wines),
MCO, Whitehall, and the New York wines booth.
The Wines: Of course, I did not taste all the wines at the show. Most
wines there come off the LCBO or Vintages lists.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Piper Heidsieck Brut Champagne NV, $49.95 LCBO
-Tempus Alba Pleno Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Mendoza, $32 Spectrum
-Oak Summit Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007 Hudson River, $29.95 Private
order, Robert Ketchin
-Greenpiper Night Harvest Shiraz 2008 Margaret River, $26  Nokhrin
-Machard de Gramont Pommard 1er Cru Clos Blanc 2006, $39.75 Vintages
-Newton Johnson Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Western Cape South Africa, $16.95
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Ormarine Picpoul de Pinet Coteaux du Languedoc 2009, $12.95 Vintages
-Mas de Lunes Coteaux du Languedoc Rouge 2007, $18.95 Vintages
-Pascual Toso Syrah Alta 2007 Argentina, $29.95 Vintages
-Pascual Toso Malbec Reserve 2008 Argentina, $19.95 Vintages
-Chateau Musar Jeune Red 2008 Lebanon, +178079
-La Puerta Shiraz 2008, +614636
-Serrera Gran Guarda Malbec 2005 Mendoza, $45 Spectrum Wines
-Tempus Alba Tempranillo 2007 Mendoza, $20.40 Spectrum Wines
-Clos de Chacras Malbec 2006 Mendoza, $31.05 Spectrum Wines
-Dopff & Irion Gewurztraminer 2009 Alsace LCBO
-Domaine Charles Baur Cremant d'Alsace 2009 LCBO
-Greenpiper Night Harvest Chardonnay 2009 Margaret River, $29.05
-Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling 2009 Finger Lakes, $19.95 Hobbs & Co
-Fulkerson Winery Dry Riesling 2009 Finger Lakes
-Fox Run Vineyards Dry Riesling 2009 Finger Lakes, $18.95 Lorac Wines
-Sheldrake Point Semi-Dry Riesling 2008 Finger Lakes, $18.95 Classique
-Prejean Winery Semi-Dry Gewurztraminer 2008 Finger Lakes, $19.95
Private order, Robert Ketchin
-Paumanok Vineyards Merlot Grand Vintage 2004 Long Island, $29.95
Private order, Robert Ketchin
-Raphael Estate Merlot 2007 Long Island, $26.95, Hanna and Sons
-Osprey Dominion Merlot 2007 Long Island, $29.95 Private order, Robert
-Castello di Borghese Merlot v2005 Long Island, $28.95 Private order,
Robert Ketchin
-Arrowhead Spring Vineyards Red Meritage 2007 Niagara Escarpment NY,
$19.95, Private order, Robert Ketchin
-Greenpiper Night Harvest Classic White 2009 Margaret River, $20.15
-Lacroix Triaulaire Traditional Brut NV Champagne, $42.45 Nokhrin
-Luis Joao de Noronha Piza Quinta de Lubazim 2007 Portugal, $49.25
-Michel Delhommeau Harmonie 2008 Muscadet-sur-Lie, Vintages $12.95
-Bod. Martin Codax Salterio Albarino 2009 Rias Baixas, $15.95 Vintages
-Chateau Gauchet 2006 Lalande de Pomerol, $23.95 Vintages
-Newton Johnson Felicite 2009 Pinot Noir Western Cape South Africa,
$14.95 Vintages
-Domaine La Casenove La Colomina 2006 Cotes Catalanes, $15.95 Vintages
-Kaiken Corte 2008 Argentina [Malbec, bonarda, pet verdot] $17 LCBO
-Millbrook Vineyards Pinot Noir 2008 Hudson River, $20.95, private
order, Robert Ketchin
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Kim Crawford Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009, $17.95 LCBO
-Masi Passo Doble Argentina 2008, $13.95 LCBO
-Debroi Cuvee 2009 Hungary, +536268
-La Puerta Torrontes 2010, +197970 Feb 2011
-El Peral Chardonnay Unoaked 2009 Mendoza, $16.65 Spectrum Wines
-Willm Riesling Reserve 2009 Alsace LCBO
-Sparr Gewurztraminer 2009 Alsace LCBO
-Machard de Gramont Nuits St. George Blanc 2007, $46.85 Nokhrin
-Cave de Montlouis Montlouis-sur-Loire Chenin Blanc 2007, Vintages
-Balma Venitia Ferdinand de Laye 2007 Cotes du Rhone Villages Visan,
$13.95 Vintages
-Bod. Martin Codax Cuatro Pasos 2009 Mencia Bierzo, $16.95 Vintages
-Heron Hill Ingle Vineyard Riesling 2007 Finger Lakes, $15.95 Tannin
Fine Wines
-Sheldrake Point Waterfall Chardonnay 2007 Finger Lakes, $16.75
Classique Imports
-Dr. Konstantin Frank Rkatsiteli 2008 Finger Lakes, $22.95 Hobbs & Co.
-Raphael Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Long Island, $26.95 Hanna & Sons
-Lamoreaux Landing Cabernet Franc 2007 Finger Lakes, $20.95, MCO
The Food: I only sampled food from the Alexis de Portneuf cheese booth,
which was shared with Saputo. Portneuf's Le Cendrillon was superb: a
raw goat cheese with vegetable ash coating. Their La Tentation de
Laurier (Fromagerie 1860 DuVillage, PQ) made with fresh cream was
The Downside: it was extremely dark, I had the feeling I was in a
dungeon, hard to see aspects of what I tasted.
The Upside: a chance to taste New York wines which are rarely seen in
this province.
The Contact Person: or
The Marketing Effectiveness of this Event (numerical grade): 88.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nov 11/10 Tasting of Lopez de Heredia Rioja wines with Maria Jose Lopez Heredia

The Time and Date: Thursday, November 11, 2010  3:30PM to 5PM

The Event: A tasting of R. Lopez de Heredia Rioja wines, led by Maria Jose Lopez de Heredia, Directora Gerente.

The Venue: National Club

The Target Audience: wine media

The Availability/Catalogue: all wines were available in six-bottle cases by private order from the agent, Lorac Wine Inc.

The Quote/Background: This was a media preview tasting before the consumers arrived.

The Wines: Maria spoke to the wines, leading an engaging discussion on the winery's winemaking philosophy. Reds can be aged 6 to 9 years in barrels, whites 4 to 10 years.


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

-Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva Tinto 1981, $225

-Vina Bosconia Tinto Reserva 2002, $37

-Vina Tondonia Blanco Reserva 1989, $100


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

-Vina Tondonia Blanco Reserva 1992, $80

-Vina Tondonia Tinto Reserva 2001, $80

-Vina Tondonia Tinto Gran Reserva 1991, $164.40


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

-Vina Gravonia Blanco Crianza 2000, $27.75

-Vina Tondonia Rosado Gran Reserva 2000, $30.75

-Vina Cubillo Tinto Crianza 2004, $26


The Food: some Spanish cheeses (Drunken Goat, Manchego, Queso do Cabra, Valdeon Blue) with breads, crackers, and salted almonds.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness of this Event (numerical grade): 89.



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nov 5/10 Cuisine Canada Book Awards, Royal Winter Fair

The Time and Date: Friday, November 5, 2010  10:30 AM to 4 PM

The Event: Cuisine Canada's 13th annual Canadian Culinary Book Awards and a private media tour focusing on innovations in Agriculture at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

The Venue: Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

The Target Audience: wine and food media

The Availability/Catalogue: Wine was supplied by the Niagara College Teaching Winery – a Merlot and an Unoaked Chardonnay. Both were spot on with the opening reception and with the "Meet the Winners" food fair.

The Quote/Background: The main event was the book award for several categories (see for this year's winners, and all the previous ones). The categories were in both French and English (Special Interest, Cultural, and Cookbook). In that order, the English gold medals went to Save the Deli (David Sax), Vancouver Cooks 2, and French Taste (Laura Calder). Here, I need to give my son-in-law Michael Howell a plug: his Atlantic Seafood book came in third in the English Cultural category.

The Food: appetizers came from Roothams of Guelph. At the private reception, local chefs included Keith Muller of George Brown College (for desserts), Brad Lomanto of The Cambridge Mill, Donna Dooher of Mildred's Temple (quinoa and lamb), and Tony de Luca of de Luca's Wine Country Restaurant. The Dairy Farmers of Canada had a cheese tray for all of us (Evanturel, Comtomme, and Balderson 3-Year Heritage Cheddar).

The Contact Person: Charmian Christie

The Marketing Effectiveness of this Event (numerical grade): 90.



Monday, December 13, 2010

Dec 7/10 Tasting APVSA wines new to Ontario

The Time and Date: Tuesday, December 7, 2010  11AM to  6 PM

The Event: the monthly APVSA tasting (Association pour la promotion des vins et spiritueux en Amerique du Nord).

The Venue: Delta Chelsea Inn

The Target Audience: wine agents.

The Availability/Catalogue: no wines are currently available in

Ontario. The group is here to try to get agents to agree to rep

the principal. Some of the wines are already available in Quebec and Alberta.

Most of the wines were French, and there is sales staff available to

comment on the prices and production. This road show also visits New

York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, Calgary, Vancouver, Miami,

Washington DC, and Montreal. Occasionally, the show will have wines

from Italy, Spain and Australia.

The Wines: The problem I had with the wines, and one that must be

acknowledged, is that (by and large) they were about the same as the wines that we already have here in Ontario. There really did not seem to be any price advantages, either. But these 40 or so wines could be made available through Vintages or Consignment. In the past, quite a few have been picked up for sale in Ontario. Here were my faves, regardless of price (all prices are ex-cellar Euros). I did not try every wine:


The Wines:


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

-Veuve Doussot Brut Tradition Champagne, 11 E

-Veuve Doussot Grande Cuvee Champagne

-Veuve Doussot Rose Champagne

-Domaine Garnier Chablis Grains Dores 2006

-SCEA Causse-Arboras Les 3 Jean Rouge 2007 Languedoc, 9.50 E

-Domaine Saint Hilaire Yves Lapierre Cuvee Prestige Les Hautes Terres Rouge 2005 Provence, 5.60 E


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Veuve Doussot Joly de Trebuis  Champagne, 9 E (100% pinot noir)

-Chateau Salettes Rouge 2007 Bandol, 8.70 E

-Domaine Cressance Fou du Roi 2007 Languedoc

-Domaine Nicolas Croze Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2009

-Domaine Garnier Chablis 2009

-Domaine Charly Nicolle Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu 2007

-SCEV Vins GIGOU Jasnieres Cuvee du Paradis 2008 Loire, 5.15 E

-SCEV Vins GIGOU La Bulle Sarthoise Rouge Petillant 2006 Loire, 5.15 E

-SCEA Causse-Arboras Les Cazes Rouge 2008 Languedoc, 9.50 E

-Domaine Saint Hilaire Yves Lapierre Cuvee Prestige Les Hautes Terres Rouge 2007 Provence, 6.50 E 

-JJoseph Vermentino Sur Lie 2009 Pays D'Oc

-JJoseph Villa Blanche VDP Languedoc Syrah 2009, 2.75 E

-JJoseph Domaine Bergon Prestige Petit Verdot 2008, 2.85 E

-JJoseph + Calmel Le Vieux Carignan 2009, 3.40 E

-JJoseph Chateau Haut Vignals Corbieres 2008, 3.15 E


*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Domaine Cressance Rencontres 2009 Languedoc

-Domaine Garnier Pinot Noir 2009 Bourgogne

-Domaine Vrignaud Chablis 2009

-EARL Pierre Riffault Sancerre Blanc 2009, 5.80 E

-SCEV Vins GIGOU Coteaux du Loir 2008 Pineau d'Aunis, 4.50 E

-Domaine Saint Hilaire Yves Lapierre Cuvee Cote Sud Rouge 2007 Provence, 3.05 E 

-JJoseph Villa Blanche VDP Languedoc Chardonnay 2009, 2.75 E

-JJoseph + Calmel Faugeres 2008 Rouge, 3.40 E

-JJoseph Domaine Bergon Prestige Alicante VDP d'Oc Rouge 2009, 2.30 E


The Contact Person: Pascal

The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 84.