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Thursday, June 28, 2012

DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH! -- Makers of American Wine

 THE MAKERS OF AMERICAN WINE; a record of two hundred years
(University of California Press, 2012, 318 pages, ISBN 978-0-520-26953-
8, $34.95 US hard covers) is by Thomas Pinney, an academic who had
written the earlier two-volume "A History of Wine in America" (the
second volume won a IACP Award for best book on wine, beer or spirits).
This book allows him to add more flesh to his previous work, and to
make certain second thoughts. Pinney tells the story through the lives
of 13 people who played important roles in building the industry. Names
we all know (the Gallos, Schoonmaker, Amerine, K Frank, Mondavi) are
augmented by Cathy Corlson (important winemaker), Husmann who pushed
for the Norton grape and provided rootstock to the French after
phylloxera invaded that country), and Longworth (producer of the really
first popular wines in America, still and sparkling Catawba). Lots of
end notes, references to oral histories, and a bibliography for further
Audience and level of use: wine historians, lovers of US wines,
Some interesting or unusual facts: "Ann Noble, the first woman in the
Department of Viticulture and Enology at Davis was hired in 1974 to
replace the distinguished Maynard Amerine, a striking development in
what had been an all-male preserve."
The downside to this book: it was difficult to single out just 13
names, so there are some holes, especially with women in the industry.
The upside to this book: a good, solid biographical history.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 12/12- Tasting Massolino and Ceretto Piedmont wines

The Date and Time: Tuesday, June 12, 2012  1PM to 4PM

The Event: A tasting of Massolino and Ceretto Piedmont wines with their agents, Halpern Enterprises.

The Venue: ONE Restaurant, Yorkville

The Target Audience: clients, wine media

The Availability/Catalogue: wines are available directly from Halpern

The Quote/Background: Massolino was founded in 1896, centred around Serralunga d'Alba. Ceretto has been making wine in the Langhe for over 80 years. Beginning in the 1970s they began to develop single-vineyard (cru) wines. This was a walkaround tasting, with wines being poured by Katherine Brunath of Massolino and Federico Ceretto of Ceretto.

The Wines: All prices are retail.


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

-Ceretto 2011 Langhe Arneis "Blange", $27.14 retail

-Ceretto 2007 Barolo Brunate, $105.73

-Massolino 2005 Barolo Vigna Rionda Riserva, $109.71


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

-Ceretto 2008 Barbaresco Asij, $52.35

-Ceretto 2008 Barolo "Zonchera", $55.33

-Massolino 2010 Chardonnay Langhe, $28.14

-Massolino 2008 Barolo, $51.31

-Massolino 2007 Barolo Margheria, $84.18

-Massolino 2007 Barolo Parafada, $84.18


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

-Massolino 2011 Barbera d'Alba, $21.10

-Massolino 2011 Dolcetto d'Alba, $19.08

-Massolino 2011 Moscato d'Asti, $20.09


The Food: cold cuts, artisanal cheeses, breads

The Downside: it was very hot outside, not very conducive to a very heavy red wine tasting.

The Upside: a chance to taste two well-known Piedmont producers side by side.

The Contact Person:

The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 90.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Uncorked -- book review

UNCORKED; my journey through the crazy world of wine (Clarkson Potter, 2012, 214 pages, ISBN 978-0-307-71984-3, $28) is by Marco Pasanella, who has owned a wine shop in Manhattan since 2005. Before that he was a designer, a teacher of design, and a columnist. The book comes with log rolling by Martha Stewart (who employed his wife) and Steven Dublanica (Waiter Rant). He wanted a career change – and he got it. So just about all of the book is based on the past half-decade of his life. According to the Library of Congress, it's a collection of anecdotes; it's not even a memoir. He's divided his stories up into eight regions: plow, prune, harvest, crush, ferment, bottle, age, and drink. The appendix lists material that could form a sort-of primer to the world of tasting wine, including a list of 27 toasts in 27 languages, such as salut, prost, but no chimo (Inuit). It's a hodge-podge of material about wine, eclectic enough that an indexer would have trouble. So there is no index. There are a couple of recipes for such as roasted parsnips, fish linguini, and fried sage leaves. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. This sort of thing works well is you are a wine writer, as in Natalie MacLean's two books, but there is no coherence here. It's like a series of short newspaper stories, about 800 words apiece. Given that, then it is a good book for light and enjoyable reading. You'll learn a bit about renovating a five story house at the Manhattan waterfront, traveling in Italy, and the uniqueness of the New York wine industry. But in summary, it is mainly about the struggles of a small business. Given the price, you might want to wait for the paperback or borrow it from the library. Currently, it is $16 at Amazon.

Audience and level of use: the compleat wine reader

Some interesting or unusual facts: He "unloaded 660 cases by hand(no forklift) of his house red, Pasanella & Figlio Rosso.

Quality/Price Rating: 82.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Some New wines tasted this month, report

1. From Southbrook Winery, a quick tour through their new biodynamic
releases. I was mightily impressed with their Connect Red 2011 ($14.95,
90+), less so with the Connect White 100% vidal 9% ABV ($14.95, 85 –
87). Also at this level was the Triomphe Cabernet Franc Rose 2011
($19.95, 85 – 87). I enjoyed the Southbrook Whimsy! Chardonnay 2010
($34.95, 88 – 89) and the Triomphe Chardonnay 2010 ($21.95, 88 - 89).
Amongst the dinner reds, I liked the Whimsy! Renewed Vows Cabernet
Franc 2009 ($34.95, 88 – 89) and the Whimsy! Uncloaked Merlot 2010
($34.95, 88 – 89). The Whimsy! names are getting more poetic (the name
of another Southbrook series: you can take this both ways). I'm just

2. Le Cidre St-Nicolas Rose, +275362, $19.95: Out just in time for
Mother's Day, this fine apple cider from Quebec runs at 7% ABV. It is a
gold medal winner. The apples are crushed cold pressed with raspberries
and strawberries for added complexity and, of course, colour. A
terrific social drink or with dessert, even brunch. A Mum's Day Treat.
The agency, ExquisiTaste also brings in apple products from Vergers St-
Nicolas, such as Geneva Crabapple Butter (deliciously tart and sweet at
the same time), Ice Cider Jelly (great on top of baked brie), and Apple
Syrup for ice cream or pancakes. Usually they are in 200 mL jars at
about six dollars or so. You can find them at the Cheese Boutique or
3. Terra Andina Chardonnay 2010 Central Valley Chile, +234443, $9.95
General List: a generous 13.7% ABV plus a twist top makes this a great
party wine, or served with a first course. It's got good balance with
nuances of wood, vanilla, pineapple, tropical fruits, finishing dry.
4. J.P. Chenet Chardonnay Reserve 2009 Vin de Pays d'Oc, +255885, $9.95
General List is smooth and balanced, with a bit more vanilla and oak
nuance. It's also a mevushal wine, good with fish and poultry. 12.5%
5. Rodney Strong Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, +226944 Vintages,
$21.95: This has always been one of my fave Cal cabs at this price
level. 13.5% ABV, 17 months in oak (one-quarter French), a ton of black
fruit – but needs airing or double-decanting. Mocha tones as well.
6. Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007 St. David's Bench
VQA, at winery or LCBO May 26 Vintages, $19.95: dark, deep, and rich,
but needs more time. Expect lots of black fruit and colour, finishing
with vanilla nuances. Double-decanting a necessity at this point.
Ontario Wine Award Silver Medal in 2011.

7. Lakeview Cellars Syrah Reserve 2007 St. David's Bench VQA, at winery
or LCBO June 9 Vintages, $19.95: dark, deep, and rich, cedary and
jammy, mocha tones, some leather. Double-decanting a necessity at this
point. Ontario Wine Award Silver Medal in 2011.

8. 20 Bees Late Harvest Vidal 2009 VQA Ontario, +274704, $9.95 for
375mL: cold pressed and cold stabilized all in stainless. Pure fruit
extraction, a compelling dessert wine with ripe orchard fruit and some
botrytis nuances. 11.5% ABV.

9. From Stoney Ridge there is the latest line of Excellence wines. The
wine was launched in 2009, and there have been many medals scored.
a) Stoney Ridge Excellence Meritage 2009 VQA Niagara: 13% ABV, blend of
cabbies and merlot, full-bodied keeper that needs aging, 3200 bottles
at winery, $39.95.
b) Stoney Ridge Excellence Cabernet Franc 2009 VQA Twenty Mile Bench:
elegant and fruity, slight whiff of saviouriness, 12.8%, cellar it for
food. 1450 bottles at winery. $37.95.
c) Stoney Ridge Excellence Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Kasper Vineyard VQA
Niagara Lakeshore: 13% ABV, light oaking tames down the herby zest
usually associated with savvies. But there is still some tang and
lemons to the finish. $29.95 at winery.
d) Stoney Ridge Excellence Pinot Gris 2010 VQA Niagara Lakeshore: 12.5%
ABV, full-bodied in almost Alsatian mode, orchard fruit and citric
tones, some light oak. 1560 bottles at winery, $29.95.

Wednesday, June 20, 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.
1. Valle Andino Reserva Especial Syrah 2008 Colchagua: intense, gamey
almost brett-y, black fruit, smokey, syrah in the North Rhone style,
snap it all up at this price. +272682, $13.95, QPR: 93.
1. St-Nicolas Brut Crackling Strong Cider Quebec: very apple-y, very
strong intense flavours, 8.5% ABV, well-priced and should be well-
received this summer. +277442, $16.95, QPR: 91.
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
1. Nessa Albarino 2010 DO Rias Baixas: higher acid, best with food
instead of sipping. Exotic spicing and fruit, some eucalyptus. +282558,
$15.95, QPR: 89.
2. Lucien Albrecht Reserve Pinot Gris 2010 Alsace:  engaging, off-dry
tones of pear and citric, long finish, sip or with food. 13% ABV.
+281394, $17.95, QPR: 89.
3. Domaine de la Tourlaudiere Muscadet Sevre & Maine Sur Lie 2010
Loire: an affordable wine for fish, concentrated MVC for the melon
grape, stony tones, 12% ABV. +171694, $13.95, QPR: 89.
4. Terredora Loggia Della Serra Greco di Tufo 2010 Campania: mounds of
flavours, concentrated tropical tones, 13% ABV. +983197, $17.95, QPR:
5. Michele Chiarlo Le Marne Gavi 2011 Piedmont: wonderful mouthfilling,
fruity, with finishing acid and stuffing for food, 12% ABV. +228528,
$14.95, QPR: 89.
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1. Alta Vista Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Mendoza: juicy, North
American appeal, 15% ABV makes it big for summer and BBQ. +129957,
$14.95,  QPR: 90.
2. Santa Emma Reserve Merlot 2009 Maipo: again, juicy, North American
appeal, 13.5% ABV. +642538, $16.95, QPR: 89.
3. Le Gravillas Sablet 2010 Cotes du Rhone-Villages: great price for a
Gold medalist, lots of mocha, 14.5% ABV, longer length than most.
+78790, $14.95, QPR: 89.
4. Umberto Cesari Sangiovese di Romagna Riserva 2008: another wine for
North American markets (juicy, mocha, fruit, smoke, oak). 13% ABV.
+33399, $18.95, QPR: 89.
5. Monte Zovo Sa'Solin Ripasso Valpolicella 2009: ripasso of the month.
+650713, $17.95, QPR: 89.
6. Serrado Colheita 2008 Dao: value-priced, entry level, needs food.
13.5% ABV. +283192, $11.95, QPR: 89.
7. Langa Tradicion Centenaria Garnacha 2008 DO Calatayud Spain: lots of
oak, great dense flavours, mocha and plums, but not very garancha-like,
14% ABV. +194795, $13.95, QPR: 90.
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. Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2010 VQA NOTL Biodynamic, $21.95
2. Cambria Katherine's Vineyard Chardonnay 2008 Santa Maria Valley
Santa Barbara, +980490, $29.95.
3. Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2009 Santa
Barbara/Monterey, +59576, $27.95.
4. Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Marlborough, +10421, $21.95.
5. Chateau Haut Bertinerie 2009 Cotes de Bordeaux Blaye Old Vines,
+422220, $23.95.
6. Maison Foucher La Vigne Aux Sandres Pouilly Fume 2010, +277350,
7. Mahle Wind Gap Syrah 2007 Castelli Knight Ranch Russian River
Sonoma, +242776, $59.
8. Simi Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Alexander Valley Sonoma, +25221,
9. Trinity Hill The Gimblett 2009 Hawkes Bay, +280263, $35.95.
10. Chateau Tronquoy-Lalande 2004 St-Estephe, +27984, $29.95.
11. Gemma Giblin Riserva Barolo 2005, +185025, $36.95.
12. Lamole di Lamole Vignetto di Campolungo Chianti Classico Riserva
2007, +231241, $36.95.
13. Mastrojanni San Pio 2008 IGT Toscana, +944603, $30.95.
14. Bodegas Olarra Cerro Anon Gran Reserva 2004, +190827, $24.50.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


...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"...
19. VISUALIZING NUTRITION; everyday choices. Second edition. (John
Wiley & Sons, 2012, 634 pages, ISBN 978-1-118-01380-9, $88.88 US paper
covers) is by Mary B. Grosvenor and Lori A. Smolin, both academics. It
was originally published in 2005 as "Nutrition: Everyday Choices" and
then in 2009 in the new Wiley "Visualizing" series as "Visualizing
Nutrition: Everyday Choices".  This 2nd edition of expands upon the
central issues of nutritional science in a visual approach. The text
includes topics of nutrition, to help readers and students understand
the topics through demonstration of their relevance to their personal
life.  The material provides decision-making skills needed to navigate
the choices readers face in promoting good health and preventing
disease: such emerging diseases and foods as SARS, biotech foods and
gene therapy.  As they apply the thought processes and decision-making
skills learned throughout the course, they come to understand that
there are not "good" foods and "bad" foods, but rather that each choice
is only part of an overall healthy diet and that it is the sum of those
choices that determines good nutrition. Covered are digestion,
carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and amino acids, vitamins, water and
minerals, weight management, physical activity, and the food supply.
There are a lot of appendixes for standards, tables, lists,
conversions, plus answers to the self-tests scattered throughout the
book. There is a glossary, a list of references for further reading,
and a standalone large booklet on the nutrient composition of foods
(about 2,000 brand name references, most of which will differ from
Canadian content). Quality/price rating: 85.

distr. Raincoast, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-0133-0, $18.95 US paper
covers) comes from Elise McDonough and the Editors of High Times
Magazine. The cover proclaims, "more than 50 irresistible recipes that
will get you high". This is High Times' first cookbook. All the preps
are easy and accessible, or at least they look so: I didn't try any. I
had no access to the prime ingredient. But I'm sure that the book would
be useful to those who need to take medical marihuana. Alternatively,
the home cook could use hemp: you won't get the high but you'd get the
amino acids and the like, plus keep the ratios in line with the recipe.
This is stoner cuisine for the sophisticated, those that are by now
tired of ingesting chocolate brownies. Many have been published before
in the magazine, but then, how many of us have actually seen the
magazine? THC olive oil would be a good start to begin cooking
Italianate food. Simple cannabutter works for desserts, and there are
all kinds of tinctures to make and to use. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a table of
metric equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 85.
pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0293-8, $27.95 CAN paper covers) is by Igor
Brotto and Oliver Guiriec, both European-trained teachers at the
Institut de tourisme et d'hotellerie du Quebec (ITHQ). It was
originally published in Quebec in 2010; this is a translation. It's a
good basic book, with warm, close-up photos of food. There are 275
preps, mostly one to a page, and mostly illustrated. It's arranged by
course, from appetizers to desserts, with salads, soups, mains, and
sides. There's lasagnette all'Ortolana, quinoa simmered with fennel and
wild mushrooms, Florentine-style cannelloni, veggie and alfalfa sprout
wraps, wheat and fromage frais and wild mushroom soup, and veggie
timbales. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 88.

22. THE WORLD'S BEST STREET FOOD; where to find it & how to make it
(Lonely Planet, 2012, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-74220-593-9, $19.99 US
paper covers) is another off-beat travel guide from the Lonely Planet
folks. It is a great guide to some 100 dishes (80 savoury and 20 sweet)
from around the world, such as Tunisia's brik, Vietnam banh mi, South
Africa's walkie-talkies, Maltese pastizzi, Hungarian chimney cake, and
Indian jalebi. For example, kushari from Egypt (rice, lentils, pasta,
onions, tomatoes and spices) is described as a humdrum base with an
exciting sauce. There are notes on its origin, how to find it at its
best in Cairo, what you could expect to pay for it, and advice on
tasting it plus some variations. There is a picture and more
description, PLUS a recipe for home cooks. This has to be the ultimate
peasant food book. Each prep is cited for ease and utensils required,
as well as authorship. There is a concluding glossary and
identification of authors. The contents are listed alphabetically by
savory or sweet; there are indexes by country and by ingredient,
including veggie options. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 90.

23. HERBS: THE COMPLETE GARDENER'S GUIDE (Firefly Books, 2001, 2012,
222 pages, ISBN 978-1-55209-624-6, $24.95 CAD paper covers) is by
Patrick Lima, a gardener from the Bruce Peninsula who has written other
gardening books, mainly for Harrowsmith. This is a straight reprint
from 2001. It was still in demand. Lima describes each herb in detail,
with advice on planting, fertilizing and nurturing. All the major
groupings are covered: annuals, perennials, thymes, sages, lily family,
salad herbs, tea herbs, colour and decoration, plus medical
applications. Each herb comes with a colour photo. The 16 food recipes
have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is
no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
24. MEALS IN MINUTES: make-ahead dinners quick, easy and delicious
(Weldon Owen, 2008, 2011; distr. Simon & Schuster, 112 pages, ISBN 978-
1-61628-257-8, $9.99 US paper covers)  AND
25. MEALS IN MINUTES: easy vegetarian quick, easy and delicious (Weldon
Owen, 2007, 2011; distr. Simon & Schuster, 112 pages, ISBN 978-1-61628-
256-1, $9.99 US paper covers) are from the Food Made Fast series, and
were published as "Make Ahead" in 2007/8. These are the paperback
reprint. Everything is supposed to be in three simple steps. Most of
the 40 preps take just 15 minutes to assemble or 30 minutes to cook.
The practical tips and advice are, of course, useful. Larger batches
can be made and leftovers can be frozen. Preparations have most of
their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no table of equivalents. A very useful beginning book at
an affordable price, with enticing photos. Quality/price rating: 85.

26. THE COMPLETE PRESERVING BOOK (Transcontinental Books, 2012, 352
pages, ISBN 978-0-9877474-1-9, $34.95 CAN hard covers) is from the
Canadian Living Test Kitchen, headed up by food director Annabelle
Waugh. The magazine says that it has combed through 35 years of its
classic canning recipes to find the best jams, pickles and preserves.
Both sweet and savoury are here. There are also modern preserves such
as salsas, sauces, syrups, and flavoured vinegars. There's a basic
primer on canning essentials, followed by ingredient chapters such as
jams and marmalades, jellies, relishes and pickles, chutney, and even
liqueurs and seasonings (flavoured salts and sugars). Each prep has a
full nutrient analysis. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
mainly avoirdupois measurements (only weighted items have both metric
and avoirdupois), but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 87.

27. ADVENTURES IN GRILLING; coking with fire and smoke (Weldon Owen,
2009, 2012; distr. Simon & Schuster, 272 pages, ISBN 978-1-61628-217-2,
$24.95 US paper covers) is by Willie Cooper, a professional grillmaster
ad cooking instructor. It was originally published in 2009, and this is
the paperback reprint. It was called ON THE GRILL and packaged for
Williams-Sonoma. Jordan Mackay did the drink recipes. Fred
Thompson did the text. Here are 130 recipes and eight "grilling
adventures" in this guide to outdoor cooking. The adventures include "A
day at the lake", a pig roast, hot-smoking salmon, a beach grilling
party, a summer picnic, a backyard BBQ, a tailgate party, and "turkey
on the grill". The first two dozen pages serve as a primer on grilling
equipment and techniques, especially getting the fire into the right
shape. Then, there is a beer pairing guide (IPA works best with salmon
and other meaty or oily fish) and a separate wine pairing guide. Each
of the eight adventures describes what you have to do, with a menu that
has page references to the actual prep. Separate chapters cover fruits
and veggies, meats, poultry, fish and shellfish, sides, drinks, sauces-
marinades-rubs, and condiments. Additionally, there some uncategorized
recipes for apple puree, couscous, mint raita, and country-style gravy.
Ingredients are listed as both avoirdupois and metric, except for the
smaller volumes. There are no tables of equivalents. Try antipasto
grill; grilled whole fish; grilled oysters with BBQ sauce; grilled
fingerling potatoes; spit roasted pig; home-cured smoked salmon; or
Korean-style BBQ short ribs. Quality/Price Rating: 86.

28. CANADA'S DIABETES MEALS FOR GOOD HEALTH. 2d ed. (Robert Rose, 2008,
2012, 320 pages, ISBN 978-0-788-0402-4, $29.95 CAN paper covers) is by
Karen Graham, RD and a Certified Diabetes Educator. Some of the content
here had been previously published as "meals For Good Health" in
various editions going back to 1998. This current edition features a
new 32-page chapter "Food Choices for Good Health" that rates food
choices from healthy to unhealthy. There are about 100 new photos and
some updated nutritional analyses, as well as colour-coding for ease of
use. Graham also includes notes on meal planning for 70 complete meals
(both large and small), over 100 snacks, and 100 recipes. Her first
edition sold about 100,000 copies. It is pretty good basic stuff from a
tried and true producer of cookbooks: liver and onions, pork chop
casserole, Chinese stir-fry, French onion soup, and Western sandwich
(but usually made with just ham not bacon). Preparations have their
ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but
there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.

29. GARDE MANGER; the art and craft of the cold kitchen. 4th edition
(John Wiley & Sons, 2012, 706 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-58780-5, $75US hard
covers) is by the Culinary Institute of America. Garde Manger is the
art and technique of preparing a full range of cold dishes for buffet,
banquet, and catering events. This includes hors d'oeuvre, appetizers,
terrines and pates, and charcuterie. The 600 or so recipes included in
this book are revisions and updatings, which take into account the
global cuisine of today. There are 40 more preps than in the third
edition, published four years ago. The book is meant for both students
and practitioners. The opening sections deal with history of banquets,
the needed skills, safe food handling techniques, the flavours, colours
and textures of food for the table. Cost controls and price
establishment are also important here. Recipe sections include cold
sauces, soups, salads (flavour balances), sandwiches, curing and
preserving meats and fish, cheeses (including presentations). There are
also chapters with chaud-froid, aspics, gelees, marinades, condiments,
and garnishes. Decorating and plating are also included, especially
platter layouts and design. It concludes with a glossary, a
bibliography, a resources list, and a separate recipe index. The book
is well-stitched, so it will put up with much wear and tear.
Quality/Price rating: 88.

30. THE CLUELESS VEGETARIAN; a cookbook for the aspiring vegetarian. 2d
edition (Firefly Books, 2012, 216 pages, ISBN 978-1-55407-995-7, $14.95
CAD paperback) is by Evelyn Raab. It was originally published in 2008
through Prospero Books. She had also previously written "Clueless in
the Kitchen, a cookbook for teens". Here she presents about 130 preps
for vegetarian dishes, with an emphasis on the tentative vegetarian.
Every recipe has a code for the lacto-ovo, the lacto, the vegan, the
ovo, and the flexitarian. Of value are her guides to the dietary
requirements for a single day and her pantry lists. The recipes are
easy and the range is wide, with Mexican and Italian influences for
casseroles, pastas, snacks, soups, and desserts. A good beginning book,
but I could do without the cutesy recipe title fonts. Preparations have
their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no table of equivalents. No gluten-free recipes.
Quality/price rating: 88.

31. STEP-BY-STEP BREAD; demonstrates every stage in every key technique
(DK, 2012, 192 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-9266-7, $18 US hard covers) AND

32. STEP-BY-STEP CAKES; demonstrates every stage in every key technique
(DK, 2012, 192 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-9267-4, $18 US hard covers)
are by Caroline Bretherton, who wrote the earlier "Illustrated Step-by-
Step Baking" for DK in 2011. The content in both of these spin-off
books was previously published in that step-by-step book. So if you
have that bigger book, then you won't need these set. Each has 125
recipes augmented by step-by-step photography with details o key
techniques. The bread book includes the classics, artisanal breads,
flat breads, crisp breads, quick breads, and sweet breads. The cake
book has everyday cakes, celebration cakes, small cakes, and even some
cookies. Preparations have their ingredients listed in mainly
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 86.

33. VEGETABLES; a biography (University of Chicago Press, 2012, 112
pages, ISBN 978-0-226-42438-5, $20 US hard covers) is by Evelyne Bloch-
Dano, who has written many books. It was originally published in France
in 2008. The book is slim, and marred even further by the lack of an
index (although it does have a bibliography and enough blank pages [for
an index] at the end). It's sort of a condensed version of the Reaktion
series of food books, covering 11 veggies (including parsnips, beans,
cabbage, peas, pumpkins, and even tomatoes which are botanically
"fruits") with a handful of short preps such as a Sicilian tomato sauce
(strattu), a vegetable tagine, a puree of root vegetables, and
Alexandre Dumas' asperges en petit pois. An engaging little book, but
at this price, mabe one to borrow from the public library.
Quality/price rating: 84.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

* THE RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOK... one of the hottest trends in cookbooks.
Actually, they've been around for many years, but never in such
proliferation. They are automatic sellers, since the book can be
flogged at the restaurant or TV show and since the chef ends up being a
celebrity somewhere, doing guest cooking or catering or even turning up
on the Food Network. Most of these books will certainly appeal to fans
of the chef and/or the restaurant and/or the media personality. Many of
the recipes in these books actually come off the menus of the
restaurants involved. Occasionally, there will be, in these books,
special notes or preps, or recipes for items no longer on the menu.
Stories or anecdotes will be related to the history of a dish. But
because most of these books are American, they use only US volume
measurements for the ingredients; sometimes there is a table of metric
equivalents, but more often there is not. I'll try to point this out.
The usual shtick is "favourite recipes made easy for everyday cooks".
There is also PR copy on "demystifying ethnic ingredients". PR bumpf
also includes much use of the magic phrase "mouth-watering recipes" as
if that is what it takes to sell such a book. I keep hearing from
readers, users, and other food writers that some restaurant recipes
(not necessarily from these books) don't seem to work, but how could
that be? They all claim to be kitchen tested for the home, and many
books identify the food researcher by name. Most books are loaded with
tips, techniques, and advice, as well as gregarious stories about life
in the restaurant world. Photos abound, usually of the chef bounding
about. The celebrity books, with well-known chefs or entertainers, seem
to have too much self-involvement and ego. And, of course, there are a
lot of food shots, verging on gastroporn. The endorsements are from
other celebrities in a magnificent case of logrolling. If resources are
cited, they are usually American mail order firms, with websites. Some
companies, though, will ship around the world, so don't ignore them
altogether. Here's a rundown on the latest crop of such books –

15. PIZZA; award-winning pies for the home kitchen (Weldon Owens, 2012;
distr. Simon & Schuster, 112 pages, ISBN 978-1-61628-168-7, $19.95 US
hard covers) is by Pete Evans, an award-winning chef-owner of many
Australian restaurants. He has also appeared on over 400 episodes of a
cooking show. The book has been co-published with Murdoch Books in
Australia. He has won the title of World's Best Pizza in the American
Pizza Challenge, and Best Pizza in Australia on several occasions.
There's a primer on how to cook great pizzas, including material on
electric pizza ovens and pizza stones. He has about 8 prep recipes, for
sauces, balsamic onions, doughs, confits, roasted bell peppers, and the
like. This is followed by recipes for the classics, modern pizzas and
"special" pizzas. There's a good selection, including eggplant and
smoked mozzarella with caponata, gorgonzola with walnuts and truffle
honey and radicchio, a BLT, tuna with green olive salsa, and asparagus
with goat cheese and egg and toasted walnuts, about 40 in all.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 85.

16. JON BONNELL'S TEXAS FAVORITES. (Gibbs Smith, 2012, 224 pages, ISBN
978-1-4236-2259-8, $30 US hard covers) is from the chef who opened
Bonnell's Fine Texas Cuisine in 2001 in Fort Worth. This is his second
Bonnell's cookbook. And you cannot beat Bobby Flay's log rolling here.
These are faves for parties and family gatherings -- larger quantity
preps for home entertaining. Tailgate parties are a specialty, and are
usually followed by liquor-infused desserts. It's a Tex-Mex book for
those with large appetites. The large typeface also helps in the
preparations, and the recipes are written with ease in mind. Try green
chile chilaquiles (a pre-nacho dish), crab and red pepper bisque with
pecans, venison quesadillas, chipotle mashed potatoes, and dessert
tostadas. The 100 or so preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is a table of metric equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 86.
17. ZUPPE; soups from the kitchen of the American Academy in Rome (The
Little Bookroom, 2012; distr. Random House Canada, 177 pages, ISBN 978-
1-892165-97-0, $18.95 US hard covers) is by Mona Talbott, a well-
established eco-gastronomic cook involved in many sustainable measures.
She's worked at Chez Panisse, Zabar, E.A.T., and now as Executive Chef
of the Rome Sustainable Food Project (since 2006). All proceeds from
the sale of this book go to that project. Here are 50 recipes for
Italian-style soups, laden with beans, greens, grains and veggies.
This is the second in the Rome Food series; the first dealt with
Biscotti. It's arranged by season, beginning with autumn (favata,
ribollita) and featuring classics such as pasta e ceci (winter), risi e
bisi (spring), and pappa al pomodori (summer). There's a glossary and a
bibliography, plus pictures of the academy and foods. Preparations have
their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no table of equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 89.

18. MOLLY MOON'S HOMEMADE ICE CREAM; sweet seasonal recipes for ice
creams, sorbets & toppings made with local ingredients (Sasquatch
Books, 2012; distr. Random House Canada, 116 pages, ISBN 978-1-57061-
810-9, $21.95 US hard bound) is by Molly Moon Neitzel, who owns and
operates five ice cream parlors in Seattle and environs. She also has
an ice cream truck. These are largely sustainable ice cream preps,
using local and/or organic foods. Of course, the food chain is
complicated by wherever you (the reader trying out a recipe) reside.
The arrangement is by season. It is usually too cold in Canada to even
think about ice cream, but she does have candied bacon ice cream, olive
oil and toasted pine nut ice cream, mulled wine sorbet, and other
goodies for the "cold climate" eaters. Her "always" list (eat anytime
of year) includes vanilla bean, melted chocolate, cappuccino, and yummy
salted caramel. She also has recipes for sauces that you can use in
other, non-ice cream desserts, such as homemade marshmallows, lime
coconut, port reduction, hot fudge, or balsamic reduction. Preparations
have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is
no table of metric equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 88.

Friday, June 15, 2012

May 29 - APVSA tasting in Toronto

 The Date and Time:  Monday May 29, 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):

-Domaine des Hauts Perray Coteaux de Layon 2010

-Clos D'Elle Mas de Blanger Syrah Pays D'Oc 2009, 3.30 E

-Champagne Barnier Cuvee Exquise 2006

-Champagne Barnier Brut NV

-Domaine des Fontaines Bonnezeaux 2009


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

Rating terms):

-Chateau Fontbaude Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux 2009 Vieilles Vignes [organic]

-Chateau Fontbaude Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux 2007 [organic]

-Chateau Coutelor La Romarine 2009 Sainte Foy Bordeaux

-Chateau La Roche Bordeaux 2009 Les Canons de Guyenne

-Les Caves Poussin Vouvray 2008 Demi-Sec, 3.50 E

-Les Caves Poussin Vouvray 2008 Sec, 3.50 E

-Chateau Laroque Bergerac 2007 [organic]

-Domaine Grand Jean 2009 Gers

-Clos D'Elle Mas de Blanger Chardonnay Pays D'Oc 2010

-Clos D'Elle Mas de Blanger Cinsault Pays D'Oc 2011, 2.80 E

-Champagne Couche NV

-Champagne Selection Couche NV

-Champagne Barnier Rose Brut NV

-Chateau Soutard Les Jardins 2008 St-Emilion

-Domaine Mazilly Hautes Cotes de Beaune 2009

-Domaine Deliance Givry 1er Cru 2009


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

-Chateau Fontbaude Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux 2009 [organic]

-Chateau Les Graves David Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux 2009

-Chateau Laroque Bergerac 2009 [organic]

-Chateau de Coustelle 2009 Canon-Fronsac

-Domaine Grand Jean L'Oublie 2008 Gers

-Chateau Lafitte 2011 Cotes de Bordeaux

-Domaine Marsoif Bourgogne 2010 Tonnerre

-Domaine des Perelles Beaujolais Chardonnay 2011

-Domaine de L'Echelette Macon Cruzille 2010

-Domaine des Hauts Perrays Cabernet d'Anjou 2011

-Domaine des Fontaines Cabernet d' Anjou 2011

-Domaine de la Brossette Touraine Rouge 2010 [organic]

-Domaine de la Ville Rouge Crozes-Hermitage 2010 Terre d'Eclat

-Domaine Bulliat Morgon 2010

-Domaine Bulliat Fleurie 2010

-Domaine Verret Chablis 1er Cru 2008 Beauroy

-Domaine Verret Bourgogne Cotes d'Auxerre 2010 Chardonnay

-Domaine Marsoif Petit Chablis 2011

-Domaine Breliere Rully 1er Cru 2010 [organic]

-Chateau Saint Esteve Corbieres 2009

-Chateau Saint Esteve Corbieres 2010


The Food: Some really great, piping hot gourmet pizza.

The Contact Person: Pascal

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


Thursday, June 14, 2012

May 17 - Annual Portuguese wine show in Toronto

The Date and Time: Thursday May 17, 1:30 PM to 6 PM

The Event: Annual Grand Tasting of Wines of Portugal.

The Venue: AGO

The Target Audience: wine trade

The Availability/Catalogue: nicely laid out catalogue with the range of 200 wines for 25 or so producers, good detail but lacking terms of prices and availability channels.

The Quote/Background: "Man, these wines are good, but after this week of non-stop wine tasting, it is hard to really dig into them."

The Wines: I did not taste every wine.


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

-Bacalhoa Quinta do Carmo Reserva 2008, $52

-Pocas Colheita 1994 Porto, $27.95 November Vintages

-Cortes de Cima 2009 Red, $21.95

-Esporao White reserve 2009, $23

-J. Portugal Ramos Quinta de Foz de Arouce 2010, $35

-Jose Maria da Fonseca Hexagon 2007, $39

-Jose Maria da Fonseca Alambre 20 Anos Setubal, $32

-Colinas Sparkling 2007, $35

-Calem Colheita 1998 Porto, $25.95 – value wine


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

-Alianca Quinta da Garrida Reserva Tinto 2008

-Alianca Quinta da Garrida Reserva Touriga Nacional 2007

-Alianca Particular 2007, $28

-Bacalhoa Quinta da Bacalhoa 2009, $41

-Bacalhoa Tinto da Anfora Grande Escholha 2008, $52

-Cortes de Cima Chamine 2011 White

-Monte da Cal Reserva 2008, $22.95

-Esporao Sparkling 2009, $26

-Esporao Red Reserve 2009, $25

-Julian Reynolds Grande Reserva 2005

-Carlos Reynolds 2011 [white], $14.95

-Reynolds Branco Real 2011, $13.50

-Quinta do Infantado 2009, $21.95

-Quinta do Infantado Reserva 2009, $45

-Calem 10 Years Old Tawny Porto, $23.95

-Veedha Douro White 2011, $14.95

-Terra D'Alter Reserva 2010


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

-JP Azeitao Branco 2010

-JP Private Selection 2009, $22

-Casa Santos Lima Merlot 2009

-Casa Santos Lima LAB 2011 [white] $14.95

-Monte da Cal Syrah 2008, $19.95

-Esporao Alandra White, $8 – value wine of the tasting.

-Esporao Alicante Bouschet 2007, $16

-J. Portugal Ramos Vila Santa Reserva 2011 [white]

-Terra D'Alter Fado Branco 2011, $13.95

-Terra D'Alter Viognier 2011, $13.95


The Food: shrimp piri-piri, chicken piri-piri, pork sliders, cod cakes. Portuguese-styled cheeses, and more. But I could not find any corn bread.

The Downside: there was a seminar somewhere on the site, but details were never presented to me. Also, more pourers needed to know more prices.

The Upside: good selection of wines.

The Contact Person:

The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 86.