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Wednesday, February 29, 2012


By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing
Creator of Canada's award-winning wine satire site at My Internet compendium
"Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net" is a guide to thousands of news
items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits, at since 1994. 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 normally available for a re-tasting.
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
1. Stoney Ridge Warren Classic Chardonnay 2009 VQA Niagara: generous
spicy tones, dried fruit, balanced tropicality. 13% ABV. +224113,
$16.95, QPR: 89.
2. Arboleda Chardonnay 2010 Aconcagua Costa: Midweight Euro style,
balanced, MVC character, twist top, 13.5% ABV. +606772, $15.95, QPR:
3. Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2011 South Australia: delicious floral
and apricots, aperitif or first course wine, twist top, 13.5% ABV.
+624502, $15.95, QPR: 89.
4. Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Marlborough: a tasty savvy with NZ
MVC. +734095, $17.95, QPR: 89.
5. Chateau Peron Blanc 2009 Graves: excellent price and value for a
white Graves, less minerally extracted than expected, needs a fish
course, 12% ABV. +26126, $17.95, QPR: 90.
6. Chereau-Carre La Griffe Bernard Chereau Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2010
Sur Lie: bright, orchard fruit, minerals, long length for food. Needs
bivalves, +948182, $14.95, QPR: 89.
7. Sartori di Verona Marani Bianco 2009 IGT Veneto: nicely
concentrated, with partial BF and all lees aging. 13.5% ABV. +265405,
$16.95, PR: 89.
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1. Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin Zinfandel 2010 Lodi: juicy and delectable,
good ol' brambleberry character, 14.5% ABV. Old vines' power. +678698,
$16.95, QPR: 90.
2. The Watcher Shiraz 2008 Barossa: dense and chunky, must decant
first. 14.5% ABV. +219196, $19.95, QPR: 89.
3. Chateau de Parenchere 2009 Bordeaux Superiore: North American appeal
in softness and fruit, 14% ABV. For what it is, it needed a twist top,
not a cork. +268698, $14.95, QPR: 89.
4. Domaine La Montagnette Signargues Cotes du Rhone-Villages 2009: good
syrah component, 14.5% ABV. Gold Medalist, ready soon. +235002, $13.95,
QPR: 89.
5. Chateau La Brie Prestige 2009 Bergerac: another good value wine,
using the same varieties as its neighbour north of it (Bordeaux),
slightly higher acid, 13.5% ABV. Go all the way and have it with a
brie! Gold Medalist. +61994, $13.5, QPR: 90.
6. Casa Emma Chianti Classico 2009: if Jane Austen was in Tuscany with
other Brits…MVC, ready now, 14% ABV, affordable. +56952, $18.95, QPR:
7. Storia Antica Ripasso Valpolicella 2009: Vintages' "ripasso of the
month". +273672, $15, QPR: 89.
8. Ciconia Vinho Tinto 2010 VR Alentejano: needs some time to open up,
but all the juicy components are there. +266742, $15.95, QPR: 89.
Restaurants should consider offering these FINE VALUE wines at a $10
markup over retail; the wines are READY to enjoy right NOW. Consumers
should buy these wines to bring to restaurants with corkage programs.
1. Hartford Court Four Hearts Vineyards Chardonnay 2009 Russian River
Valley, +95919, $47.95 retail.
2. Seresin Chardonnay 2008 Marlborough, +19190, $24.95.
3. La Chablisienne Montmains Chablis 1er Cru 2009, +265090, $24.95.
4. Paul Garaudet Vieille Vignes Meursault 2009, +26563, $47.95.
5. Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2010, +264945, $24.95.
6. Hawkes Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Alexander Valley, +146878, $39.95.
7. Paraduxx 2008 Napa, +919662, $54.95.
8. Chateau La Fleur d'Arthus 2008 St. Emilion, +251702, $37.95.
9. Domaine Poulleau Pere & Fils Oak Aged Volnay 2009, +265025, $39.95.
10. Angelini San Leonino Chianti Classico Riserva 2007, +232413,

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Finest Wines of Burgundy

THE FINEST WINES OF BURGUNDY; a guide to the best producers of the Cote d'Or and their wines (University of California Pr., 2012,

320 pages, ISBN 978-0-520-27201-9, $34.95 US paper covers) is by Bill Nanson, a chemist with no connection to the wine trade, but he regularly visits (for more than 15 years) the region and works the harvest. He also publishes the Burgundy-Report ( a website which, since late 2002, has a slowly expanding library of domaine and village profiles, comments on the market and vintage challenges plus, of-course, discussion of the wines. His site allows you to learn about the region and its wines, peruse notes from many bottles or even discuss with other people. So the current book is like a hard copy of the website. The book actually is one of an illustrated series created by The World of Fine Wine magazine; it is Number 6. These are guides to the classic regions and their producers, vineyards and vintages. As Hugh Johnson, one of the editorial team, would say "These are the wines most worth talking about". Thus far, the company Fine Wine Editions has looked at Champagne, Tuscany, California, Rioja, and Bordeaux. This book is co-published with Quarto Group in the UK. The format for all the books in the series is pretty straight-forward at this point, with Hugh Johnson giving many of the forewords their lustre. There's material in about 50 pages on history, culture and geography, along with winemaking, grapes, and viticulture. Next there is the biggest section: producers and their wines, sub-arranged by region. The 250 pages here cover the Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune, leaving aside the Macon, the Beaujolais, and Chablis. Then there is a final 25 pages on wine appreciation, vintages, top-ten tables for the finest 100, glossary, and bibliography. The photography is mainly centred on the producers, so there are lots of portraits and pictures of walls and gates. Overall, it's an excellent guide to the region, and sure to please many Burgundy lovers, especially since it comes with a red ribbon bookmark.

Audience and level of use:  the serious wine lover who also loves to read, reference libraries and wine schools.

Some interesting or unusual facts: best-ever Domaines in Burgundy include Leroy, Ramonet, Romanee-Conti, Rousseau, and Bruno Clair.

Quality/Price Rating: 90.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My assessment of Top Scoring 2012 Ontario Cuvee wines, winners on Mar 2

The Date and Time: Wednesday, February 22, 2012  10:30AM to 2 PM

The Event: The annual media and sommelier pre-Cuvee Ontario VQA wine tasting.

The Venue: BMO, 68th Floor.

The Target Audience: wine media and sommeliers.

The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are available for sale, at the winery. Some are also at the LCBO.

The Quote/Background: This was to be a broad overview of the wines to be poured at Cuvee in early March. These 57 wines represent each participating winery's top scoring wine from the Cuvee judging held in January. The official winners for the top scoring wine in each category will be announced on March 2. About 264 wines were submitted in total to Cuvee.

The Wines: Because of my time constraints, I just evaluated red and white table wines. Some samples were sub-standard (both bottles) and not listed here. Seven wineries did not submit samples for the media preview.


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

-Cave Spring Cellars Riesling CSV 2009 $29.95

-Thirty Bench Wine Makers Small Lot Riesling Steel Post Vyd 2010 $30

-Riverview Cellars Winery Gewürztraminer 2010 $18.95

-Reif Estate Winery Chardonnay Reserve 2009 $19.95

-Stoney Ridge Cellars Excellence Chardonnay 2009 $35.00

-Mountain Road Wine Company Reserve Chardonnay 2006 $25.95  My **FAVE**

-Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Cabernet Franc 2009 $27.95

-Lakeview Cellars Estate Winery Merlot Reserve 2007 $24.95

-Megalomaniac - John Howard Cellars of Distinction Proprietor's Reserve Merlot Cabernet   2008  60% Mer, 40% CF $44.95

-Colaneri Estate Winery Insieme 2009 33.3% CS, 33.3% Syrah, 33.3% Mer $34.95



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

-Cattail Creek Estate Winery Riesling 200 $15.95

-GreenLane Estate Winery Riesling 2010 $21.75

-Hinterbrook Estate Winery Riesling 2010 $18.00

-Vineland Estates Winery St. Urban Riesling 2009 $20.00

-Rockway Glen Estate Winery Chardonnay / Riesling 2010 51.3% Chard, 48.7% Ries  $12.79

-De Sousa Wine Cellars SEASONS Sauvignon Blanc 2010 $13.95

-Stonechurch Vineyards Riesling Gewürztraminer 2009   63% Ries, 37% Gew $9.95  My ** BEST VALUE WINE **

-Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery Speck Family Reserve Chardonnay 2009 $35.00     

-Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery Beal Vyd Chardonnay Reserve 2009 $24.95

-Creekside Estate Winery Reserve Viognier 2010 $29.95

-Vignoble Rancourt Winery Cabernet Franc 2007 $24.80

-Flat Rock Cellars Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 $45.00

-Rosewood Estates Winery Pinot Noir Reserve 2009 $40.20

-Kacaba Vineyards Reserve Merlot 2007 $44.95

-Palatine Hills Est Winery Prop's Reserve Merlot 2007 $24.95

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery Reserve Red 2008 40% Mer, 33.3% CS, 26.7% CF  $55

-Hillebrand Estates Winery Artist Series Limited Edition Cabernet Merlot 2010  50% Mer, 40% CF, 10% CS $18.75

-Pelee Island Winery Alvar Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot  2010  68% CS, 32% Mer $13.95

-Peller Estates Winery Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $19.75

-Legends Estates Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007 $17.95


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

-Calamus Estate Winery Riesling 2010 $16.20

-Reimer Vineyards Winery Riesling 2010 $24.60

-Five Rows Craft Wine of Lowrey Vineyards Riesling 2010 $25.00

-Featherstone Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2011 $19.95

-Hernder Estates Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2008 $12.95

-Ridge Road Estate Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2010 $14.95

-2027 Cellars '19th Street' Chardonnay 2010 $30

-13th Street Winery Gamay Noir Sandstone Old Vines 2010 $29.95

-Fielding Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2010 $22.95

-Keint-he Winery & Vineyards Foxtail Pinot Noir 2009 $40.00

-Good Earth Vineyard and Winery Pinot Noir      2009 $25.00

-Diamond Estates - The Winery Hat Trick Red 2010      42% CS, 32% CF, 26% Syrah $13.95

-Wayne Gretzky Estates Estate Series Shiraz Cabernet 2008   60% Shiraz, 37% CS, 3% CF $22.95

-Colio Estate Wines CEV Small Lot Shiraz 2008 $24.95

-Magnotta Winery Enotrium Gran Riserva 2008 50% Mer, 25% CS, 25% CF $45


The Food: There was a platter with wraps and sandwiches, three salads (including Caesar, pasta and frisee), fresh fruit and petit fours. Coffee and canned drinks were also available,

The Downside: It was a beautiful, sunny day outside but I had no time admire the view from the 68th floor.

The Upside: There were some terrific wines, but also some that should/could have scored higher.

The Contact Person:

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


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Feb 10/12 APVSA tasting, French wines needing Ont agency

The Date and Time: Friday, February 10, 2012  11AM to 5 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 get some agents to agree to rep the principal. Some of the wines are 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 such places as New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, Calgary, Vancouver, Miami, Washington DC, and Montreal. Occasionally, the show will have wines from Italy, Uruguay, Spain and Australia. Sometimes spirits and VDN are also available.

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 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; these were mostly the good value or unique wines. Here were my faves from today, regardless of FOB cost which must be requested due to competitive pricing. I did not try every wine.


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

-Dom. Perraud Saint-Veran 2010

-Dom. Des Poncetys Saint Veran 2009 and 2010

-Champagne Louis Dubosquet 2002 Grand Cru


***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price

Rating terms):

-Dom. Perraud Macon Village 2008 and 2009

-Dom. Remoriquet Nuits Saint Georges Premier Cru 2009 Les Damodes

-Dom. Remoriquet Nuits Saint Georges Premier Cru 2009 and 2010 Les Bousselots

-Dom. Remoriquet Nuits Saint Georges Premier Cru 2009 Les Saints Georges

-Muhlberger Gewurztraminer 2009 Alsace

-Muhlberger Cremant d'Alsace

-Dom. Breliere Rully 2010 Blanc

-Dom. Breliere Cremant de Bourgogne

-Dom. Grad Jean Bordeaux Blanc 2011

-Dom. Grand Jean Gers 2009 IGP

-Champage Couche

-Champagne H. Blin 2004

-Chateau Lafleur de Viaud Lalande de Pomerol 2009


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

-Dom. Remoriquet Bourgogne 2009

-Muhlberger Pinot Gris 2010 Alsace

-Muhlberger Pinot Blanc 2010 Alsace

-Muhlberger Pinot Noir 2010 Alsace

-Muhlberger Riesling 2010 Alsace

-Dom. Breliere Bourgogne 2010

-Vignobles Laur Cahors 2008

-Vignbles Cotes de Gascogne Horas Malbec 2008

-Champagne Dauby Rose

-Chateau Julian Bordeaux Superieur 2009

-Chareau des Chevaliers Bordeaux 2009

-Dom. Remoriquet Nuits Saint Georges 2009 Les Allots


The Food: I arrived late after an LCBO Vintages tasting, so I missed most of the lunch, but I did grab a slice of pizza.

The Contact Person: Pascal

The Marketing Effectiveness/Execution of the Event(numerical grade):



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Swallow Magazine media launch, Feb 20/12, at Drake Hotel.

 The Date and Time: Monday, February 20, 2012    7PM to 9PM

The Event: Media launch of the new online magazine, Swallow (

The Venue: Drake Hotel

The Target Audience: Toronto food and wine media

The Availability/Catalogue: Alcohol sponsors included Lifford Wine Agency and Muskoka Breweries (we could only have one beer, so I took a Pale Ale, slightly sweet and thick).

The Quote/Background: Swallow is a food and culture online magazine which began publishing in January 2012. With the kinks ironed out, it was time for a media launch to create a buzz. The mag claims to have "all the news that's fit to eat", and it does so through diverse categories such as celebrity interviews, food trends, funny videos, recipes, resto reviews, cookbook reviews, and general food and wine humour. As Ivy Knight, the Editor and a co-founder, says, "We are real chefs, real writers and real wine aficionados who don't take ourselves too seriously." Ivy has a regular gig at the Drake every Monday night, with an 86'd party for food and wine media-types. Ivy (a pro chef for a decade and currently also a food writer in Toronto) works with co-founder Kristina Groeger, also a pro chef in Toronto and soon-to-be Pastry Chef at a new Ossington resto. Their forte is going to be professional aspects of food and humour, such as the funny videos and singles pages for busy chefs. I do hope that there won't be too many insider jokes, but mostly the mag will be irreverent. There also will be industry tips and secrets. Posts will appear three to five times a week – there's an RSS feed and a subscription for email notices.

The Wines: I was able to sample eight wines poured by Nicole.


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

-Jadot Bourgogne 2010 Blanc


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

-Mitolo Jester Shiraz 2009 Australia

-Xumek Malbec Syrah Reserva 2009 Argentina

-Anselmi San Vincenzio Soave 2010

-Malivoire Guilty Men White 2009 VQA

-Malivoire Guilty Men Red 2009 VQA


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

-Xumek Malbec 2009 Argentina

-Longue-Dog Rouge 2010 Languedoc


The Food: There was an enormous platter of off-sweet Sanagan's Meat Locker sausage which disappeared in a hurry. Next door was an enormous Canadian cheeseboard, with Thunder Oak Gouda Cumin cheese and Cayuga Blue Haze (smoked blue, and yummy) both from Ontario, Riopelle from Quebec, and diverse chevre from Salt Spring Island in BC. Plus assorted garnishes and chutneys and relishes, breads, and more. Enough for a small army.

The Downside: there's always confusion at a media launch, particularly if you do not know the layout of the venue. I ended up getting a beer, when what I really wanted was a wine. The beer was for later.

The Upside: Chatting with some really interesting people, such as the Swallow co-founders Ivy and Kristina, Susan and Renee of the Siren Group, and other wine and food writers.

The Contact Persons:,,

The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 92.


Monday, February 20, 2012


3. THE WEEKNIGHT COOK; fresh & simple recipes for good food everyday
(Weldon Owen, 2011; dist. Simon & Schuster, 455 pages, ISBN 978-1-
61628-166-9, $ 24.95 US paper covers) is by Brigit Binns, who has
authored other cookbooks for Williams-Sonoma (and also published by
Weldon Owen). Here, she concentrates on general family cooking for the
weeknight, with 300 or so preps emphasizing three steps or less, easy-
to-find ingredients, and meal planning tips. The emphasis is definitely
on "cooking smarter" and "kitchen savvy"; meal planning involves a
pantry and seasonal foods. She's got a month of menus, basic recipes,
checklists, planning for company, and matching food to wine.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: the home cook.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: artichokes with lemon aioli;
eggplant with spicy chile sauce; vegetable quesadillas; roasted
vegetables with Romesco sauce; miso-marinated salmon; fried catfish and
greens; orange-chipotle chicken with corn.
The downside to this book: it is hard to tell how long the binding will
The upside to this book: photos bleed into the gutters, giving us more
room for the recipe and annotations.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

4. HYPERENSION COOKBOOK FOR DUMMIES (John Wiley & Sons, 2012, 362
pages, ISBN 978-1-118-09513-3, $19.99 US paper covers) is by Rosanne
Rust (author of Restaurant Calorie Counter for Dummies) and Cindy
Kleckner. Both are registered dieticians and nutrition consultants.
They tell you how to beat hypertension with about 150 simple recipes.
Along with the food (fresh, low-sodium), the authors say that there
needs to be lifestyle changes. As with all Dummies books, there are
loads of tips. Here, these are for meal planning, eliminating salt,
losing weight, lowering cholesterol, fast and smart grocery shopping,
nutrition labels, and the DASH diet. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of
metric equivalents. There are also ten tips to enhance the flavour of
your meal without adding salt, and ten long-term tips to beat
Audience and level of use: those with hypertension.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: baked chicken pesto; glazed
Cornish hens; steak and vegetable kabobs; pulled pork sandwiches; pasta
with zucchini yogurt sauce and walnuts; oven-roasted fish with
The downside to this book: it may not always work, so seek medical
The upside to this book: should attract a wider-than-normal audience.
Quality/Price Rating: 89

364 pages, ISBN 978-1-118-06778-9, $19.99 US paper covers) is by Meri
Raffetto, also author of the Glycemic Index Cookbook for Dummies, and
Wendy Jo Peterson, both registered dieticians. The Mediterranean diet
is a way to improve your health, lose weight, and prevent and fight
disease. It has been proven that Mediterranean people live longer, and
the reason is their diet. Emulation is the best way to go…and besides,
it's flavourful. The 160 recipes here promote the health benefits of a
plant-based cuisine, while switching you away from a sweet tooth. And,
of course, it works – if you stick to it. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of
metric equivalents. The principal foods are plants, olive oils, and
wine. The cuisines in the book are Italy, Greece, Morocco and Spain.
There are two chapters for top ten lists: one covers how to get more
plant-based foods into your diet, while the other explores myths of the
Mediterranean diet (so you won't be misled).
Audience and level of use: those looking for some good diet ideas.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: classic meze platter; meat-
filled dolmas; chicken cacciatore; chicken piccata; wild rice pilaf;
lemon pork chops; pork sausages with white beans and tomatoes.
The downside to this book: the photos, while colourful, do not appear
to be inspired.
The upside to this book: there are a lot of tips here, like all the
Dummies books.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

6. EVENTS EXPOSED; managing and designing special events (John Wiley &
Sons, 2012, 237 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-90408-4, $50 US hard covers) is
by Lena Malouf, an award-winning specialist in event management and
design. She's now a consultant, traveling the world, sharing her
expertise. Her book has been gleaned from her more-than-45 years of
experience in the industry. It's in two parts: the first deals with the
business (strategy, getting clients, building the business, what to
look for in venues, money management, proposal presentation, and the
like) and the design (tabletop, ceiling, all décor, themes, and
weddings). There are checklists, case studies, and sections on
behavioural styles and how to work with them.
Audience and level of use: event planners, hospitality schools.
Some interesting or unusual facts: Chinese lanterns are suspended from
a timber grid. This is a great decorating idea for events that are
themed: all you need to do is suspend the appropriate props in place of
the lanterns.
The downside to this book: a bit brisk, but it covers all the important
The upside to this book: a good book, full of psychological insights.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
7. WEIGHTWATCHERS ONE POT COOKBOOK; the ultimate kitchen companion with
over 300 recipes (John Wiley & Sons, 2012, 374 pages, ISBN 978-1-118-
03812-3, $29.99 US hard covers) promises a great dinner from using just
one appliance (a liberal definition of "one pot", which also includes
panini press, waffle iron, fondue pot, BBQ grill). The title might be
misleading if you were expecting something like 300 casserole preps.
Chapters are arranged by the type of pots, so there are "bowls",
skillets, woks, saucepan, Dutch oven, roasting pan, casserole dish,
slow cooker, pressure cooker and "baking pan" for desserts. But it is
still a pretty nifty book for using just the one appliance. Recipes
have all the usual health data "per serving", plus key WeightWatchers
elements of points. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
There's an index by PointsPlus, and an alphabetical index.
Unfortunately, both indexes have a very faint typeface and can be hard
to read.
Audience and level of use: WeightWatchers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: rabbit in sour cream sauce
with cherry tomatoes and noodles; cheese, beef and noodle casserole;
rustic beef short ribs with mustard sauce; Korean-style soft tacos;
chicken gumbo; tortilla casserole with tomatillo salsa.
The downside to this book: misleading title?
The upside to this book: Recipes include WeightWatchers PointsPlus
Quality/Price Rating: 82.
8. THE NEWLYWED COOKBOOK; fresh ideas and modern recipes for cooking
with and for each other (Chronicle Books, 2012, 304 pages, ISBN 978-0-
8118-7683-4, $35 US hard covers) is by Sarah Copeland, a New York based
recipe developer for the Food Network. The shtick here is that modern
couples need to be spending more time TOGETHER in the kitchen, which is
not such a bad idea. Here are more than 130 recipes for both classic
and contemporary meals that are both perfect for two people and require
two people to participate. Many can be expanded to four or more, and
are thus great for entertaining or parties. Copeland believes that true
happiness comes from sourcing, cooking and sharing food together. I'll
vote for that: it worked for me…in all of my marriages! Topics include
stocking the pantry, visiting the farmers' markets, brunch, little
meals, supper, comfort food, romantic meals, embellishments,
indulgences, and alfresco such as campfires, picnics, and portable
parties. Everything seems to be easy to make, and there is a lot of
detail about kitchen life in the first fifty or so pages of this book.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Next
question: who does the cleaning up?
Audience and level of use: newlyweds.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: lazy chef's fruit torte;
Venezuelan chocolate shake; iron skillet steak with thyme butter; pan-
fried pork chops; lobster rolls; open-face soft-boiled egg sandwiches;
oatmeal scones; ricotta silver dollars.
The downside to this book: I guess it has a built-in audience, but does
anyone ever admit to being newlyweds anymore? It is so middle-class…
The upside to this book: a no-brainer for showers.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.

9. A TOAST TO BARGAIN WINES; how innovators, iconoclasts, and
winemaking revolutionaries are changing the way the world drinks.
(Scribner, 2011, 311 pages, ISBN 978-1-4391-9518-5, $15 US paper
covers) is by George M. Taber, an award winning wine book author
(Judgment of Paris, To Cork or Not to Cork) with multiple nominations
for a Beard and a Simon award. If you were to survey ever wine writer
in the world, I think that 99.9% would say that the most frequent
question asked of them is – can you recommend a good wine that costs
less than $10 (in local currency)? The first half of the book is the
more enjoyable: how wine culture had evolved and stories about the
creators of value wines such as Fred Franzia and Two-Buck Chuck, John
Casella and [yellow tail], and the French investors in Chinese wine.
The last half is the guide to best buys: he lists 10 wines for 34 of
the more popular wine varieties (along with a gratuitous two wines that
cost above $10), then 10 value brands from 12 regions around the world,
and then his 10 favourite box wines. Many of these wines are available
in Canada, save the boxes, but at $12 - $15 or so. Bottom line for this
book: the publisher says it includes more than 400 recommended wines
under $10 US national retail (and many of those wines are often
discounted or on sale most of the time). Ultimately, the list of wines
matters. Few people really want to actually read about modestly-priced
wine; they just want a checklist to take with them into a liquor store.
The same situation works at the high end too, where buyers don't mind
paying $50 or more for a wine, but it had better get 94 points from
Parker if they are going to drop that kind of money. So, they make
their lists too, cribbed from other wine books. Chacun a son gout.
Taber concludes with a bibliography of source readings.
Audience and level of use: those interested in wine bargains.
Some interesting or unusual facts: he has the important Tim Hanni Taste
Sensitivity Assessment test.
The downside to this book: it could have been a long article or a
shorter, mass market paperback selling for under $10, like the wines.
The upside to this book: there are good selections of wines here.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.

10. GLUTEN-FREE MADE SIMPLE (St. Martin's Griffin, 2011, 216 pages,
ISBN 978-0-312-55066-0, $24.99 US paper covers) is by the team of Carol
Field Dahlstrom, Elizabeth Dahlstrom Burnley, and Marcia Schultz
Dahlstrom. It's an easy book to use, with many photos of techniques and
finished plates. There are about 100 preps with nutritional analysis
for each, plus icons to indicate high protein, low fat, egg free,
casein-free, whole grain or vegetarian. For those with celiac disease,
foods must be totally gluten-free. In most cases, a vigilant eye can
check on food products. But with breads or any prep requiring flours,
extra thought must be made. Thus, I usually head for the bread-dessert
section in any of these gluten-free cookbooks. Here, there is a good
assortment of recipes, but I do find it strange that several different
pre-packaged flour mixes are used. Usually, many books rely on just one
named mix, with a reference to "any other similar type mix". This book
refers to at least three pre-packaged mixes for all-purpose gluten-free
flours. I would have thought that it might be more economical, and
simpler, to just have one brand, and buy several packages at once. Or,
if you do a lot of baking, make your own pre-packaged mix. But the
Dahlstroms don't give the reader a recipe for a DIY mix. Perhaps there
is one at their website, Arrangement in
the book is by course, and there is a glossary and resources list.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no table of metric equivalents. The index is followed by a
listing of the various recipes by icon (e.g., egg-free, casein-free,
Audience and level of use: those who are gluten intolerant.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: eating out can be a problem.
It is best to have a pre-made "Dining Card" which lists gluten
products, and to remind servers about cross-contamination (it is not
enough to just pick out croutons from a salad).
The downside to this book: I'm not sure what the flour matter is about.
The upside to this book: there is a chapter on gluten-free lifestyle.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.

11. SOUP OF THE DAY; 365 recipes for every day of the year (Weldon
Owen, 2011, 304 pages, ISBN 978-1-61628-1670, $34.95 US hard covers) is
by Kate Macmillan, who runs a catering company and teaches at Tante
Marie's in San Francisco, It is one of the Williams-Sonoma cookbook
series, so it would be prominently featured in its stores. There's a
soup recipe for each day of the year, with lots of plated photos.
Arrangement is by month, and then by day, with a calendar. Of course,
you don't have to follow the dates. But it is a chance to view seasonal
foods and to choose for a weeknight supper or a weekend dinner party.
There are notes regarding leftovers, ingredient substitutions, and
garnishes. Other variations include type of crockery use, upscaling or
downscaling the soup, and types of herbs. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but
there is no table of metric equivalents. There are to indexes: one by
alphabetical name, the other by type (Asia-style soups, chili, chilled,
chowder, fruit soups, grain-based, puréed, stews, vegetarian, etc.).
Audience and level of use: soup lovers and those looking for new ideas.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: as I write this review, I
should be consuming gingery beef broth with soba noodles and bok choy,
or broccoli and cheddar soup, or citrusy seafood soup, or roast pork
and don noodle soup, or kumquat-carrot puree with toasted fennel seeds
(January 18 – 22).
The downside to this book: the actual listing of a recipe per a certain
day may seem a bit to confining to some.
The upside to this book: it encourages SLOFE principles (seasonal,
local, organic, fast, and easy).
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
12. HOME BAKED COMFORT; featuring mouthwatering recipes and tales of
the sweet life with favorites from bakers across the country (Weldon
Owen, 2011; distr. Simon & Schuster, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-61628-200-4,
$34.95 US hard covers) is from the Williams-Sonoma line of cook books,
here authored by Kim Laidlaw, a professional baker and cookbook editor.
There are about 100 preps here with the stress on "home" and "comfort"
(although tidying up is still required). There are a series of
breakfast foods, breads, cookies and bars, cakes and cupcakes, pies and
tarts, finishing with custards and soufflés. Virtually a complete range
for the home cook. There is the usual primer-type info about baking
tools, ingredients, tips and advice, plus maintaining a pantry.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements, and there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: home bakers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: angel biscuits, lemon-
blueberry drizzle bread, chocolate crinkle cookies, orange-whisky cake,
apple-cinnamon hand pies, Mexican caramel flan.
The downside to this book: I think this needs the Sonoma-Williams
cachet to push the book, otherwise it is very competitive out there for
the home baked cooking market. There may also be fallout due to Paula
Deen. Who knows?
The upside to this book: the preps can call for scaling as an
alternative to volumes.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
13. BEAN BY BEAN (Workman Publishing, 2011; distr. T. Allen, 370 pages,
ISBN 978-0-7611-3241-7, $15.95 US paper covers) is by the prolific
Crescent Dragonwagon, who has authored seven cookbooks, including the
Beard winner "Passionate Vegetarian". She has grown more than 31 bean
varieties. Here are more than 175 recipes for all manner of beans,
including lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, cannellini, favas, haricot
verts, shell beans, tofu and peanuts. There are the basic primers for
the types of beans: selecting, storing, preparing, cooking, and styles
(dried, fresh, shell, canned, and dehydrated). She begins with apps,
such as peanuts and garbanzos. Then she moves on to soups and salads,
followed by chili and stews, baked beans and casseroles, skillet stir
fries, and then beans and grains, followed by a few desserts.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: home cooks.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: German-style green bean,
potato and bacon salad; Petaluma chili; yellow-eye beans redux; dal;
Greek gigantes soup-stew; bhujia; vegetarian cassoulet; red bean ice
cream; green gram payasam.
The downside to this book: I'd still like to see metric measurements in
The upside to this book: great range of tasty dishes.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

14. MASALA FARM; stories and recipes from an uncommon life in the
country (Chronicle Books, 2011; distr. Raincoast, 239 pages, ISBN 978-
0-8118-7233-1, $29.95 US hard covers) is by Suvir Saran, a NYC chef
(Devi) who is a city boy from India now running a farm in upstate New
York. He splits his time between the farm and Manhattan. It has been
written with the assistance of Raquel Pelzel and Charlie Burd, the
latter his partner. Log rollers include Marion Nestle, Ted Allen, Gael
Greene and Frances Mayes. The 67-acre farm is home to goats, alpacas,
ducks, geese, chickens and predators. It's a memoir collection of food
stories, arranged by season, with 80 recipes scattered about. Meal
planning is a must. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both
metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of
equivalents. Recipes are brisk but detailed enough, and cover a range
of cuisines, mostly influenced by Indian cooking. This is mainly a
cookbook with a few stories. Some preps include chai cider, lamb
pastrami, sweet and sour butternut squash, spicy pulled pork, veal
chops with mustard-herb sauce, and birbal kee khitcheree tomatoes.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.