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Thursday, December 2, 2010


There are so many new food and wine books out there for people who have
picky tastes!! What to choose? I have cast about for material and have
come up with a decent selection to satisfy any pocketbook, any host,
and any friend. All books and book-like materials that are listed here
are RECOMMENDED, and probably can be purchased at a discount via
Amazon.Ca or Chapters.Ca (with free delivery on a total purchase of
over $25). Price Alert: because of US dollar fluctuations with Canada,
all prices may vary. I have used CAD wherever I know it.
A. Art/travel/history books might be the best books to give a loved one
(or to yourself, since you are your own best loved one), because most
may cost you an arm and a leg. Books for the coffee table have their
place in the gift scheme: just about every such book is only bought as
a gift! And don't let the prices daunt you. Such books are available at
a discount from online vendors. Because of the "economy", not too many
pricey food and wine books were released last year and this year, and
book reviewers were cut off from many foreign imports and expensive
--OPUS VINO (DK Books, 2010, 800 pages, $75 US hard covers) explores
more than 4,000 of the world's most significant wineries, from up-and-
comers to established producers. There's a lot of general information
here about the wine regions of the world, plus many wine labels and
bottles, but the heart of it all is the exposure of some 30 or so new
wine voices – they are all young, judging by their pictures. The two
most prominent for us in Toronto are Lindsay Groves (she wrote the
section on Turkey and Lebanon) and Alder Yarrow (Sonoma and Marin
chapters) of, probably the best wine blog on the
planet. It is good to have more young people writing about wines with
their fresh thoughts. And to give exposure to countries such as Brazil,
Canada and Mexico. You've got to be young to read the book: it weighs
in at 8 pounds!!
--DOMAINE CHANDON COOKBOOK; recipes from Etoile restaurant (Chronicle
Books, 2010, 224 pages, $40 US hard covers) is by Jeff Morgan, although
the preps come from Etoile, the on-site restaurant. There's advanced
log rolling here from Thomas Keller and Karen MacNeil. The Michelin-
starred resto itself is described, and many of the photos here come
from that place. 75 preps are presented, with an emphasis on casual
elegance. It's a pretty book, covering all courses, with am emphasis on
sparkling wine to accompany the plates. Lavish photography and
--GIFTS COOKS LOVE; recipes for giving (Andrews McMeel, 2010, 184
pages, $32.99 CAD hard covers) comes from the American kitchen
equipment firm, Sur La Table. The book is crammed with recipes and
ideas for food to pack into a jar or can or box or cellophane bag.
There's a primer on preserving and dehydrating, smoked and cured gifts,
baked gifts, confections and drink gifts. I liked the orange cardamom
marmalade. Many useful packaging and gift card ideas too. The material
ranges from entry level to qualified levels. 40 recipes.
--ONE BIG TABLE; a portrait of American cooking (Simon & Schuster,
2010, 864 pages, $57.99 CAD hard covers) has been collated by Molly
O'Neill, former food columnist for the New York Times. It's a huge
book, with many archival and current illustration and photographs. The
subtitle says it has "600 recipes from the nation's best home cooks,
farmers, fishermen, pit-masters, and chefs". This is a road trip across
the continental region, and there were more than 20,000 contributed
preps. You could say that these are heirloom recipes, and you wouldn't
be wrong. Despite all this, log rolling was added, with endorsements
from Alice Waters (who else?), Ethan (Joy of Cooking) Becker, and
Thomas (French Laundry) Keller. All preps are sourced, with further
info at Also a huge list of acknowledgements that
is well-worth reading. A fascinating book for lovers of American
"national community" foods.
--OUT OF OLD NOVA SCOTIA KITCHENS (Nimbus Publishing, 2010, 229 pages,
$17.95 CAD soft covers) is by Marie Nightingale. It was originally
published 40 years ago to great acclaim, and here it is back again --
reprinted with a baker's dozen new recipes and an introduction by Chef
Michael Howell (Tempest Restaurant, Wolfville). These are the
traditional foods of the province, displaying Acadian, Scottish and
First Nation roots and cultures. The new preps (in its own, separate
chapter) include spiced Christmas beef, chicken legs with sauerkraut,
curried cider mussels, plus desserts.
--FANNIE'S LAST SUPPER; re-creating one amazing meal from Fannie
Farmer's 1896 Cookbook (McClelland & Stewart, 2010, 260 pages, $32.99
CAD hard covers) is by Chris Kimball, host of America's Test Kitchen
(PBS). He also founded Cook's Illustrated magazine. The book
accompanies the film of the same title, which aired in Fall 2010 on
PBS. It includes dishes from the dinner that Kimball cooked, along with
some revised and updated recipes from The Boston Cooking-School Cook
Book. It's an armchair experience as Kimball researches a twelve course
Christmas dinner that Farmer served at the end of the 19th century.
There are lots of historical details behind every dish, and there is a
useful index.
--THE FOOD STYLIST'S HANDBOOK (Gibbs Smith, 2010, 264 pages, $50 US) is
something different for the foodie that has everything. The book is a
manual for every picture telling and selling a story about food. It's
meant for culinary students, but it is also an accessible book at an
affordable price. There are lots of photos and ideas on how food
pictures sell food. Topics include how recipe testing works and food
advertising. And there's a huge chapter on tricks of the trade (shaving
cream, grill marks, food colouring, and more).
--CHOCOLATE WARS; the 150-year rivalry between the world's greatest
chocolate makers (Douglas & McIntyre, 2010, 348 pages, $29.95 CAD hard
covers) is by Deborah Cadbury, a relative of the Quaker family that
went into the business of chocolate. The major English firms were all
Quaker family enterprises, and their religious passions made them very
philanthropic. English rivals included Fry and Rowntree. When they
tried to move into the American market, they were rebuffed by Hershey
and later, Mars. Eventually, Cadbury won out over many other companies
in England. But it was purchased by Kraft in 2010 for $19.5 billion.
The author writes a spirited and engaging business history, which
should appeal to those food historians among the chocolate fanciers.
And there is the scholarly bibliography of archives, manuscripts,
books, and articles.
--A SLICE OF ORGANIC LIFE (DK Books, 2010, 352 pages, $19.95 US paper
covers) is by Sheherazade Goldsmith, a writer who runs an organic farm
in Devon, England. It was originally published in 2007; this is the
paperback reprint. The author is listed as "editor-in-chief" which
seems to imply that other people wrote the material. But I don't see
any other writing references, although there are many acknowledgements
to photographers. The book is in three parts: what you can do to be
eco-friendly if you don't have a yard; what you can do if you have a
patio or a small yard; and what you can do if you have a large yard or
field or even community garden. Under the latter, there are 33
activities, ranging from keeping some chickens (illegal in Toronto),
making simple preserves, nourishing the soil, to using up a glut of
tomatoes, planting a vine or simply creating a pond for wildlife. There
are about 90 activities in the book. At the very least (with no yard),
one can bake bread, check the label, make flavoured oils and vinegars,
and shop ethically. Commonsense will win out. This is a very good book,
with a few recipes (all indexed in italics).

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