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Monday, December 31, 2018

* THE RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOK for LATE 2018 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 –
7.MAZI; modern Greek food (Firefly, 2018, 288 pages, ISBN 978-0-2281-0034-8 $35 USD hardbound) is by Christina Mouratoglu and Adrien Carre, co-founders of MAZI in London UK in 2012. They concentrated on sharing plates of small dishes (meze). The word "mazi" itself means a gathering, a combination, a mixture. The majority of the dishes here, as in the restaurant, are small family-style dishes for sharing. There is a lot of description about the restaurant, with memoir-like material and photos. The 115 recipes are mostly traditional with modern interpretations. Many dishes are GF or vegan. The food, while quick and easy to make, should be prepared in a lot of different dishes – no roast with two vegs here. There are chapters on breads and condiments, salads, raw foods, hot plates, desserts, and some signature dishes from the restaurant. There's some lobster pasta with Metaxa brandy, braised octopus, shiitake mushroom and potato dauphinoise moussaka, lamb shank, and imam bayildi eggplant with stilton. The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 88.
8.TRULLO: the cookbook (Square Peg Vintage, 2017, 2018, 288 pages, ISBN 978-1-910931134 $53.95 CAD hardbound) is by Tim Siadatan, owner of Trullo restaurant and Padella pasta bar in London. It comes with heavy-duty logrolling from Jamie Oliver and Nigel Slater and Fergus Henderson. A trullo is a 19th century Apulian hut with a conical roof. Here's a fresh take on Italian cuisine as presented at Trullo, along with plenty of notes about the restaurant and how it handles food. Topics include antipasti, BBQ, pan and oven, garnishes, feasting and desserts. Little on wine. Some emphasis is on the whole approach: whole baked turbot with poached leeks, whole lamb shoulder (both BBQ and roast), whole lemon sole (both pan-fired and roasted), and whole beef shin with bone marrow. The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes, or at least had a conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 89.
9.THE ULTIMATE GRAIN-FREE COOKBOOK (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018, 310 pages, ISBN 978-1-5107-2949-0 $24.99 USD hardcovers) is by Annabelle Lee, a former fashion model who has had auto-immune arthritis and lupus. By changing her diet, she could change her health and life. She has a line of Real Food Baking Mixes and a website This is a nifty collection of preps that are sugar-free and gluten-free. Her emphasis is to eat real without dieting – just give up sugars and gluten grains as a beginning. Later, dairy products can be scaled back as well as fats and oils. Eventually, you'll keep your gut healthy and maybe lose weight. Her sweet and savoury preps include sweet yam gnocchi with brown butter and sage, garlic cheese drop biscuits, spicy salsa wraps, and German chocolate cake. Her arrangement by type (basics, breads, buns, biscuits, breakfast, brunch, crackers, wraps, legumes, pizza, pasta, sweets) is complemented by a bibliography and metric conversion charts. Quality/price rating: 87
10.MASTERING PIZZA (Ten Speed Press, 2018, 262 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-57922 $29.99 USD hardbound) is by Marc Vetri, owner of Philadelphia's Vetri Cucina, Osteria, Amis, and Pizzeria Vetri. He's a Bear Award winner, and he has written three other Italian cookbooks. (One is Mastering Pizza – can Mastering Pasta and Mastering Panini be far behind?). His collaborator is David Joachim who has worked on more than 40 other cookbooks plus magazine articles on food. The late Anthony Bourdain furnished a blurb: "Speaking as someone with a long-time fear of dough, this is the only book I'd rely on with confidence". Vetri's secret for making good dough: hydration levels. There are various levels for various styles (Naples dough, Roman dough, al taglio, et al) and various ovens. Also covered are flour types, pizza stones, baking steels, calzones, rotolos, and focaccia. If you want more, there is a sharp bibliography of writings. And kudos for the insertions of metric measurements right into the recipes themselves!
Quality/price rating: 89
11.CIDERHOUSE COOKBOOK (Story Publishing, 2018, 222 pages, ISBN 978-1-61212-940-2 $19.95 USD paperbound) is by Jonathan Carr and Nicole Blum, cidermakers and owners of Carr's Ciderhouse in western Massachusetts. They make mainly ciders (hard and sweet, syrups, and vinegars. The collaborator is Andrea Blum, food writer, chef and culinary artist at Montalvo Arts Center (California). Here are 127 recipes for the sweet, tart, and tangy flavours of apple cider. It's all arranged by course, from salads, soups, through mains and desserts and drinks. There is a lot of illustrated and photographic material on how they make the diverse ciders, and how you can make your own ciders (both hard and sweet), followed by making vinegars and cider syrups and molasses. Fruit shrubs and fruit vinegars, switchel syrups, apple membrillo (similar to quince), baked apple butter, jellies, and jams complete the primers. What to do with them all? For starters, try candied nuts using apple cider syrup or cider vinegar pickles – and then move on through a range of pork dishes. Resources lists complete the work.  The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, but at least it had metric conversion charts. Quality/price rating:  89.
12.KRICKET (Hardie Grant Books, 2018, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-78488-158-0 $35 USD hardbound) is by Will Bowlby, heads chef and co-owner of Kricket in London UK. He's got a collection of 80 Indian-inspired recipes which emphasizes seasonal availability of ingredients in the UK. There's smoked haddock kichri, keralan fried chicken, and elderflower and rhubarb kulfi. The full range of food here includes cocktails, breads, pickles, sides and snacks for the modern kitchen. For further excitement, there is cardamom kheerkheer with rhubarb puree and carom seed crumble, jersey royal aloo chaat, and burnt garlic tarka dal. At the back there are 20 menu plans, five for each of the seasons. The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 87
13.BATCHED & BOTTLED (Quadrille, 2018, 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-78713-155-3 $24.99 USD hardbound) is by Max and Noel Venning, brother owners of Three Sheets cocktail bar in London. These are cocktails to be made ahead, after they have been blended or stirred or shaken. We've got two going at home in the fridge: Negroni and White Negroni. To both we may (or may not) add ice cubes or fizzy water. There are 50 preps here in this book, plus tips and advice for the make-aheads. The guide is a boon for those who entertain with cocktails but want to relax and converse without having to take the time to mix the  drinks. So these cocktails can be batched a month ahead or an hour ahead – you will be completely free to laugh along with everybody else...Under "gin" in the index, there are a dozen preps that are doable and welcoming. But do watch out for the measurements: use only the metric OR the imperial. If you use both, you will screw up the ratios and might even have liquid left over (750 mL is NOT 30 oz). But kudos for listing both forms of measurement with the ingredients. Quality/price rating: 87
14.CHEFS EAT MELTS TOO (Hardie Grant Books, 2018, 166 pages, ISBN 978-1-74379459-3 $19.99 USD hardbound) is by Chef Darren Purchese, a pastry chef-owner (Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio) in Melbourne Australia. Here he writes on melts made with cheese and toasted bread as he reinvents the hot sandwich game. You will need a variety of sauces: harissa, tamari, mayo, vinaigrette, mustard dressing, 1000 Island, yogurt, chimichurri, piccalilli, pear and walnut chutney, mango chutney, caramel cream, romesco, and more!! After that come the breads: pita, brioche, Turkish bread, baguettes, sourdough, ciabatta, wholemeal sandwich, bagels, and more!! After that come the fillings: BLT, chicken, pastrami, ham, bacon, pork belly, jamon, lamb shoulder, pork shoulder, beef, prosciutto, sardines, anchovies, chorizo, crayfish, turkey, and more!! In each sandwich, there is also some variation of a few cheeses (gorgonzola, swiss, cheddar) and/or a few egg styles (omelettes, fried). Add to any of the sauces and place between two slices of any of the breads …. and voila!! Maybe gout sufferers should avoid this book. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements. Quality/price rating: 89.

Friday, December 28, 2018


...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-editions"...
19.CHARCUTERIE; how to enjoy, serve and cook with cured meats. Rev ed (Ryland Peters & Small, 2014, 2018,160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-037-6, $14.95 US hard covers) is by Miranda Ballard, who co-owns the UK ethical beef concern Muddy Boots. This is the 2018 revised edition. Charcuterie and salumi are discussed, especially in the creation of a charcuterie board (French, Italian or Spanish). Layouts are noted, as well as choice of meats and sausages. The Italian board would have olives and crostini, as well as a pecorino and olive oil and sun-dried tomatoes. The French board would also have tapenade, baguette, and a soft cheese. The Spanish board would also have olives, marinated red peppers, rustic breads, Manchego cheese, and almonds. The the rest of the book concerns small bites, apps, salads, light lunches, larger dishes, and side dishes with accompaniments. Home curing is part of the primer. It is a good start. Presumably, you could also end the meal with a cheese board, although this is not discussed. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements. Quality/price rating: 89.
20.NORDIC BAKERY COOKBOOK Rev ed (Ryland, Peters & Small, 2011, 2018, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-044-4, $14.95 US hard covers) is by Miisa Mink, a partner in the bakery. The Nordic Bakery opened in Soho, London in 2007. This is the revised edition of the 2011 book. The emphasis from the resto is an offering of dark rye bread, cinnamon buns, and coffees. Scandinavian cookery has been touted as wholesome and comforting, with its emphasis on rye flour, oats and barley. So first up, then, is a whole section on breads, followed by savory pastries, cakes, sweet pastries, tarts and cookies. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements. The book is further distinguished by the usual high photographic standards of the finished plates. Typical preps include rye bread, gravad lax, rye baguettes, open faced sandwiches of many kinds, carrot and oat rolls, karelian pies from Finland, and anchovy twists. Quality/price rating: 88
21.RISOTTO; delicious recipes for Italy's classic rice dish Rev ed (Ryland Peters & Small, 2005, 2018, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-035-2, $14.95 US hard covers) is by Maxine Clark, a cooking teacher and writer who specializes in Italian food. She has also written other such books for Ryland in the past. It was originally published in 2005, as
"Risotto with vegetables, seafood, meat and more". Beginning with the basics (white risotto step-by-step, broths), she continues with sections on food by ingredients: there is a vegetarian section, but of course risottos deal mostly with cheese, egg, poultry, meats, and seafood. There are over 60 recipes here (expanded from 50), including a few desserts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements. And there is a listing of useful UK and US websites for mail orders.
Good for home cooks, or for those who only want the basics. Try fennel and black olive risotto, pesto risotto, chicken liver risotto, or beetroot risotto. Each recipe is illustrated with a lush presentation photo. Quality/Price Ratio: 87.
22.EASY TAGINE; delicious recipes for Moroccan one-pot cooking (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2012, 2018, 240 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-045-1, $16.95 USD paper covers) is mostly by Ghillie Basan, cookery writer specializing in Middle East cookbooks and articles. Some of the preps here are from six other writers. It's a timely book, one of the "Easy" series from this publisher and it fits in the "one-pot" mode of ease, although there are other recipes here for traditional or classic accompaniments. Of course, there's a primer on tagines. Lamb tagine is traditional, but she also has preps for beef, kefta, sausage, chicken, duck, vegetable, fish and seafood tagines. That's half the book. There are also a range of couscous, skewers, roasts, pan fries, sides, salads, soups, sweets, and drinks. So all of it is almost a Moroccan cookbook. And you can always use a heavy-based casserole dish instead of a tagine. Preparations have their ingredients listed in partial metric and full avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Do try kefta tagine with eggs and roasted cumin; oven-baked tagine of red
mullet, tomatoes and lime; tagine of beans, cherry tomatoes and black olives; chorizo tagine with lentils and fenugreek; tagine of lamb with veggies and mint; fluffy
pistachio nougat. Quality/Price Rating: 89.
23.EASY COMFORT FOOD (Ryland, Peters & Small, 2008, 2018, 240 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-042-0, $16.95 USD paper covers) is a publisher's collection of more than 100 "feel-good" recipes for indulgence: warming soups, stews, baked goods, desserts. Twenty writers from  the RPS stable were involved, although not equally. The lion's share of the preps come from Maxine Clark and Ross Dobson. Topics also include savoury snacks, broad supper dishes, and teatime treats. If you really want something comforting and stress-reduced, then try those foods with the most umami such as Parmesan cheese or mushrooms. The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 87.
24.SOUPED UP (Ryland Peters & Small, 2018, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-034-5 $14.95 USD hardbound) is a publisher's collection compiled by Miriam Catley, with recipes from nine different food writers in the RPS stable. Belinda Williams has the lion's share of these preps; the others have six or fewer preps each. Recipes are sorted by chapters into smooth, light, hearty, and luxurious, pretty evenly (although smooth and hearty seem to have a few more). The soups are internation (Vietnam, Morocco, Italian, French, etc.). Some interesting ones: watercress soup with nashi pear, scallops and pancetta; citrus broth with king prawns, chilli and ginger; callaloo with sorrel and crab; pheasant soup with mushrooms and port. The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 88
25.VEGETARIAN PARTY FOOD (Hardie Grant Books, 2018, 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-78488-185-6 $19.99 USD paperbound) is by Jessica Oldfield. It was first published by Hachette Livre Marabout in 2017; this is the English translation. The publisher describes the preps as "delectable vegetable-forward bites for entertaining". So these are ready-to-eat foods for a party or gathering. It has four main sections: basics, dips, vegetarian, and vegan. The 80 meat-free dishes include simple no-cook bites through to complex which require cooking. Typical are basics such as cashew ricotta, dips such as pesto or romesco sauce, veggie such as za'atar popcorn cones or crispy delicata squash rings, and 27 vegan preps such as caprese stacks, portobello pizzas, sweet potato crostini, or artichoke tapenade. Excellent photography emphasizes layout beyond the plated dish. Prep times are indicated in the recipes, but the book could have been improved if it also used all metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 89.
26.RUSTIC FRUIT DESSERTS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2018, 128 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-033-8 $14.95 USD hardbound) is a publisher's compilation of recipes from the RPS stable of 20 cookbook authors, pulled together by Alice Sambrook. Here are 55 easy and comforting recipes from cobblers to pies, and including crisps, crumbles, tarts, strudels, slumps, puddings and dessert cakes for all occasions. Most authors here have 1, 2, or 3 preps, but Hannah Miles has ll and Maxine Clark has 10. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements. Quality/price rating: 86.


Sunday, December 23, 2018

* FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! : Ottolenghi Simple (Appetite by Random House)

OTTOLENGHI SIMPLE (Appetite by Random House, 2018, 308 pages, ISBN 978-0-449-01703-6 $42 CAD hardbound) is by Yotam Ottolenghi, who co-owns an eponymous group of restaurants in London. His collaborators include Tara Wigley and Esme Howarth, who have assisted him on his other books. His theme is simplicity for busy cooks, emphasizing (not all together or at once) quicker cooking times, 10 ingredients or fewer, make-aheads, pantry-based, and ease. These are his Mediterranean flavours in 130 streamlined preps, described as "elemental Ottolenghi". And it is all arranged by ingredient: raw veg, cooked veg, rice, grains, pulses, pasta, noodles, meat, seafood, dessert. There is also a lot of additional material on brunches, some menu suggestions, some feast menus, some pantry ideas for basics and spices. And there is a ribbon bookmark, lots of white space, and leading, and good use of bold type. But the book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes for teaspoons and tablespoons, or at least had a metric conversion chart.
Audience and level of use: busy people, Ottolenghi collectors.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: vanilla custard with roasted strawberries and rhubarb; spinach- and gorgonzola-stuffed baked potatoes; Puy lentil and eggplant stew; whole roasted sea bass with soy sauce and ginger; lamb meatloaf with tahini sauce and tomatoes; cavolo nero with chorizo.
The downside to this book: very heavy book weight-wise
The upside to this book: great photography
Quality/Price Rating: 92

Saturday, December 22, 2018

* DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH! : Wine Trails (Lonely Planet)

1.WINE TRAILS: United States & Canada (Lonely Planet, 2018, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-7870-1770-2, $20 USD hardbound) is one of a new series from Lonely Planet detailing 40 weekends in wine country. Covered are the hot spots of California, New York, Texas, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. There are single weekends in diverse US states such as Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Virginia, North Carolina – 40 weekends in 16 regions, with California being the most prolific at 14 regions. About 250 wineries are covered, so there is lots to do. With Ontario as an example, there is a snapshot description of the cool climate area, a basic map with numbers for seven wineries to visit on the weekend, and blurb about each winery and their wine specialties. All of them are either sustainable-natural or at the other end of the spectrum, biodynamic. Websites are given for more data, phone numbers, street addresses, time open, food, and price ranges. The end of the Ontario chapter lists a few places to stay, to eat, and what to do. Unfortunately, DevourFest Food Film Festival is not mentioned in the Nova Scotia chapter in the "what to do" section, despite it being around for eight years; it occurs in the heart of wine country at Wolfville. Small but useful photos are strewn about.
Audience and level of use: travellers, especially those who want to spend many weekends at North American wineries.
The downside to this book: 12 contributors are mentioned but it is unclear who contributed what. I assume the guy from Vermont covered that area, and maybe Treve Ring from Vancouver island covered all three parts of Canada.
The upside to this book: there are multiple indexes to architecture and art, experiences, and to the wineries themselves.
Quality/Price Rating: 92

Sunday, December 16, 2018

* 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 –
16.SOUTHERN BAKED; celebrating life with pie (Gibbs Smith, 2018, 200 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-4898-7 $24.99 USD hardbound) is by Amanda Dalton Wilbanks, who opened her first retail bakery in Georgia in 2012: Southern Baked Pie Company. It now has three retail outlets and ships nationally. But why order, when you can bake at home with this very book!! Wilbanks gives us the signature pastry recipe for the sweet and savoury pie creations, plus some special-day meal ideas for all seasons. The book is arranged by month, beginning with January, and we celebrate New Year's Day. In February, we celebrate Valentine's Day. Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are next, with "game day", "summer picnic", "girls' night" and "birthday" in-between. Her simple pie doughs rely on cold ingredients. She goes into pre-baked dough, partially-baked dough, and lattice tops. She had me at lemon chess pie...Large typeface for the aging (like me). The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes (for international sales), but at least it had a metric conversion chart (but small typeface). Quality/price rating: 87
17.CHARRED & SMOKED (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018, 205 pages, ISBN 978-1-5107-3157-8 $22.99 USD hardbound) is by Derek Bugge, currently chef at Ascend Prime Steak & Sushi in Washington State, after a long career through the Pacific Northwest working in a variety of situations (bars, oyster houses, country clubs, and more). His collaborator is James O. Fraioli who has 28 cookbooks and a James Beard Award to his credit. The book has more than 75 preps and cooking techniques for the grilled set. They open with cooking methods, equipment, rubs, dressings, marinades and sauces. Everything is "charred & smoked": roasted small bites, caramelized soups and salads, grilled and charred feats, blistered and grilled sides, charred and toasted desserts – and even some "smokey" drinks. Smoked bacon pepper jelly anyone? Burnt ash aioli, smoked fig with foie gras moose, grilled frisee with bacon vinaigrette, grilled lamb with charred rapini and mint chimichurri, blistered corn with mayonnaise and queso and chile. The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes (for international sales), but at least it had metric conversion charts. Quality/price rating:  89
18.RICH TABLE (Chronicle Books, 2018, 288 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-5637-8 $35 USD hardbound) is by Sarah and Evan Rich. "Rich Table" is the name of their restaurant, Carolyn Alburger is the collaborating writer, and Kate Williams is the recipe developer. Heavy duty log rolling here includes David Chang and the late Anthony Bourdain. It's arranged by course: bites, appetizers, pastas, mains, desserts, cocktails. The bites and the apps (35 preps in all) could easily be a bar menu on its own. The Richs try to make every dish a combination of salty, acidic, fatty and savoury, with different levels where appropriate or intuitive. They have multiple uses for baby greens and lettuces, bone marrow, Champagne vinegar, Douglas fir powder (!), EVOO of course, kosher salt, organic Greek yogurt, mustard seed oil, popped sorghum, and dashi. Lots of memoir-type material about the restaurant life, photos, and banter prevail. It is also great to see both metric and American measurements being used in the recipes, except there is no metric listed for teaspoons. Never the less, quality/price rating: 88

Friday, December 14, 2018


3.ESTELA (Artisan, 2018, 304 pages, $50 hardcover) is by Ignacio Mattos, who worked with Mallman and chefed at various places in NYC until he opened Estela. He now has several other bars and cafes in New York City. His collaborator is food writer Gabe Ullas. Log rollers include Mallman, Waters, Tanis, and Ruth Rogers. Estela  specializes in playfulness and boldness, emphasizing the unexpected and surprising such as shaved thin button mushrooms over ricotta dumplings, or fish sauce and pickling broth as accent points. His forte is layering where you can dig down to the most emphatic flavours. The 133 recip3s here come from the restaurant (lamb ribs with chermoula and honey, cherry tomatoes with figs and onions, or mussels escabeche on toast). Arrangement is by course, with salads followed by raw and/or cooked seafood, mains, desserts, and brunch. I loved the veal sweetbreads with onions.
4.LET'S EAT FRANCE (Artisan, 2018, 432 pages, $75 hardbound) is mainly by Francois-Regis Gaudry, French food critic, journalist, and broadcast host; there are about 120 other contributors as well, all sourced, and identified with pix. It was originally published last year in French as "On va deguster La France". At 10 inches by 13.5 inches it certainly is a coffee table unto itself.  It's a treasure trove for Francophiles. with compelling infographics and stories to flesh out the encyclopedic
nature of  covering 1250 specialty foods, 375 classic recipes, 350 broad topics, 260 personalities, and of course the hundreds of maps, charts, tips, and anecdotes that make the tome come alive in the post-Larousse era. It's historical, so you'll get mini-bios of Brillat-Savarin, Bocuse, Troisgros, Curnonsky, et al. There are poster-size guides to the breads, wines, frites, figs, oysters – and more --  of France. This book's  arrangement is random which makes it easy to read and appeals to millennials, but there is a comprehensive index and cross-references to tie it all together. Minutiae here includes the tar baby leg of lamb, for which you will need a construction site. Most illustrations are in colour and are historical, with some advertisements. The work concludes with a bibliography of French food cookbooks and articles. Very impressive indeed. This is one of those books you buy for someone else...but you  read it first yourself!
5.THE WINE TABLE (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018, 497 pages, $75 hardbound) is by Vickie Reh. This is a good collection of recipes and advice, with memoir-type materials. It is all about recipes and wine pairings from the kitchens of winemakers. We've seen these kinds of books before, but mostly done about California/Oregon winemakers. Here, the emphasis is European wine countries of France and Italy. There is some introductory material on the principles of wine tasting and pairing, followed by visits to 18 wineries (Weinbach in Alsace, Lo Sparviere in Franciacorta, Arianna Occhipinti in Sicily, Sulauze in Provence, Champagne Legras & Haas, among others). Each is described and the recipes begin to flow. Reh also has material about farm markets, wine bars, restaurants, and wine shops. This is a real collector's tome, weighing in at 2.6 kilos!
6.THE JEWELLED TABLE (Hardie Grant Books, 2018, 272 pages, $50 hardbound) is by Bethany Kehdy. She's got over 80 Middle Eastern recipes, reinterpreted for the modern cook . Events covered include simple weeknight suppers, brunches, celebratory feasts, and more. Other material includes the pantry items needed, menu plans and techniques needed, plus some memoir-type material about food from the Middle East (she's Lebanese). There's a bibliography to other Middle East food reference books, including of course her earlier introduction to Middle East food,' The Jewelled Kitchen". Good food photography.
7.FROM THE EARTH (Hardie Grant Books, 2018, 249 pages, $86 hardcovers) is by the multiple award-winning Australian chef Peter Gilmore. It's an oversized tome (13 inches by 9.5 inches), perfect for covering an entire coffee table all by itself! He celebrates the diverse world of heirloom veggies. These are some of the world's unique and almost forgotten foods. Each has a recipe plus detailed profile and photograph. Also featured are like-minded growers that Gilmore collaborates with. He does have a substitution list for recipes, being aware that "unique' and "forgotten" vegetables are not really available universally. There's "Country Gentleman Corn" with its milky white haphazard kernels, "Kyoto Red Carrot", "Black Chick Pea", "Gete Okosomin Squash", and about 45 or so more.
8.BASQUE COUNTRY (Artisan, 2018, 326 pages, $50  hardcover) is by Marti Buckley; it comes loaded with log rollers who run Basque restaurants. Which is a good thing since this work is a culinary journey through a food lover's paradise, on the cusp of Spanish and French cooking plus its own Basque style. Preps are derived from family tables, dining societies, restaurants, bars, and Basque country grills. It begins, of course, with "pintxos" (pintxoak) the small plates, followed by soups (zopak), fish and shellfish, other mains, sweets and drinks. The major regions are covered with notes and photos plus some recipes. At the back of the cookbook there are resources listed and a translation guide. The drink section is very small, with only such as vermouth, Basque sloe liquor and sangria.
9.COPENHAGEN FOOD (Quadrille, 2018, 288 pages, $50  hardcover) is by Trine Hahnemann, Danish food writer and cookbook author centred in Copenhagen. These stories, traditions and recipes come from her top places to eat, drink, and socialize in Copenhagen: bakeries, markets, cafes, bars, and restaurants. She's got historical background as well as personal vignettes, plus, of course, 70 recipes – all arranged by 8 districts (which also include the suburbs). Lots of good travel and food photography makes this a winner for ex-pats.
10.ATELIER (Figure.1, 2018, 248 pages, $55 hardbound) is by award-winning chef-owner Marc Lepine with Ottawa food writer Anne Desbrisay. These are the signature recipes of Ottawa's Atelier restaurant. As the promo says, "Designed for foodies and chefs with an interest in modern cuisine, this impressive volume is an exciting tribute to one chef's unique culinary philosophy."  The beginning highlights the origins and the visions; this is followed by the inventive recipes. Throughout there is stunning photography by Christian Lalonde. Book ribbons help you keep your place. I was impressed by the thoroughness of the preps. One example was "Mossy Trunk" which is a combo of specific smaller recipes for ramp persillade, beef shanks, soft-boiled quail eggs, lemon confit, green asparagus ribbons, green asparagus puree, morel mushrooms, and topped with a variety of flowers, tendrils and sprouts.
11.THE NOMA GUIDE TO PERMENTATION (Artisan, 2018, 456 pages, $60 hardcover) is by Rene Redzepi and David Zilber. Redzepi is the chef and co-owner of Noma in Copenhagen, many times recognized as the best restaurant in the world. He has appeared twice on Time's cover and been profiled in two feature-length documentaries. His " Noma" cookbook was both an IACP and a James Beard winner. Zilber (from Toronto) is a chef and photographer from Toronto who has worked at Noma since 2014 and has served as director of its fermentation lab since 2016. Together they have created the basic work on fermentation (the basic pillar of Noma) in food, with koji, kombuchas, shoyus, misos, vinegars, garums, lacto-ferments, and black fruits and vegetables. It may appear to be esoteric to most cooks and home artists, but for the fermentation lover it is a treasure. There is a lot of science here, but the recipes and techniques are invaluable, such as the "coffee kombucha" made from the remains of coffee grounds, the pearl barley koji, and the butternut squash vinegar.  Both chefs believe that fermentation is responsible for making food more complex, nuanced and delicious. Plus of course the health and digestive benefits. Over 100 recipes.
12.LITERARY LIBATIONS (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018, 212 pages, $24.99 hardbound) is by Amira Makansi who concentrates on what to drink with what you read. There is a subject heading at the Library of Congress for this, "Drinking of alcoholic beverages in literature".  She starts with the classics from Europe, moves on to the classics from the USA, and thence to mysteries, science-fiction, drinks for lovers, contemporary books, magic potions for swords and spells, and then kiddie drinks for kid lit. She's got them all covered. There's an explanation of the genre and of a specific title, followed by a pairing and rationale. Some are obvious, such as Bloody Mary with Dracula and old vine Zinfandel with The Grapes of Wrath. The Great Gatsby gets a French 75.  A great tool for a book club.
13.YOU AND I EAT THE SAME (Artisan, 2018, 216 pages, $29.95 softbound) has been edited by Chris Ying. It also comes with a Foreword by Rene Redzepi of Noma.  It is one of a series of books from MAD Dispatches (MAD is Danish for "food"), a non-profit founded by Redzepi. It is  "dedicated to bringing together a global food community with an appetite for change". Here is a collection of stories and interviews edited by the co-founder of the late "Lucky Peach". There are 19 sections, each dealing with how we are connected to food, what we have in common, and each written by a different global food writer. One chapter is titled "Everybody Wraps Meat in Flatbread" (tacos to dosas to pancakes to crepes), another is "Much Depends on How You Hold Your Fork" (an interview with Margaret Visser), a third is "Fried Chicken is Common Ground". Cuisine is a shared experience, and immigration is the key to creating good food.
14.MENUS (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018, 174 pages, $25.99 hardcover) is by Jacques Pepin. It has no recipes, and no actual menus. Instead, it is a technicolour work based on Pepin's artwork for blank menus and guest lists. He calls it "a book for your meals and memories". These are for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and weddings. His fave 75 drawings with borders can be used with guests signing in, wines consumed, music played, space for comments, etc. It's a novel idea at an affordable price (the tome is 12 inches by 10 inches). Visit
15.BEST AMERICAN FOOD WRITING 2018 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018, 288 pages, $22.99 papercovers) has been edited by Ruth Reichl. It is a new annual entry in HMH's "The Best American Series", ignoring any mention of Holly Hughes' "Best Food Writing" annual which has been around since 2000. The latter covers globally, while Reichl's is USA only. There are 28 essays here, reprinted primarily from periodicals that published in 2017. What I like about it is that there are several pages at the back listing "other notable food writing", so you can actually track them down via a public library or the Internet. It also has one of the last writings of the late Jonathan Gold of the LA Times.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Event: A Tuscan Market Event of wines and foods Nov 22/18

The Date and Time:  Thursday November 22 2018   2:30 PM to 5 PM
The Event: A Tuscan Market Event of wines and foods
The Venue: George Brown College
The Target Audience: unknown, although some wine media attended
The Availability/Catalogue: there were no wine catalogues but at least 4 separate booklets on Tuscan food and wine, with nothing really specific about the brands we tasted.
The Quote/Background: The event was organized on behalf of Tuscany and on the occasion of the International Year of Italian Food 2018 by the Italian Trade Commission and Regione Toscana.
The Wines: I did not try every wine.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Tenuta Pietramora Brumaio Morellino di Scansano $24.95   Gradwell Wines
-Tenuta Pietramora Petramora Morellino di Scansano $31.95   Gradwell Wines
-Cecchi Chianti Classico Storia di Famiglia 2015
-Andrea Paoletti Rancore 2010 Toscano  $61 organic  Bespoke Wine & Spirits
-Poggio Stenti Maremma Toscana Rosso DOC 2015 $19.90   TWC Imports  Licensee
-Poggio Stenti Tribulo Montecucco Toscana Rosso DOC 2013 $21   TWC Imports  Licensee
-Tenute Piccini Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2013  $34.69  Winelovers
-Carpineto Vino Noble di Montepulciano Riserva 2012    Univins
-Carpineto Chianti Classico Riserva 2013  Univins
-Farnito Cabernet Sauvignon Toscano 2011    Univins
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Fortulla Rosso di Toscana IGT Cabernet Sauvignon/Franc   2011?
-Tenuta Pietramora Germile Morellino di Scansano $17.95   Gradwell Wines
-Villa Cerna Primocolle Chianti Classico 2015
-Cecchi Chianti 2016
-Uggiano Chianti Roccialta DOCG $14.95
-Falconeri Cabernet Sauvignon di Toscana IGT 2010
-Uggiano Petrai Merlot di Toscana IGT
-La Sala Chianti Classico 2015  $26.50  organic  Bespoke Wine & Spirits
-Poggio Stenti Toscana Bianco IGT 2017 $19.90   TWC Imports  Licensee
-Dogajolo Toscano Rosso 2015    Univins
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Poggio Stenti Toscana Rosato IGT 2017 $19.90   TWC Imports Licensee
-Tenute Piccini Chianti Black Label 2016  $14.99  Winelovers
-Tenute Piccini Donna di Valiano Chardonnay 2016  $22.99  Winelovers
The Food: there was Lavazza coffee, there were two cheese stands (one of which had a great Pecorino Toscano), and two salami/antipasto meat stands (one of which was a delicious Piaceri d'Italia finocchiona salami). But otherwise information and food was scarce. The two olive oil stands were too crowded for my attentions.
The Downside: it got crowded really fast, but I was never really sure who the target audience was drawn from. Also, there was scarce information about the foods. There were sheets on the wines but no overall listing nor prices nor levels of availability. It was a show where there was a lot of hand-selling, which can be effective but only if the crowd was smaller and there was more time.
The Upside: I got some exposure to Tuscan wines not normally seen around Toronto.
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 82

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP 20/20 WINES: 20 under $20 and 20 over $20 for December 8, 2018

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP 20/20 WINES: 20 under $20 and 20 over $20 for  December 8, 2018
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing My "Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net", a guide to thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits, has been at since 1994.
These notes for wines available through the LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at or at
Scores are a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, e.g. a Southern Rhone tastes like a Southern Rhone) and QPR (Quality/Price Ratio value in the marketplace above or below its price).
+662726    POLI VACA MORA AMARO  700 mL Veneto, Italy    $39.95
20 under $20
W+147512    13TH STREET JUNE'S VINEYARD RIESLING    VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula    2016    $19.95    12% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+341586    FEATHERSTONE FOUR FEATHERS    VQA Niagara Peninsula        2017    $14.95    12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+43281    FLAT ROCK RIESLING    VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment        2016    $17.95    11% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+483875    THE TRAGICALLY HIP AHEAD BY A CENTURY CHARDONNAY    VQA Niagara Peninsula    Stoney Ridge Estate Winery    2017    $19.95    13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+919514    WITHER HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC    Marlborough, South Island    2017    $19.95 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+618280    LA CELIA RESERVA MALBEC/CABERNET FRANC    Uco Valley, Mendoza        2015    $14.95 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+132365    VIÑA COBOS FELINO CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Mendoza    Paul Hobbs    2016    $19.95    13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+723478  ZUCCARDI Q MALBEC Uco Valley, Mendoza 2015 $19.95 13.9% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+486043    PRIMUS CABERNET SAUVIGNON    DO Maipo Valley    2014    $19.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+66738    THE BLACK CHOOK SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER    McLaren Vale/Padthaway, South Australia    2016    $18.95    14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
W+485839    MARCEL CABELIER VIEILLES VIGNES CHARDONNAY    AP Côtes du Jura        2014    $19.95    12% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+391847    THIERRY DELAUNAY TOURAINE SAUVIGNON BLANC    AP    2017 $16.95     12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+175232    SAINT-ROCH VIEILLES VIGNES CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON    AP    2017    $16.95     13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+562546    TERRANERA GRECO    IGT Campania 2017    $17.95     13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+518977    TERRA TANGRA ORGANIC CABERNET SAUVIGNON/MERLOT/MAVRUD    PGI Thracian Valley        2016    $14.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+560771    CHÂTEAU DE FAUZAN MINERVOIS AP  2016 $15.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  89
R+413237    GÉRARD BERTRAND SYRAH/GRENACHE    AP Languedoc    2015    $16.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+561340    LES HAUTS DE VENTABREN CAIRANNE    AP    1752 Signature Wines    2015    $17.95  14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+452789    CONFIDENCIAL RESERVA    Vinho Regional Lisboa    Casa Santos Lima    2014    $13.95     13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+582882    BISCARDO NEROPASSO    IGT Rosso del Veronese    2016    $18.95  13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+408138    QUINTA DO QUETZAL GUADALUPE WINEMAKER'S SELECTION RED    Vinho Regional Alentejano        2015    $16.95     14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
20 over $20
W+127290    THE FOREIGN AFFAIR RIESLING    VQA Niagara Peninsula 2013    $23.95             12.1% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
W+377770    QUAILS' GATE CHARDONNAY    BC VQA Okanagan Valley     2016    $24.95 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+39271    YALUMBA SAMUEL'S GARDEN COLLECTION WILD FERMENT CHARDONNAY    Eden Valley, South Australia    2016    $24.95     13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+359513    CLOUDY BAY CHARDONNAY    Marlborough, South Island        2015    $37.95
13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+343038    BURROWING OWL MERITAGE    BC VQA Okanagan Valley        2015    $57.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+56879    SEGHESIO OLD VINE ZINFANDEL    Sonoma County        2014    $54.95
14.8% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+421149    ACROBAT PINOT NOIR    Oregon    2015    $28.95    13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+63891    EMILIANA COYAM    Los Robles Estate, DO Colchagua Valley        2014    $29.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
R+76307    SANTA EMA AMPLUS CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Maipo Alto, DO Maipo Valley        2016    $21.95    14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+377036    WAKEFIELD JARAMAN SHIRAZ    Clare Valley/McLaren Vale, South Australia        2016    $24.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+402685    GIESEN THE BROTHERS PINOT NOIR    Marlborough, South Island        2016    $32.95 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+557694    MAISON OLIVIER TRICON MONTMAINS CHABLIS 1ER CRU    AC        2014    $39.95     13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+487868    CHÂTEAU L'ESPÉRANCE    AC Côtes de Bordeaux - Blaye    2010    $20.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
R+349308    CHÂTEAU PEY LA TOUR RÉSERVE DU CHÂTEAU    AC Bordeaux Supérieur    Vignobles Dourthe    2015    $21.95     15% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+671289    CROIX CANON    Second wine of Château Canon, AC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru        2012    $66.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+959627    CHÂTEAU MONT-REDON CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE    AC    Abeille-Fabre    2015    $49.95     14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+583039    NODO D'AMORE ROSSO    IGT Trevenezie    Remo Farina    2016    $22.95  14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+147876 TENUTA SAN GUIDO LE DIFESE IGT Toscana 2016 $34.95 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Event: Bubbles Against Troubles Sparkling Wine Tasting in aid of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Nov 26/18

The Date and Time: Monday November 26, 2018   1:30 - 6PM
The Event: Bubbles Against Troubles Sparkling Wine Tasting in aid of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
The Venue: Peter Pan Bistro [upstairs]
The Target Audience: wine trade and consumers
The Availability/Catalogue: all stands had tech sheets and/or lists of wines being poured.
The Quote/Background: Mark Cuff of The Living Vine had always wanted to have a sparkling wine tasting from natural and biodynamic wineries. Here he collaborates with Nicholas Pearce, Le Sommelier, The Vine, Cru Wine Merchants, and Noble Estates for a range of sparklers from Champagnes through to Pet-Nat [petillant naturel, methode ancestrale].
The Wines: I did not taste every wine. The Living Vine also had top-notch ciders (Southbrook Organic Wild Ferment Cider 2017, $13.30; Eric Bordelet Normandy Brut Tendre Cider $17.95, and Poire Authentique Cidre $23.95; and Meinklang Foam Cider $33). And a beer (Meinklang Urkhorn Ale Burgenland 330 mL $4.75).
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms): not in any order
-Paulo Laureano Sparkling Brut DOC Bucelas 2010 $29.95 Lic Nicolas Pearce  [my fave]
-Sorelle Bronca Diffetto Perfetto Sur Lie Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore NV $23.95 Lic Cru
-Raventos I Blanc L'Hereu Vlanc de Blancs Brut 2016 $27 Lic Cru
-Monmarthe Champagne Secret de Famille Brut  $48.95 Lic Cru
-Champagne Collet Brut Art Deco NV $66.95  The Vine
-Cave Spring Blanc de Blancs Brut CSV Trad Method  2009 $44.75  The Vine
-Bottega White Gold Venezia DOC +348318 Vintages $29
-Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut +158550 $99
-13th Street Blanc de Blanc VQA $20.90 Lic
-Champagne Gosset Grand Reserve Brut NV $76.95  Lic  Le Sommelier
-JM Sohler Cremant d'Alsace Blanc de Blancs Brut 2015 $24.95 Lic Le Sommelier
-Clos Lentiscus Blanc Brut Nature 2014 Penedes $33.95  Lic  Le Sommelier
-Clos Lentiscus Pet-Nat Malvasia Sitges 2014 Penedes $41.95  Lic  Le Sommelier
-Clos Lentiscus Rose Brut Nature 2012 Penedes $32.95  Lic  Le Sommelier
-Clos Lentiscus Rose 41N Brut Nature 2013 Penedes $36.95  Lic  Le Sommelier
-Julia & Navines Cave Brut Nature Reserva "No SO2" Penedes $19.95 Lic Le Sommelier
-Champagne Goutorbe Bouillot Reflects de Riviere Brut NV $58.95 Lic Nicolas Pearce
-Champagne Ducret Le Chemin du Chemin Premier Cru NV $58.95 Lic Nicolas Pearce
-Champagne Fleury Blanc de Noirs $68  The Living Vine
-Barmes-Buecher Cremant d'Alsace Zero Dosage 2016 $32.95  The Living Vine
-Domaine Geschickt Double Zero Cremant d'Alsace 2016 $32.95  The Living Vine
-Chateau Leoube Sparkling de Leoube NV Provence $69.95  The Living Vine
-Alta Alella Cava Mirgin Rose Reserva 2016 $24.95  The Living Vine
-Recaredo Cava Terrers 2012 Penedes   $45.95  The Living Vine
-Vittorio Bera & Figli Moscato d'Asti 2017 Piedmont $29.95 The Living Vine
-Podere Carvarola Lambrusco La Rondinina 2016 Emilia Romagna $24.95 The Living Vine
-Meinklang Foam Red Burgenland $36.95 The Living Vine
-Southbrook Vineyards Biodynamic Bubbly Chardonnay 2017 VQA $25.12  The Living Vine
-Supernatural Wine Co. Super Pet-Nat $38  The Living Vine
-Figuiere Atmosphere Sparkling Grenache $45 [orange?] The Living Vine
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Sorelle Bronca Brut Superiore Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore NV $20.95 Lic Cru
-Raventos I Blanc De Nit Rose Brut 2016 $32.95 Lic Cru
-Quid Rosato Brut NV Aglianico/Sangiovese  $19.95  The Vine
-Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Blancs Brut Trad Method 2015  $65.95  The Vine
-13th Street Cuvee Rose VQA $20.90  Lic
-Bonnet-Huteau Terre Australe Pen-Nat NV Loire $25.95  Lic Le Sommelier
-Rolet Cremant de Jure Rose Brut NV $33.95 Lic Le Sommelier
-Aphros Phaunus PetNat Loureiro Vinho Verde DOC 2016 Lima $34.95 Lic Le Sommelier
-Mas Codina Brut Nature Reserva Cava Penedes NV $19.95  Lic Nicolas Pearce
-Domaine Baud Brut Sauvage Cremant de Jura NV $32.95 Lic Nicolas Pearce
-Mure Cremant d'Alsace NV $24.95 Lic Nicolas Pearce
-Chateau Barouillet Splash Pey-Nat VDF NV $26.95 Lic Nicholas Pearce
-La Stoppa Malvasia  $25  The Living Vine
-Domaine Geschickt Obi Wine Keno Bulle Pet-Nat Alsace 2017 $37  The Living Vine
-Alta Alella Cava Mirgin Reserva 2016 $24.95  The Living Vine
-Massimago Zurlie Corvina Rose NV Veneto 600 mL $23.95  The Living Vine
-Massimago Mago Spumante Rose Brut 2016 Veneto  $34.95  The Living Vine
-Fattoria Sardi Pet-Nat 2017 Tuscany  $24.95   The Living Vine
-Podere Carvarola Lambrusco Il Cenerino 2016 Emilia Romagna $24.95 The Living Vine
-Claus Preisinger Ancestral Sankt Laurent 2017 $44.95  The Living Vine
The Food: tubular crisps, popcorn, puff paste twists, veggies, olives, dips, bread.
The Downside: it was raining outside, making it awkward to attend the event.
The Upside: overall, one of the best wine shows I have ever tasted at. It was only a few months back that The Living Vine brought forth the first "orange" wine show in Toronto, and that too was a fab event.
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 93


Monday, December 3, 2018


1.Southbrook Canadian Framboise NV, $19.95/375 mL, winery: jammy raspberry nose and palate, excellent on its own, with chocolate or (even better) as a Raspberry Kir with your bubbly of choice. 13.5% ABV. Twist top. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay Organic 2016 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +172338 Vintages $24.95: fruit is from two contracted growers (Saunders and Laundry), all barrel fermented in oak(2d and 3rd year barrels), lees aging one year, all vegan friendly. 12.6% ABV. Very soft and engaging, much like the 2012 in its youth, some toast but a longish length. Showing some orchard fruit on the mid-palate. Burgundian in style. Best tasted in contemplation, underpriced. Do not overchill. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Southbrook Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2017 Biodynamic VQA Niagara Escarpment, $35 retail at winery and online (releasing December 2018) and also available through select restaurants: 100% chardonnay. The wine is biodynamic, suitable for vegans. Wild fermentations are slow and produce complex wines. Freshness and acidity is emphasized. At 13% ABV, it is quite an experience, especially so after more aging or exposure to air. So far there are tones of lemons, melons, green pear, and some oak. As a distinct food wine, it would pair nicely with cheeses and seafood, but do not overchill. It also tastes more expensive than it is, rich, full with a plush finish. Twist top. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Southbrook Skin Fermented Vidal (Orange Wine) 2017 Biodynamic VQA Ontario, $29.95 retail: this is a terrific wine from Four Mile Creek estates. There is natural expression wild fermentation (juice, stems and skin) over a month long period with foot-trodding. After pressing ans chilling outdoors, the wine settled on lees and was bottled cloudy without any filtering or additives (e.g., no sulphites). It's got a searing intensity and a bit of a sour tang on the finish for character; sugar was <1.5 g/L. The free naturally occurring SO2 is only 6 M/L. So – there is a lot going on here, such as citric tones and tropical fruits, flowers, tea, some green and herbaceous fruit. The winery suggests that it seems to be a successful pairing with vinaigrette salads, bitter greens, and artichokes. I really liked this wine and gave the 2014 version (which admittedly had some aging by 2018) a sound 95 points. The 2017 is somewhat different but in the same style, and hopefully it will age as well. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore Organic, UPC 621605, $35 Winery only: This is the start of the new Southbrook Single Vineyard series. The originating source is Heather Laundry's organic pinot noir clone 115 from Lincoln Lakeshore. A second organic Single Vineyard series will be launched next year, from the Warren Saunders Family vineyards. Natural fermentation with 40% whole clusters, aged 19 months in large French oak (11% new oak), 12.6% ABV. It's what a natural pinot noir should be: red fruit dominated by cherries, some forest floor, and a seam of acidity in the finish for food. Very Burgundian in style. It needs more time, and so a double decant is recommended. But I kept mine open for days and returned from time-to-time to re-enjoy. But obviously others are ready to drink it now. Vegan-friendly. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Gamay 2017 Biodynamic VQA Vinemount Ridge, $24.95 retail from winery: another in the Single Vineyard series, this one from Vinemount Ridge. It too is biodynamic and suitable for vegans. 12.9% ABV with low free SO2 (12 mg/L). Wild yeast and malo complete the almost four weeks of fermentation on skins, followed by barrel aging in older French barriques for seven months. Light bodied and herbal with red fruit tones, slightly fewer tannins than expected. Not your typical gamay. Screwcap closure. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Riesling 2017 Organic VQA Vinemount Ridge, +581603 $22.95 retail from winery: another in the Single Vineyard series, this one from Vinemount Ridge. It's organic, suitable for vegans, and comes from the fab Vinemount Ridge sub-appellation: the home of many great Ontario rieslings which are very close in style to the terpenic Alsatians. Residual sugar is a lowish off-dry 8 g/L. Delicious palate blend of orchard and stone fruit in the mineral style. 11.1% ABV. Could be aged a bit. Screwcap closure. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.La Celia Elite Malbec 2015 Paraje Altamira Uco Valley Mendoza, +578187, $24.95 Vintages: a current blend of 93% malbec, 5% syrah, and 2% cabernet franc (varies every year, sometimes with some tannat). Very dense black texture with black fruit dominating and some toasty tones of American wood in the finish. Some butter and cream for mouthfeel, good coffee elements as well. 14.7% ABV. As of now, still a young wine. So do a double-decant and/or taste it over several days. A keeper through 2015+. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.La Celia Reserva 2015 Uco Valley Mendoza, +618280 $14.95 Vintages December 8: a baby brother to the Elite, with a malbec and cabernet franc blend. Red fruit tends to dominate, complete malolactic fermentation. Smooth all the way, especially on the finish. Try a double-decant at this stage, to being out its warmth. 13.5%ABV. Competitively priced at under $15. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
10.SonVida Malbec 2015 Reserve Paraje Altmira Mendoza $29.95 Vintages +458240: some cabernet sauvignon added in, plus aging in a bit of new French oak for almost two years (with some US oak). Some smoky mocha tones with mild but upfront black fruit riffing off the full-body but getting louder and more prominent with the finish. Produced by Sonia and David Smith, former UK journalists now making high altitude malbec wine since 2007. Double decanting is needed to bring out the proper fruit expression. But of course the wine can be aged for at least a decade. 14% ABV. Try it with lamb chermoula as I did Saturday night....terrific match. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
11.G. Marquis Vineyards Chardonnay The Silver Line 2017 Single Vineyard Niagara Stone Road VQA NOTL, +258681, $17.95 Vintages: a nifty all-purpose chardonnay with enough fruit (apples, pears, melons) and oak tones (muted vanilla, buttery), probably best as a first course or entry level wine for fish. Slightly off-dry. 13% ABV. No price change in years. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
12. G. Marquis The Silver Line Pinot Noir 2016 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, +258673 Vintages, $20.20: with ML and BA (six months in new, mainly French oak, this wine seems burgundian cool climate in style with a wash of Ontario cranberries. Red fruit, black cherries, some smoke, forest floor, long finish. 13.2% ABV. Expect some velvety tones and feel. Hand-picked from over-25-year-old vines. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
13.G.Marquis The Red Line Pinot Grigio 2017 VQA Niagara Peninsula, $13.10 +276501 LCBO:
for an Ontario PG at this price level the melons and pears really come through, with a clean, dry, zesty finish. 12.4%ABV Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
14.G.Marquis The Red Line Sauvignon Blanc 2017 VQA Niagara Peninsula, $13.95 +556894
LCBO: expect a basic but useful savvy here, with the usual emphasis on the green weedy character plus some limes and other citric tones. It's an acidic but fresh lingering finish. 12.5%ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
15.G.Marquis The Red Line Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 VQA Niagara Peninsula, $14.10 +473090
LCBO: much is going on here, albeit in a red fruit mode (red currant, cranberries, raspberries, crushed cherries) tempered by some mild oaking and forest floor complexity. 13%ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
16.Rapscallion Frisky Beaver Frisky Red 2017 VQA Ontario, $14.95, winery only: a deep BBQ and gutsy wine for the Man of the House, based on baco noir, marechal foch, and cabernets. 13%ABV. Quality/Price rating is 87 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
17.Magnotta Vidal Icewine Limited Edition VQA Niagara 2016 $32.90, 375 mL, +587154 Vintages:  10%ABV and showing apricot, mango, and pineapple tones, very sweet at 205 g/L residual sugar. I would lay this down for awhile so the fruit flavours can meld together and the finishing acidity rise. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
18.Kittling Ridge Vidal Icewine VQA Niagara 2017 $40.45, 375 mL, +563247 Vintages:
10%ABV with orchard fruit (pear, apricot), melon nuances, and honey (botrytis?). Some hot tropical fruit too. 185 g/L residual sugar is 10% less than the Magnotta.
Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
19.Henry of Pelham Family Tree Red 2016 VQA Ontario, +247882, $18.95 TBD Vintages: This red blend for 2016 (the blend can change with each release) comprises syrah (32%), cabernet franc (15%), cabernet sauvignon (18%), merlot (30%), and baco noir (5%). The latter may have resulted in a VQA Ontario designation rather than a VQA Niagara. It's all barrel aged, 65% French oak and 35% US oak for 17 months. It is substantial, reflecting the aromatics and flavour profiles of the grapes used. Cherry-berry tones, fresh spices on the finish, some spine to stand up to hearty food. Cork closure, 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
20.Henry of Pelham Riesling Estate 2017 VQA Short Hills Bench, +557165 Vintages, $19.95: intense riesling in a Rhine style of cool fermentation, with a very off-dry palate but a dry finish (good acid levels on the finish) – broad grapefruit and lemons on the mid-palate, sip or food. 11.2% ABV, twist top, from HOP's oldest Estate vineyards (33+ year old riesling vines). Should also age well. Try with fish that live in water but die in wine. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
21.Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Marlborough, +489112, $18.95 LCBO General List: a warm and dry summer led to a fruity harvest. The tropical fruit intensity leads to a citric lemony finish for food, typically white fish or seafood. It should be even better next year! 12.5% ABV, RS=5.9 g/L, twist top. The Reserve version appeared in Vintages at three dollars more. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.


Sunday, December 2, 2018


FOOD AND DRINK BOOKS IN REVIEW FOR NOVEMBER 2018 [published monthly since 2000]
By Dean Tudor, Gothic Epicures Writing,
These food and wine book reviews are always available at  and
Stocking stuffers should be at the very top of everybody's gift list this Holiday season: something affordable from under $10 up to $25 CAD or so, and these can also double as host gifts, being something small and lightweight. Most of the books here are paperbacks. And of course, they can all stuff an adult stocking.
A.Typical for food are:
--SCANDIKITCHEN CHRISTMAS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2018, 160 pages, $26.95 hardbound) is a foodbook by Bronte Aurell, Danish author and restaurateur at ScandiKitchen Cafe. This is her fourth eponymous cookbook for Ryland Peters & Small. These are traditional recipes from Scandinavia for the Christmas holiday season, competing with the Victorian and the Prussian holiday feasts at Christmas time. Typical are glogg (mulled wine) and hygge foods. She introduces the Sandi pantry, and goes into Advent gatherings (with historical context on how Advent is done in Scandinavia), biscuits and breads and cakes, Christmas Eve  traditions, and the Yule smorgasbord.
--KOMBUCHA (Ryland Peters & Small, 2018, 96 pages, $19.95 hardbound) is by Louise Avery of LA Brewery in the UK.  She, as founder, uses all natural ingredients to brew health-boosting teas. The company supplies Selfridges, Whole Foods, Planet Organic, plus many cafes. Here  are 30 preps for naturally fermented and sparkling tea drinks, arranged by four bases: flowers, fruits, veggies, herbs & spices. There is also a long and lengthy primer on  brewing basics and kombucha, followed by a UK-US web resources listing.
--CHEESE BALLS (Chronicle Books, 2018,112 pages, $24.95  hardcover) is by Dena Rayess. It takes me back to the 1960s. I must admit that I have never actually created a cheese ball from scratch. I've always made my creations from leftover cheeses after a party, adding cream cheese or some soft cheese, nuts and flavours to the basic leftovers. So here are 40 preps for making a cheese ball from scratch, plus advice on shaping and decorating . A very useful volume for party go-tos, game-day snacks, and picnics.
--CHRISTMAS WITH DICKENS (Cico Books, 2018, 64 pages, $19.95 hardbound) is by Pen Vogler. It has been abstracted from her earlier Cooking with Dickens. This is the Christmas section, with lobster patties, pickled salmon, roast goose, orange and red currant jellies, smoking bishop and punch. There is even a recipe for hand-raised pork pie to keep in the larder for visitors (or escaped convicts). 22 preps in all, followed by a very food bibliography for further reading of Dickens and food.
--THE ARTISANAL KITCHEN: BAKING FOR BREAKFAST, SWEETS & TREATS, PARTY CAKES  (Artisan, 2018, 112 pages each, $17.95 each hardback) are three parts of a series by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day, co-owners of the Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah Georgia. Each deals with a specific theme -- there are 33 breakfast recipes for muffins, biscuits, eggs, and other sweet and savoury dishes; there are 33 sweets and treats recipes for cupcakes, brownies, bars and candies; and there are 36 decadent party cake recipes for festive occasions. Warmly illustrated, and with conversion charts.
--I [HEART] PUMPKIN (Ryland Peters & Small, 2018, 144 pages, $19.95 hardbound) is a compilation from RP&S authors pulled together by Alice Sambrook. There are 60 preps, many by Brian Glover (17) and Hannah Miles (9), with the balance by 21 other UK cookbook writers. All are meant for the winter months, with soups, stews, pies and tarts.
--THE OYSTER COMPANION (Firefly Books, 2018, 256 pages, $19.95 flexibound) is by Patrick McMurray, the world champion oyster shucker (Guinness) who owned Starfish in Toronto for over a decade before The Ceili Cottage. The work was originally published in 2007 as Consider the Oyster. It's a great field guide (now completely revised, expanded, and updated) to the complex nature of oysters where tastes will vary over the seasons and location of the beds. It is also a cultural history to the lore and call of the oyster. He compares the differences between some 50 of the more popular varieties found world-wide. With recipes. And it is small and flexible enough to be a portable guide. He's even got an amazing tasting wheel which would freak out the oenophiles.
--FOODIE CITY BREAKS: Europe (Dog 'n' Bone, 2018, 144 pages, $19.95 paperbound) is by Richard Mellor, a UK travel and food writer. It's a succinct guide to 25 of the best cities in Europe for food, with about 10 recommendations for each. France is the heavyweight here with three cities, but Spain and Italy also have three each. So for Bordeaux, budget picks include Le Chien de Pavlov, fine-dining at Garopapilles, modern bistro at Miles, La Cagette for breakfast, bars, places for regional cuisine, wines, cafes, food markets, and so "local secrets" .  This is an easily digestible summary of culinary scenes in Europe – the perfect host gift.
--DINNER LIKE A BOSS (Hardie Grant Books, 2018, 152 pages, $28.99 paperbound) is by Katy Holder. It is a collection of some 50 recipes emphasizing quick and easy healthy meals for busy families. These are mainly one pots featuring meat or fish or just veggies with a global slant. There's the bibimbap rice bowl, smoky Mexican chicken burgers, and crunchy fruit crumble.
--BACON BEANS AND BEER (Gibbs Smith, 2018, 128 pages, $22 hardbound) is by Eliza Cross who has written the prime reference work on bacon. This is a guy foodbook, so it should be suitable as a host gift. The intent is to merge bacon and beans into some dish and then pair it with a suitable beer. The range runs from apps through to sweet treats.
--THE AUBERGINE COOKBOOK (Ebury Press, 2018, 112 pages, $$21.99 hardbound) is by Heather Thomas. The front cover promises 50 recipes to feed your obsession, while the back cover promises 60 brand new recipes. Maybe the truth lies in between...Serious cooks know that "aubergines" is UK-talk for "eggplants".  Typical preps here are eggplant fritters with honey, Sicilian eggplant pizza, Thai eggplant curry, and Szechuan-spiced eggplant. A good all-round collection gathered within one set of covers.
--DIET CHEATS COOKBOOK  (Vermilion,  2018, 128 pages, $21.99 paperbound) is by Heather Thomas who promises us that in this work all your fave meals are made healthier. She's got some easy to follow Green, Amber, and Red food lists, nutrition notes, and concise calorie data for each recipe. Just about every recipe is title "Cheat's something", e.g. Cheat's Buffalo wings, Cheat's hummus, Cheat's tiramisu, and the like. Still, there are 100 guilt-free recipes here worthy of your attention to satisfy your cravings and maybe even lose some weight. You start the day right, go light in the meals, and spend less time in prep work. Hey, it works for me...
--HOW TO SET A TABLE (Ebury/Clarkson Potter, 2018, 128 pages $21.99 hardbound) is a publisher's book, but this time it is a hardbound version of the previous paperback. While the rules for entertaining company have relaxed (but some may say "disintegrated"), you'll still want to know about placement of knives, forks, glasses, napkins, etc. The range is from a last minute get-together through brunches, picnics, and memorable dinners. Consoles and trays are covered, but not trolleys.
--FLATBREAD (Gibbs Smith, 2018, 128 pages, $19.99 hardbound) is by Anni Daulter. The primer is mainly a few types of dough, such as "classic" pizza-like, unleavened pan bread, sourdough, sweet dough (for dessert flatbreads),  and toasted nut gluten-free flatbread. Plus, of course, you can always buy naan bread, pita bread, lavash, tortilla, puff pastry, and layered phyllo pastry. But the essence of the work are the toppings, dips and drizzle, which includes a deconstructed BBT (bacon, basil and tomato).
--STUDENT EATS (Ebury Press, 2017, 192 pages, $21.99 softbound) is by Rachel Phipps who promotes easy, affordable good food on a budget. Of course you don't need to be a student, just penurious. All meals are covered: breakfast, lunch, solo dinners, food for friends, drinks. Most food is homemade such as granola. There are chapters for leftovers, pantry meals, some menus for three meals under $20. Of course, it is all written by a former student, now a graduate, with a theme of "how I survived". British orientation, but then, courgette sounds so much better than zucchini. Try the mushroom toasts with tamago ribbons.
--KITCHEN CONFIDANT (Chronicle Books, 2018, 96 pages, $16.95 hardbound) is another publisher's title, being billed as "an indispensable guide for the baker, drinker, and cook".  Coverage includes ingredient substitution, metric and avoirdupois conversions, basic tool kits and equipment, and the like. I hate to tell them, but there is really no difference between Large eggs and Extra-Large eggs. At least, not anymore. Have you seen them lately?
--SO YOU THINK YOU'RE A FOODIE? (Dog 'n' Bone, 2018, 128 pages, $19.95 hardbound) is by Alexandra Parsons. It was first published in 2012 and has since been re-titled as above. There are 50 entries looking into the icons of foodism. The range is from searching for the tastiest and most authentic food to elaborate gastro experiences to food bores. Topics include science, salt, Michelin stars, artisan produce, and "mystery" meats. Good for a laugh over the holidays.
--FOR THIS WE LEFT EGYPT? (Flatiron Books, 2017, 2018,  130 pages, $27.99 hardbound) is a humour work by humourists Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel, and Adam Mansbach ("three of the funniest people I've ever created" -- G-D. It's a Passover Haggadah for the Seder. Note: of course, it is a parody. The tome itself is constructed from right to left, with the normal "front cover" being the blurbs on the back cover. As it says, good Jews will no longer have to sit through a lengthy Seder. The authors take you through every step, employing a kosher blowtorch and ending with a celebratory brisket. Lotsa fun reading.
--THE WORLD'S BEST BOWL FOOD (Lonely Planet, 2018, 224 pages, $19.99  paperbound) written by a variety of people and collated by the publisher – it's a collection of 100 one-pot international recipes from bibimbap (Korea) to chicken soup (Algeria) and pozole  (Mexico), bigos (Poland), and Eton mess (UK). It's all comforting home-style food, arranged by course. There's something for everyone here.
--POULETS & LEGUMES (Rux Martin, Houghton Mifflin, 2018, 120 pages, $22.50 hardbound) is from Jacques Pepin. These are his favourite chicken and vegetable recipes, drawn from five of his previous cookbooks. The first half deals with chicken: roast, peking-style, supremes, bouillabaisse, chasseur, jardiniere – about 28 in all, ending with roast stuffed cornish hens. The parade of 39 veggie preps includes artichoke hearts, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, spinach – any of which can be used with poultry. A neat little production.
--SIMPLY CITRUS (Gibbs Smith, 2018, 128 pages, $ 19.99 hardbound) is by Marie Asselin. It's a basic work on lemons, limes, orange, mandarin, grapefruit, kumquat, and other varieties, arranged by type after the primer.
--THE PESTO COOKBOOK (Storey Publishing, 2018, 218 pages, $25 paperbound) is by Olwen Woodier, who has written other cookbooks such as the Apple Cookbook and the Peach Cookbook. Here she gives us 116 preps for creative herb combinations. Of course, any time you use herbs, you've maximized the flavour.  It is basically a basil-based collection, but she does have 20 pages for making pestos from rosemary, scallions, cilantro, parsley, mint, lemon thyme, fennel, arugula – and others. And of course the adventuresome cook can  mix and match and continue to experiment.
--ASIAN TAPAS (Ryland Peters & Small,  2018, 144 pages, $19.95 hardbound)  has 60 recipes, with the major credits going to Jordan Bourke, Carol Hilker, Jenny Linford, and Loretta Liu (although 15 writers in all were involved). There is a primer on dough making, and then it is divided by form: parcels, rolls, dumplings, fritters, frys, pancakes, ribs, grills, wings. ,These are Asian small bites and apps, such as Vietnamese chicken and quinoa small bites, sashimi and cucumber bites, green chili bhajis, Chinese duck breast pancakes, beef bulgogi and rice noodle wraps. Something for everyone in the ultimate graze party. Sake anyone?
--DOSA KITCHEN (Clarkson Potter, 2018, 144 pages, $24.99 hardbound) is by Nash Patel and Leda Scheintaub. It's all about a very popular street food in India: thin, rice-and-lentil-based pancakes that can be stuffed with a variety of fillings—even sweets. Dosas are naturally fermented and gluten-free; they can be vegetarian (even vegan) and dairy-free as well. They give us a master batter followed by 50 recipes for stuffings, chutneys, and cocktails. These are 18-inch dosas, although the couple do make 32-inch dosas at their food truck.
--101 AMAZING USES FOR TURMERIC (Familius, 2018, 144 pages, $18.95 paperbound) is by Susan Branson. Turmeric appears to be yet another superfood, and the uses include alleviating illnesses and infections, such as allergies, asthma, cataracts, colorectal polyps, Crohn's disease, lung cancer, alcohol intoxication, common cold, depression, migraine, et al. It is also used for beauty (itchy skin, insect bites, bruises) and arts and crafts (temporary tattoos). Lots of footnotes with impeccable sources.
--101 AMAZING USES FOR GARLIC (Familius, 2018, 144 pages, $18.95 paperbound) is by Susan Branson. Her divisions this time include health, wellness, expunging pests, and unexpected uses. In the latter category you can find its use as an aphrodisiac, disinfecting spray, fishing bait and lures, glue, seasickness, splinters and wreaths. Lots of footnotes with impeccable sources.
--COOKING IN A SMALL KITCHEN (Picador Cookstr Classics, 2018, 257 pages, $21 hardbound) is by Arthur Schwartz. The new Picador series comprises reprints of cookbook classics, with a new foreword that explains why it is being republished. Schwartz's work  was published in 1979 and was meant for cramped quarters. The cookbook is both practical and timeless, as Lidia Bastianich noted in her foreword. Schwartz, an amazing food writer and editor in NYC, went on to write six more cookbooks.
--THE CONFIDENT COOK (Picador Cookstr Classics, 2018, 241 pages, $21 hardbound) is by Irena Chalmers, with a new foreword by Anne Willan. The 200 practical preps here use any or more of the five basic cooking methods. Once you've mastered those five, such as poaching, roasting, broiling, you can spin off. A simple beef stew can also become a Mulligan or a bourguignon. Chalmers wrote over 80 cookbooks, but this one is directed to new cooks.
B.Other little books, for beverages, include those on coffee, beer, wine and spirits – and even water:
--H2OH! (The Countryman Press, 2018 ,122 pages, $17.50 hardbound) is by Mimi Kirk, who has also written books about raw foods and smoothies. Water (and hydration) is great she says, but infusions help you drink that water. This all-organic work gives us the tastiest and healthiest infusions of veggies, fruits and herbs. Why pay $6 a bottle when you can make it for a nickel?  Plus, you can produce infused ice cubes for other drinks as well. Basil water is a fave of mine, as is strawberry and thyme. Scores of recipes and variations. Neat book
--NIGHTCAP (Chronicle Books, 128 pages, $24.95 hardbound) is by Kara Newman. She's got more than 40 simple cocktails to close out any evening, whether you are looking to keep the night going or soothe yourself to sleep, end a meal with a sweet or a digestif. I want to go to sleep, so I'd try the DejaVu All Over Again (amaro – Aperol -- Lillet) or Pleasant Evening (creme de cassis – Champagne), Well worth looking at for ideas.
--BEER HACKS (Workman Publishing, 2018, 158 pages, $24.95 hardbound) is by Ben Robinson. There are 100 tips, trick, and projects here, including a total beer vacation at Starkenberger Brewery in Austria, making authentic bratwurst by boiling in beer,  and getting better sleep with hop flowers rubbed into your pillow. Some tips use wedding rings, others will eliminate coffee stains, yet another will give you luxurious beer hair. Chacun a son gout. This will be for the beer drinking guy....
--SESSION COCKTAILS (Ten Speed Press, 2018, 154 pages, $24.99 hardbound) is by Drew Lazor and the Editors of the Beard winning online drinks site, Punch. It's a worthwhile collection of more than fifty low-alcohol drinks for any occasion, all designed to highlight flavours. Very appropriate for brunches. Most of the drinks are based on sherry, amaro, vermouth, wine and liqueur.  There is the Rebujito (sherry, mint, lemon, lime) and the Hop Skip Jump (Cynar, Punt e Mes, lemon, lime). Lazor also offers some tips on stocking the lo-al bar and recreating fave cocktails at low proof (eg., Negroni, Manhattan, Margarita).  There are even some advices on making large drinks in batches.
--STUFF EVERY BEER SNOB SHOULD KNOW (Quirk Books, 2018, 144 pages, $10.95 hardbound) is by Ellen Goldstein, who gives us a thumbnail coverage of just about everything in beerland. The basics describe what beers there are, the production process, glasses, tasting beers, storage, draught beer, hosting a tasting, and a large section on resources for further data. There's a lot of good stuff in these few pages – at an affordable price.
--LEMON WITH ZEST (Chronicle Books, 2018, 96 pages, $22  hardbound) is by April White. She's got 40 thirst-quenching recipes for lemon juice and lemon mix refreshments (with or without alcohol). Extremely useful for lemonade stands, picnics, barbecues, and any get-together.. It's arranged by form: liquids, ice pops, sorbets, and granitas.
--TEQUILA: shake, muddle, stir  (Hardie Grant Books, 2018, 143 pages, $24.99 hardcovers) is by Dan Jones who has got a string of books on gin and rum. He's got 40 preps here for tequila and mezcal. There's the Teqroni (substitute mezcal for gin), Tequila Mockingbird, Mexican Mojito, and Frozen Mango Margie. Great fun.
--TEQUILA BEYOND SUNRISE (Ryland Peters & Small, 2018, 64 pages, $17.95 hardbound) is by Jesse Estes, a London bartender and son of Tomas Estes, European Tequila Ambassador for the Mexican government. He's got over 40 recipes here for tequila and mezcal-based cocktails on a global scale. Check out Horchata Borracha, Death Flip and Blue Daisy. Hola!
--PROSECCO DRINKING GAMES (Dog 'n' Bone, 2018, 64 pages, $17.95 hardbound) is by Abbie Cammidge who, with her gal friends, have created or refashioned 29 drinking games for millennials. You just pick a game and pour some bubbles. My fave is the Raspberry Ripple where you have to toss berries into your opponent's glass – from a distance. Messy but effective. Any way – it is party time!
--GREAT WHISKEYS. New edition (DK Books, 2018, 384 pages, $19 paperbound) was first issued in 2011 (and was based on WORLD WHISKEYS form 2009). This new edition is based on the 2016 edition of WORLD WHISKEYS. It's a collection of thumbnail profiles of more than 500 of the best whiskeys from around the world. Charles MacLean is again the editor of this user-friendly pocket guide He's got a core of six other global contributors for the tasting notes and photography: each drink has a current label photo and notes covering eligible quaffs. For example, The Glenrothes  alone has four entries! The guide even has whiskey tours around producing areas to help plan any whiskey trip.
--THE BARISTA BOOK (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018, 128 pages, $19.99 paperbound) is by Hiroshi Sawada, an award winning coffee barista and latte artist. It was originally published in Japan in 2013 as a coffee lover's companion with brewing tips and over 50 recipes for coffee drinks. Included are lattes, Americanos, cappuccinos, espressos, cafe au laits, and iced drinks (among the principal preps) . A great tool for that coffee lover relative or friend.
--ROSE COCKTAILS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2018, 64 pages, $17.95 hardbound) is by Julia Charles, a UK lifestyle writer-editor. She's got 40 pink-wine based drinks – another way to use rose wine, every style of drink from short to long, still to sparkling, sharp to sweet, and fun to fancy. Bartenders are using rose as a base for more complex drinks. This stocking stuffer is arranged by type: aperitifs, sparklers, spritzers, coolers, slushes, crushes, punches and pitchers. A nifty reference for the warmer times of the year.
--THE WINE LOVER'S APPRENTICE (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018, 160 pages, $21.99 hardbound)  is by Kathleen Bershad who runs a wine consultancy business, Fine Wine Concierge; they help clients buy, sell, taste, organize, and learn about wine. This is her WINE 101 book, which covers how to taste, grape varieties, reading restaurant lists and wine store shelves, and having a wine tasting. The rest of the work is a series of profiles for each of the major wine growing areas in the world, plus a useful glossary. Good stuff for the newbie.
--DRINKING DISTILLED (Ten Speed Press, 2018, 170 pages, $22.99 hardbound) is by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, a bar director in Portland OR who has written The Bar Book. This is a basic work about "drinking" - with guidelines to toasting and drinking with a crowd,  drinking games, glassware, drinking and driving, hangovers, and barfing. Then he examines what you are drinking: spirits and cocktails. This is followed by when you are drinking: breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, special occasions (with appropriate recipes). Next up is where you are drinking: work, bars, home, friend's house, on the road, sporting events. And these are with even more recipes.
--GINSPIRATION (DK Books, 2018, 144 pages, $18.99 hardbound) is by Eric Grossman and Klaus St. Rainer. The material was previously published in larger books dealing with spirits and cocktails. This is the extraction of the gin pages, with the photography. As such, it's a nifty gift for a gin-loving host/hostess. These are some of the best preps for cocktails and infusions, including the martini, French 75, gimlet, gin fizz, gin sling, pink gin, London buck, and more. There is material on equipment, juices, sugars and syrup, as well as ice. The Gin A-Z section covers the wide world range of various styles of bottled gin, with bottle shots. As for the matter of bruising, I'll leave it up to you....
--THE CURIOUS BARTENDER'S GUIDE TO GIN (Ryland Peters & Small, 2016, 2018, 192 pages, $19.95 hardbound) is by Tristan Stephenson, It's an abridgement of his earlier 2016 work The Curious Bartender's Gin Palace.  Most of the work is concerned with the history of gin and how gin is made, with about 45 pages of cocktail recipes. Good value for under $20.
--FROM DRAM TO MANHATTAN (Ryland Peters & Small, 2018, 64 pages, $13.95 hardbound) is by Jesse Estes who concentrates on Canadian, Scotch, American, Irish and Japanese whiskys, with relevant local recipes for each type, a total of 40 preps. Covered are old fashioneds, sours, manhattans, juleps, highballs. Great price for a well-illustrated foodbook. 
--BEER AND FOOD MATCHING (Dog 'n' Bone, 2014, 2018,  222 pages, $19.95 hardbound) is by Mark Dredge, who goes after the finest foods and the finest craft beers in the world. This is a second edition. The first part of the work covers beer styles, from light through dark. The second part details matching food with beer, with notes on why that match, but no recipes. The last 50 pages is crammed with recipes to use in cooking with beer, such as scotch ale pork or stout beans.
--HUGH JOHNSON'S POCKET WINE BOOK 2019 (Mitchell Beazley, 2018, 336 pages, $18.99 hardbound, $14.99 Kindle ebook)  is a guide to wines from all around the world, not just to the "best" wines. It is in its 42nd year. Johnson claims more than 6000 wines and growers are listed. News, vintage charts and data, glossaries, best value wines, and what to drink now are here. His book is arranged by region, with notes on the 2017 vintage and a few details about the potential of 2018, along with a closer look at the 2016. He's got notes on what wines are ready to drink in 2019.   Johnson is  also moving into food pairing: there is a section on food and wine matching. He also has a listing of his personal 200 fave wines.  The Kindle edition is digitally enhanced for word searching, so it often beats a printed index for retrieving data – and it is $4 cheaper! Great purchase....
--A YEAR OF GOOD BEER 2019 PAGE-A-DAY CALENDAR (Workman, 2018, 320 pages, $19.99)
quenches the beer lover's thirst: microbrewery recommendations, beer lore, trivia, labels, vocabulary, tasting notes, beer festivals, and more daily fun. Discover a Colorado ale whose smoky coffee notes lend an almost porter-like aroma profile; a hoppy Brooklyn lager; and a perfect summer aperitif in the burgundy-hued Brombeere Blackberry Gose. Includes beer drinking games (like Buffalo Club, in which you must never be caught drinking with your right hand), recipes for refreshing beer cocktails, and "Hop Lookout" notes (like the smoothly bitter Cashmere, developed by Washington State University in 2013).  Some 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, 165 or so craft beers. If you buy any of the PAD calendars, then you can go online to the website and pick up other, free stuff, at 
--A YEAR OF GOOD WINE 2019 PAGE A DAY CALENDAR  (Workman, 2018, 320 pages,  $19.99)
is similar in set-up. This is from Karen MacNeil, "America's missionary of the vine" (Time magazine). It's like a  year-long wine course in a calendar. Adapted from the New York Times bestselling The Wine Bible, with 650,000 copies sold, it features recommendations for the best bottles from around the world, tasting notes, in-the-know wine facts, mouth-watering recipes, and more (Loire-valley French whites, like Sauvignon Blanc, which has an herbal, lime-scented freshness, crisp Gruner Veltliner with grilled fresh asparagus for a light summer dish, tips on spectacular bottles within a budget, wine horoscopes that match each sign with the right wine, and an Ask Karen section—Q&As that address wine queries and curiosities.
--A YEAR OF GOOD WHISKY 2019 PAGE A DAY CALENDAR (Workman, 2018, 320 pages, $19.99) adapted from A Field Guide to Whisky by Hans Offringa,  It features 313 entries, including advice on choosing, buying, and drinking whisky like a pro, trivia about the process of aging, distillation, and history. Plus whisky-related quotes ("There is no bad whiskey. There are only some whiskeys that aren't as good as others."—Raymond Chandler); tasting notes; and  recommendations—like Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask, characterized by vanilla, citrus, and light oak, combined with rich fruit, sherry, and spicy wooden notes. It's the perfect gift for anyone with a taste for whisky's ineffable appeal.