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Monday, December 30, 2019


...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"...
7.THE ESSENTIAL HOME-GROUND FLOUR BOOK (Robert Rose, 2016, 288 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0534-2, $27.95 CAN paperbound) is by Sue Becker, owner of The Bread Beckers and The Real Bread Company. She's a nutrition counselor in Georgia USA who has been teaching whole-grain flours for over 25 years. This is a reissue/reprint of the 2016 book. Real whole grains are both nutritious and delicious, and can be incorporated into any lifestyle and culture. Those grains with gluten (wheat, barley, rye) unfortunately cannot be assimilated by some people, but there are plenty of other grains and grasses to go around: rice, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, teff, sorghum, legumes. She covers them all in her determination to get you to bake and eat freshly home-ground flours; there is nutrition, lower cost, and better taste. The first half of the book details equipment for home-milling and the basics of baking. The second half has 100 recipes for yeast breads, quick breads, loaf breads, biscuits, cornbread, cookies, bars and cakes. As always there is the terrific Robert Rose layout of notes, ingredients, metric and avoirdupois measurements used in each recipe, and tips. Quality/price rating: 90.
8.MILK! (Bloomsbury, 2018, 2019, 385 pages, ISBN 978-1-63286-383-6  $19US softbound) is by Mark Kurlansky who has written a ton of books over the past decades (20 non-fiction). Here he returns to the topic of food (his previous such books were on Salt, Cod, WPA food, Oysters). I could joke that the topics salt and cod are related (salted cod) to milk in that milk is used to soften the cod as in "brandade de morue", thus continuing the food theme perhaps for a fourth title – but I won't.  This is a culinary, cultural, and economic history of all things dairy, with some 100 or so recipes from all time periods. "Milk became the first food to be tested in laboratories, and is now the world's most regulated food." Today milk is at the centre of food politics, raising questions about everything from industrial farming and animal rights to GMOs, the locavore movement, and advocates for raw milk. He's got a bibliography, and index, plus a recipe index. The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 89
9.RAW FOOD (DK, 2014, 2019, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-8402-4 $19.99 US paperbound) is by Anat Fritz. It was originally published in German in 2014; this is the first North American edition, in English. It is basically fast, fresh and easy all-vegan food. There are 65 recipes with distinctive flavour combos and techniques that provide a vegan culinary experience. Salads, smoothies, sauces, seeds, soups, spreads, sushi, sprouts, snacks – all the "s" words – abound. There is something here for everyone, and all of it is raw. Carnivores can easily adapt this to tartares – just so long as it is all raw. The book concludes with raw food ingredients and kitchen tips. But I am sure that the original German text used metric measurements. These have been converted to American volume avoirdupois. The book could have been improved if it also used the original metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 87.
10.WILD HONEY & RYE (Interlink Books, 2018, 2019, 208 pages, ISBN 978-1-62371-918-0 $22.95 US paperbound) is by Ren Behan. It was originally published in 2018 by Pavilion Books, and here it is reissued in a paperbound format. The emphasis is on contemporary Polish cuisine, a more modern and upscale approach to traditional food: less fat and sugar, modern techniques, brighter and fresher. As she says, the emphasis is no longer on dumplings and stews but rather on lighter, seasonal and more-spicy food. Typical newish grain s include spelt, buckwheat and millet. Fruit is fresher, honeys are infused, salads are more raw. Hearty dishes such as pierogi, goulash, and meatballs have a lighter touch and different fillings. 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. 
11.CUCINA SICILIANA (Ryland Peters & Small, 2016, 2019, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-117-5, $19.95 USD hardbound) is by Ursula Ferrigno, consultant chef to the Caffe Nero chain. She's been on BBC, and runs classes for Sur La Table stores. She's written more than 20 cookbooks, mainly on Italian and Mediterranean themes. This book was originally published in 2016 as "Flavors of Sicily". Sicilian cuisine is a great crossroads melting pot mixture of Greeks/Romans/Arabs/Normans/Spaniards. Typical food include tomatoes, olive oil, sheep's milk, pistachios, olives, fennel, citrus fruits. Classics include blood orange and red onion salads, olive relish, fava bean soup, spring lamb, fried chickpeas with herbs, panelle [socca], and braised lemon chicken in the 70 or so recipes here.. 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.
12.SALT & PEPPER (Ryland Peters & Small, 2009, 2016, 2019, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-122-9 $14.95 USD hardbound) is by Valerie Aikman-Smith food stylist, chef and author based in Los Angeles. It contains some preps from her previous books that dealt with preserves and pickles, dressings and small bites. It's a basic book of some 70 recipes using salt and/or pepper as gourmet seasoning ingredients. For salt, there are a number of salt crust recipes (lamb, shrimp, chicken, branzino) plus a few sweet and salty items such as Mexican chili chocolate salted truffles. Classics include margarita with a special salt, mojito with sea salt, or a bloody Mary with celery salt. For pepper, there is, of course, the pepper-crusted steak or the peppered peach chutney. 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
13.125 BEST INDOOR GRILL RECIPES (Robert Rose, 2004, 2013, 2019, 189 pages, ISBN
978-0-7788-0102-3, $21.95 CAN paper covers) is by Ilana Simon. It is now back in print: a basic primer on using indoor grills, mostly electrical but including two-sided contact indoor grills and one-sided hibachi-style indoor grills. 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.
14.ONE-POT VEGETARIAN (Hardie Grant Books, 2018, 2019, 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-78488-357-0 $19.99 USD paperbound) is by Sabrina Fauda-Role, It was first published last year by Hachette Livre in Paris in French; this is the English language translation. These are 80 easy and tasty vegetable meals in one (non-electric) pot that can heated on a gas or electric range. For a nutritionally complete meal you will need a carbohydrate (pasta, grain, rice), some plant-based protein (pulses, legumes), veggies and/or fruit (carrots, zucchini, fresh or frozen), spices, and a creamy fat or oil (dairy, nut oil, cheese) for body. Recipes can be varied by changing the seasonings or the garnishes for distinctive flavours. These are complete meals, and in the case of meat lovers, can be served as an accompaniment to the main flesh dish. Basic dishes include rigatoni with tomato and chickpeas, farfalle with blue cheese and mushrooms, tomato and sweetcorn polenta cake.
The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes with metric volumes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 89


Sunday, December 29, 2019


...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"...
8.THE CURIOUS BARISTA'S GUIDE TO COFFEE (Ryland Peters & Small, 2015,2019, 208 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-083-3, $14.95 US hard covers) is by Tristan Stephenson, a well-know celebrity UK bartender, bar owner, and consultant (Fluid Movement). This is his third book (the other two were bar-tending books), and it deals with coffee, with 25 recipes. It was originally published in 2015.  Most of the book is encyclopedic: guide to coffee producing regions, histories, how to make a cup of coffee through different brewing methods, etc. It is an excellent survey for the price, well-illustrated with old adverts, drawings, and a nifty chapter on latte art. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements. Quality/price rating: 88.
9.THE ZERO WASTE COOKBOOK (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 2019, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-78488-267-1 $19.99 USD paperbound) is by Giovanna Torrico and Amelia Wasiliev. It was originally published in French by Hachette Livre in 2017. The English language edition came out in 2019. The authors have about 100 recipes for cooking without waste, which means using banana peels, egg shells, orange rinds, pea pods, fish skin etc. in food preps for consumption. Tips include using corn husk to make veggie stock or making pesto with carrot tops. It involves smart shopping and planning, and the big three storage issues: cook everything (scraps and peelings), freeze and preserve, keep at room temperature via using jars and plastic tubs. You will feel good. One of the best recipes is for ribollita with mixed veggie scraps and stale bread. It's all arranged by categories: veggies, fruit, dairy and eggs, meat and seafood, bread and pulses (legumes), and (or course) leftovers. BTW, the re-use of a leftover is actually, to my mind, a "holdover". Soups win, naturally. 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: 89
10.SUMMER EVERY DAY (Ryland Peters and Small, 2014, 2019, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-111-3 $19.95 USD hardbound) is by Acland Geddes and Pedro da Silva. After a series of gastropubs, Geddes opened Megan's in Chelsea, which soon became a series of cafes in other regions. Da Silva is head chef. Their book was originally published in 2014 as "Friends Around the Table". This is the newly revised edition. These are Mediterranean recipes for relaxed entertaining. The 65+ recipes call for careful planning, to make it an event (tablecloths, cutlery, decorations, etc.), not just taking advantage of warm weather to eat outside. Lunch al fresco brings back the classics: gazpacho, carpaccio, grilled sardines and/or calamari, couscous salad or crunchy fennel salad, grilled nectarines with mozzarella, roasted pears. Another section deals with a large crowd and serious meats such as lamb or beef. A third covers just two diners, with preps scaled down to two (no leftovers). Another is teatime, another is for side dishes. Well-thought out, but I would have like a few more recipes (try cutting back on the lavish photography, which I cannot eat). The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes for small volumes, or at least had a metric conversion chart.   Quality/price rating: 87.


Friday, December 27, 2019


...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"...
16.TEA; history, terroirs, varieties. 3rd ed. (Firefly Books, 2018, 288 pages, ISBN 978-0-2281-0027-0, $24.95 CAD paper covers) is a heavily illustrated compendium on non-herbal tea, rich in anti-oxidants and with proven medical benefits. It was originally published in French in Quebec in 2009 (and revised in 2016). This is the 2018 English translation. The four writers of this book own The Camellia Sinensis Tea House in Montreal and work
as tasters, traveling the world looking for teas. Topics include a primer on tea, varieties, processing, cultivars, making-serving-tasting tea, tea ceremonies, and tea in cooking (with 15 recipes by Quebecois chefs). The source of all non-herbal teas is the plant Camellia sinensis, which is processed three different ways to produce the major classes (black, green, oolong, white, yellow, Pu er, scented and smoked. Terroir imparts unique character to a tea. Reference material includes a bibliography, scientific tables
for the biochemical properties of 35 teas, and a directory of 42 teas. Throughout the book, there are profiles of tea growers. Travelers, tea lovers, food reference book collectors will undoubtedly love this book. Quality/Price Rating: 92.
17.VEGAN IN THE HOUSE (DK Books, 2019, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-8039-2, $25 USD hardbound) is a publisher's title from DK Books based in the UK. Material was first published in some 14 British cookbooks, starting with "Allergy-Free Cookbook" (2007) and moving on to "The Diabetes Cookbook" (2010), "Power Bowls" (2016) and "Sprouted" (2017) among others. The subtitles explains that these are flexible plant-based family meals to please everyone, with more than 100 preps with nutritional analyses. Many dishes are easily adapted for meat eaters and vegetarians, so the whole family can enjoy a dish that is basically made just once with additions for individual preferences. A good concept with an excellent introductory section on meal planning and selection and pantries, etc. Preps are arranged by course, from breakfast through to desserts, with about 20 pages for each. The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had metric conversion charts. Quality/price rating: 87.
18.THE KITCHEN GARDEN New. ed. (DK Books, 2019, 352 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-7979-2, $24.99 USD paperbound) is by Alan Buckingham. It was originally published in 2009; this is the new edition of 2019. It's a month-by-month guide to growing your own fruits and veggies. As Buckingham says, homegrown fruits and vegetables are enjoying a huge renaissance. Growing your own food is more popular then it has been for decades; it is fresh,seasonal, and local. You can eat year round if you get the timing right. The most easy and popular   veggies to grow appear to be asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, peas, broad beans, carrots, green beans, and Brussels sprouts. Fruits are mainly berries and cherries. This comprehensive book goes at it month-by-month with advice on what to do and how to do it. There is lots of guidance here with photos and large print, although the index itself is very teeny tiny in format. Quality/price rating: 88.
19.HOME CHEESE MAKING. 4th ed. (Storey Publishing, 2018, 368 pages, ISBN 978-1-61212-867-2 $24.95 USD paperbound) is by Ricki Carroll who founded the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company in 1978. Her book was first published in 1992 and last revised in 2002. The publisher states that over 400,000 copies have been sold. The classics are here, such as mozzarella, feta, cheddar, and brie. Some of the more complicated preps are given for blues and gorgonzola, plus the harder halloumi and the melting raclette. Upgrades in the book include more cultured dairy products (sours, clotted), more recipes for goat's milk, plus a range of fresh-soft-hard cheeses. These are accompanied by about 50 new sweet and savoury recipes for cooking with cheese. All she needs now is a wine/beer guide for matching drinks. Additional material includes 15 profiles of international artisanal cheese makers, a glossary, a troubleshooting FAQ, record forms, resources, and a list of cheese recipes (35 new), about 90 which include some more complex and advanced cheeses such as baby swiss, tomme, toscano, gruyere and a few more. The book could have been improved if it also used metric in both the cheese and the food prep recipes; at least it had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 89.


Thursday, December 26, 2019


...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"...
14.THE NEWLYWED'S COOKBOOK (Ryland Peters & Small, 2019, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-064-2 $19.95 USD hardbound) is a publisher's book, with recipes contributed by the RPD stable of cookbook reviewers. It is being touted as a wedding gift for any couple who are contemplating marriage. [It's inexpensive, so maybe a shower gift would be more appropriate.] The emphasis here is on sharing the cooking. The arrangement proceeds from breakfast/brunch through meals for two, appetizers, entertaining, salads, sides, desserts, baking and drinks. It is pretty straightforward but it is global, so we get lamb tagine, gosht aloo saag masala, and shiitake potsticker dumplings. The contributing writers ranged from Jenny Techiesche with 17 through Kathy Kordalis (12), Shelagh Ryan (11), Jenny Linford (10) and 9 others. The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 87.
15.THE ALEPPO COOKBOOK (Interlink Books, 2017, 2019, 352 pages, ISBN 978-1-56656-997-2 $25 USD paperbound) is by Marlene Matar. It's a straight reprint of the hardback version from 2017. It is arranged by course, from mezze (hot and cold) to desserts, with stops for stuffed dishes, kibbeh, bread, pickles, preserves, and drinks. Her primer has a local Aleppo spice mix, chickpeas, freekeh, mint, nuts, pomegranate, quince, vine leaves, yogurt, and other foodstuffs for the pantry. The 200 recipes deal with the whole Syrian food experience, from basic dishes to entertaining or fancy meals. Preparation times, cooking times, rising times, and service are clearly noted. The range includes some vegetarian kibbeh, She manages to cross-reference many dishes with surrounding states: "itch for everyday" has variations in Lebanon, southeastern Turkey, Armenia and Aleppo (it is based on bulgur like tabbouleh but each area adds and subtracts other ingredients). A fascinating book about the cuisine of Syria. 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: 89


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

TheDec 10 2019 Event: Vinum & Cibus Italici Taste of Veneto Food and Wine Masterclass

The Date and Time: Tuesday December 10, 2019  10AM to 11:30AM
The Event: Vinum & Cibus Italici Taste of Veneto Food and Wine Masterclass
The Venue: George Brown College, King Street
The Target Audience: wine media and sommeliers
The Availability/Catalogue: wines are available from the agents or the LCBO
The Quote/Background: Michael Fagan and some of the agents/owners presented the wines, with depth about the region of Veneto.
The Wines:
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Val d'Oca Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut 2018 DOCG +340570  $18.55
-Masottina Montesco Colli di Conegliano Rosso DOC 2000 $50  TWC Imports  [my fave of the day]
-Cantina di Negrar Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG Classico 2016 +44784 $29.99
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Andreola di Stefano Pola Col del Forno Rive di Refrontolo Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut DOCG $23 Kylix
-Biancavigna Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut DOCG   Glencairn
-Mazzolada Traminer Aromatico IGT 2018   Vergina
-Vinicola Tombacco Serenissima Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC 2018   Stem Wine Group
The Food: paired to the region –  prosciutto and salumi cured meats, focaccia, three cheeses (young tallegio, young asiago), risotto amarone.
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 89.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The December 5 2019 Event: Noble Estates Wines and Spirits: Selective Portfolio Consignment tasting

The Date and Time: Thursday December 5, 2019  5PM to 8PM
The Event: Noble Estates Wines and Spirits: Selective Portfolio Consignment tasting
The Venue: Vintage Conservatory Yorkville
The Target Audience: clients, wine media
The Availability/Catalogue: everything is available by consignment.
The Quote/Background: It was a pre-Christmas show of wines available for personal consumption and for gifting.
The Wines: Thirty wines were available at variable cases of 3, 6, or 12, but not for each brand. Licensee prices.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle $199.95   [my FAVE of the night]
-Domaine Vincent Delaporte Sancerre Blanc 2018 $35.99
-Cloudsley 20 Mile Bench Chardonnay 2017 $35
-Antonella Cordo Vermentino $27.95
-Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir Old Block Vineyard 2014 $51.99
-Brancaia Ilatria 2007 $99.95  [best red of the night]
-Remelluri Reserva 2012 $44.99
-Sette Ponti Oreno 2017 $86.95
-Orma 2017  $92.95
-Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 $269.95
-Ceretto Barolo Brunate 2015 $199.95
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Catena Zapata Malbec 2017 $131.99
-Bellavista Alma Gran Cuvee Franciacorta $49.95
-13th Street Gamay Blanc de Noirs 2017 $34.95
-Ceretto Arneis 2017 $37.99
-Francis Ford Coppola Chardonnay Gold Label 2016 $22.99
-Serpens Tokaji Furmint 2017 $19.99
-Clos d'Eglise Macon Charnay 2017 $25.99
-Quinta do Vale Meandro White 2018 $24.99
-Xavier Cuvee Anonyme Chateauneuf du Pape 2015 $59.95
-Ceretto Monsordo 2016 $46.99
-13th Street Whitty Vineyard Gamay 2017 $23.95
-Matchbook Cabernet 2017 $24.99
-Badia a Coltibuono Cbianti Classico 2016 $29.99
-Horseshoes and Handgrenades NV Red $24.99
-Torbreck Woodcutters Shiraz 2017 $35.99
-Petra Hebo 2017 $26.99
-Cloudsley Pinot Noir 20 Mile Bench 2016 $34.95
-Greystone Pinot Noir Omihi 2016 $41.99
-Quinta do Vale Meandro Reserve Port $25.99
The Food: cheese and charcuterie platter, augmented by serving platters of diverse hors d'oeuvre.
The Downside: I had to leave early to attend a concert
The Upside: a chance to taste some select high end wines with Riedel glasses.
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 91

Friday, December 20, 2019


It's the beginning of the Gift and Holiday Season, with students returning to school, Thanksgiving in Canada and the United States, and the run-up to Christmas...There are lots of stories to tell through these book reviews that follow below (prices are in Canadian dollars) ---
8.MADE IN MEXICO THE COOKBOOK; classic and contemporary recipes from Mexico City (Rizzoli, 2019,  272 pages   $55 hardbound) is by Danny Mena, chef at NYC's Hecho en Dumbo, with great endorsements by Rick Bayless and Richard Sandoval. It's a flavourable and colourful work of preps and travel about Mena's fave diners, fondas, loncherias, taco stands, and restaurants in Mexico City, with recipes from the locals plus his own takes. This guidebook covers the city's dining and cooking activities, how the natives drink and eat, but with also a lot of relevant commentary. It's useful for any trip to Mexico City, with the caveat that the tome weighs about  1.25 kilos.
9.AMERICAN SFOGLINO; a master class in handmade pasta (Chronicle Books, 2019, 272 pages, $50 hardbound) is by Evan Funke, an American sfoglino (maker of fresh pasta sheets called sfoglia) who rigourously trained with Bologna's Alessandra Spisni (eight-time world champion pasta maker) and Japan's Kosaku Kawamura. He's opened many restaurants in LA, but managed to find the time to offer this massive work which has a powerful log-rolling endorsement from TEN other chefs, many of whom  are Beard winners. It's arranged by 15 pasta shapes, such as tagliatelle, strichetti, strozzapreti, and gnocchi di ricotta. Each section has stories, recipes for sauces and accompaniments. Lots of full-colour photos of techniques for preparing bowls, plates and stuffed pastas. A great tome for pasta lovers.
10.ADVENTURES ON THE WINE ROUTE (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988, 2013, 2019, 276 pages, $25 softbound) is by Kermit Lynch. It's his wine buyer's guide of France, originally published in 1988 but with a 2013 addition of  a 33 page epilogue, a 2013 addition of "25 most memorable bottles of wines", and a 2019 affordable paperback reissue perfect for gifting. It's a classic work for wine lovers, especially for French wine lovers. It's a highly influential look at the wine trade as it is a record of Lynch's buying patterns (he was an importer: these are his notes).
11.LONELY PLANET'S GLOBAL DISTILLERY TOUR (Lonely Planet, 2019, 264 pages, $26 hardbound) is from the publisher Lonely Planet  with contributions from over three dozen writers. It;s a guide to tasting whisky, gin, bourbon and other spirits at the world's best distilleries and bars. Over 30 countries are covered, with regional drinks from Canada (10 pages), USA, Mexico, Japan, the UK, and New Zealand. There are local itineraries that recommend top sights and experiences, and a special section that showcases the world's best cocktails. 
12.THE ULTIMATE SCRATCH & SNIFF GUIDE TO LOVING BEER (Flatiron Books, 2019, 12 boards, $28.99 hardbound) is by Richard Betts. Rotem Raffe did the artwork. Together, with deft illustrations and sniffing they do a good job in breaking down the ingredients, the science, and the processes behind how beer is made and enjoyed. They claim that with this reference item the reader will have the tools to make informed decisions. A fun work of art.
13.WE ARE LA COCINA (Chronicle Books, 2019, 288 pages, $36 hardbound) is a collection of recipes in pursuit of the American dream. "La Cocina" ("kitchen" in Spanish) is an organization that promotes foodways from all over the world. It helps to develop food products, restaurants, food trucks, and food stall concepts. It's a group which lobbies for inclusion and equity for entrepreneurial women of colour and recent immigrants to the USA; all of the royalties go back into La Cocina to support new entrepreneurs. There are 75 recipes here and stories from 40 successful alumni of the kitchen incubator. These different foods (momos, albondigas, onigiri, et al) are accompanied by 150 photos by Eric Wolfinger.
14.ANDALUSIA (Hardie Grant Books, 2019, 256 pages, $57 hardbound) is by Jose Pizarro, who owns three restaurants in London called (wait for it):  Jose, Pizarro, and Jose Pizzaro. It's a good collection of local cuisine and preps from Seville and other places within the Spanish region by the sea. He's got some memoirish material plus lots of photos from Emma Lee. It's divided into 4 main sections of meat, fish, veggies, and desserts, plus some Andalusian menus with a timeline of work routines  for the days before. This is followed by a listing of places to eat in the area. Loaded with photos.
15.PROVENCAL (Pavilion, 2019, 256 pages, $47 hardbound) is by Alex Jackson, owner of Sardine in London UK, which centres on Provence and the surrounding Mediterranean area. So this is Southern French cooking with an emphasis on fresh veggies, herbs, olive oil and breads. And it is seasonally arranged from Spring through Winter, opening up with socca with artichokes and closing with the grand bouffe of pot-au-feu. It's a charmer of a collection of preps, centred around rusticity. But it is hard to find at a commercial restaurant even in Provence. As the author says, "short of knocking on farmhouse doors, it's difficult to piece it all together." You have to rely on books and do it yourself. So this work is a good start to begin with, and then move on to Richard Olney and Robert Carrier.  Nicely laid out with line drawings. Pissaladiere  anyone?
16.PROVENCE: the cookbook (Interlink Books, 2019, 208 pages, $43.95 hardbound) is by Caroline Rimbert Craig, whose fruit farmer heritage shines forth in this collection of recipes from the French Mediterranean. There is much detail (and photos) on how the locals eat and their customs over the years. The Provencal larder is explored, with its olive oils, herbs and aromatics, garlic, salads, preserved anchovies, wines, breads, cheeses, salt cod, nuts, and red wine vinegar. The contents are arranged by season, from Spring through Winter. Some faves of mine appear: salade de feves et d'asperges, pissaladiere, tarte de blettes, and the wonderful sandwich des cyclistes! The range is from accras de morue through soupe au pistou through tartines de truffes. Another great too for the armchair traveller and/or the home chef.
17.PARIS FOR FOOD LOVERS (Hardie Grant Travel, 2017, 2019, 176 pages, $28.99 paperbound) is by Elin Unnes. It was originally published in Swedish, but here it has been updated for the 2019 English edition. It's a guide to the new Paris, the 11th arrondissement (natural-wine restaurants, divey bars, market stalls, alley lanes for unmarked restaurants, and more). Each has a photo and brief description, plus the deets. She also covers other areas such as the 10th, 12th, and 20th. Maps are included. Really an interesting work, written in conversational style.
18.ROME FOR FOOD LOVERS (Hardie Grant Travel, 2018, 2019, 176 pages, $28.99 paperbound) is by Peter Loewe. It was originally published in Swedish, but here it has been updated for the 2019 English edition. It's a more traditional organization, with chapters on  different types of places to eat at, food stores, the outskirts of town, and the avoidance of tourist traps. Each has a photo and brief description, plus the deets. Maps are included. Really an interesting work, written in conversational style.
19.TOKYO FOR FOOD LOVERS (Hardie Grant Travel, 2018, 2019, 176 pages, $28.99 paperbound) is by Jonas Cramby. It was originally published in Swedish, but here it has been updated for the 2019 English edition. It's a personal guide arranged by type of food served: ramen, tsukemen, udon, tempera, yakitori, curry, biru, gyoza, tonkatsu, sushi, and izakaya. Plus locations of fast food, street food and bars (beers and sakes). Each has a photo and brief description, plus the deets. Maps are included. Really an interesting work, written in conversational style.
20.FRUIT FROM THE SANDS; the silk road origins of the foods we eat (University of California Press, 2019, 374 pages, $43.95  hardbound) is by Robert N. Spengler III, the Archaeobotany Laboratory Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. He's traced the history of many foods back to prehistoric Central Asia (the crossroads of the ancient world)  and the Silk Road, from where the foods moved to Europe, America, and East Asia. Covered then are apples, millet, barley, wheat, grapes, tea, legumes, rice and others,  The exchange of goods started over 5000 years ago, and the actual "organized" trade along the Silk Route can be traced back to Han Dynasty China (206 BCE). The major source of evidence are the preserved remains of plants found in archaeological sites. The Silk Road exchange (overland route) and the "accidental" Columbian exchange (maritime route) were similar attempts to get to the spices and foods of Central Asia. Fascinating reading complemented by notes and references.
21.ITALY'S NATIVE WINE GRAPE TERROIRS (University of California Press, 2019, 376 pages, $70 hardbound) is by Ian D'Agata, the world's leading expert on Italian wine. In 2014 he authored NATIVE WINE GRAPES OF ITALY. This current work is all about the various DOCs and DOCGs in the wine production areas of Italy's native wine grapes. Easy-to-read descriptions have easy-to-read geologic data, biotype and clonal info, followed by producer interviews and comments.  Facts and figures provide the beginnings of in-depth analysis for the terroirs that produce the great wines (Barolo, Chianti Classico, Brunello de Montalcino) to the lesser-known Ischia and Turbiana. The slightly oversized tome has double columns, so lots of information is given. It all comes complete with a glossary, a bibliography, and three indexes. A brilliant giftbook for the demanding wine lover!
22.BAKING WITH KIM-JOY: cute and creative bakes to make you smile (Hardie Grant Quadrille, 2019, 176 pages, $34.99 hardbound) is by Kim-Joy, a finalist on two UK TV baking competitions. It's a spiffy, colourful work that is essentially a guide to decorating fun cakes, profiteroles, cookies, breads, macaroons. These are really imaginative designs: some are easy, some are complicated, all are enjoyable.  Of course there is much material on layouts, frostings, icings,  and other decorations. The basic requirement is merely a steady hand. She opens with an "easy" pistachio and cardamom cake with mango-saffron jam, followed by a vegan chocolate cake with praline – and then begins to move on to other enjoyments such as "pigfiteroles in mud".  All the photos are very bright and colourful, and all the ingredients are listed in both metric and imperial measurements.
23.THE VIBRANT LIFE: eat well, be well (Chronicle Books, 2019, 240 pages, $42.95 hardbound) is by Amanda Haas, a cookbook author who is also a former culinary director for Williams-Sonoma.  She's got recipes, meditations, and guidance on ways to well-being, from acupuncture through meditation, for the midlife and beyond person. The 60 recipes emphasize self-care, and include basics for salsa verde, preserved lemon gremolata, and cucumber salad. It's all arranged by "best breakfasts", veggies and fruits, selected meats and seafoods, and useful sweets. Plus about 14 items for the mind-body-spirit.
24.CALGARY EATS: signature recipes from the city's best restaurants and bars (Figure.1, 2019,  233 pages, $38.99 hardbound) has been edited by Gail Norton and Karen Ralph, who both edited the companion CALGARY COOKS. The is the ninth work in the Canadian series of urban food and eating from Figure.1; others included Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. It's a good second sampling of the cuisine scene in Calgary, with preps from  Alloy Dining, Cassis Bistro, Cilantro, Knifewear, Market (duck confit pot pie), and others. Great food styling photos, as in all the rest of the series. And: there are metric conversion charts!!


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

* FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! : Kosher Style, by Amy Rosen (Appetite by Random House)

KOSHER STYLE; more than 100 Jewish recipes for the modern cook (Appetite by Random House, 2019, 245 pages, ISBN 978-0-525-60988-9 $35 CAD hardbound) is by Amy Rosen, well-known award-winning freelance journalist and editor. She's the author of five books, including Toronto Eats and Toronto Cooks. It's got log rolling endorsements from Christina Tosi, Alan Richman, and Lucy Waverman. These are all her family classics that have been modernized, but still kosher. The range is from Jewish holidays through work-day dinners with some entertaining. Of course, all then preps are doable at home and are  marked "meat", "dairy" or "pareve" (neutral). It's all arranged by course, from apps through nuts and sweets, concluding with ten menus for gettogethers, such as a vegetarian shabbat, seder, chanukah, sukkot, and high holidays. There is even a passover party mix. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. The book could have been improved if it had also used metric in the recipes, or at least had that metric conversion chart. There is also a fair bit of cultural background with each prep, plus some memoir-ish material.
Audience and level of use: millennials, Kosher (and kosher-style) food eaters.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: roasted salmon with horseradish sauce and pickled onions; bialys; roasted butternut squash soup; sweet challah; kasha pilaf; Friday-night roast chicken; cheese blintzes.
The downside to this book: lacks metric.
The upside to this book: includes typical ultra modern dishes such as quinoa-tofu bowl with greens or harissa-roasted carrots.
Quality/Price Rating: 91.

The November 28 2019 Event: Tasting of Arterra Wines with winemaker Marco Piccoli.

The Date and Time:  Thursday November 28, 2019   4PM  - 5PM
The Event: Tasting of Arterra Wines with winemaker Marco Piccoli.
The Venue: Fine Wine Reserve
The Target Audience: clients and sommeliers, wine media.
The Quote/Background: This was to be a casual guided tasting and a Q and A with Marco Piccoli. He told us some of winemaking philosophy ("wine is alive and expresses its unique vigour from the vine right through to our palate, and I enjoy infusing each grape with part of my own personality"). We tasted all four wines, asked questions, and he commented on the winemaking process for each sample we had tried. Marco Piccoli comes from Northeastern Italy and, after studying and working at various European wineries, he came as an exchange student to CCOVI (Brock University) before accepting an internship at Inniskillin Niagara Estate Winery. He joined Jackson-Triggs in 2005, becoming Senior Winemaker in 2017 with special responsibility for Arterra premium wines.
The Availability/Catalogue: All wines are available at the Jackson-Triggs winery and The Wine Rack.
The Wines: We did not get a chance to taste Arterra Epoca 2016 (meritage-style, 20% merlot was appassimento), $34.95) since it was sold out at the winery. Some bottles may still be available at The Wine Rack.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Arterra Chardonnay 2017 VQA Niagara Peninsula $29.95 [my fave of the day]
-Arterra Pinot Noir Special Edition 2016 VQA Niagara Peninsula $34.95 [25% appassimento]
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Arterra Pinot Gris 2017 VQA Niagara Peninsula $29.95
-Arterra Pinot Noir 2017 VQA Niagara Peninsula $29.95 [15% appassimento]
The Food: an enormous platter from the Cheese Boutique, with international cheeses and various charcuterie, breads, mustards, relishes, etc.
The Downside: I had been hoping for some Epoca, but, for me, not this time...alas.
The Upside: a great opportunity to speak with Marco Piccoli
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 89


Monday, December 16, 2019

The Nov 28 2019 Event: New to the Market: unique grapes, unique wines.

The Date and Time: Thursday, November 28, 2019  11AM – 12:30 PM
The Event: New to the Market: unique grapes, unique wines.
The Venue: Ovest Restaurant
The Target Audience: wine trade
The Quote/Background: Jay Whitely moderated a presentation of 7 producers who spoke about their wines. Most of these wines were already available in Quebec or BC or Alberta, but after the presentation we were all invited to join individual producers as they showcased other wines as possible additions to the Ontario market. So it became a mini-trade fair.
The Availability/Catalogue: nothing was available in Ontario – yet.
The Wines: I could not stay for the producer mini-trade shows.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Cantina Toblino Largiller Nosiola Selezione Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT 2012 15E FOB
-Il Carpino Vis Uvae Venezie Giulia IGT 2016  [orange wine from pinot gris] 14.5E FOB
-Cantina Custoza Val dei Molini Corvina del Garda 2017  4.6 Euros FOB
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Pra della Luna Brut Millesimato Prosecco DOC 2017 est 3 Euros FOB
-Cantina Vigna Dogarina Treviso Spumante Millessimato Prosecco DOC 2018 3.5 Euros FOB
-Villadoria Bricco Magno Langhe Rosso DOC 2016  5 Euros FOB
-Carminucci Rosso Piceno Superiore DOC 2016  4.5 Euros FOB
The Food: black pitted cured olives and crostini.
The Downside: the vagaries of the TTC made me a bit late.
The Upside: a chance to taste wines new to the Ontario market.
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 86

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The November 27 2019 Event: Wonderfud-Gradwell Wines Portfolio Tasting

The Date and Time: Wednesday November 27, 2019  2 – 5:30 PM
The Event: Wonderfud-Gradwell Wines Portfolio Tasting
The Venue: Peter Pan Bistro
The Target Audience: clients, sommeliers, wine trade
The Quote/Background: The portfolio offered today came from nine Italian wineries from four regions (Molise, Piemonte, Sicilia, Tuscany). Tables were arranged by region, a good idea. Notes related to the regions, with attention to the character of the wines, geography, local foods, indigenous red and white grape varieties.
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are available from the agency.
The Wines: I did not sample every wine.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-La Torre Chardonnay Brut 2018 Piedmonte $21.95
-La Torre Moscato d'Asti 2018 Piedmonte $21.95
-Pertinace Barbaresco Nevro 2016 Piedmonte $66.95
-Filippo Grasso Ripiddu Etna Rosso Sicily 2017 $31.95
-Filippo Grasso Rosato 2018 $31.95
-Pietramora Vermentino 2018 Tuscany $19.95
-Pietramora Brumaio Morellino di Scansano 2017 $22.98
-Angelo d'Uva Lagena del Molise 2015 $31.95
-Angelo d'Uva Ricupo del Molise 2015 $25.95
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-La Torre Brachetto d'Acqua 2018 Piedmonte $21.95
-La Torre Cortese Alto Monferato $16.95
-Pertinace Barbaresco 2016 Piedmonte $41.95
-La Vite Altariva Sicily $17.95
-Filippo Grasso Vino Btanco 2018 $31.95
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Pertinace Dolcetto d'Alba 2018 Piedmonte $24.95
-Pertinace Barbera d'Alba 2018 Piedmonte $21.95
-La Vite Rahalmet Grillo 2018 Sicily $13.95
-La Vite Rahalmet Inzolia 2018 Sicily $13.95
The Food: cheese and meat platters, breads, fruit, etc.
The Downside: it was very noisy and warm in the room, with no tables or chairs on which to rest a notepad.
The Upside: a good chance to focus selectively on certain producers.
The Contact Person:;
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 86


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.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The November 27 2019 Event: Presentation of Ribera del Duero appellation wines

The Date and Time: Wednesday November 27 2019  11:30AM to 2 PM
The Event:  Presentation of Ribera del Duero appellation wines
The Venue: La Palma, Dundas West
The Target Audience: wine media and sommeliers
The Availability/Catalogue: these wines are available in Ontario, some at LCBO, others by PO or consignment.
The Quote/Background: Veronique Rivest, the first woman to ascend the podium of the Best Sommelier in the World championships in 2013, led the tasting, talking about Ribera del Duero in general and the 13 wines in particular. Ribera has a short growing season, with lots of hot and cold weather and a diverse terroir. So it is difficult to generalize. A lot of the rich, full-bodied and structured wine comes from the age of the vines (about a third are over 50 years old) and from subsequent wood treatment. Tempranillo makes up 95% of the grapes.
The Wines:
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Martin Berdugo Reserva 2010 Ribera del Duero $38.15 +233741  [my fave of the day]
-Finca Villacreces Prune 2016 Ribera del Duero $22.95 +312140
-Convento San Francisco 2012 Ribera del Duero $21.95 +206409
-Resalte Origien Cosecha 2015 Ribera del Duero $34.45  +593847
-Alenza Gran Reserva 2009 Ribera del Duero $78 +723791
-Bardos Rserva 2014 Ribera del Duero $69.95  consignment
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Martin Berdugo Joven Cosecha 2018 Ribera del Duero $16.70 +558022
-Aire de Protos Rosado 2018 Ribera del Duero $16 – 17 consignment, from garnacha/merlot/cabernet sauvignon
-Torres Pago del Cielo Celeste Reserva 2014 Ribera del Duero $34.95 +10493
-Vina Magna 14 Meses Crianza 2016 Ribera del Duero $44.95 consignment
-Adaro de Pradorey Crianza 2016 $38.95 consignment
-Conde de San Cristobal 12M Cosecha 2015 Ribera del Duero consignment
-Valtsotillo Finca Buenavista Cosecha 2016 Ribera del Duero consignment
The Food: we ate off the menu with shared plates, beginning with an amazing fregola sarda and lentils dish. The came house hummus on crostini, grilled cornish hen with piri piri sauce, flatiron steak with mushroom ragu, lamb chops, and garnishes of roasted cauliflower and crispy potatoes. All of the food was excellent and well-spiced to go with the Ribera wines.
The Downside: I arrived 15 minutes late due to a recalcitrant TTC bus.
The Upside: the foods were great matches for all of the wines.
The Contact Person:;
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 93


Thursday, December 5, 2019

Stocking Stuffer Book Gifts for the Holidays!!!

Stocking stuffers should be at the very top of everybody's gift list: something affordable from under $10 up to $25 or so, and that can also double as a host gift, being something small and lightweight. Most of the books here are paperbacks. And of course, they can all stuff an adult stocking.
Typical for food are:
--101 THINGS TO DO WITH A BUNDT PAN (Gibbs Smith, 2019, 128 pages, $12.95 spiral bound) is by Jenny Harten.  Some good ideas are here, made to advance the usage of what appeared to be a single-purpose cooking implement. The range is from cakes through breakfasts through bread puddings, side fishes (e.g., potato salad) and dinners (e.g., turkey meatloaf with cranberry sauce).
--SCANDI BITES (Hardie Grant Quadrille, 2019, 144 pages, $28.99 hardbound) is a collection of 60 previously published recipes from "Scandinavian Baking" and  "Scandinavian Comfort Food", all from Trine Hahnemann, and pitched to Christmas sales. These are sweet treats, party food and Scandinavian snacks for the holidays., in three chapters (teatime, smorrebrod, and celebrations). These are the basics with many variations.
--HISTORIC COOKERY; authentic New Mexican food (Gibbs Smith, 1931, 1970, 2019, 120 pages, $18 hardbound) is a reissue with some updating. These are heirloom preps of New Mexican food, by Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert. The range is from chile sauces through corn dishes, mains, cheese and eggs, veggies, soups, breads, and desserts, with some beverages. It is quite packed with lots of good dishes just one step away from Mexican. Quite appealing.
--HANGOVER FOOD (Dog 'n' Bone, 2019, 64 pages $13.95 hardbound) has 35 restorative recipes for when you are hurting and hungry. The preps have been previously published in an assorted series of cookbooks by13 authors. It's arranged by type: bacon and eggs, sandwiches, comfort food, and sweets.
--GIN THE MOOD (Dog 'n' Bone, 2019, 64 pages, $13.95 hardbound) is a small collection of some 50 gin cocktail recipes that are just the ticket, derived from five authors' previously published works.  It runs from dry martini to sloe gin fizz.
--SHORT COCKTAILS AND SMALL BITES (Ryland Peters & Small, 2019,  64 pages, $13.95 hardbound) comes from the pen of Julia Charles. These are more than 25 small-serve drink and canape pairings for parties....what fun! Lavish photos.
--THE ARTISANAL KITCHEN: BARBECUE RULES (Artisan, 2019, 112 pages,  $17.95 hardbound) is by Joe Carroll, who owns multiple-BBQ restaurants in Brooklyn and Philadelphia, principally Fette Sau. He gives us six lessons and thirty recipes for superior smoking and grilling, adapted from his earlier work, "Feeding the Fire". These are the knowns behind live-fire cooking, doing roasts and classics such as beef brisket and pulled pork and lamb saddle chops.
--OIL & VINEGAR (Ryland Peters & Small, 2019, 144 pages, $19.95 hardbound) is by multiple cookbook and magazine article author Ursula Ferrigno. She's got 75 recipes drawn from the earlier The Gourmet Guide to Oil & Vinegar (2014), plus a few from other food writers. It's mostly olive oil and gourmet vinegars, and the recipes are listed in course order from soups to baked goods.
--POSH SANDWICHES (Quadrille, 2018, 176 pages, $28.99 hardbound) is by Rosie Reynolds. It's one of the POSH series from Quadrille highlighting upscale comfort foods. Other topics in the past have included Toast, Eggs, Pancakes, Kebabs and Rice; all of them having "over 70 recipes" each. Reynolds covers Reubens to banh mi, and is arranged by major filling: meat, poultry, fish, veggie, and sweets – along with several different types of breads and sauces. There is even a useful primer on how to build a sandwich.
--MODERN PANCAKES (Ryland Peters & Small, 2019, 144 pages, $19.95 hardbound) is from the publisher with 21 contributors headed by Hannah Miles  (25 preps) and Louise Pickford (7 preps). There are over 60 contemporary recipes here, ranging from protein pancakes to healthy grains to waffles and "dirty" food indulgences. Hey, it's a year's work of brunches!
--THE ARTISANAL KITCHEN:  PERFECT HOMEMADE ICE CREAM (Artisan, 2019, 112 pages,  $17.95 hardbound) is by Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams which retails ice creams. It's been culled from two previous books published in 2011 and 2014. It is in three parts: the primer (with milk, cream, corn starch slurries, cream cheese, and assorted sweeteners in the base), the parlor (which also includes yogurt, sorbet and custard) and the sundae bar. At the end there are a few sauce preps and homemade shells/cones, curds, and jams. Hey – it's a great deal for under $18!
--LITTLE BOOK OF JEWISH SWEETS (Chronicle Books, 2019, 136 pages,  $24 hardbound) is by Leah Koenig. She gives us 25 preps for a sweet finish to any meal: teiglach, challah, bimuelos, tishpishti, cassola, kourabiedes, et al. There is an ingredient glossary  for almond extract and paste, orange blossom water, poppy seeds, potato starch, and more. Ingredients are noted in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
--FRENCH TOAST (Gibbs Smith, 2019, 128 pages, $19.99 hardbound) is by Donna Kelly. Her French Toasts can be stacked, stuffed and baked, and is the quintessential brunch time food, sometimes used for celebrations. She's got some savoury entrees as well:  French toast chili stacks, cheesy chile strata, seafood Newberg stacks, and Kentucky hot browns among the 16 savoury dishes. But otherwise, it's all sweet. She  concludes with some dessert offerings and a range of syrups and sauces.
Other little books, for beverages, include those on coffee, beer, wine and spirits – and even water:
--BOOZE BASICS (Dog 'n' Bone, 2019,  128 pages, $13.95 hardbound) is by Emily Miles. It was first published  as "How to Drink and Not Look Like an Idiot". Here it has been re-published as a complete guide to the dos and don't of drinking.  It's a practical work covering quality over quantity, emphasizing  the differences between cheap booze and "decent plus" booze. Beer, wines, cider and spirits are all there, along with pubs, bars, and cocktail lounges.
--SPARKLING COCKTAILS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2019, 64 pages, $13.95 hardbound) is by Laura Goodwin, and is drawn mostly from her earlier books Prosecco Cocktails (2017) and Parisian Cocktails (2016).  This is fizz plus, with additions depending on the mood and the circumstances. Champagne, prosecco, cava, cremant, sekt, spumante, bubbly: all good sparklers for all events such as brunch buffets, preprandials, al fresco parties. Here are 50 preps, nicely illustrated and detailed.
--LET'S GET FIZZICAL (DK Books, 2018, 144 pages, $18.99 hardbound) features more than 50 cocktails made with Prosecco, Champagne, and other sparklers. It's a good beginner's guide to bubbly as well, giving us the process and distinguishing between Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, Lambrusco, Moscato d'Asti, Sekt, and other names for vinous fizz.  A good value of the handbook is the flavour chart of Venn diagrams illustrating the flavour differences between Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava. But the main show is what to do with them as mixers.  There are the classic cocktails and modern day twists, the Bellinis, Mimosas, spritzes, and a few loaded ones for special events (Pink Tequila Fizz, English Summer Rose, Cynar Fizz).
--LET'S GET TROPICAL (DK Books, 2019, 144 pages, $18.99 hardbound) features more than 60 cocktails from Caribbean classics to modern Tiki drinks. It's a good beginner's guide to the alcohol of the tropics as well, giving us the process of making rum and tequila and mezcal.  But the main show is what to do with the shades of rum etc. stylings with the mixes.  There are the classic cocktails and modern day twists: daiquiri, pina colada, Singapore sling, Mai tai, margarita, mojito, tequila sunrise. Followed by the Tiki material (Angel's share, Tiki Tiki Bang Bang, and more).
--THE BEER BUCKET LIST (Dog 'n' Bone, 2019, 224 pages, $19.95 hardbound) is a travel-sized guide to over 150 of the best beer experiences on the planet, written by Mark Dredge. It's all arranged by area, from North America through the UK and Eire, Europe, the Antipodes, and then ROW. Each experience has a place to buy/consume a craft beer with local food and decor and culture. For example, Belgium's best beer cooking explains "cuisine a la biere" with five perfect beer and food combos: croque monsieur with blonde hoppy beer, moules frites with witbier, carbonnade with dubbel, et al.  It actually may have been better served to us if the tourbook was paperbound and the paper not so heavy. Then it would be more portable. That's just my carp....
--HUGH JOHNSON'S POCKET WINE BOOK 2020 (Mitchell Beazley, 2019, 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 (first published in 1977).  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 2018 vintage and a few details about the potential of 2019, along with a closer look at the 2017. He's got notes on what wines are ready to drink in 2020.   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....
--WINES YOU SHOULD TRY; a guide for Canadians (Whitecap, 2019, 204 pages, $22.95 paperbound)  largely supersedes the ninth annual edition (2016) of   "The 500 Best-Value Wines In the LCBO 2017".  This new work by wine scribe Rod Phillips is now national, and has both international and domestic wines arranged by wine colour and then by region/country with an indication of a price range (under $12  to  over $49). He tasted about 1000 wines, and chose about 500 wines that are available in at least two provinces.  Each of the wines has some value, or else they would not be in this tool: they can be considered at least "better" if not "best" of what's around in Canada. Each  has an indication of food pairings. A good guidebook which features only those wines available in Canada -- that you should try.
--A YEAR OF GOOD BEER 2020 PAGE-A-DAY CALENDAR (Workman, 2019, 320 pages, $20.99)
quenches the beer lover's thirst: microbrewery recommendations, beer lore, trivia, history, labels, vocabulary, tasting notes, beer festivals, and more daily fun. Discover Bell's Porter whose smoky coffee notes lend an intriguing aroma profile; a hoppy Noble Prize Imperial Pilsner; 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 


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for December 7, 2019

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for December 7, 2019
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 good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at  or at No winery can buy their way into – or out of – this publication.
Scores are a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, e.g. a Southern Rhone would taste like a Southern Rhone) and QPR (Quality/Price Ratio value in the marketplace above or below its price).
NOTE: The first portion  is based on my sampling of the table wines chosen by the LCBO from this release for tasting. That presentation is about 50+  different labels out of about 125 released every two weeks. These wines are basically those that fit the categories of  any of the Featured Themes, Wines of the Month, Local Talent, and "new" -- wines that the LCBO has ordered in sufficient quantities for the Ontario marketplace. Not put out for us are the re-orders (even though they may be of a different vintage) , ISDs, or the expensive wines.  Thus, my report comes from a restricted database. I did not taste every one of these 50+ category wines, nor did I rate several of the wines I did sample because they did not seem to be of particularly good value in terms of their price.
NOTE: The second part (at the end) is a simple listing of  those wines that were NOT presented to the media, and are given here simply as a record of  what sampling I could not do. I have left in the name of the agency, in fairness to all.
PART ONE:  The "best" wines of a reduced tasting  --
Fizz+315200    HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC    Traditional method, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario    2014    $49.95     QPR: 92
Under $20
W+224428    JULES TAYLOR SAUVIGNON BLANC    Certified sustainable, Marlborough, South Island    2018    $19.95       13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+734798    THORNBURY SAUVIGNON BLANC    Marlborough, South Island    2018    $18.95
13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+231282    KEN FORRESTER OLD VINE RESERVE CHENIN BLANC    WO Stellenbosch    2018    $17.95  13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
R+617738    WAYNE GRETZKY WHISKY OAK AGED RED    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2018    $19.95 13.8% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+10970    WAPISA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    San Javier, Río Negro, Patagonia    2016    $18.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+66738    THE BLACK CHOOK SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER    South Australia    2017    $18.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+396481    ZONTE'S FOOTSTEP CHOCOLATE FACTORY SHIRAZ    McLaren Vale, South Australia    2017    $19.95  14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92
R+477075    I BALZI ROSSO    IGT Veneto    2017    $15.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+10951    TENUTA SANTA MARIA ALLA PIEVE VERONA PRÀGAL    IGT Veronese Rosso    2017    $18.95  13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+11277    QUINTA DO CASAL MONTEIRO TOURIGA NACIONAL/MERLOT/SYRAH    Estate bottled, DOC Tejo    2016    $14.95 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92
R+10700    BODEM LES MARGAS GARNACHA    DO Cariñena    2017    $19.95     14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+357335    HACIENDA LÓPEZ DE HARO RESERVA    DOCa Rioja    2014    $19.95  13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  92
W+80374    MURALHAS DE MONÇÃO VINHO VERDE    Monção e Melgaço, DOC Vinho Verde    2018    $15.95 12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88
Over $20
W+302083    BACHELDER NIAGARA CHARDONNAY    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2017    $24.95     13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
R+395855    HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE CABERNET/MERLOT    VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2012    $24.95  13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  89
W+67231    LA CREMA RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY CHARDONNAY    Russian River Valley, Sonoma County    2017    $39.95     14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W+10539    THE LANE GATHERING SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON/SEMILLON    Adelaide Hills, South Australia    2016    $24.95     13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+478628    Z. ALEXANDER BROWN UNCAGED CABERNET SAUVIGNON    California    2016    $21.95  14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+55764    CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE INDIAN WELLS CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Columbia Valley    2016    $26.95 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+12331    PETER LEHMANN THE BAROSSAN CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Barossa Valley, South Australia    2018    $21.95 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+590414    OYSTER BAY PINOT NOIR    Marlborough, South Island    2017    $20.95 13% ABV, MVC/QPR:  89
R+709303    MORGENSTER LOURENS RIVER VALLEY    WO Stellenbosch    2011    $33.95 14% ABV, MVC/QPR:  93
R+157347    ENRICO SERAFINO BARBARESCO    DOCG    2015    $29.95      13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+213132    LA PIEVE BAROLO    DOCG    2015    $38.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+438572    CASALE DEL BOSCO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO    DOCG    2014    $43.95 15% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+597237    BENZIGER CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Certified sustainable, Sonoma County    2016    $27.95  14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+11835    CHÂTEAU TOUR COUTELIN    AC Saint-Estèphe    2016    $27.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R+453548    LEALTANZA GRAN RESERVA    DOCa Rioja    2010    $31.95     14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R+976662    FAUSTINO I GRAN RESERVA    DOCa Rioja    2006    $31.95     13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
PART TWO: The "rest" of the release [not offered for sampling by media] with agency name  --
148866    CLOSSON CHASE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY    VQA Prince Edward County    2017    $29.95    CLOSSON CHASE VINEYARDS INC.   
85100    WILDASS WHITE    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2017    $19.95    STRATUS VINEYARDS   
421362    2027 CELLARS WISMER VINEYARD FOX CROFT BLOCK CHARDONNAY    VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2017    $22.95    2027 CELLARS LTD.   
1552    FLAT ROCK THE RUSTY SHED CHARDONNAY    VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2018    $26.95    FLAT ROCK CELLARS   
225375    J. LOHR OCTOBER NIGHT CHARDONNAY    Arroyo Seco, Monterey County    2017    $34.95    BARRIQUE WINE IMPORTS LTD.   
458810    TOM GORE CHARDONNAY    California    2017    $19.95    ARTERRA WINES CANADA INC.   
199810    FIRST PRESS NAPA CHARDONNAY    Napa Valley    2017    $24.95    CHURCHILL CELLARS LTD.   
508770    PAUMANOK DRY RIESLING    North Fork of Long Island    2017    $24.95    BRAND NEW DAY WINES & SPIRITS   
918805    CATENA CHARDONNAY    Mendoza    2018    $19.95    TRIALTO WINE GROUP LTD.   
928580    SANTA CAROLINA GRAN RESERVA CHARDONNAY    Certified carbon neutral, DO Itata Valley    2017    $18.95    CHARTON HOBBS INC   
609321    DOMAINE NATURALISTE DISCOVERY CHARDONNAY    Margaret River, Western Australia    2018    $24.95    AUTHENTIC WINE & SPIRITS MERCHANTS   
518357    SIDEWOOD SAUVIGNON BLANC    Adelaide Hills, South Australia    2018    $17.95    VINOLUNA   
388363    HÃHÃ SAUVIGNON BLANC            $19.95    HOBBS & COMPANY
948182    LA GRIFFE BERNARD CHÉREAU MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE    Sur lie, AP    2018    $17.95    H.H.D. IMPORTS   
85134    MEGALOMANIAC SONOFABITCH PINOT NOIR    VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2017    $27.95    JOHN HOWARD CELLARS   
205021    MEGALOMANIAC FRANK CABERNET    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2017    $29.95    JOHN HOWARD CELLARS   
550608    VIENI PINOT NOIR    VQA Vinemount Ridge    2017    $16.95    VIENI ESTATES INC.   
396267    THE ORGANIZED CRIME BREAK-IN PINOT NOIR    VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2017    $21.95    JAN TARASEWICZ   
347377    CASA-DEA GAMAY    VQA Prince Edward County    2017    $16.95    CASA-DEA
307686    TAWSE QUARRY ROAD PINOT NOIR    VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula    2016    $35.95    TAWSE WINERY INC.   
86363    WILDASS RED    VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake    2016    $21.95    STRATUS VINEYARDS   
60152    SIGNORELLO CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Unfiltered, Napa Valley    2015    $124.95    BARRIQUE WINE IMPORTS LTD.   
362400    BERINGER QUANTUM    Napa Valley    2015    $79.95    MARK ANTHONY WINE & SPIRITS   
632133    CAYMUS CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Napa Valley    2017    $54.95    ANDREW PELLER IMPORT AGENCY   
213017    MICHAEL DAVID PETITE PETIT    Lodi    2016    $28.95    CHURCHILL CELLARS LTD.   
46300    PENDULUM RED    Columbia Valley    2016    $24.95    GLAZER'S OF CANADA   
622571    CLOS DE LOS SIETE    Uco Valley, Mendoza    2015    $23.95    PHILIPPE DANDURAND WINES LTD.   
455774    ZUCCARDI CONCRETO MALBEC    Paraje Altamira, Uco Valley, Mendoza    2017    $39.95    DIONYSUS WINES & SPIRITS LTD.   
322800    ALAMOS SELECCIÓN MALBEC    La Consulta, Uco Valley, Mendoza    2016    $16.95    E&J GALLO WINERY CANADA LTD.   
205872    CASAS DEL BOSQUE RESERVA CARMENÈRE    DO Rapel Valley    2017    $15.95    AZUREAU WINE AGENCY   
10767    MONTGRAS ANTU LIMITED SYRAH    DO Colchagua Valley    2013    $24.95    EPIC WINES AND SPIRITS INC.   
59477    CASA SILVA GRAN TERROIR DE LOS ANDES LOS LINGUES CARMENÈRE    Estate grown and bottled, Colchagua Valley    2017    $19.95    THE CASE FOR WINE   
311720    MAQUIS GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Colchagua Valley    2015    $20.95    HALPERN ENTERPRISES   
636407    TWO HANDS BELLA'S GARDEN SHIRAZ    Barossa Valley, South Australia    2017    $59.95    B AND W WINES   
135996    THE CHOCOLATE BLOCK    WO Swartland    2017    $79.95    UNIVINS AND SPIRITS CANADA INC.   
518977    TERRA TANGRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON/MERLOT/MAVRUD    PGI Thracian Valley    2016    $14.95    RARE EARTH WINES   
123489    CHÂTEAU HAUCHAT    AC Fronsac    2016    $17.95    CONNEXION OENOPHILIA   
10513    CLOS ST. ANTONIN    AC Côtes du Rhône    2016    $19.95    BRAND NEW DAY WINES & SPIRITS   
477190    PLANETA CONTRODANZA    DOC Sicilia Noto    2016    $27.95    NOBLE ESTATES WINES & SPIRITS INC.   
25601    ISOLE E OLENA CEPPARELLO    IGT Toscana    2016    $256.95    HALPERN ENTERPRISES   
56671    STRATUS RIESLING ICEWINE    VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario    2017    $44.95    STRATUS VINEYARDS   
568204    CULMINA DILEMMA CHARDONNAY    Margaret's Bench, BC VQA Okanagan Valley    2015    $39.95    WOODMAN WINES & SPIRITS   
629121    ARGOT SIMPATICO RANCH CHARDONNAY    Bennett Valley, Sonoma County    2015    $69.95    GREAT NORTH IMPORTS   
12489    MARIENBURG FAHRLAY RESERVE TROCKEN RIESLING    Qualitätswein    2015    $87.95    THE LIVING VINE INC.   
570788    SHAFER TD-9            $99.95    ROGERS & COMPANY   
472159    SILVERADO MT. GEORGE VINEYARD MERLOT    Coombsville, Napa Valley    2014    $54.95    KYLIX WINES   
735654    TABLAS CREEK ESPRIT DE TABLAS    Paso Robles    2016    $74.95    CHARTON HOBBS INC   
10604    LA NIT DE LES GARNATXES    DO Montsant    2016    $24.95    TRIALTO WINE GROUP LTD.   
161893    VIÑA ALBERDI RESERVA    DOCa Rioja    2013    $33.95    JOHN HANNA & SONS