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Tuesday, December 31, 2013


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.
San Jose de Aguaron Monasterio de la Vinas Reserva 2006 Carinena, +166579, $14.95: another Spanish garnacha (blended with tempanillo and carinena), aged in barrel for a year. Absolutely delicious with tons of spices. QPR: 90.
Chateau Vitallis Vieilles Vignes Pouilly Fuisse 2010, +360495, $27.95 retail.
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
1.Flat Rock Riesling 2012 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, +43281, $16.95: a good basic Ontario Riesling at an affordable price point, 11% ABV, twist top. Finishes dry. QPR: 89.
2.Casa del Bosque Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Casablanca Valley,+974717, $13.95: good MVC savvy intensity with herbs and greeness, 13.5% ABV, great price. QPR: 89.
3.Rabl Kittmansberg Gruner Veltliner 2011 Kamptal, +346007, $14.95: basic off-dry groovy, fruity palate, sip or food. 12.5% ABV. Another good price. QPR: 89.
4.Domaine Jacky Marteau Sauvignon Touraine 2012, +745349, $13.95: another good value savvy from the Loire region, typical MVC and certainly affordable. QPR: 89.
5.Torres Vina Esmeralda 2012 Catalunya, +113696: a personal fave of mine for about 40 years, now twist top, 11.5% ABV, 85muscat/15gewurztraminer and 100% delicious as a sipper. QPR: 89.
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1.13th Street Merlot 2012 VQA Creek Shores, +270504, $17.95: a great little wine for food, a Merlot with some guts, not really for sipping. 14% ABV. QPR: 89.
2.Bodega el Esteco Don David Finca La Urquiza #8 Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Cafayate Valley Salta, +357459, $15.95: [you could finish the wine before you finish reading the label]. Plush and lush, 14% ABV. QPR: 89.
3.Estampa Assemblage Reserve Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2010 Colchagua Valley, +350082, $14.95: another good value wine, 14.5% ABV, 82syrah/10cab/8merlot blend, in oak for 10 months. QPR: 89.
4.Santa Alicia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Maipo, +350074, $14.95: black fruit of plums and blackberries, flavours touch all the bases, twist top, 14% ABV. Gold medalist. QPR: 89.
5.Chapoutier Domaine Tournon Mathilda Shiraz 2011 Victoria, +327395, $19.95: very Rhonish in style and tone, MVC for Syrah, 13% ABV, twist top. QPR: 89.
6.Chateau Pouyanne 2009 Graves, +349332, $19.95: delicious Bordeaux, ready now, 13% ABV. Gold Medalist. QPR: 89.
7.N. Potel Maison Roche de Bellene Cuvee Reserve Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2011, +299859, $17.95: decent MVC burgundy from Pinot noir, light but has value. 13% ABV. QPR: 89.
8.Domaine des Fees Cotes du Rhone 2012, +272450, $15.95: this unfiltered organic wine has a lot going for it. Very intense flavours, 15% ABV, should age well, great price. QPR: 89.
9.Chateau Nozieres Cuvee Ambroise de l'her Malbec Cahors 2010, +276055, $16.95: dense blend of malbec with 10% Merlot added, 14.5% ABV, muscular as are most Cahors. QPR: 89.
10.Coppi Peucetico Primitivo 2007 Goia del Colle Puglia, +724674, $13.95: chocolate and black fruit all the way, gutsy, 13.5% ABV. QPR: 89.
11.Tenute Piccini Valiano Chianti Classico 2008, +354019, $17: nicely aged now at five years, 13.5% ABV, long finish. QPR: 89.
12.Aguia Moura em Vinhas Reserva Tinto 2008 Douro, +354738, $16.95: black fruit, good aging for past five years, 14% ABV. QPR: 89.
13.Olivares Altos de la Hoya Monastrell 2011 Jumilla, +163154, $13.95: powerhouse of black, dark fruits, some vanilla from oak, good acidic finish. QPR: 90.
14.Ilurce Rio Madre 2011 Rioja, +354753, $14.95: another affordable power wine at 14.5% ABV, ready to fuel another meal. 100% graciano, aged in French oak. 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.Geografico Montegiachi Chianti Classico Riserva 2009, +962142, $24.95.
2.Domaine Bonnard Sancerre 2012, +140525, $22.95.
3.La Pieve Barolo 2009, +213132, $29.95.


Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.
Creator of Canada's award-winning wine satire site at

Friday, December 20, 2013


THE BIG BEAUTIFUL BROWN RICE COOKBOOK; the world's best brown rice
recipes (SquareOne Publishers, 2013; distr. T. Allen, 184 pages, ISBN
978-0-7570-0364-6, $16.95 US soft covers) is by Wendy Esko, who has
studied and taught macrobiotic cooking for over four decades. She's
written over 20 cookbooks, and currently works for Eden Foods. She's
been around and around these recipes for quite some time. It's a basic
primer of some 140 recipes with practical cooking tips and guidelines,
plus variations. There's also a glossary of ingredients. It is
organized by course, with breakfast up first, followed by soups, stews,
salads, condiments, apps, sides, mains, and desserts. At the beginning,
there are the basics of brown rice and a pantry of sorts. There is also
a large list of resources. Preparations have their ingredients listed
in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric
Audience and level of use: for vegetarians and vegans.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: fried adzuki bean rice;
stuffed grape leaves; muesli; Moroccan rice; applesauce brown rice
muffins; mushroom onion sauce; California rolls; baked rice and barley
The downside to this book: the emphasis is on brown rice, not
The upside to this book: good glossary
Quality/Price Rating: 88.

weight, feel healthy (Skyhorse Publishing, 2013, 285 pages, ISBN 978-1-
62087-699-2, $17.95 US hard covers) is by Wendy Polisi, author of last
year's "The Quintessential Quinoa Cookbook". This version is now all
gluten-free. It's based on the large feedback she got from that book:
why not make it all gluten-free? So here it is, with photos and
nutritional info for every recipe, gluten-free desserts, and quinoa
recipes for kids. She's even given alternative ingredients and prep
methods for many dishes, including vegan, sugar-free, and quick and
easy. She's got two recipes for gluten-free flour blends – an all-
purpose quinoa flour blend and a quinoa cake flour blend. These can be
used without fear. The book is arranged by course, breakfast through
apps and snacks, salads, wraps and tacos and sandwiches, mains, baking
and desserts. About 140 dishes here, but there is more at Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those who require a gluten-free diet
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: gluten-free pizza dough;
quinoa bread; apple onion focaccia bread; broccoli quinoa casserole;
BBQ quinoa sloppy joes; Mediterranean lettuce cups; smoked chile
The downside to this book: I would have liked more preps, but I can
always visit the website.
The upside to this book: good pictures and descriptions.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

5. INDIAN COOKING UNFOLDED (Workman Publishing, 2013; distr. T. Allen,
330 pages, ISBN 978-0-7611-6521-7, $19.95 US paper covers) is by
Raghavan Iyer, an award-winning author-teacher with several Indian
cookbooks to his name. This one has 100 easy recipes with few prep
techniques and few ingredients or spices. The publisher has a "foldout"
format: each of the seven sections of the book opens with an
illustrated technique lesson that leads the cook through a foundation
recipe. This is the master class part of the book. For example, in the
veggie mains section, there is a class on smoky yellow split peas
(dal), with detailed instructions and technique photos. It is the first
lesson in the section, followed by others: spicy Indian omelets,
cardamom-scented cheese with peppers, pan-fried cheese with creamy
spinach, sassy chickpea curry, red lentil dal, mustard cannellini
beans, and six more, leading to root vegetable pie. Preparations have
their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are
tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginners, those interested in Indian food.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: see above
The downside to this book: nothing really, although I got bored with
the sections headed "extra credit" – made it all seem so school-ey.
The upside to this book: there's a bibliography for advanced reading.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
2013, 320 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0463-5, $24.95 CAN paper covers) is by
Donna Washburn and Heather Butt, both professional home economists with
credentials in the fields of gluten-free recipe development and bread
machine baking. Together, they have written nine cookbooks, including
300 Best Canadian Bread Machine Recipes. Here there are 150 recipes
using flours that include quinoa, amaranth, teff, tapioca, rice,
buckwheat, millet, sorghum, corn, and oat. Every prep comes with
detailed notes off set up, nutritional information, tips and
variations, plus minute usage of the bread machine. New ones have a
gluten-free cycle; however, the authors also give a work-around system
for older machines without the cycle. The book begins with re-
interpretations of the classics, and then continues with artisan
breads, hearty breads, seed-nut breads, mixes, egg-free breads, and
then the flatties of filled breads, flatbreads, and pizzas. There are
glossaries of equipment, ingredients, and techniques.  Preparations
have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois
measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. A very useful book.
Audience and level of use: those gluten-free cooks with bread machines.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: carrot poppy loaf, challah,
five-seed brown bread, mock rye loaf, panini sandwich loaf.
The upside to this book: there are sections on egg-free, nut-free, and
rice-free breads.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

7. THE FRENCH COOK: cream puffs and eclairs (Gibbs Smith, 2013, 128
pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-3243-6, $21.99 US hard covers) is by Holly
Herrick, who is a Cordon Bleu grad and restaurant critic, living in
Charleston, SC. She has also written a few cookbooks for Gibbs Smith.
This is the second in a new series on French cuisine. And, of course,
what better place to start than with versatile pate a choux or choux
paste (pastry), which can translate into many sweet and savoury cream
puffs and éclairs. There are photos and step-by-step techniques. The
basic pastes are here (gougeres, puffs, croquembouche, profiteroles)
plus more and some variations are noted. The book is set up as a primer
for beginners. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is a table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginner
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: avocado mousse with bacon
and tomato in choux paste; "gnocchi" made with choux paste; gougeres;
Dreamsicle orange cream puffs.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

8. THE SOUPMAKER'S KITCHEN; how to save your scraps, prepare a stock,
and craft the perfect pot of soup (Quarry Books, 2013, 160 pages, ISBN
978-1-59253-844-7, $24.99 US soft covers) is by Aliza Green, a Beard
winner (Ceviche!, published in 2001). She's written 13 cookery books in
all, and was a former food writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and
Cooking Light magazine. Her last book was Making Artisan Pasta (2012).
Here she concentrates on the clever art of "scratch" cooking and
"leftover" cooking. Hardened family cooks (like my wife) already know
the ins and outs of sterling soup production. But for others, the book
is a gem. There's an in-depth chapter on stock followed by the major
categories of soups (clear, bisques, stews, chowders. Lots of tips and
advice too. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois
measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: intermediate or beginner home cooks.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: golden tomato gazpacho with
smoked paprika; scallop and white corn chowder with roasted poblanos
chiles; Turkish red lentil soup; acquacotta maremmana; French soupe de
potiron; Caribbean callalou soup.
The downside to this book: no shrimp recipes.
The upside to this book: it is an all-purpose book with some vegan
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

9. GRAIN BRAIN; the surprising truth about wheat, carbs, and sugar –
your brain's silent killers (Little Brown and Co., 2013, 323 pages,
ISBN 978-0-316-23480-1, $27 US hard covers) is by David Perlmutter, MD,
an award-winning brain specialist with numerous books on the brain
(e.g., The Better Brain Book). There's some heavy duty log rolling
here, ascribing the linking of dementia to a diet high in sugar and
grains. Most carbs also appear to link to ADHD, epilepsy, anxiety,
chronic headaches, depression, decreased libido, and more. Most of the
book deals with proving this point; the balance h=goes on to describe a
4-week lifestyle change plan on how to keep the brain healthy, with
recipes, strategies, and so forth. Kristin Loberg is the focusing
writer. First, you must determine your baseline on blood glucose,
insulin, hemoglobin, vitamin D, gluten, and other factors. Then, there
is a list of OTC supplements such as coconut oil, DHA, probiotics,
resveratrol, turmeric, and Vitamin D, which must be taken daily for the
rest of your life. Then you clear out your kitchen, re-stock, maybe
fast a little, eliminate all gluten, focus on exercise and sleep, and
find motivators. There are some sample menus and some starter recipes.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no table of metric equivalents. Extensive end notes.
Audience and level of use: those wishing to go off carbs.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: broccoli soup with cashew
cream; herb garden salad with balsamic; Nicoise salad; avocado-tahini
dip; chocolate truffles; sofritos; dill spread.
The downside to this book: much of the beginning can be condensed even
further, but is still useful for argument's sake.
The upside to this book: the last 100 pages of text are the most
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

10. THE GREAT VEGAN BEAN BOOK (Fair Winds Press, 2013, 192 pages, ISBN
978-1-59233-549-7, $19.99 US paper covers) is by Kathy Hester, a
blogger and freelancer who writes on vegan matters
(,, Chickpea magazine) and
teaches vegan cooking classes. Her book has more than 100 plant-based
dishes with lots of protein, and most recipes are soy- and gluten-free
(each recipe is tagged thus). There is also some heavy duty log rolling
from other vegan writers. All courses are covered, including breakfast,
snacks, soups, salads, sandwiches, stews, casseroles, and desserts. If
you are vegan, you may already know this material. Nevertheless, for
newbies, this is a good assortment of bean preps for every day and
every course. At the end, there is a resources list. All kinds of beans
are covered, including cannellini, calypso, edamame, and adzuki.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Nutritional data is given per serving.
Audience and level of use: vegans or those looking at veganism.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: faux goat cheese; pumpkin
white bean chowder; orange blossom brunch biscuits; cream of the crop
garden soup; salsa quinoa salad; asian black soybean slaw.
The downside to this book: I think it needed a few more recipes.
The upside to this book: the index has a listing of oil-free, gluten-
free, and soy-free dishes, arranged alphabetically.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.

11. NOSH ON THIS; gluten-free baking from a Jewish-American kitchen
(The Experiment, 2013; distr. T. Allen, 274 pages, ISBN 978-1-61519-
086-7, $19.95 US paper covers) is by Lisa Stander-Horel and Tim Horel.
There is some heavy duty log rolling from other authors of gluten-free
or Jewish cooking. Most recipes come from the Eastern European
tradition. Chapter sections have headings: cookies, macaroons, bars and
brownies, cakes and cupcakes, pies and tarts, pastries, doughnuts,
breads and matzo, baked savouries, and others. Preparations have their
ingredients listed mostly in both metric and avoirdupois measurements,
but there is a table of metric equivalents. At the back, there is also
a list of resources, including a glossary/pantry/equipment table, along
with a store locator. Both celiac and Jewish baking Internet resources
are noted, and there is a handy Jewish holiday baking chart for seven
events, including Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, Passover.
Audience and level of use: gluten-free food lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: cherry chocolate cupcakes;
marble chiffon cake; baked jelly donuts; challah; crostata; hand pies.
The downside to this book: why all the endorsements?
The upside to this book: the Resources section is terrific.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Stocking stuffers are at the top of everybody's gift list: something affordable (under $10,
up to $25) that can also double as a host gift, something small and lightweight. Most of
the books here are paperbacks. And of course, they can stuff an adult stocking.
Typical for food are:
--DISHES (Artisan Books, 2013, 456 pages, $17.50 CAN paper covers) is by Shax
Riegler. It covers some 623 colourful dinner plate patterns from around the world.
Riegler provides historical details and anecdotes for each. It's arranged by theme (art and
craft, flora & fauna, people and places, holidays). Artists covered include Frank Lloyd
Wright; manufacturers include Wedgwood and Spode.
--PIE POPS (Gibbs Smith, 2013, 96 pages, $23 CAN hard covers) is by Marcie Ballard,
and PIE POPS (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2013, 64 pages, $19.95 CAN hard covers) is
by Carol Hilker. They cover the same ground: mini-pies on a popsicle stick, either sweet
or savoury but always portable. This is good fun at Christmas. Ballard gives us 40 preps,
including smores, nutty nutella, lemon meringue, and chocoholic. Each recipe makes two
dozen. Hilker gives us 30 preps, including chocolate-dipped key lime pie pops, chicken
pot pie pops, orangesicle pie pops, and butterscotch pecan pie pop.
--200 EASY CAKES & BAKES (Hamlyn, 2013, 240 pages, $8.99 CAN paper covers) is
part of the 200 Easy series, a trusty database of recipes. Covered are cake, muffins,
cupcakes, brownies, cookies, and savouries such as cheese straws or soda breads.
--CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (Chronicle Books, 2013, 128 pages, $23 CAN hard
covers), by the team of Carey Jones and Robyn Lenzi, has a slight 40 recipes, but these
cover crispy cookies, soft cookies, vegan, gluten-free, salty and nutty versions. There are
some contemporary flavours here, such as coconut-sesame and olive oil.
--CEREAL SWEETS & TREATS (Gibbs Smith, 2013, 96 pages, $23 CAN) is by Jessica
Segarra who incorporates all those morning dry cereals into desserts and snacks: bars,
cakes, muffins, candies, cookies, frozen items. They add texture and some flavours, as
well as sugar replacement, to the end product. It's a fun thing, like pie pops.
--CLASSIC CANDY (Skyhorse Publishing, 2013, 119 pages, $16.95 CAN soft covers)
by Abrigail Gehring deals with old-style fudge, taffy, caramel corn, and others. The 60
recipes cover brandy balls, peanut butter cups, raspberry pate, and citrus hard candy.
--PORK CHOP (Chronicle Books, 2013, 128 pages, $27.95 CAN hard covers) is an
interesting single ingredient book from Ray Lampe. There are 60 preps for such as spicy
pork chop lettuce wraps. Various cooking styles are listed: BBQ, grilled, breaded, fried,
baked, jerked, stir-fried, slow-cooked, sammie, and salad. Just watch out for bones.
--WING IT! (Gibbs Smith, 2013, 96 pages, $23 CAN hard covers), by Robert Quintana,
has about 30 preps for spicy chicken wings and sides (salads, BBQ beans, veggies,
chutneys). Included are some recipes using curry and garam masala for the serious wing
The mother lode of small stuffers must be Ryland, Peters & Small. All of their small gift
books are hard covers, usually line priced at $19.95, with 64 pages. Here's just a
sampling of the latest, suitable as stuffers or host gifts: the above-mentioned PIE POPS;
MAC'N'CHEESE (by Laura Washburn who gives us pancetta & gorgonzola & tomato
additions, or Serrano ham and Spanish blue); BOOTLEG BAKERY (by Kiki Bee, 28
recipes for decadent cakes and desserts with a cheeky cocktail twist); RETRO CAKES
AND COOKIES (by Wendy Sweetser, 25 nostalgic cakes and cookies such as Anglesey
cakes, plus nostalgic trivia about each); and BURGERS & SLIDERS (by Miranda
Ballard, 30 recipes of mini-burgers such as lamb and feta with tzatziki and baby spinach).
Other little books, for beverages, include those on wine and spirits:
First up, wine –
--HELLO, WINE  (Chronicle Books, 2013, 228 $29 CAN paper covers) is by Melanie
Wagner. She tells us the most essential things you need to know about wine. It's
delivered in point form, a good idea, and relatively quick to memorize. There are also
recommendations for the US market, illustrations, and party menus for tasters.
--WINE: HOW TO CHOOSE, TASTE & ENJOY IT (Ryland, Peters & Small, 2013, 96
pages, $9.95 CAN hard covers) has an unbeatable price. Jonathan Ray is a drinks
columnist  for GQ. The grape varieties are covered, wine labels, storage, service, tasting,
and more. It was first published in 2001, and of course it is now updated.
(Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, 22 boards $24.99 CAN) is by Richard
Betts, a Master Sommelier. His belief is that wine is a grocery, not a luxury. It comes
complete with a map and aroma wheels. As a scratch and sniff  book , it has aromas of
pears, stone fruit, red fruit, vanilla, black fruit and assorted spices and herbs (dill). It is a
great evening's entertainment.

Next up, cocktail books --
--COCKTAILS FOR A CROWD (Chronicle Books, 2013, 96 pages, $22.95 CAN) is by
Kara Newman, and features 40 recipes for making popular drinks in party-pleasing
batches. So bring out the pitchers! Here she scales upwards for punches and cocktails,
such as a litre of margaritas (one of my faves). There's the usual primer on equipment,
ingredients and garnishes. But of course – beware of leftovers!
--TRUE BLOOD (Chronicle Books, 2013, 128 pages, $23 CAN), compiled by those
involved with the HBO show, has 45 preps and cocktails by Dawn Yanagihara. Desserts
and snacks are in "bites", many drinks include no alcohol (don't want to thin that blood!),
and also what to eat while watching the show.
2013, 224 pages,  $21.99 CAN paper covers) is by Jeremy LeBlanc and Christine
Dionese. The main chapters include party drinks and punches, classics with a twist,
exotic cocktails, and a collection of syrups-infusions-elixirs. There are also an enormous
series of tips and tricks and advice for enhancing your bartending experience. Try The
Crawling Milan or a Rhubarb Syrup or Sangria Manzana. Of particular value: the book is
constructed so that the pages nicely lie flat.
--WINTER COCKTAILS (Quirk Books, 2013; distr. Random House Canada, 2013, 160
pages, $24.95 CAN) is by Maria DelMar Sacasa. She presents 100 seasonal recipes for
mulled ciders, hot toddies, punches, pitchers, plus cocktail snacks. You can re-create hot
buttered rum, English Christmas punch, pumpkin-bourbon egg nog, coquito, and salted
caramel hot chocolate. She's also got a whack of entertaining and food ideas, plus bar set
--THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE COCKTAIL (Race Point Publishing, 2013, 144
pages, $18 CAN hard covers) is by Amy Zavatto. She tries to construct the perfect
cocktail from the bottom up: should it be stirred or shaken? In which order do you pour
ingredients? How many ice cubes to be added? What stemware is appropriate? Mixing
and straining? It is a tech book, designed to appeal to the male techie who drinks. There
are blueprints for each cocktail (about 75 of these) with recipes for classic and
contemporary drinks. It is a very handy size for keeping at the bar.
--APOTHECARY COCKTAILS (Fair Winds Press, 2013, 160 pages, $23.99 CAN spiral
bound) is by Warren Bobrow. He's collated many restorative drinks from the past, with
some contemporary spins. We used to call these things "snake oil", as charlatans would
tout them from a wagon. But pharmacies did prepare tincture, butters and herbal remedies
with an alcohol base for curative benefits, usually poor digestion. Now they have
appeared in trendy bars. Bitters and vermouths fly off the shelves of liquor stores.
Bobrow gives a history (Chartreuse, Peychaud's Bitters, etc.), and goes on to discuss
herbs, flowers, extracts, and spices. Oh, would that we had Everclear in Ontario (it's in
Alberta) – 196 proof distilled spirit, perfect for infusions – so that we can make our own
at home. Nevertheless, this is a delightful book, made all the better with a spiral binding
so that it can be flat on the table.
--GIN, VODKA, TEQUILA (Duncan Baird Publishers, 2013; distr. Random House of
Canada, 208 pages, $20.95 CAN hard covers) is by Brian Lucas. It has been extracted
from  Duncan Baird's The Big Book of Cocktails. There's a short primer on bars,
followed by a long chapter on gin, then vodka, and then tequila (shortest chapter).  If you
love white spirits, this is the book for you. Preps listed in both avoirdupois and metric
forms of measurement. A large typeface also helps.
--INSTANT EXPERT WHISKEY (Princeton Architectural Press, 2013, 144 pages,
$19.95 CAN hard covers) is by John Lamond, and is one a series labelled "Instant
Expert", a sort-of Dummies guide, but more compact for traveling or shopping. Lamond
takes us through the tech process and ends with tasting notes, featuring single malts and
bourbons plus some blends. There's a glossary, but its main importance is its portability
and thumbnail sketches.
--DRINK MORE WHISKEY (Chronicle Books, 2012, 176 pages, $24 CAN hard covers)
is by Daniel Yaffe, with the subtitle "everything you need to know about your new
favourite drink". It is meant for consumers who are looking to drink better whiskey from
Canada, US, Scotland, Ireland, and other places. To this end he's also got 20 recipes for
cocktails scattered throughout. For example, there are three from Canada – Scofflaw,
Court Jester, Saskatchewan Punch (do these suggest Duffy, Ford and Wallin?) – along
with descriptions of how they came to be.
Last year I mentioned a book DRINKING GAMES. There's an update – a kit of beer
mats (DRINKING GAMES, Ryland, Peters and Small, 2013, $16.95 CAN). Here are 15
beer mats (3 each of 5 designs) with the rules for 25 drinking games. A necessary
accompaniment to beer….
And for no alcohol, consider –
--MAKING YOUR OWN COFFEE DRINKS (Skyhorse Publishing, 2013, 99 pages,
$17.95 CAN hard covers), by Matthew Tekulsky, tells you how to make coffees and how
to make drinks (e.g. spiced coffee cider, blended banana coffee, iced almond coffee). He
covers espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, mochas, and more. He's got hot and cold drinks,
along with a glossary of terms.
--THE GREAT TEAS OF CHINA (Raincoast,  2013, 72 pages, $16.99 CAN paper
covers) is by Roy Fong, owner of Imperial Tea Court in San Francisco. He's a master of
the art, and details white tea, green tea, black tea, oolong – 11 types in all – with
illustrations, maps and stories.
And there are even a few non-books, such as the AFTERNOON TEA WITH BEA SET
(Ryland, Peters and Small, 2013,  $22.95 CAN) which complements the book of the same
name which I had reviewed last year at Christmas. The kit includes a 64 page cookbook
with 30 preps for cakes and sandwiches, 12 cupcake wrappers, 12 cake toppers, and 10
invitations with envelopes. This is all you would need for a tea party with friends.
Annual calendars are always monster hits and are often appreciated, both the wall and the
desk type. The best of the desk are the "page-a-day" (PAD) calendars from Workman.  A
YEAR OF BEER 2012 (Workman, 2013, $16.99 CAN) has a combined Saturday and
Sunday page. Most of the beers appear as imports in Canada, but otherwise there are few
Canadian brews included. Lights, wheat, lagers, ales, porters, stouts, seasonal beers, and
lambrics – they're all here, 161 craft beers. Check out Brew Dog's The End of History at
55% ABV. Other material in this PAD includes beer festivals, beer facts, label lore,
trivia, and vocabulary. There are also "must-try" beer recommendations. If you buy any
of the PAD calendars, then you can go online to the website and pick up other stuff,
usually free at
For wall calendars, there is COLLECTIBLE TEAPOT & TEA CALENDAR 2014
(Workman, 2013, $14.99 CAN) which has, for every month, a distinctive teapot and tea
service set, plus an indication and preps for sweets and nibbles for a tea party. Great fun,
which encourages you to have a monthly tea party, even if you don't own the appropriate
tea pot.  The calendars are worth saving if you are a collector. 365 DAYS OF EXTREME
CAKES 2014 (Workman, 2013, $15.99 CAN) has been put together with cake designs
from Cake Alchemy, City Cakes in New York, Colette's Cakes, Lulu Cake Boutique, and
Riviera Bakehouse. These edible masterpieces are sculpted out of sugar and fondant:
wedding cakes, replicas of cathedrals, holiday cakes, "sushi platter" cake. Each month
has a theme, and there is lots of baking here.
There are also some journal and organizer items. FRUIT & VEGETABLE GARDEN
NOTES (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2013, 192 pages, $18.95 CAN hard covers) is for
both novices and experienced gardeners. Here you can plan a veggie garden layout,
record the successes of different seed types and plant varieties, and organize the year. The
blank pages will be good for a diary and sketching beds; there is also an envelope for
storing seed packets and labels. DRAWING FOOD (Chronicle Books, 2013, 180 pages,
$19.95 CAN paper covers) is a sketchbook with drawing techniques for food: use it for
anything and everything in the kitchen, for all foods, and produce a sort-of diary at the
same time. It is also portable enough to take with you to markets, farms and cafes.
RECIPE ORGANIZER (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2013, 128 pages, $34.95 CAN, hard
covers) has eight dividers and pockets for storage, plus 20 perforated tear-out pages and
some stickers. It is ring-bound and sturdy. The organizer helps you store everything in
one place with lined pages and dividers. There are built-in cooking guides and conversion
charts. WINE JOURNAL (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2013, 144 pages, $24.95 CAN hard
covers) is similar, but for wine. It's got four dividers and pockets, colour photos, space
for wine tasting notes, wine cellar advice and listing space, plus some tips and advice
from Jonathan Ray and Andrew Jefford. BEER TASTING NOTES (Ryland, Peters &
Small, 2013, 192 pages, $18.95 CAN soft covers) completes the offerings. There's a
listing of  the characteristics to some 100 craft beers, an envelope to store labels, bottle
caps or beer mats, and space for notes.
And so on to the wine annuals. The two international leaders are HUGH JOHNSON'S
POCKET WINE BOOK 2014 (Mitchell Beazley, 2013, 336 pages, $17.99 CAD hard
bound) and OZ CLARKE'S POCKET WINE GUIDE 2014 (Pavilion, 2013, 368 pages,
$15.95 CAD hardbound). Both are guides to wines from all around the world, not just to
the "best" wines. Similarities: Johnson claims more than 6000 wines and growers are
listed, while Clarke says more than 7500 wines, but then recommends 4000 producers.
News, vintage charts and data, glossaries, best value wines, and what to drink now are in
both books. The major differences: Johnson has been at it longer – this is his 37th edition
(Clarke is celebrating his 23rd anniversary) -- and has more respect from erudite readers
for his exactitude and scholarliness. His book is arranged by region; Clarke's book is in
dictionary, A – Z form (about 1600 main entries). It is really six of one, or half a dozen of
another which one to use. This year, though, the Clarke book is a couple bucks cheaper.
Apparently, Amazon.Com reports that many people buy both, for about $20 US total.
Both books have notes on the 2012 vintage and some details about 2013 potential, along
with a closer look at the 2011. It is fun to look at the two books and find out where they
diverge. As a sidelight, Johnson and Oz are moving more into food: there is a 13 page
section on food and wine matching in the former, while Oz has 6 pages. Johnson also has
a listing of his personal 200 fave wines. Both books could profit from online accessibility
or a CD-ROM production. What I don't like about both books is that they come out too
early. Johnson was available August 15, while Clarke was released on October 3. I guess
that this gets them off the hook about having to comment on the 2013 harvest and vintage
in the Northern hemisphere!!
Other wine annuals – mostly paperbacks -- deal with "recommended" wines, not all of
the wines in the world. They can afford the space for more in-depth tasting notes (TNs)
of what they actually do cover (usually just wines available in their local marketplace). 
These are for Canada, in 2014:  THE 500 BEST-VALUE WINES IN THE LCBO 2014
(Whitecap, 2013, 256 pages, $19.95 CAN paper back) takes a run at the wines at the
LCBO. This sixth edition by Rod Phillips (wine writer for the Ottawa Citizen) has wines
arranged by wine colour and then by region/country with price and CSPC number. Each
value wine gets a rating (the basic is three stars out of five), and there is an indication of
food pairings. A good guidebook, but I'm afraid most people will just look through it for
the 5 star selections and leave it at that. Turnover in Ontario occurs regularly as quotas
are unmet or prices rise or the producer decides it is time for a change; there are 140 new
entries this year, which is about a third of the book. Coverage is limited to LCBO General
Purchase wines and LCBO Vintages Essentials, the wines that are available (if only by
special internal order) in every LCBO store. New this year is the fact that there are NO
three star notations: everything is 3.5 stars or better. And Phillips has included the newish
LCBO perceived sweetness notations rather than the older Sugar Codes. HAD A GLASS
2014; top 100 wines under $20 (Appetite by Random House, 2013, 176 pages, $19.95
CAN paper covers) is by James Nevison, the co-author of Have a Glass; a modern guide
to wine. He reports regularly at Had a Glass showcases top
inexpensive wines available with national distribution. He tries to pick wines available to
match any occasion, and along the way he provides tips on food and wine pairing and
stemware. The first forty pages present all the basics. I am not sure why the basics are
here since the book is really about the top 100 wines. Most readers/buyers will head
straight for the listings which follow, one per page, for whites, roses, reds, aperitifs,
dessert wines and sparklers. In view of rising prices, he also covers some "splurge"
wines. For Ontario, this is just at the very time that the LCBO is concentrating on the $15
to $19.95 spread. There are indexes by countries and by wine/variety. Tasting notes are
pretty bare bones, but each wine does have a label, description of the product, a price, and
some food matches.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

FauxVoix VinCuisine: Wine to be sold at Farmers Marketsin Toronto

This is what I wrote, predicting the morass of regulations re: wine at Farmers' Markets, September 2008, more than 5 years ago...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wine to be sold at Farmers Markets in Toronto

This just in from Wine News Service...
TORONTO - (WNS) - In a stunning victory for the Farmers Market movement in Ontario, the provincial government has decided to allow wine to be sold at Farmers Markets. There are restrictions, of course, all applied by the LCBO which had apparently fought the issue tooth and nail.
First, the wines can only be sold in a closed-off tent no more than three metres by three metres by three metres in size. It has to be located in the northeast corner of every market, for the sake of consistency. Portable potties must also be provided. Only LCBO personnel will be allowed to sell, and there will be no sampling.
Second, purchasers are restricted to a maximum of two bottles only, one red and one white.
Third, the wines have to be tied-in to the ethnic character of the region. Hence, the wines at Withrow Park on the Danforth must only be Greek wines. The wines at Dufferin Grove park must only be Portuguese wines. The wines at Riverdale Organic Market must only be organic wines.
As part of the pilot project, the wines will only be in the city of Toronto, and, in typical LCBO fashion, will only be available this year starting in October, just before the markets shut down for the winter. The Dufferin Grove Market, open all year, is expected to be under heavy pressure for winter sales of Port and Madeira from Portugal.
Little Fat Wino, commenting from his home in rainy Eastern Ontario, said: "Once again the fruit wineries in Ontario have been shut out. This business of selling at Farmers Markets was originally OUR idea -- it was stolen from us by the government looking for additional revenue streams."  It was pointed out to him that all Ontario wines, no matter what their origin, were shut out. An unnamed source in the LCBO Research Department responded: "We don't consider Ontario wines and fruit wines to be real wines exhibiting terroir. These Ontario wines can be made anywhere and do not reflect the regional character."
More as the story develops...

Sunday, December 15, 2013


COMPLETE WINE SELECTOR; how to choose the right wine every time
(Firefly Books, 2013, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-77085-225-9, $24.965 CAN
paper covers) is by Katherine Cole, wine columnist for The Oregonian
newspaper in Portland and a professional journalist. It is a colourful
book, well-illustrated, that takes the novice through the basics of
wine making and wine selection. However, despite what she says, it
would be useful to have quiz-show memories: remembering what you tasted
is preparation for retention of wine knowledge. She's got it all
organized, with directory-style, bulleted, decision-trees and flow
charts. It works if you have this kind of mind. Like the popular Dummy
books, there is a factor of ten: the introduction to 10 wine styles, 20
greatest wine shops in the world, 10 top sommeliers and chefs tell us
their fave food and wine matches, top 10 dos and don'ts in wine
storage, 10 most common wine faults, and more. Just memorize; nothing
wrong with that. Actually, the 10 wine styles have been around for
years: they were originally cast as six for table wines (3 for white, 3
for reds, sort of light-medium-full for each colour). She's added sweet
wines (mostly white), sparklers, rose, and fortified. It's a good book,
there is lots packed into it. But it is still memory.
Audience and level of use: beginners.
Some interesting or unusual facts: the natural match for Argentine
Malbec is churrascuria cuisine.
The downside to this book: wine tasting is still memory-based.
The upside to this book: good statement of all the factors involved in
wine knowledge.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Fw: * FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! *: The Heart of the Plate

THE HEART OF THE PLATE; vegetarian recipes for a new generation
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013; distr. T. Allen, 456 pages, ISBN 978-
0-547-57159-1, $34.99 US hard covers) is by Mollie Katzen, renowned
cookbook author and co-founder of the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca
New York. It is her 12th book, yet still needed (in the publisher's
eyes) some heavy duty log rolling from such as Jamie Oliver, Andrew
Weil, Nigella, Batali, Pepin and Anna Thomas. Of course, her 200 preps
here will be an instant hit anyway, and I am not taking anything away
from that. About 10 per cent of the recipes have come from her other
books. These are the basic veggie dishes, many of which were once
heavily laden with cream, butter and eggs. Now, half the book is vegan
and the rest are lighter, reflecting a "new generation" and its
lifestyle. It is traditionally arranged, from soups through desserts,
along with the usual photos and watercolours that Katzen has employed
before. There are some pantry notes and a series of both vegetarian
menus (20) and vegan menus (15) with page references to the preps. The
stew dishes come with appropriate starches (called "accessories") such
as the curried cauliflower stew with onion pakoras, or the Peruvian
potato-bean stew with quinoa-speckled buttermilk corn cakes. Some of
these are gluten-free, or at least wheat-free, but more would be needed
(or variations). There is good advice here, along with good detail in
the techniques. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: vegetarians, most vegans, beginners.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: couscous with dates,
pistachios, pine nuts and parsley; forbidden rice with beluga lentils
and mushrooms; asparagus puff pastry tart; orange-olive-fig saladita;
mixed mushroom ragout.
The downside to this book: I wished that there were some gluten-free
alternatives for the accessories and other preps.
The upside to this book: great illustrations
Quality/Price Rating: 91.

Friday, December 13, 2013


For the more literate person, there are the histories and "memoirs" of writers, chefs,
and wine people. Some have called these memoirs "creative non-fiction", many with
embellishments and gilding. And most of them suffer from a lack of indexing, which
makes it difficult to find what the writer said about another person or subject. But this
also avoids the potential for lawsuits and disjointed noses. Nevertheless, they are
rewarding to read. Who cares about poetic license? Here then are some that stood out
from last year's run, and any of them would make great gifts for the reader. Here we go,
in no particular order…
--MAST BROTHERS CHOCOLATE (Little, Brown, 2013, 276 pages, $44 CAN hard
covers) is by Rick and Michael Mast. These are stories of the bean-to-bar craft
chocolatiers. They do small batch  roasting for leading chefs (Keller, Waters, Ducasse).
The book is part memoir, part cookbook, with classic desserts of chocolate cookies,
brownies, whoopee pies, chocolate cakes, and savouries (scallops and cacao nibs, cocoa
coq au vin).
--DINNER WITH MR. DARCY (CICO Books, 2013, 160 pages, $29.95 CAN hard
covers) is by Pen Vogler, who has recreated many historical recipes for the BBC and
Penguin Press. These are recipes inspired by the novels and letters of Jan Austen – they
are sure to be winners, especially with any Janeite. As the book says, Austen used food in
her novels as a way of showing kindliness among neighbours, as part of the dynamics of
family life, and for comic effect. Preps here have been updated, and there are sidebars on
Regency food. There is a breakfast at Northanger Abbey (a great b & b place!), Mrs.
Bennet's dinner for Bingley and Darcy, plus more suppers, teas, picnics, Christmas food,
and even preserves and drinks.
--IN THE KITCHEN WITH ALAIN PASSARD (Chronicle Books, 2013, 96 pages,
$19.95 CAN hard covers) has been written and illustrated by Christopher Blain (a 
graphic novelist), with some 15 recipes by Passard who runs the 3-star Michelin
L'Arpege in Paris (he removed meat from his menu in 2001). It's a "graphic novel" with
hundreds of panel illustrations, inside the world and mind of a Master Chef. It's an
insider's look at the creative process, first published in France in 2011. Try squab dragee
with mead or potato paillase with sage and garlic.
272 pages, $29.99 CAN hard covers) is by Julia Reed, who writes about the South in
food and drink.  This is a collection of 28 essays (with an index!) celebrating eating,
drinking, and making merry. It's got 100 recipes plus engaging anecdotes and stories. She
talks about the quenelle at La Cote Basque in NYC, the steaks of Alkaide in Madrid, the
southern garden, Afghanistan, the Mississippi Delta, Florida Gulf Coast, Paris, the gin
factories, and other stories dealing with her father and her mother.
--WHERE AM I EATING? (Wiley, 2013, 279 pages, $27.95 CAN hard covers) is a
travelogue undertaken to uncover the realities of the global food economy. Kelsey
Timmerman writes by product – the coffee of Columbia, the chocolate of the Ivory Coast,
the bananas of Costa Rica, lobster, apple juice of Michigan (but not of Canada) in which
farmers in China have cornered the apple juice market. Much of the book deals with
labour issues, such as Fair Trade practices, as he details what it is actually like to work in
that particular country's agricultural industry.
--THE CASSOULET SAVED OUR MARRIAGE (Roost Books, 2013; distr. Random
House Canada, 255 pages, $19.95 CAN hard covers) has been edited by Caroline Grunt
and Lisa Harper. These are "true tales of food, family, and how we learn to eat". 29
essays go over our relationship to food, with 28 uncomplicated recipes: foods dealing
with kosher, junk, soul, busy weeknights, holiday feasts, vegetarian table.
--IN MEAT WE TRUST (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, 368 pages, $33 CAN hard
covers) is by food and beverage historian Maureen Ogle. It's a history of meat-eating in
America (nothing on Canada that I could glean), with a concentration on lifestyle and
culture. She clearly shows that concerns about agribusiness and safety are not new. And
while the average Euro had meat once a week, the average American ate 200 pounds a
year. The Colonial period gives way to the 19th century meat packers (Swift, Armour)
later joined by Tyson, Cargill and ConAgra. Cattle drives, feedlots, Chicago – it is all
here. Strangely, I didn't see any references to "killing floor".
--POOR MAN'S FEAST (Chronicle Books, 2013, 287 pages, $32 CAN hard covers) is
by Elissa Altman. The publisher describes it as "a love story of comfort, desire, and the
art of simple cooking". It's a series of witty thoughts with 26 preps. 30 different topics
have been culled from her blog, which won a Beard Award in 2012
for blogging. She has also written widely about food in many print articles. Endorsement
also comes from Mollie Wizenberg and Deborah Madison.
--A SUITCASE AND A SPATULA (Ryland Peters & Small, 2013, 144 pages, $28.95
CAN hard covers) is by Tori Haschka, a travel and food blogger ( She
experiences latte banana bread in Sydney and sangria prawns in Estoril, not to mention
sardines with fennel and Campari in Venice. Hey, she's even been to Menton! So these
are recipes and stories from around the world, like a scrap book with both long and short
--ONE SOUFFLE AT A TIME (St. Martin's Press, 2013, 320 pages, $31.99 CAN hard
covers) is by Anne Willan, founder of La Varenne (1975). It is mostly her autobiography
as she grappled with the smug closed world of French cuisine, but it is also the story of
her comperes: Julia Child, James Beard, Simone Beck, Craig Claiborne and Richard
Olney. She opens her memoir with a listing of 9 "things I've smuggled in my suitcase".
Over the years she's written books and done PBS food shows. Here she also adds 50 of
her favourite recipes.
…and some worthwhile novels:
--SOY SAUCE FOR BEGINNERS (New Harvest, 2013, 304 pages, $28.95 hard covers)
is by Kirsten Chen, a Steinbeck Fellow and Pushcart nominee. It's the story of Gretchen
Lin who leaves San Francisco for her childhood home in Singapore. But in order to avoid
a floundering marriage in Frisco by flight, she comes back to her mother's drinking
problem and the machinations of her father's artisanal soy sauce business. It's a definite
relationship book with some resolution.
--TOMORROW THERE WILL BE APRICOTS (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, 320
pages, $27.95 hard cover) is by Jessica Soffer. It's the story of a woman who pores over
cookbooks, re-connecting with her chef mother via recipes and food. Some preps are
here, such as masgouf (carp dish from Mesopotamia).
--PINOT ENVY; murder, mayhem, and mystery in Napa (Bancroft Press, 2013, 208
pages, $21.95 hardbound) is by Edward Finstein, my long-time colleague in the Wine
Writers' Circle of Canada. He's at where he dispenses wine
knowledge. Here, in his first novel, he is applying some of that skill in tracking down, by
investigatory work, rare artifacts in the wine business through his op, Woody Robins,
who practices in the Napa. Woody's been hired by a wealthy collector to track down a
stolen double-magnum red Burgundy that once belonged to Napoleon. He works with a
girlfriend and his Aunt Sadie, as well as a friend within the 'Frisco police department.
There are the usual scandals and murders along the way. It is well-plotted and moves
from page-to-page. It should certainly appeal to those mysteries' fans who are tired of
twee mysteries dealing with cooking subplots: here's a hard-driven, hard-bitten story in
the roman noir style, so much so, that it should actually be called PINOT NOIR (but I
guess that name has already been taken by a grape).

Thursday, December 12, 2013


...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. Some magazines will reissue popular or
classic recipes in an "easy" format. Here are some recent "re-

22. THE FONDUE BIBLE; the 200 best recipes (Robert Rose, 2007, 2013,
269 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0166-5, $27.95 CAN paper covers) is by Ilana
Simon, who has written other cookbooks for Robert Rose. In 2001, she
produced 125 recipes for fondues, and then in 2007 it became this book
of 200 preps. The latest book is an updating (lower calories and fat)
plus additional colour photos. It's basic, of course, but the resulting
food is healthier. The arrangement is by type: cheese, oil, broth, and
dessert, with a chapter on dips and sauces. Try the traditional
emmentaler-gruyere fondue, or a Dijon lamb, or paella fondue, and, of
course, the world famous chocolate fondue. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements in
separate columns, but there is no table of equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 87.
Books, 2013, 502 pages, ISBN  978-177085-222-8, $49.95 hard covers) is
by Simon Difford, an award-winning spirits writer in the UK. It was
last out, as a tenth edition, just in 2012. It is exceedingly useful
for its 3000 recipes, with many new ones since the last edition. Many
recipes have been modified one way or another: different brands are
used, different proportions adapt to modern times, recipes are simpler.
There are four basic ways to mix a cocktail: stir, shake, blend, and
build, and there is an order in which to mix the ingredients. His preps
show those things, along with appropriate garnishes, a correct glass,
and information on origins. He has a listing of 14 key alcoholic
ingredients for 450 cocktails and 28 essential staples. Most of the
book is, of course, an A – Z dictionary style arrangement of the
cocktails, using the best known name of the drink. There is no real
ingredient index, but there is a printed "partner index" which
highlights some suppliers used as ingredients. He has no overall print
index to, say, rye or rum. You can always search cocktail recipes by
ingredients at Quality/price rating: 85.

24. THE HEALING HERBS COOKBOOK (Robert Rose, 1999, 2013, 192 pages,
ISBN 978-0-7788-0004-0, $19.95 CAN paper covers) is by Pat Crocker,
award-winning cookbook author and professional home economist. It was
originally published in 1999, but here it has been updated, extended,
and revised. Her book is about incorporating the health benefits of
herbs into our daily food, although you might have to eat a lot of it.
There are 115 vegetarian recipes here, covering the gamut from
starters, soups, salads, mains, pasta, desserts, beverages and
condiments. There is also a glossary and herb-specific entries in the
recipe index. Try kamut with sauteed summer veggies, cauliflower with
split peas, parsnip veggie cakes, and veggie sushi. Unfortunately,
while the herb sources listing has been updated, the bibliography
hasn't. There is not a single book that has been published since 1997.
Really? Preparations have their ingredients listed in both avoirdupois
and metric measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 85.
25. PASTRY; a master class for everyone, in 150 photos and 50 recipes
(Chronicle Books, 2012, 2013, 223 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-1549-8, $30 US
hard covers) is by Richard Bertinet, owner of an eponymous cooking
school in the UK. His first book was awarded a Beard for Baking and
Desserts. This current book was first published in the UK by Ebury
Random House in 2012, and this is the North American release. Here is
the art of hand made pastry, embracing salted, sweet, puff and choux.
There is step-by-step photography and weight measurements for all
pastry ingredients. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but unfortunately there is no table of metric
equivalents. You will end up having to weight such things as 1.2 ounces
of water or 8.9 ounces of flour, but still deal with tablespoons and
fractions elsewhere. That's the beauty of metric: great scaling and
proportional numbers. Everything works well, but you MUST pay attention
to the numbers. Quality/price rating: 81.
26. THE 250 BEST COOKIE RECIPES (Robert Rose, 2001, 2013, 192 pages,
ISBN 978-0-7788-0468-0 $19.95 CAN soft covers) and
27. THE 250 BEST BROWNIES BARS AND SQUARES (Robert Rose, 2001, 2013,
192 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0467-3, $19.95 CAN paper covers)
are both by Esther Brody who has developed thousands of baking recipes
over the years. Other best selling books have dealt with "250 Best
Muffins" and "250 Best Cobblers, Cupcakes and Bread Puddings". These
current books came out in 2001 and then got reworked together in 2004,
and then split apart again in 2013. Both are straightforward
collections. The cookie book includes separate chapters for drop
cookies, hand shapes, sliced, biscotti, no-bake, and holiday. The other
book has separate chapters for chocolate bars and squares, coconut bars
and squares, fruit bars and squares, brownies, no-bakes, frostings, and
more. Most preps call for all-purpose flour, but there are some with
oats. Unfortunately, there was a lost opportunity to stick in a few
gluten-free baking recipes. These would have been exceptionally useful
since baked desserts are the best, most successful use of gluten-free
flours.  Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements by columns, but there is no table of
equivalents. Quality/price rating: 86.

(Transcontinental Books, 2013; distr. Random House Canada, 270 pages,
ISBN 978-0-9877474-5-7, $29.95 paper covers) is from the Test Kitchen
of Canadian Living Magazine. Here are dishes, mostly culled from the
monthly pages, which the publisher says "carnivores crave". So we have
a collection intended for family dinners, BBQs, and some entertaining,
ranging from stews and burgers through to roasts and steaks. But lamb
has only 27 preps, it does not sell as well as beef or pork. And the
Lazy Shepherd's Pie is really a Lazy Cottage Pie, since it calls for
all beef and no lamb at all. Lamb is the only meat in Shepherd's Pie
(why do you think it is called shepherd's pie????). Arrangement is by
type of cut. If you want all the recipes for one kind of animal, you'll
have to look up "lamb", "pork" or "beef" separately in the index. Try
pork katsu, cilantro lamb racks, lamb korma, Mexican slow-roasted leg
of lamb, and Spanish-style lamb kebabs.  Preparations have their
ingredients listed mostly in avoirdupois measurements with no metric,
but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 85.
29. THE ECZEMA DIET; discover how to stop & prevent the itch of eczema
through diet & nutrition. (Robert Rose, 2012, 2013, 269 pages, ISBN
978-0-7788-0461-1, $24.95 CAN paper covers) is by Karen Fischer, health
researcher and nutrition author (The 8-week Healthy Skin Diet). Here
she takes on eczema. The book was originally published last year in
Australia, and has been revised for the North American market. The
number of people with eczema is rising and has tripled in recent years
throughout the developed world – now reaching about one in five. Modern
medicine provides temporary and topical relief, but Fischer believes
that lifestyle changes in environment and diet are necessary for a
"cure". She's got lots of research and anecdotal evidence, charts,
graphs, tables, and the like. There is basic info on healthy skins, how
the eczema diet works, how to promote a healthy liver, top foods,
recipes, and more. Plus the 50 or so recipes. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but
there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 88.
30. 125 BEST INDOOR GRILL RECIPES (Robert Rose, 2004, 189 pages, ISBN
978-0-7788-0102-3, $19.95 CAN paper covers) is by Ilana Simon. It is
now back in print: a basic primer on using indoor grills, mostly
electrical. It is loaded with techniques, ingredients, tools, charts
for internal cooking times, and the 125 recipes covering salads,
sandwiches, burgers, mains and sides, plus a few desserts. Preparations
have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois
measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Try Asian steak
noodle salad, grilled brie pockets, or orange sesame chicken.
Quality/price rating: 85.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

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 best 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 at home, but how could that be? The books 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 photo
shots, verging on gastroporn. There are endorsements from other
celebrities in magnificent cases 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 –

pages, ISBN 978-1-606961-573-4, $32.50 US) is by Brent Bridge and Josh
Kilmer-Purcell, founders of the lifestyle company Beckman 1802 in New
York. They focus on seasonal living, and have a show on TV and have
written other cookbooks. You can find them at Here the
boys present about 100 preps from the farm and garden, with some help
from Sandra Gluck. The book is seasonally arranged, from winter through
fall. This current book is a major accompaniment to their earlier The
Beckman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook. Classic preps here include buttermilk
pie with pecan crust, concord grape pie, sweet green tomato hand pies,
cardamom cake with coffee glaze, baked stone fruits with cannoli cream,
and lemon-toasted poppy seed cake. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric
equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.

17. KEWL BITES (Rodale, 2013, 212 pages, ISBN 978-1-60961-510-9, $21.99
US paper covers) is by Reed Alexander, an 18-year old TV actor who
looks 13. He's the current spokesperson for the Clinton Foundation's
Alliance for a Healthier Generation. He's also part of Michelle Obama's
Let's Move initiative. He's a regular at food festivals, food TV shows,
and his own blog, So he's a natural as a cookbook
writer. There's some heavy duty log rolling from such as Bill Clinton
(but no Michelle Obama). It is a good book for youngsters in that this
is food that is both nutritious and easy for them to prepare, although
I'm not sure about eggplant or artichokes appealing to anybody under
25. Nevertheless, there are other concoctions here, along with a
rationale about why that food or dish is useful for any growing kid.
His faves are dark-chocolate banana marble bread, mini chicken parm
meatballs, and vegetable dumplings with lemongrass dipping sauce. The
arrangement is by type of dish (soup, salads, mains, pasta, sides,
sweets) opening with breakfast/brunch. I'm all for it if the youngsters
will not only eat it but also do their own cooking! Take it off to
college, folks.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is a table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 89.

18. WORLD-CLASS SWEDISH COOKING; artisanal recipes from one of
Stockholm's most celebrated restaurants (Skyhorse Publishing, 2012,
2013, 318 pages, ISBN 978-1-62087-735-7, $27.95 US hard covers) is by
Bjorn Frantzen and Daniel Lindeberg, owners of Frantzen/Lindeberg, with
two Michelin stars and Best Swedish Restaurant award for 2012. Of
course there are lots of pix of the boys, their resto, menus, and food
items. There are also details on their cooking techniques and
philosophy of dining. The preps look at shellfish, fish, breads, dairy,
meat, pork, fowl, veggies and desserts. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but
there is also a table of equivalents. Many recipes have no listed
ingredients, but they can be figured out, especially with a photo of a
plated dish beside it. There are two indexes: one to the recipes and
one to the ingredients. The adventuresome may want to try oven-baked
raspberry ice cream with licorice mousse, grouse baked in hay, confit
chin of cod (cod cheeks), or compressed watermelon and sorbet of xintai
cucumber. Cutting edge stuff, challenging at home.
Quality/price rating: 90.

19. THE SIMPLY RAW KICTHEN; plant-powered, gluten-free, and mostly raw
recipes for healthy living (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2013, 207 pages, ISBN
978-1-55152-505-1, $21.95 US paper covers) is by Natasha Kyssa, a
former model who became a vegan in 1990. She's adopted a raw lifestyle,
and now runs SimplyRaw Express in Ottawa (see also
There's some impressive log rolling as well, from some such as Bif
Naked. Her latest book (an earlier one, The SimplyRaw Living Foods
Detox Manual, was published in 2009) promotes a whole-food, nutrient-
rich diet designed for optimal health. And she's had a quarter of a
century experience with this lifestyle. There are 134 recipes such as
taco verde, righteous brownies and caramel frosting, plus some cooked
vegan preps such as her family's borscht, mushroom goulash, and
Romanian cabbage rolls. The preps are coded as to contents, and
arranged in a standard format: beverages, breakfasts, soups, salads,
pates and dips, mains, and desserts. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in mostly avoirdupois measurements with some metric,
but there is no table of equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 88.

20. MUG CAKES; 100 speedy microwave treats to satisfy your sweet tooth
(St. Martin's Griffin, 2013, 168 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-02658-3, $22.99
US paper covers) is by Leslie Bilderback, a California restaurant
pastry chef who has also written eight books in the Idiot's and
Everything series (while doing monthly food columns), and winning big
in a reality TV cooking show on the Food Network. Here she has
assembled 100 dessert ideas for a microwaved mug (=Mason jars). These
are small bites for singles or parties, individually tailored with
assorted toppings and frostings – or not. There are preps with alcohol
infusions, dietary needs, non-cakes (puddings, pies, cheesecakes). All
it takes is five minutes – yummy. The basics are covered in 10 pages,
and classic cakes are deconstructed: buttermilk mug cake, red velvet
mug cake, banana mug cake, strawberry shortmug cake, carrot mug cake,
oatmeal-raisin mug cake. These are followed by kids, adults (liquor),
chocolate, nuts, fruit, and non-cakes. Very much worth a look,
especially if you have a microwave. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric
Quality/price rating: 89.
21. WORLD FOOD CAFÉ; quick and easy recipes from a vegetarian journey
(Frances Lincoln Ltd, 207 pages, ISBN 978-0-7112-3296-9, $29.95 US hard
covers) is by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott, who both once owned the
World Food Café in Covent Garden, cooking vegetarian food from recipes
uncovered in their travels. They've also written other veggie books for
Francis Lincoln, a UK publisher, including World Food Cafe Quick and
Easy in 2006. Thus, this is a follow-up book. In their travels, author
Chris photographs while he and Carolyn collect tales and preps from
home kitchens, street stalls, restos, and roadside cafes. It's arranged
by country, beginning with Bangladesh and ending with Vietnam (with
such rarities as Bhutan, Burma, Lapland and Namibia). The 100 recipes
here include such as spiced veldt bread, caramelized rum and coconut
pina assadas, crispy rice cakes, and sweet mung bean che. For
vegetarians, this book is well worth a side-trip to enjoyment.
All recipes are for four greedy or six modest portions unless otherwise
stated. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 89.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

* DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH! *: Postmodern Winemaking

POSTMODERN WINEMAKING; rethinking the modern science of an ancient
craft (University of California Press, 2013, 344 pages, ISBN 978-0-520-
27519-5, $34.95 US hard covers) is by Clark Smith, world renowned
winemaker for Diamond Ridge vineyards and WineSmith Cellars. He's a
teacher and wine consultant, specializing in wine chemistry
fundamentals. His column "The Postmodern Winemaker" has appeared in
Wines & Vines since 2009. From the Preface, "The book consists of
twenty-five chapters, two appendices, and a glossary. It is largely
based…on material compiled from my monthly columns in Wines and Vines
magazine and articles published by and Practical
Vineyard and Winery magazine, reworked to include a lay audience."
Smith is a leading innovator in red wine production techniques. He says
that great wines demand a personal and creative engagement with many
elements of the process. So he shows us this process, along with
profiles of others doing the same thing. Smith is a polarizing figure
in the California wine world, but the book is eminently readable as he
runs through the process of oaking, vineyard management, oxygenation,
minerality, brettanomyces, and other tools available to the winemaker.
Quality/price rating: 90.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Family values Christmas gift cook books would have to include:
--FAMILY COOKBOOK (DK Books, 2013, 496 pages, $35 CAN hard covers) is an in-
house production from DK Books, with 700 easy-to-prepare recipes with children and
adults in mind. There are over 1000 full-colour photos here. Each prep has a nutritional
--THE KINFOLK TABLE (Artisan Books, 2013, 368 pages, $43.95 CAN hard covers) is
from Kinfolk magazine. It's a collection of some 100 recipes designed for unfussy dining
for small gatherings. It is a bit rustic, but then all the preps come from tastemakers in
small towns throughout North America and Europe. These are reliable dishes for
memorable dining. Every meal (including breakfast) and every season is covered; there
are also menus such as winter menu featuring roast chicken, greens and potato soup, and
--THE PREPPY COOKBOOK (New Harvest, 2013, 256 pages, $30 CAN) seems to be a
perfect gift book, written by Christine E. Nunn. These are the classic recipes for the
modern prep. This is the preppy kitchen, with a pantry and desire for summer living at the
cottage with family and friends, sports, the European tour, the brunches, cocktail parties,
showers, holidays, and entertaining. Typical recipes include pissaladiere and lobster rolls.
Don't forget the preppy rules at the table: martinis are never made with vodka; tea
sandwiches have no crusts; always pick up asparagus with your fingers.
--BOLD (Workman Publishing, 2013, 410 pages, $24.95 CAN soft covers) is by Susanna
Hoffman and Victoria Wise, both chefs at Chez Panisse in its early days. This is a
cookbook collection of some 250 preps with big flavours, covering all courses from apps
to desserts. It's a global fusion meld of flavours, ingredients, and warming meals for
home. Both chefs have collaborated before, and have 330,000 copies of two books in
print. This is family comfort food: slow-roasted braises and roasts, steaks, hearty soups,
platters of veggies, heavy pastas and grains, plus indigenous wild game and rich desserts.
Sidebars cover advice and tips, people and places, food history, and general trivia.
--THE VINTAGE TEA PARTY YEAR (Mitchell Beazley, 2013, 304 pages, $32.99
CAN hard covers) is by Angel Adoree, the creative director of the project. These are how
tea parties used to be – let's bring them back!! You can wave the Union Jack at a New
Year's Eve tea party, a children's tea party, a tea for two affair (e.g. Valentine Day), a
bachelorette party, wedding or baby shower, a street tea party, and Christmas. A dozen
offerings in all. For each event, there is a selection of best foods, drinks and décor. But of
course you can mix and match recipes, craft projects and hair styles – whatever. She
concludes with how to create a sequin snood.
--COOKING SLOW (Chronicle Books, 2013, 224 pages, $41 CAN hard covers) is by
Andrew Schloss, a food author and former president of IACP. This is home cooking –
recipes for slowing down and cooking more, emphasizing braising, roasting, grilling,
baking, frying and steaming. He also uses a slow cooker and sous vide techniques. There
are great photos for most dishes: family smoked pork chops, greens and beans steamed in
beer and bacon, and osso buco with apples and bourbon.
2013, 162 pages, $19.95 CAN paper covers) is an old favourite originally published by
Lorimer in 1979 as The Christmas Cookbook. Of course, Murray has updated and
regraded the preps, deleted and added recipes with a collection of classics and modern
alternatives. There are a lot of baking items here, and there are also full menus for themed
feasts on Christmas Day and a New Year's menu (the only thing missing is a menu for a
Birthday Celebration on Christmas Day – my wife would love it). Historical notes have
been added here and there.
--ONE GOOD DISH (Artisan Books, 2013, 256 pages, $30 CAN hard covers) is by
David Tanis, food writer weekly with the New York Times (City Kitchen). Here he
emphasizes the pleasures of a simple meal: just great for cooking at home with
uncomplicated food. The book is an eclectic collection of his fave dishes, some meant for
two, others for a large crowd. But usually it is a one dish meal, such as spaghetti with
bread crumbs and pepper, or breaded eggplant cutlets, or south Indian cabbage with black
mustard seeds.
--THE SOUP & BREAD COOKBOOK (Rodale Books, 2013, 308 pages, $27.50 CAN
soft covers) is by Beatrice Ojakangas, author of 28 (!) cookbooks. She's written
everywhere, and specializes in Scandinavian cuisine. Here she has more than 100
seasonal pairings for simple meals. It's arranged by season, beginning with Spring. Each
meal is a combo of a soup and some (different) bread. So there is a May Day  celebration
soup with Scottish currant bannock, a walleye chowder with Parmesan garlic bread,  and
a chicken and dumpling soup with Dutch raisin bread. I like the suggestion of a bread for
each soup, but the adventuresome out there can easily mix and match.
--PIZZA BREAD & MORE (Taunton Press, 2013, 240 pages, $24 CAN soft covers) is
by Academia Barilla, an Italian centre for the preservation of Italian gastronomic culture.
Here they feature 100 or so recipes for focaccia, ciabatta, rolls, breadsticks, crackers,
calzones, and pizza (thin- and thick-crust). And of course you can do it all at home. Easy
to use with lots of Chef's Tips.
--ALICE EATS (Whitecap Books, 2013, 264 pages, $29.95 CAN hard covers) is by
Pierre A. Lamielle and Julie Van Rosendaal: he's a graphic designer and food
illustrator/cooking school grad; she's a food correspondent on CBC Radio One and food
editor of Parents Canada. Here is the full text of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, as
well as appropriate recipes, photographs, and new illustrations. All the preps have been
inspired by the characters and events in the story: Mock turtle soup, Queen of Hearts' jam
tarts, Little girl bacon-and-egg-salad sandwiches. A great Holiday gift.
--MELT (Little, Brown, 2013, 212 pages, $33 CAN hard covers) is the art of macaroni
and cheese, as written by Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord. But they use fine
cheeses and unfamiliar pasta shapes. The 75 recipes are organized by style – stove-top,
salads, casseroles, sweets.  For example, there's Goat with edamame, fennel and rotini;
Pumpkin stuffed with fontina, sausage and mac; Blue cheese with squash, sage butter,
and rotini. This book is upscale all the way, but it might be a way for parents to join kids
at the dinner table with a serving of "mac and cheese". The book concludes with a cheese
compendium, a pasta guide, and a resources list.
--BEST OF ROSE REISMAN (Whitecap, 2013, 428 pages, $36 CAN hard covers) is a
collection of preps, largely drawn from her Metro newspaper columns and her Huffington
blogs. These are healthy recipes, celebrating her 20 years in the food writing business
(she's the author of 16 cookbooks, runs a catering business, and is a restaurant
consultant) . It also comes with advanced log rolling, which I felt wasn't needed for her.
Each prep has health tips and nutritional data. Most everything is also low-fat. A good
family resource.

2013, 262 pages, $31.99 CAN hard covers) offers 175 slimming and gluten-free recipes.
Every meal is covered. Arthur Agatston, MD, the author, is the originator of the South
Beach Diet. Many of the recipes take 30 minutes or less from start to finish. Not only is
gluten gone, but also most highly refined flours, sugars and saturated fats.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


THE BOOK OF SCHMALTZ; love song to a forgotten fat (Little, Brown,
2013, 179 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-25408-3, $25 US hard covers) is by
Michael Ruhlman, an author of food reference books (Ratio, Ruhlman's
Twenty, Charcuterie, The Elements of Cooking) and a co-author of Thomas
Keller, Eric Ripert, and Michael Symon. Still, even winning a Beard, he
gets heavy duty log rolling from Joan Nathan and Arthur Schwartz. The
book actually began as an iPad app, but Ruhlman was persuaded to also
set it in print. Schmaltz appears in all the recipes here; it is
rendered chicken fat flavoured with onion. Ruhlman believes in
flavours, so schmaltz is a first pick. There's a chapter on its
background and use in both classic Jewish cuisine (matzo ball soup,
kishke, kreplach) and in contemporary cuisines. He gives details about
differences in flavours and complexities in the use of schmaltz as
opposed to vegetable oils, butter, or olive oil. For the non-Jewish,
though, lard and bacon fat would be other considerations, but not in
this book. The schmaltz recipe is easy – six steps, ninety minutes, He
even has three chicken stock recipes. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table
of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: home cooks looking for flavours.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: schmaltz-roasted potatoes
with onion and rosemary; vichyssoise with gribenes and chives; chicken
rilettes; pate de foie gras en terrine with croutons; chicken with
schmalz dumplings; Parisienne gnocchi; savory brioche.
The downside to this book: too few recipes – the pages are full of
photos and large typefaces.
The upside to this book: great photos by Donna Turner Ruhlman.
Quality/Price Rating: 91.