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Thursday, December 20, 2012

16th Annual Survey of Food and Wine-Related Books for the Holidays!! Part One

By Dean Tudor, Ryerson Journalism Professor Emeritus and Gothic
Epicures Writing, (World Wine Watch Newsletter).

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, Chapters.Ca (with free delivery on a total purchase of over $25), or even
The Book Depository in Guernsey.
Price Alert: because of US dollar fluctuations with Canada, all prices may vary. I have
used CAN wherever I know it.
A. Art/travel/history books might be some of 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 books.
--BOUCHON BAKERY (Artisan, 2012; distr. T. Allen, 400 pages, $50US hard covers)
is by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. These are preps for the goods from the bakery
of the same name (there are five of them in the US). The French classics are here:
baguettes, macarons, mille-feuilles, and tartes aux fruits. As well, Keller promotes his at-
home versions of poplar American cookies and sweet snacks, providing some uplift to
banal Oreos and such. Co-author Rouxel is the pastry chef for the Thomas Keller
Restaurant Group (French Laundry, Per Se, Ad Hoc, Bouchon) and he shares his advice
for a professional finish for home cooks. Lots of photos by Deborah Jones to look at. It's
a heavy book at almost six pounds, but online sites usually offer free shipping should you
want to send a copy to someone across the continent.

--MASTERING THE ART OF SOUTHERN COOKING (Gibbs Smith, 2012, 720 pages, $49.99 CAN hard covers) is by Southern food expert Nathalie Dupree and her TV producer Cynthia Stevens Graubart. Purists may resent the use of the words "Mastering the Art of …Cooking", but it has been 61 years since Julia Child's epic was published. Here are 750 or so recipes with 650 variations, all laid out with great research and photos. Early chapters cover the evolution of Southern food, which Dupree has called "the Mother Cuisine of America". The classics are all here, including two Chess Pie preps (but without any history behind them). Modern updates are made for many veggies, such as grilled asparagus, creamy grits, and okra chips. A large typeface is a boon, and this continues through the index and the bibliography. It's a great gift if you can carry it (the weight is well-over six pounds).

--CANADA'S FAVOURITE RECIPES (Whitecap Books, 2012, 336 pages, $40
hardcovers) is by Rose Murray and Elizabeth Baird, who together have put out or edited
over 40 cookbooks. Their previous collaboration was "A Taste of Canada", and this
current work follows up on that book with 160 more recipes representative of Canada. As
the publisher says, "This evocative hardcover volume will be an essential gift for ever
Canadian foodie this holiday season!"…and who am I to quarrel with that? The book
argues how distinctive our food is, and ho people, climate, and land influence that food.
So here we have tourtiere, cod and potato fritters, braised lamb stew, and a maple-carrot

--TARTINE: the boxed set (Chronicle Books, 2012, $75 US hard covers) is a two book
set by Elizabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson, a husband and wife baker-pastry chef
owners of the eponymous San Francisco bakery. Both books were CIA and Beard
nominees. One is mostly pastry and desserts, with preps measured in volume, weight, and
metric; the other book is the bread book. Very sturdy production for such fat books.

--THE WAY WE COOK (Saveur/Weldon Owen, 2012, 272 pages, $39.95 CAN
hardcovers) is from Saveur magazine. It is a collection of photographs from 15
photographers (including Naomi Duguid from Toronto) celebrating cooks and chefs all
over the world. There are personal stories and 50 regional recipes, and details about
individual kitchens and cultures. Covered are restaurants, homes, markets, street food,
and rural life. A great affordable gift for the armchair traveler.

Tabori & Chang, 2012, 512 pages, $92 CAN hard covers) is from the International
Culinary Center's School of Italian Studies (NYC). It's by Cesare Casella and Stephanie
Lyness. The ICC is also home to the French Culinary Center. The book has all the
important preps from the ICC's Italian curriculum, along with technical instruction and
over 650 photos. Part One is 200 classic recipes, from antipasti to desserts. Part Two has
chapters on cheese-making, rustic soups, all the primo and secondo courses, plus
specialities of dried legumes, rabbit and egg foams. Some classics: salsiccia (fresh pork
sausage), cinghiale in agrodolce (sweet and sour wild boar), and stracotto (braised beef).

GASTRONOMIC HISTORY (Cape Breton University Press, 2012, 254 pages, $29.99
CAN hard covers) is a bi-lingual historical cookbook, with updated recipes, from the
cooks at Louisbourg on Cape Breton. In 2013, Parks Canada will celebrate 300 years of
Louisbourg with food, music, dance, markets, muskets, and fifes and drums. This book is
but one part of the action, for there will be food at the fortress too. There are coupons at
the back of the book for entrance to Louisbourg, worth more than the book's purchase
price. So if you are planning on going (or know someone who is), then this is the ideal
book for the holidays. Everyone can have time to read it and enjoy cooking from it before
visiting. The main author is Anne Marie Lane-Jonah, staff historian for Parks Canada at
the Fortress. Chanal Vechambre is a chef certified in cuisine and pastry. The book is
richly illustrated, and covers food, gardening beverages, menus, glossary, and a resources
list. Typical preps include eel pie, carrot and parsnip fricassee, oyster casserole, and
mussels ragout. The Acadian meals here reflect the cultures of the time, but all the
recipes have been modernized.

--ELEMENTS OF DESSERT (John Wiley & Sons, 2012, 536 pages, $78 CAN had
covers) is by Francisco Migoya, now teaching at the CIA. He's a former executive pastry
chef at many of New York's top restaurants. This is another book in the CIA series,
reaching out to both the trade and consumers. It's a compilation of dessert knowledge,
and at this level, appears to be definitive. The first 100 pages cover the fundamentals and
philosophy behind mousses, doughs, ganaches, flavours, compositions, combinations,
and preparations needed. Then it is on to semi-sweet desserts, plated desserts, small items
for a buffet, and even smaller items for "passed around desserts" nibbles. There's lots of
advice on plating and a concluding bibliography. With over 200 recipes in a five pound
package you might want to get free postage by ordering it through Amazon etc.

2012, 240 pages, $60 US hard covers) is a 25th anniversary celebration of the Foundation.
James Beard set the standard, and since then it has been met and exceeded by chefs such
as Charlie Trotter, Alice Waters, Larry Forgione, Daniel Boulud, Rick Bayless, Jeremiah
Tower – 20 in all, who contribute here to their oversized and weighty tome. There's a
profile for each of these Outstanding Chef Award winners, plus some of their recipes, and

-- FOOD LOVER'S GUIDE TO THE WORLD (Lonely Planet, 2012, 320 pages, $39.99
US) is an invitation to travel the world for a lifetime of eating experiences. It includes
celebrity food-lover contributions, best places to find local dishes in cities great and
small, cultural tips and how-to-eat etiquette, introductions by Mark Bittman and James
Oseland, and more than 50 recipes.

–COOKING SEASON BY SEASON (DK Books, 2012, 496 pages, $39 CAN hard
covers) has about 1,000 recipes organized by season and includes features highlighting
the best produce and how to make the most of it. It is fairly comprehensive in that well-
known DK style – with a produce guide and a kitchen companion to turn to for every day
of the year. Plus 750 full-colour photos. There's also a Recipe Chooser for each chapter
listing all the dishes that can be cooked for each seasonal ingredient.

--LAROUSSE ON COOKING (John Wiley & Sons, 2012, 592 pages, $54 CAN hard
covers) is the English translation of the 2010 French edition, which was published to
great acclaim. Here are 300 recipes (each with a photo) for "everyone, from beginner to
expert". It has coverage from hors d'oeuvre to apps to mains, with some international
non-French dishes from Mediterranean or Asiatic countries in a separate chapter. There
are 28 "cooking classes" (illustrated techniques) for such toughies as removing an
artichoke heart or cleaning scallops. Here is also an excellent cooking glossary plus two
recipe indexes by ingredient and by name. The book will get you through about 95% of
all your cooking needs. A great gift idea.

--THE COUNTRY COOKING OF GREECE (Chronicle Books, 2012, 384 pages, $55
CAN hard covers) is by Diane Kochilas, who has written 18 Greek cookbooks. It's a
regional book, with 200 preps ranging from hand-shaped pastries through seafood, local
cheeses, wines and liquors. It is also a cultural guide to tavernas, holiday meals, drinking
rituals, meze, and regional specialities. There's a whole chapter on artichokes, and
another on flatbreads. Important meats are lamb, goat, and rabbit. The photos are good
for armchair travellers. One could say that this is a posh book.

--THE GREAT MEAT COOKBOOK (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012, 632 pages,
$46.95 CAN hard covers) is by Bruce Aidells. It's a guide to all of the major cuts of meat
(steaks, shops, roasts, ribs), with handy recipe tags for company meals, quick and easy,
and leftovers. He also has preps for charcuterie (he owns a sausage company), some rare
meats such as bison, goat, heirloom pork), and some offal (tongues, sweetbreads, liver
but no heart or kidneys).

--CLASSIC DINING; discovering America's finest mid-century restaurants (Gibbs
Smith, 2012, 176 pages, $30 US hard covers) is by Peter Moruzzi, with additional photos
and text by Sven A. Kirsten and Nathan Marsak. Mid-century here refers to mid-1900s,
so the survey includes such palaces as the Grand Central Oyster Bar, the Del-Bar in
Wisconsin, Antoine's in New Orleans, the Mai-Kai in Florida, Lawry's The Prime Rib in
LA, the Golden Steer in Las Vegas, and Town and Country in Dallas. He's got notes on
over 200 places in all 50 states, along with reproductions of adverts and menus, posters
and postcards, and similar memorabilia – but no recipes. These places all had some
variation of softly lit wood panelling, starched tablecloths, curved booths, tuxedoed staff,
and white glove service. They also had – with exceptions – basically meat and potatoes
for the men, shrimp cocktails and lobsters for the ladies. A trip down nostalgia lane for
middle America.

--CANAL HOUSE COOKS EVERY DAY (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012, 360
pages, $52.99 CAN) is by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, co-founders
who once ran Saveur magazine and its test kitchen. Today they own and operate Canal
House in Lambertville, New Jersey, one of the top restaurants in the USA. It's a seasonal
cookbook, beginning with spring, highlighting the produce that comes through the year.
There are even 11 menus of celebration for the typical holidays such as Valentine,
Christmas, Easter, and Birthdays. And they have 12 essays, one for each month,
highlighting some food aspect for that month. About 250 recipes with some essentials for
the pantry, mostly illustrated with gorgeous photography. Top notch production,
weighing in at about 4.5 pounds.

--JAMIE OLIVER'S GREAT BRITAIN (Hyperion Books, 2012, 402 pages, $39.95
CAN hard covers) has 130 of this well-known celebrity TV chef's fave British recipes,
ranging from comfort food to new classics. This is mainly home cooking, based on his
parents' gastropub where he grew up. The publisher says that it's supposed to be his first
cookbook which focuses on the home. It is well-illustrated with over 1000 photos, and
covers breakfasts through soup, salad, "pub grub", afternoon tea, pies, puddings, Sunday
lunch, and wild food such as seared venison loin with Scottish risotto and golden
pheasant hash. Vegetarian recipes are marked with a "V".

--THE ESSENTIAL JAMES BEARD COOKBOOK (St. Martin's Press, 2012, 380
pages, $40 CAN hard bound) is a collection of some 450 recipes that shaped the tradition
of North American cooking. Know as the Dean of American Cooking, Beard was a
presence on the culinary landscape for 50 years. This fat volume, with double columns
and mercifully no pictures, gives us some of his best recipes, sorted into categories such
as soups, salads, game, fish, eggs, pasta, veggies, grains, yeast and quick breads, and
desserts. There's introductory material about the man, but just a little to connect him to
most of these recipes through a few recipe head-notes. This is an engaging book that can
serve as a primer for how we cooked over the years.

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