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Thursday, February 25, 2021

* THE REISSUES, THE REPRINTS, AND THE NEWER EDITIONS...

* THE REISSUES, THE REPRINTS, AND THE NEWER EDITIONS...
 
 
...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.VEGETARIAN TAGINES AND COUSCOUS; 65 delicious recipes for authentic Moroccan food (Ryland Peters and Small, 2012, 2020, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-240-0 $19.95 hardbound) is by Ghillie Basan, cookery writer specializing in Middle East cookbooks and articles. It's a timely book, originally published in 2012 with meat as "East Tagines" 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. There are also a range of couscous and skewers,
salads and soups, plus appetizers. You can always use a heavy-based casserole dish instead of a tagine. She's got an onion, olive and egg tagine with zahtar, tagine of butter beans, cherry tomatoes and black olives, plus couscous with braised fennel, zucchini, and orange. Preparations have their ingredients listed in partial metric and full avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/Price Rating: 89.
 
 
 
8.LA PAELLA; recipes for delicious Spanish rice and noodle dishes (Ryland Peters and Small, 2015, 2020, 128 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-236-3 $19.95 hardbound) is by Louise Pickford, well-known UK food writer with stints in Australia and now living in France.
Some of the recipes had appeared in an earlier book of only 64 pages. Rice is a versatile ingredient, and Spanish cooks transform it into an array of dishes from simple comfort food to grand feasts to be shared on special occasions. This book brings together delicious rice dishes from all over Spain, from regional classics that are now known around the world to unusual local specialties. There is something for every taste and every occasion, with recipes containing meat, poultry, fish and shellfish, as well as vegetarian options. There is the classic Paella Valenciana from that region. Paella de marisco y chorizo (Seafood paella with chorizo), and how to make the most of garlic and saffron in the preps. As well as traditional regional paellas, there are also other styles of rice dishes, such as Arroz caldoso con langosta (Creamy rice with lobster), Arroz caldoso con almejas (Clam soup) or Arroz al horno con garbanzos y pasas (Baked rice with chickpeas and raisins). She has comments on the Spanish pantry, fried dishes, sweets, and suppliers (but only for the US and the UK). 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: 88
 
 
9.BISTRO; classic French dishes to cook and enjoy at home (Ryland Peters and Small, 2010, 2020, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-282-0 $19.95 hardbound) is by Laura Washburn, who translates French cookbooks into English and tests recipes, as well as writing cookbooks. It was originally published in hard covers in 2003 (as Bistro) and in 2005 (as French Desserts), and then again in 2010 as The French Country Table. Here are the classic recipes for French onion soup, tians from Provence, soupe au pistou, goat cheese tart, Belgian endive salad, pork in cider, cassoulet, and the like. For desserts, there are tarte tatin, soufflé, clafouti, tarte au citron, napoleons, oeufs a la neige, mousse, and parfaits. These are all part of the 60 uncomplicated home cooked recipes. Everything is relatively easy to make if you apply yourself. Good sharp photography, as always from Ryland. 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.CINNAMON, SPICE & WARM APPLE PIE; over 65 comforting baked fruit desserts (Ryland Peters and Small, 2010, 2013, 2020, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-276-9 $19.95 hardbound) was originally published in 2010 as a collection of recipes from the RPS stable of food writers. It has been updated to include 34 preps from Maxine Clark, 20 from Ross Dobson, and 14 from Laura Washburn. Five other writers contributed the rest. Baked fruit desserts embrace crumbles, streusels, cobblers, bettys, crisps, clafoutis, slumps, puddings, pies, tarts, tartlets, strudels, dappys, pandowdys, and some cakes. No mention of grunts or buckles in this book, nor the dump, the grump, or the sonker – or the dumpling. [there's probably more names] Many dishes can be mixed and matched with different fruits. 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
 
 
11.NATURAL WINE; in introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made naturally. 3rd ed. (Cico Books, 2014, 2020, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-78249-100-2, $27.99 US hard covers) is by Isabelle Legeron, the first French woman to become a Master of Wine. She runs the RAW Natural Wine Festival in London, and consults with restaurants and promotes "natural" wine. There is still a large argument raging in the wine world over what is a natural wine. Some believe that it should be applied only to organic and biodynamic farms; others think it should also mean "sustainable" or "green", etc. The key would simply be to get rid of the word "natural" and just have "organic or "biodynamic" and "sustainable". It is only the organic and biodynamic wines that appear to be legally certifiable. There are no controls over the rest of the "natural" wording on the label. Indeed, some organic wineries just press organic grapes and then use regular winemaking techniques. They can still call their wines organic. I know of many farms who use the term "natural" to reflect their organic practices, because they just do not have the money nor the wait time to apply for certification. Legeron offered one of the first books meant for the general reader to cover O & B wines. In general, wine is a process, but it is also an industry. Wineries try to be consistent from year to year because they have a product to sell. The weather determines many of the "corrections" the winemaker needs to take, such as more acid, earlier/later picking, more sugar, more irrigation, etc. A natural O & B winery rolls with the punches and produces wine "as is". The author takes us through the year and discusses wine faults, stability, health issues, taste, fermentation, sulphites, and a load of contentious issues. She's assisted from time to time by other writers such as Nicolas Joly, Tony Coturri, and 11 others. She gives notes on many wines, sorted by types (bubbly, red, white, orange [this is an addition from the previous editions], rose, sweet, and even co-ferments). Not surprisingly, France has the most listings, followed by Italy: these are the two leaders by production. Quebec in Canada has two mentions, one an orange wine made from seyval blanc and the other a chardonnay. Other additional sections cover a glossary, lists of associations and wine fairs, restaurants and stores for the US and UK, and a bibliography Some interesting or unusual facts: "soils harbor 80 percent of the world's biomass. Earthworms alone, for
example, amount to about the same weight as all other animals combined." Quality/Price Rating: 90.
 
12.PIES, GLORIOUS PIES; brilliant recipes for mouth-wateringly tasty pies (Ryland, Peters & Small, 2012, 2020, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-261-9, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Maxine Clark, a prolific cookbook author for this publisher. This is its second edition, based on the 2012 publication. The British love their pies, and Clark, who lives in Scotland, details a useful primer on how to construct different pie doughs and roll them out. She gives us separate chapters based on purpose: there are everyday pies, posh pies, portable pies, and sweet pies. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric (mostly, anyway) and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no separate table of equivalents. Some interesting or unusual recipes in this 50 prep package include steak and kidney pie; lamb shank shepherd's pie; ham and apple pie; simple sausage lattice slice; ricotta and green herb torta; pasta, parmesan, and cherry tomato pies; golden fish pie. There are more savoury pies than sweet pies here. A good book for pie lovers and novice cooks, especially with the usual RPS photography. Quality/Price Rating: 89.
 
 
13.HOME-COOKED COMFORTS; oven bakes, casseroles & other one-pot dishes (Ryland Peters & Small, 2010, 2020, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-283-7, $19.95 USD hardbound)is by Laura Washburn Hutton, a well-versed award winning UK food writer fluent in French (she translates many French cookbooks) with a cooking school in south-west France. It was originally published in 2010, and the current book now contains 65 preps for one-pot comfort food. This is the acoustic version since instant pots or slow cookers are not involved. The cuisine is international (curries, Asiatic dishes, Moroccan tagines, and some faves from the American southwest. All easy and comfortable, just perfect for the pandemic lockdowns. It's arranged by main ingredient: meat, poultry, fish and shell fish, and vegetarian. And mostly savoury. Basic include chili, goulash, gratin, braise, meatloaf, shanks, and more. 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.
 

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com
AND http://gothicepicures.blogspot.com
AND https://twitter.com/gothicepicures

Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada http://winewriterscircle.ca
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for FEBRUARY 20, 2021

 
WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for FEBRUARY 20, 2021
 
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. 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 http://www.deantudor.com since 1994.
 
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at http://www.gothicepicures.blogspot.ca  or at  http://www.deantudor.com 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).
 
Currently, the wine media have no access to the tasting samples usually provided to us in the LCBO lab on a fortnightly basis. This will go on or some time. HOWEVER,  the wine media will still have access to the advance spreadsheet of the wines to be released. So I know what is to be released and when. SOME (but not many) of these 100 or so biweekly released wines I have recently tasted since January 2020 or so, and I can comfortably recommend them based on this prior sampling.
 
Some New Wines Tasted Over the Past Fortnight ---
 
1.Kacaba Vineyards & Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, LCBO & Grocery +326975, $15.95: fruit-driven aromatics come from the bouquet of orchard fruit which clearly shows on the mid-palate, finishing off with a slight citrus tang (thus making it perfectly adaptable to a first course food offering such as seafood or light salad). As a social drink for the patio/deck/terrace or party, the balanced fruit-acid of the wine is very nicely placed. Stainless steel cold aging [no oak]. Also available in 60 grocery stores. 13.5% ABV. Twist top. Good value price. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
2.Kacaba Vineyards & Winery Cabernet 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, LCBO & Grocery +499384, $15.95: a blend of 51% cab sauvignon and 49% cab franc, although in taste and performance it seems as if there is more franc in the mix. There is a melange of both red and black fruit, such as cherries, raspberries, cranberries followed by cassis and blackberries. From the short wood aging comes some vanilla, coffee-toffee, and woody spices. Medium in mouthfeel and well-balanced all the way, just what you want from a party red wine that can also extend through to the cheese course. 12.8% ABV. Capable of aging for a few years. Tasted over several days after a double-decanting. Twist top. Also available in 60 grocery stores. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
3.Kacaba Vineyards & Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2019 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Vintages, +19899 April 3, $19.95 [only 30 cases available, sold out at the winery]: very light and pale in colour, but full of flavours such as an herbed-induced introduction to Ontario fruit (gooseberries, nectarines) and florals. A very nicely developed bone dry drink for late spring and Easter. Cold stainless steel fermentation accentuates the dried tropical fruit component. 12.1% ABV, 3 g/L residual sugar. A good little savvy that will take you all the way through from the table's first courses to the fresh cheeses. Twist top. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
4.Kacaba Vineyards & Winery Rebecca Rose 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Winery Only [320 cases], $19.95: I have really enjoyed previous vintages of this wine. The grape here is gamay, as in light and fruity Beaujolais. So it's a typical light, refreshing, and fruity drink with low alcohol and low tannins. Cold stainless fermentation helps it retain the strawb and rasp berry nature of the grape, as well as some of that typical Ontario cranberry taste. Best on its own as a patio/terrace/deck party drink or with a light platter of first course foods. 12.3% ABV. Twist top. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
February 20 -- Under $20
=========
W+225557    ERADUS SAUVIGNON BLANC    Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island    2020    $19.95     MVC/QPR: 90
R+18173      DOMAINE DE LA PLAIGNE RÉGNIÉ    AP    2017  [BEAUJOLAIS]  $18.95     MVC/QPR:  89
R+273672    STORIA ANTICA SUPERIORE VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO    DOC    2018    $18.95    MVC/QPR:  90
 
February 20 -- Over $20
=========
W+490326   SACRED HILL RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC    Marlborough, South Island    2018    $21.95     MVC/QPR:  90
W+149211   THE FOREIGN AFFAIR CHARDONNAY VQA NIAGARA PENINSULA  2018 $26.95   MCV/QPR: 91+
R+268391    HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE PINOT NOIR    Sustainable, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2019    $24.95    MVC/QPR:  91
R+157347    ENRICO SERAFINO SANAVENTO BARBARESCO    DOCG    2017    $30.95 MVC/QPR:  89
R+438580    QUERCECCHIO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO    DOCG    2015    $34.95 MVC/QPR:  89
 
 

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Friday, February 12, 2021

MORE FOOD AND DRINK BOOKS

* MORE FOOD AND DRINK BOOKS
 
ARAN (Hardie Grant Books, 2020, 240 pages, $42.50 hardbound) is by Flora Sheddon, who became the youngest ever semi-finalist on The Great British Bake Off Baking Show in 2015. She runs Aran bakery in Dunkeld, Highland Perthshire. She has also written a weekly baking column for the Sunday Telegraph. These are recipes and stories from a bakery in the heart of Scotland. Material includes the origins of the bakery (aran is Scottish Gaelic for bread or loaf) and a day in its life from dawn to dusk. There is location photography plus a slew of recipes for breakfast, lunch and High Tea. Typical are a pork, apple and sage sausage roll, and apricot and almond frangipani. Try also chocolate oat cookies, pear, coffee and hazelnut cake, and pomegranate and raspberry financiers. An impressive giftbook for the baker in your life. Quality/Price Rating: 88
 
 
4.TRAVELS WITH MY SPATULA (Ryland Peters & Small, 2020, 144 pages, $27.95 hardbound) is by Tori Haschka, a food and travel writer-blogger from Sydney. She's got you covered for eating fresh sardines with Campari, peach and fennel in Venice, and apple fritters in the Swiss Alps, or maybe some different breakfasts for when you wake up. It's a mix of food and travel, as that is what Tori is. Good enough as a host gift for the inveterate traveller. The photography is all plated food while the travelling is all text. You'll have to use your imagination in this lively book. Check her out at www.eatori.com.
Quality/Price Rating: 87
 
5.GLUTEN-FREE HOLIDAY COOKIES (Artisan, 2020, 96 pages, $17.95 hardbound) is part of the Artisanal Kitchen series of small handbooks. This one is by Alice Medrich with Maya Klein. They've got over 30 recipes "to sweeten the season" . Not all then preps are exclusively Christmas: the standards here reflect both the classics (chocolate chip, ginger, double oatmeal, nutty thumbprint, et al) and the festives (buckwheat walnut or hazelnut tuiles, toasty pecan biscotti, chocolate sables, ginger-peach squares, et al). Sure to be a winner in the hostess gift sweepstakes, for it even includes conversion charts.  Quality/Price Rating: 87
 
6.JEWISH HOLIDAY BAKING (Artisan, 2020, 112 pages, $17.95 hardbound) is part of the Artisanal Kitchen series of small handbooks. This one is by Uri Scheft with Raquel Pelzel. They've got over 25 preps for inspirations dealing with Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, Purim, Passover, and more. The savoury section includes challah, potato hamantaschen, spinach burekas; the sweets have date mamoul, chocolate rugelach, sufganiyot.  Another great hostess gift, which also includes conversion charts. Quality/Price Rating:87
 
7.THE GOODE GUIDE TO WINE; a manifesto of sorts (University of California Press, 2020, 233 pages, $24.95 hardbound) is by the renowned UK wine writer Jamie Goode, who visits a lot of wine regions. It's a collection of observations and opinions about wine absurdities, excitements, interests, and how things could be better in wine culture. Of late he has been doing and saying nice things about Ontario wines, but there 's nothing here about that. There is, however, an illuminating article on how to succeed at wine writing by writing boring articles. It's a great book for the knowledgeable wine lover who has almost everything. Quality/Price Rating:90
 
8.MAN'OUSHE; inside the Lebanese street corner baker (Interlink Books, 2020, 200 pages, $43.95 hardbound) is by Barbara Abdeni Massaad, a food writer whose family owned a Lebanese restaurant "Kebabs and Things" in Florida. She has since located back to Lebanon, and here gives us a stunning document about kitchen rituals and traditions of Lebanese culture. The national pie is man'pushe, and she has 70 recipes for the perfect style of pies as found in  a Lebanese bakery. It's a great snack, and she goes through the range of fillings, from cheese, yogurt, egg, chicken, meat preserve, and Armenian sausage. Photography is by her and by Raymond Yazbeck. She tells stories about the bakeries, the places, and the types of pies. She's got a pantry description as well as kitchen tools and techniques for making/baking the dough. And of course it all starts with za'tar and wild thyme pie. It's a work of art, not just a cookbook, and has been been endorsed by both Alice Waters and Paula Wolfert. Quality/Price Rating: 92
 
9.DELICIOUS DIPS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2017, 2020, 64 pages, $13.95 hardbound) is a publisher's collection of some 50 recipes for dips from fresh and tangy to rich and creamy, using meats, legumes, veggies, herbs, olives, nuts, seeds, yogurt and cheese. Something for all, from 13 different UK food writers, principally Hannah Miles (with 15 preps).  Quality/Price Rating: 89
 
10.HOW TO DICE AN ONION (Dog 'n' Bone, 2020, 128 pages, $14.95 hardbound) is by Anne Sheasby. These are hacks, tips and tricks for the home cook, originally published in 2007 as "Kitchen Wisdom".  Scores and scores of fail-safes will reward the budding home cook, offering assistance in all aspects of cookery. The best tips are those that try to correct your mistakes; next best are those tricks that employ substitution. It's an easy read, but try to dip into it often for reminders. Quality/Price Rating: 89
 
11.PINK GIN (Ryland Peters & Small, 2020, 64 pages, $14.95 hardbound) is a collection of some 30 or so pink-hued cocktails. Most of the preps come from Julia Charles, with some more from Laura Gladwin. It's an open-and-shut slender work, with the recipes scattered among three categories: cocktails, sparklers, and coolers. Most call for "pink gin" but you can use regular gin and add your own colouring, if need be (grenadine, cranberry juice, rose/red wine). Quality/Price Rating: 88
 
12.VENETIAN REPUBLIC (Interlink Publishing Group, 2020, 256 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is by Nino Zoccali, chef-owner of some Italian restaurants in Sydney Australia. He has written before on diverse cuisines of Italy. These recipes here come from the days when Venice was a world power, the centre of the spice/salt/silk  trade routes. The four key regions were: Venice and the lagoon islands, the surrounding Veneto, the Croatian coast, and the Greek Islands (Santorini, Cyprus, Crete, Corfu, et al). Hence, we have Venetian  Prosecco and snapper risotto, Croatian roast lamb shoulder with olive oil potatoes, Cretan sweet and sour red mullet, Corfu's zabaglione, and Dubrovnik's ricotta and rose liqueur crepes. It's all arranged by the regions, with sub-arrangement by course (from antipasti to dolci). And it has a whack of history/culture behind each prep. Loaded with mostly pictures of finished plates, but there are also some maps and tourist attractions.  Quality/Price Rating: 90
 
13.THE SICILY COOKBOOK (DK Publishing, 2020, 240 pages, $39 hardbound) is by Cettina Vicenzino who was born in Sicily and grew up in Germany. She is a cook, food photographer, and writer, and has written several books on Italian and Sicilian cuisine. Three types of food  are here --cucina povera (peasant food), cibo di strada (street food), and cucina dei monsù (sophisticated food).
It's part cookbook and part travel, with loads of her own photos  and cultural/gastronomical notes emphasizing local chefs and food producers.. The arrangement is by course, primi (Sicilian cuisine doesn't include  antipasti) pasta, through secondi mains and piatto unico, intermezzi, and dolci. She's got a few non-alcoholic drinks and some wine. In all, the vast majority of her 70 preps use local spices, citrus,  cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and seafood. This is a real treat for Sicilian food lovers, featuring ricotta dumplings in an orange and tomato sauce, stuffed sardines, salt cod, and grilled octopus with ricotta hummus.  Quality/Price Rating:
90.

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Food Diet Books (Intermittent Fasting; Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Beginners (both Alpha Books)

 
3.INTERMITTENT FASTING DIET; guide + cookbook (Alpha Books, DK Publishing, 2020, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-9766-6 $25.99 paperbound) is by Becky Gillaspry, creator of www.drbeckyfitness.com. She's a chiropractor with two YouTube channels and teaches a range of college medical courses. This is advice and tips on fasting strategies with more than 50 food preps and four flexible meal plans. The major idea is to shift the eating window to allow for proper balance in fasting for nutritional increases. You'll want to avoid gaining weight or slowing metabolisms. Gone, for the moment, are the three meals a day AND the six meals a day food patterns. These are replaced by time-restricted eating such as the proportions of 12:12 or 16:8 or 20:4, where you can fast safely for 12 hours, or 16 or 20. In our family, 16 hours fasting (which includes 8 hours sleep) seems to work best. This is easy to accomplish: a late breakfast or brunch at 10:30 or so followed by an early dinner at 5:30 or 6. She discusses all of these, along with caveats (e.g., diabetes) that should be looked at with the guidance of physicians. Some of the best meal plans may be low-carb meals, or a ketogenic diet, or dairy-free, or vegetarian. Gillaspry lays it all out, and you the reader gets to decide. It's all very effective. Every recipe is loaded with nutritional data. 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: 91.
 
 
 
4.MEDITERRANEAN DIET COOKBOOK FOR BEGINNERS; meal plans, expert guidance, & 100 recipes to get you started (Alpha Books, DK Publishing, 2020, 192 pages, ISBN  978-1-4654-9767-3 $25.99 paperbound) is by Elena Paravantes, a registered dietitian and expert on the Mediterranean diet, active as a writer, consultant, hanging out at her website www.olivetomato.com. It is all pretty basic stuff, but it does "get you started". The principles and rationales are nicely explained for the "authentic" Mediterranean diet, which started as wine, bread and olives centuries ago. But a 1948 study of Crete produced evidence of a strong nutritional setting for wild greens, beans, vegetables, fruits, bread, homemade wine, and olive oil. In the 1950s, the focus shifted to southern Europe. By 1993 Oldways had created a food pyramid based on Crete, and the rest is (as they say) history. So she carefully explains what to eat and how often to eat it, proposing a two-week getting started Mediterranean diet meal plan, The come the preps in cookbook order: breakfasts, veggies and beans, pasta/rice/savoury pies, seafood and some meat, salads, snacks and desserts. There's briami (sheet pan roasted veggies), Mediterranean black-eyed pea stew, caponata (Sicilian eggplant), tiropita Greek chese pie), kagianas (scrambled eggs with feta and tomatoes), gigantes (roasted butter beans),  and fakorizo (lentils with veggies and rice). Not surprisingly, many of the preps are Greek and Sicilian or south of Italy. She concludes with a bibliography for more reading. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/Price Rating: 88.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
 

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for FEBRUARY 6, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for FEBRUARY 6, 2021
 
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. 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 http://www.deantudor.com since 1994.
 
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at http://www.gothicepicures.blogspot.ca  or at  http://www.deantudor.com 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).
 
Currently, the wine media have no access to the tasting samples usually provided to us in the LCBO lab on a fortnightly basis. This will go on or some time. HOWEVER,  the wine media will still have access to the advance spreadsheet of the wines to be released. So I know what is to be released and when. SOME (but not many) of these 100 or so biweekly released wines I have recently tasted since January 2020 or so, and I can comfortably recommend them based on this prior sampling.
 
Some New Wines Tasted Over the Past Fortnight ---
 
1.Troupis Fteri Moschofilero 2019 Greece, +647388 $14.95 Vintages March 20: flower aromatics and some grape tones (much like muscat) and with a deceptive citric finish. So: starts out floral, rises to fat perfume, and then descends to crispness for the food as a first course wine, paired with white meats. 12% ABV. Price dropped $2 since the 2017 vintage was in Ontario. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
2.Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Estate 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench Niagara, +268391 Vintages, February 20, $24.95: Here is a deft Burgundian-character pinot noir wine, with cherry-berry tones, some toast, mildly opulent style, not totally cool climate at all. Fermented in stainless and aged in oak. Ready in a year or two. Dependable. And also available in Denmark, Hungary, Japan, USA and Czech Republic. Needs time; try a double decant. 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
3.Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Chardonnay 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench +616466, $29.95 [currently at winery] Vintages May 1: Grapes come from their oldest estate vineyards (beginning 1988), hand-picked. Barrel fermented in French oak with a portion in 3000L foudres, and then barrel aged for 8 – 10 months in a mix of new and older barrels. This continues the tradition of Burgundian elegance. Expect some ripeness, balance of oaking and fruit, integrated style in place.  Wood integration produces some creaminess in the finish. 12.8% ABV, cork closure. Definitely needs another year – or more – in bottle in order to bring out the nuances. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
4.Henry of Pelham Estate Riesling 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, +557165, $19.95 Vintages March 20: intense riesling in a Rhine style of cool fermentation, with very off-dry palate but dry finish (good acid levels on the finish) – broad grapefruit and lemons on the mid-palate, sip (mainly) or food. 9.8% ABV, 19.5 g/L RS, twist top, from HOP's oldest Estate riesling vineyards (planted 1984). 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.
 
5.Buena Vista The Sheriff Sonoma County 2017 +539114, $49.95 Vintages March 6: well, here was a surprise – a really good wine from 10 different red grape varieties, a sort-of California Chateauneuf-du-Pape. For the record, this 2017 vintage has petite sirah (28%), petit verdot (21%), cabernet sauvignon (16%), carignan (9%), grenache (9%), syrah (7%), malbec (4%), cabernet franc (2%), merlot (2%), and mission (2%). The proportions can vary from vintage to vintage. All grapes were grown on different parcels in Sonoma. One of California's first sheriffs, Agoston Haraszthy was elected Sheriff of San Diego County in 1850. He built the first jail. This is a full and firm field blend type of wine, with aromas/palates of every good thing you could find in the "kitchen sink": black fruit cassis, cherries, blackberries, plums, red raspberries – and then drifting off to mocha, followed by savouries such as black pepper and tobacco leaf. Oak aging was 10 months, with 15% new oak. The rich tannins need time, so put it away for a few years. If necessary, do a double decant and taste over several days. 15% ABV. Serve with rich game stews or tomahawk steaks. Quality/Price rating is 91-92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
6.Perdeberg The Vineyard Collection Cinsault 2018 Paarl South Africa +18618, $17.95 Vintages March 6: this is a broad basic, entry-level wine from a grape imported to South Africa via Languedoc and South Rhone. Indeed, cinsault is one of the parents of "pinotage" (the other is pinot noir). Until recently, it had the largest acreage planted in South Africa (cabernet sauvignon now has the largest number of plantings). This particular vineyard in 2018 had 30 year old cinsault vineyards. Expect some heady fruity ripeness aromas, a slight sweetness despite 3.8 g/L residual sugar, with a pronounced peppery backspin, much like grenache. Needs tomato sauce dishes, with veal-beef-pork meats. Cork closure. Ready now. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
7.Gustave Lorentz Sylvaner Reserve 2019 +18160, $16.95, Vintages March 6: sylvaner is the workhorse wine of Alsace. It turns up everywhere by itself or as a zwicker wine. It is light and delicate, somewhat reminiscent of the pinot grigio style and mood. Indeed, it could have been marketed the same way. It's an uncomplicated fresh wine stressing lemons and citric attack with a dry finish. Aperitif wine or first course (seafood/fish). A good entry level wine with lots more body than the pinot grigio style. [a wine colleague of mine had accidentally left a car-trunk full of Alsatian white wines to freeze in the cold – only the sylvaner survived] 13.5% ABV, 1.8 g/L residual sugar. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
February 6 -- Under $20
=========
W+18222    TRITTENHEIMER ALTÄRCHEN RIESLING KABINETT TROCKEN    Prädikatswein    2018    $16.95    MVC/QPR: 89
W+17443    STELLENBOSCH MANOR BARREL FERMENTED CHENIN BLANC    WO Stellenbosch    2018    $19.95     MVC/QPR: 89
R+610303    POÇAS JUNIOR VALE DE CAVALOS RED    DOC Douro    2018    $19.95
MVC/QPR: 89
R+523001    CAVE SPRING CABERNET FRANC    VQA Niagara Escarpment    2018    $17.95
 
February 6 -- Over $20
=========
W+10338    ROPITEAU CHABLIS    AC    2018    $25.95     MVC/QPR: 89
W+492900    LOUIS MAX BEAUCHARME BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY    AC    2018    $22.95
MVC/QPR: 89
W+18161    TRÉSORS DE LOIRE POUILLY-FUMÉ    IGP Val de Loire    2019    $23.95
MVC/QPR:  89
R+16565    DURANT & BOOTH CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Napa Valley    2018    $34.95       MVC/QPR: 91
R+171587    FARINA LE PEZZE AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO    DOCG    2017    $36.95 MVC/QPR: 92
R+12736    ENRICO SERAFINO PICOTENER NEBBIOLO    DOC Langhe    2018    $39.95
MVC/QPR:  89
R+25221    SIMI CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Alexander Valley, Sonoma County    2017    $29.95
MVC/QPR:  89               

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Monday, February 1, 2021

TASTING FOUR NEW KACABA WINES, SOON AVAILABLE...

New wines tasted, from KACABA VQA NIAGARA – [use promo code FREESHIP6 for free shipping on any six different wines]
 
1.Kacaba Vineyards & Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, LCBO & Grocery +326975, $15.95: fruit-driven aromatics come from the bouquet of orchard fruit which clearly shows on the mid-palate, finishing off with a slight citrus tang (thus making it perfectly adaptable to a first course food offering such as seafood or light salad). As a social drink for the patio/deck/terrace or party, the balanced fruit-acid of the wine is very nicely placed. Stainless steel cold aging [no oak]. Also available in 60 grocery stores. 13.5% ABV. Twist top. Good value price. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
2.Kacaba Vineyards & Winery Cabernet 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, LCBO & Grocery +499384, $15.95: a blend of 51% cab sauvignon and 49% cab franc, although in taste and performance it seems as if there is more franc in the mix. There is a melange of both red and black fruit, such as cherries, raspberries, cranberries followed by cassis and blackberries. From the short wood aging comes some vanilla, coffee-toffee, and woody spices. Medium in mouthfeel and well-balanced all the way, just what you want from a party red wine that can also extend through to the cheese course. 12.8% ABV. Capable of aging for a few years. Tasted over several days after a double-decanting. Twist top. Also available in 60 grocery stores. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
3.Kacaba Vineyards & Winery Susan's Sauvignon Blanc 2019 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Vintages, +19899 April 3, $19.95 [only 30 cases available, but there are 18 at the winery]: very light and pale in colour, but full of flavours such as an herbed-induced introduction to Ontario fruit (gooseberries, nectarines) and florals. A very nicely developed bone dry drink for late spring and Easter. Cold stainless steel fermentation accentuates the dried tropical fruit component. 12.1% ABV, 3 g/L residual sugar. A good little savvy that will take you all the way through from the table's first courses to the fresh cheeses. Twist top. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
4.Kacaba Vineyards & Winery Rebecca Rose 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Winery Only [320 cases], $19.95: I have really enjoyed previous vintages of this wine. The grape here is gamay, as in light and fruity Beaujolais. So it's a typical light, refreshing, and fruity drink with low alcohol and low tannins. Cold stainless fermentation helps it retain the strawb and rasp berry nature of the grape, as well as some of that typical Ontario cranberry taste. Best on its own as a patio/terrace/deck party drink or with a light platter of first course foods. 12.3% ABV. Twist top. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Sunday, January 31, 2021

* FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! : A Field Guide to Cheese (T Sicard, Artisan)

* FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! *
 
A FIELD GUIDE TO CHEESE; how to select, enjoy, and pair the world's best cheeses (Artisan, 2018, 2020, 272 pages, $37.95 hardbound) is by Tristan Sicard. It was originally published in French by Hachette in 2018; this is the English translation for the North American market. Over half of the book is devoted to the listing of cheeses. This is arranged by style: fresh cheeses, whey cheeses, soft with different rinds, pressed cheeses, blues, stringy, runny and flavoured cheeses. The rest is for how cheese is made, where to find cheeses, and how to taste cheese, aroma wheels, alcohol pairings, different cheese platter services for 3 or 5 or 7 cheeses, and how to wrap cheese for storage. Excellent reference tool with international coverage (not all cheese is French-based), Quality/Price Rating: 93
 

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

* DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH: Give Me Liberty and Give Me a Drink (Dieterle)

GIVE ME LIBERTY AND GIVE ME A DRINK; 65 cocktails to protest America's most outlandish alcohol laws (Artisan, 2020, 168 pages, ISBN 978-1-57965-968-4 $22.95 hardbound) is by C. Jarrett Dieterle, a drinks writer who has reported on spirits, booze history, and questionable regulations for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, et al. He's the editor-in-chief of www.drinksreform.org. He exploits some of the most outdated, bizarre and loony laws regarding alcohol consumption in the USA. Such things as $1 margaritas in New Mexico (they're illegal). Utah cocktails are mixed behind a barrier called "Zion curtain". Happy Hour was banned in Massachusetts in 1984. All of this trivia is combined with 65 preps for innovative cocktails. For example, the mezcal-based One Pint, Two Pint has been inspired by Vermont's ban on beer pitchers. Or The Boiling Point as a beer cocktail that is illegal in Virginia. At the end he has lists of even more restrictions, plus some resources for finding greater details. My own personal fave is the Lukewarm Lawmaking (a gin rickey).

Audience and level of use: those looking for something new

Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: see above

The downside to this book: too short

The upside to this book: a very good collection of deviance from the law on alcohol.

Quality/Price Rating: 92

 

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for JANUARY 23, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for JANUARY 23, 2021
 
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. 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 http://www.deantudor.com since 1994.
 
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at http://www.gothicepicures.blogspot.ca  or at  http://www.deantudor.com 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).
 
Currently, the wine media have no access to the tasting samples usually provided to us in the LCBO lab on a fortnightly basis. This will go on or some time. HOWEVER,  the wine media will still have access to the advance spreadsheet of the wines to be released. So I know what is to be released and when. SOME (but not many) of these 100 or so biweekly released wines I have recently tasted since January 2020 or so, and I can comfortably recommend them based on this prior sampling.
 
Some New Wines Tasted Over the Past Fortnight ---
 
1.Henry of Pelham Estate Gamay 2019 VQA Ontario, +19903, $19.95 Vintages April 2021: [currently at winery] Aromatic black and red fruit (cherries, raspberries, blueberries), augmented by oak tones with vanilla cake spices, not as lean or Euro as Beaujolais. Fermented in stainless and aged in a mix of US and French oak for about 10 months before bottling. Medium-bodied, good for patio drinking (sangria too), parties, BBQ. Ready now, but with some tannic structure to carry through a whole meal. Hey, summer weather is coming! 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
1.Henry of Pelham Riesling Speck Family Reserve 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, +643361
$27.95 [now available online and at winery]: absolutely delicious MVC intense riesling in a Mosel style (and using a Mosel clone), with an off-dry palate but a dry finish (good acid levels on the finish); broad fruity strokes of peaches and flowers on the mid-palate; quite a blazing riesling with intense pleasure, sip or food. Residual sugar is 15.4g/L, 9.8% ABV, cork closure, from HOP's oldest Estate vineyards (35+ year old riesling vines, handpicked, stainless steel fermentation). Try with rich bivalve dishes or porchetta. Should improve in the bottle over the years. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
3.Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2018 Marlborough, +490326, $21.95 Vintages February 20: a dry summer led to a fruity harvest. The tropical fruit intensity leads to a citric lemony finish for food, typically white fish or seafood. Some creaminess in the texture (60% was fermented in older French oak barrels, and 15% new oak was also used). If you lay it down, it should be even better next year! 12.5% ABV, twist top. Residual sugar 4g/L. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
4.Lapis Luna Zinfandel 2018 North Coast AVA, +17264, $19.95 Vintages February 20, 2021:
[cheese and rice, where do they come up with these labels? 400-year-old copperplate engravings]. Anyway, something to look at and something to read while you consume and meditate on the niftiness of the blend (80% zinfandel, 20% sangiovese) done up in 10% new French and US oak for 10 months. The rich zin has been curbed and lightened by the sour cherries of the sangiovese. Think of a variety of flavours: cedar, jammy black fruit (plums, blackberry, blueberry), spicy florets. Dark and bold flavours. 14.3% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
5.Durant & Booth Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Napa Valley, $34.95, +16565, Vintages February 6, 2021: The blend is cabernet sauvignon (87%), petit verdot (6%), merlot (5%), and petite sirah (2%). Chock full of some lightly floating red fruit (think cherries, strawbs, red mulberry) and then some plateaus of darker elements (plum, blueberry, mocha tones). Really good balance, but better after a year more in the bottle. There's some muscle here after 10 months in 25% new French oak. Do a double decant or taste it over a few days as I did. 14.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
6.Monte del Fra Bardolino DOC 2019 Veneto, +134544, $15.95 Vintages, January 23, 2021: Bardolinos in Ontario are very rare these days, but this brand (purchased by the LCBO as a "direct" for the past six years) continues to come back year after year. It's awfully good value since the Veronese grape blend is similar to Valpolicella (here, %65 corvina, 30% rondinella, and 5% molinara). Basically, it is the corvina which provides the stuffing, and here it is only 65% unlike Valpolicella which has about 80% corvina. Bardolino is thus usually considered a lighter wine than Valpolicella and has probably reached its comparable price point this way. Expect red fruit and dark spices.
Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
7.Stel+Mar California Rose 2019, $16.95 LCBO March 2021: this is a multi-blended wine from central California and from a vintage that produced lowered grape sugars. Hence, the lack of typical off-dry California sunshine. Instead, the innovative Stel+Mar team (they produce wine in cans, Tetra paks, and bottles) came up with a drink that looks a lot like and tastes a lot like higher priced roses from southern France. The blend includes grapes such as barbera, petite sirah, and syrah, principally from the Central Coast. Sugar levels are at 7g/L and the acidity is up at 5.6g/L. The colour and palate is definitely food worthy. The mid-palate is attractive with overtones of stonefruit, with a slightly herby bitter finish which makes you want to eat something savoury: it was also my wine of choice for the Canadian Thanksgiving Turkey. They nailed it with this one, at that price. 12.8% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 93 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
8.Lamothe de Haux Chombart & Speck Cave Mystere Merlot 2018 Bordeaux AOC, +17232, $18.95 Vintages: This is a collaborative wine effort by Henry of Pelham (Speck family) and Chateau Lamothe de Haux in Bordeaux (Chambart family) using rich, ripe pre-selected merlot grapes from the Cadillac region, part of Entre-deux-Mers. It's very Mid-Atlantic in style (New World flash, Old World elegance). Cultivated on limestone soils. Supple, with red cherry-berry and mocha notes and fine balanced tannins. It's on the lighter side of medium-bodied after being in French oak barrels for 18 months. Ready soonish. 14.5% ABV. Residual sugar is just 1 g/L. Tasted over several days. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
9.Paradise Vineyards Joliesse Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 California, +16564, $17 Vintages: another modest cabby from California (mostly Lodi). Good basic black fruit (cassis, black cherry, spices) – but with a medium body detailed by oak tones of vanilla. Long finish, warm tannins. Tasted over a few days. 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.   
 
10.Taittinger Domaine Carneros Brut Vintage Cuvee 2016, +301655 $49.95 Vintages: Cool climate Carneros fruit is perfectly adaptable to sparkling wine done up in the traditional method of double fermentation in the bottle. This is the signature wine of the company's California holdings – with three years of bottle age before release. Content is chardonnay 51%, pinot noir 47%, and pinot gris 2%. Expect a typical yeasty nose from sitting on the lees, moving on to baked spicy fruit and ending with citric tones. It's jumped in price since last year ($42 in June 2019 Vintages) and the vintage has jumped three years as well. The company encourages "food friendly" for those bright, white appetizers of soft cheeses and shellfish. 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
11.Henry of Pelham Special Select Late Harvest Vidal 2019 VQA Ontario +395228 Vintages, $19.95 for 375 mL: SSLH are my fave sweet wines. They are affordable and not as cloying as some other sweeties; I think that they are also more versatile since they can be paired with savoury apps (nuts, cheeses) or a cheese/dessert course, followed by an extra sip or two on their own. Henry of Pelham's has that honeyed ripe flavour of apricot and fig tones, with a citric background to the finish. These are frozen grapes, picked and then fermented and aged in stainless. It's the only one at the LCBO; this bottle is a newer vintage and tastes really fresh. 10% ABV, 136 g/L RS (down from 2018's 149 g/L). Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
THIS MONTH'S SPECIAL FINDS --
 
Under $20
=========
Sparkling+16604    CELENE CUVÉE ROYALE ROSÉ CRÉMANT DE BORDEAUX    Traditional method, AC, Bordeaux, France      $17.95  MVC/QPR: 89
Rose+552562     SPECK BROS. THREE OF HEARTS ROSÉ    VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95
MVC/QPR: 89
W+10765    IN SITU RESERVA CHARDONNAY    Aconcagua Valley    2019     $14.95 MVC/QPR: 89
W+308312    QUAILS' GATE DRY RIESLING    BC VQA Okanagan Valley    2019     $19.95 MVC/QPR: 91
R+310532    CREW MERLOT    VQA Lake Erie North Shore    2017     $17.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+642421    VALPANTENA TORRE DEL FALASCO VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO    DOC    2018     $18.95   MVC/QPR: 90
R+542183    RAVANAL GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON Colchagua Valley 2017     $15.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+90035    MAYU APPASSIMENTO GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE    Elquí Valley    2017     $18.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+134544    MONTE DEL FRÁ BARDOLINO    DOC    2019     $16.95 MVC/QPR: 90
 
Over $20
=========
W+268342    HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE CHARDONNAY    VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    $21.95 MVC/QPR: 90
W+377770    QUAILS' GATE CHARDONNAY    BC VQA Okanagan Valley $24.95 MVC/QPR: 91
W+430561    HENRY OF PELHAM RIESLING ICEWINE    VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario         $49.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+461699    HENRY OF PELHAM SPECK FAMILY RESERVE BACO NOIR VQA Ontario         $24.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+70607    WATERBROOK SYRAH    Columbia Valley 2018  $21.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+213132    LA PIEVE BAROLO    DOCG    2016     $39.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+65995    DOMAINE BONNARD SANCERRE RED    AC    2017     $27.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+17139    ZORZAL EGGO FRANCO CABERNET FRANC    Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza    2018     $29.95  MVC/QPR: 89

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Monday, January 18, 2021

THE DOUBLE HAPPINESS COOKBOOK; 88 feel-good recipes and food stories (Figure.1, 2021, 312 pages, $37.99 hardbound) is by Trevor Lui,

--THE DOUBLE HAPPINESS COOKBOOK; 88 feel-good recipes and food stories (Figure.1, 2021, 312 pages, $37.99 hardbound) is by  Trevor Lui, who has been cooking since he was seven, when he first manned the grill at Highbell, his father's North York Chinese restaurant.  This memoir and cookbook has developed Toronto boites which include Kanpai Snack Bar, La Brea Food and Popa. Typical are ramen carbonara,  udon-stuffed meatballs, the Last Samurai, and bulgogi beef tostadas.
A lot of it falls into the category of street food trucks, but the range does include vegetarian, choicen and egg dishes, family style comfort foods, rice and noodles. Many preps are contributed by his fellow chefs, and there are food stories for just about every recipe. A good gift book too. Quality/Price rating: 92
 

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Saturday, January 16, 2021

SOME NEW BEVERAGE SAMPLES SENT TO ME FOR TASTING THIS MONTH –

 
JANUARY 1  -- 10 --
 
 
1.Henry of Pelham Estate Gamay 2019 VQA Ontario, +19903, $19.95 Vintages April 2021: [currently at winery] Aromatic black and red fruit (cherries, raspberries, blueberries), augmented by oak tones with vanilla cake spices, not as lean or Euro as Beaujolais. Fermented in stainless and aged in a mix of US and French oak for about 10 months before bottling. Medium-bodied, good for patio drinking (sangria too), parties, BBQ. Ready now, but with some tannic structure to carry through a whole meal. Hey, summer weather is coming! 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
1.Henry of Pelham Riesling Speck Family Reserve 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, +643361
$27.95 [now available online and at winery]: absolutely delicious MVC intense riesling in a Mosel style (and using a Mosel clone), with an off-dry palate but a dry finish (good acid levels on the finish); broad fruity strokes of peaches and flowers on the mid-palate; quite a blazing riesling with intense pleasure, sip or food. Residual sugar is 15.4g/L, 9.8% ABV, cork closure, from HOP's oldest Estate vineyards (35+ year old riesling vines, handpicked, stainless steel fermentation). Try with rich bivalve dishes or porchetta. Should improve in the bottle over the years. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
3.Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2018 Marlborough, +490326, $21.95 Vintages February 20: a dry summer led to a fruity harvest. The tropical fruit intensity leads to a citric lemony finish for food, typically white fish or seafood. Some creaminess in the texture (60% was fermented in older French oak barrels, and 15% new oak was also used). If you lay it down, it should be even better next year! 12.5% ABV, twist top. Residual sugar 4g/L. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
4.Lapis Luna Zinfandel 2018 North Coast AVA, +17264, $19.95 Vintages February 20, 2021: [cheese and rice, where do they come up with these labels? 400-year-old copperplate engravings]. Anyway, something to look at and something to read while you consume and meditate on the niftiness of the blend (80% zinfandel, 20% sangiovese) done up in 10% new French and US oak for 10 months. The rich zin has been curbed and lightened by the sour cherries of the sangiovese. Think of a variety of flavours: cedar, jammy black fruit (plums, blackberry, blueberry), spicy florets. Dark and bold flavours. 14.3% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
5.Durant & Booth Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Napa Valley, $34.95, +16565, Vintages February 6, 2021: The blend is cabernet sauvignon (87%), petit verdot (6%), merlot (5%), and petite sirah (2%). Chock full of some lightly floating red fruit (think cherries, strawbs, red mulberry) and then some plateaus of darker elements (plum, blueberry, mocha tones). Really good balance, but better after a year more in the bottle. There's some muscle here after 10 months in 25% new French oak. Do a double decant or taste it over a few days as I did. 14.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
JANUARY 10 - 16 --
 
 
1.Troupis Fteri Moschofilero 2019 Greece, +647388 $14.95 Vintages March 20: flower aromatics and some grape tones (much like muscat) and with a deceptive citric finish. So: starts out floral, rises to fat perfume, and then descends to crispness for the food as a first course wine, paired with white meats. 12% ABV. Price dropped $2 since the 2017 vintage was in Ontario. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
2.Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Estate 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench Niagara, +268391 Vintages, February 20, $24.95: Here is a deft Burgundian-character pinot noir wine, with cherry-berry tones, some toast, mildly opulent style, not totally cool climate at all. Fermented in stainless and aged in oak. Ready in a year or two. Dependable. And also available in Denmark, Hungary, Japan, USA and Czech Republic. Needs time; try a double decant. 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
3.Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Chardonnay 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench +616466, $29.95 [currently at winery] Vintages May 1: Grapes come from their oldest estate vineyards (beginning 1988), hand-picked. Barrel fermented in French oak with a portion in 3000L foudres, and then barrel aged for 8 – 10 months in a mix of new and older barrels. This continues the tradition of Burgundian elegance. Expect some ripeness, balance of oaking and fruit, integrated style in place.  Wood integration produces some creaminess in the finish. 12.8% ABV, cork closure. Definitely needs another year – or more – in bottle in order to bring out the nuances. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
4.Henry of Pelham Estate Riesling 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, +557165, $19.95 Vintages March 20: intense riesling in a Rhine style of cool fermentation, with very off-dry palate but dry finish (good acid levels on the finish) – broad grapefruit and lemons on the mid-palate, sip (mainly) or food. 9.8% ABV, 19.5 g/L RS, twist top, from HOP's oldest Estate riesling vineyards (planted 1984). 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.
 
 
5.Buena Vista The Sheriff Sonoma County 2017 +539114, $49.95 Vintages March 6: well, here was a surprise – a really good wine from 10 different red grape varieties, a sort-of California Chateauneuf-du-Pape. For the record, this 2017 vintage has petite sirah (28%), petit verdot (21%), cabernet sauvignon (16%), carignan (9%), grenache (9%), syrah (7%), malbec (4%), cabernet franc (2%), merlot (2%), and mission (2%). The proportions can vary from vintage to vintage. All grapes were grown on different parcels in Sonoma. One of California's first sheriffs, Agoston Haraszthy was elected Sheriff of San Diego County in 1850. He built the first jail. This is a full and firm field blend type of wine, with aromas/palates of every good thing you could find in the "kitchen sink": black fruit cassis, cherries, blackberries, plums, red raspberries – and then drifting off to mocha, followed by savouries such as black pepper and tobacco leaf. Oak aging was 10 months, with 15% new oak. The rich tannins need time, so put it away for a few years. If necessary, do a double decant and taste over several days. 15% ABV. Serve with rich game stews or tomahawk steaks. Quality/Price rating is 91-92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
6.Perdeberg The Vineyard Collection Cinsault 2018 Paarl South Africa +18618, $17.95 Vintages March 6: this is a broad basic, entry-level wine from a grape imported to South Africa via Languedoc and South Rhone. Indeed, cinsault is one of the parents of "pinotage" (the other is pinot noir). Until recently, it had the largest acreage planted in South Africa (cabernet sauvignon now has the largest number of plantings). This particular vineyard in 2018 had 30 year old cinsault vineyards. Expect some heady fruity ripeness aromas, a slight sweetness despite 3.8 g/L residual sugar, with a pronounced peppery backspin, much like grenache. Needs tomato sauce dishes, with veal-beef-pork meats. Cork closure. Ready now. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
7.Gustave Lorentz Sylvaner Reserve 2019 +18160, $16.95, Vintages March 6: sylvaner is the workhorse wine of Alsace. It turns up everywhere by itself or as a zwicker wine. It is light and delicate, somewhat reminiscent of the pinot grigio style and mood. Indeed, it could have been marketed the same way. It's an uncomplicated fresh wine stressing lemons and citric attack with a dry finish. Aperitif wine or first course (seafood/fish). A good entry level wine with lots more body than the pinot grigio style. [a wine colleague of mine had accidentally left a car-trunk full of Alsatian white wines to freeze in the cold – only the sylvaner survived] 13.5% ABV, 1.8 g/L residual sugar. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under $20 for JANUARY 9, 2021 (annual “value” release) --

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under $20 for JANUARY 9, 2021  (annual "value" release) --
 
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. 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 http://www.deantudor.com since 1994.
 
....and a Happy New Year to all for 2021!!
 
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at http://www.gothicepicures.blogspot.ca  or at  http://www.deantudor.com 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).
 
Currently, the wine media have no access to the tasting samples usually provided to us in the LCBO lab on a fortnightly basis. This will go on or some time. HOWEVER,  the wine media will still have access to the advance spreadsheet of the wines to be released. So I know what is to be released and when. SOME (but not many) of these 100 or so biweekly released wines I have recently tasted since January 2020 or so, and I can comfortably recommend them based on this prior sampling.
 
 
Some New Wines Tasted Over the Past Little While ---
 
1.Buena Vista Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 North Coast, $19.95 +254458 Vintages January 9, 2021: Buena Vista has been continuing with its historic-looking wine labels (the winery was founded in 1857). It's a nifty blend of cabs from Fountaingrove, Sonoma Mountain, and Alexander Valley (all part of the North Coast appellation). After 11 months in 10% new French oak it was racked. The emphasis is on darkness, with plenty of black fruit (cassis, black cherry) and butterscotch tones with black pepper spices, softish finish. Still needs time, another year. Do a double decant or leave it open for a day to get a taste of its potential. 14.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
2.Monte del Fra Lena di Mezzo Valpolicella Classico DOC 2018 Veneto, +160226, $18.95 Vintages: a fairly basic but inviting Veronese wine full of red cherry-berry fruit, a bit jammy on the finish, ready now. Typical forest floor elements as well. Pretty well goes with everything, good as a sipper and as a food paired wine. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
3.Monte del Fra Lena di Mezzo Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC Ripasso 2017 Veneto, +165662, $24.95 Vintages: bright red fruit dominate both its texture and its palate, evoking some minerality that cuts through the balanced fruity cherry tones. Some forest floor; some mocha tones. Amarone grape pressings are added just before spring, to give it the second fermentation oompf. Great as a sipper or with food or both, ready now at three years after the vintage. It has been aged in large French oak for 18 months. This is a collaborative brand with the LCBO, and there will be a new release in May 2021. The grapes used are corvina veronese and corvinone (80%) with rondinella added. 14% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
4.Westcott Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2019 VQA Niagara Escarpment, +424507, $29.95 Vintages: This Estate wine has had full MLF, 100% wild yeast, barrel fermentation, and French oak aging for 9 months (50% one fill, 50% neutral). Two different clones were used (95 and 96), and the results show a typical Westcott feature of orchard fruit with some tropicality concentrated notes contributed by the oak aging leading to a slight citric finish. Still too young, lay it down – or taste it (as I did) over a stretch of time. A good first course wine since the oak appears in the background as grace notes (it's lighter in toast tones than the 2018). Do not overchill. 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
5.Westcott Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2017 VQA Vinemount Ridge, +424500, $29.95 Vintages: This Estate Pinot Noir (clones 115, 667, 777) has been barrel aqed in French oak (15% new) for 23 months. Overall it is harmoniously silky in a cool climate way, with red cherry-berry fruit and nuances of mocha. Good acid levels and soft tannins highlight an herbal consistency. Definitely a food wine that should appeal to all, especially with simply prepared meats and poultry. A slight chilling can enhance its performance with fish such as salmon or trout. It is still too young, so do a double decant or taste over several days as I did. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
6.Henry of Pelham Family Estate Chardonnay 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, $21.95, +268342 Vintages Essential: this bottling continues the tres elegante Burgundian character of earlier years. Some ripeness, pleasant balance of oaking and fruit, integrated style in place, wood integration produces some creaminess in the finish. Overall balance of fruit and wood, vanilla, modest spices. 12.8% ABV, cork closure, barrel fermentation in French oak, barrel aging (some in 3K litre foudres for 8 months. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
7.Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir Speck Family Reserve 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, +657874 Vintages, $34.95: fruit-forward with enough black/dark tones of cherry-berry capable of long cellar aging. The winery says Clones 667 on Block 100 were used for 250 cases. Tank fermentation with 10 months European oak barrel aging (30% new), finishing as blended in an oak tank. Very, very food friendly. 13% ABV. Steady pricing at this level for some years now. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
8.Pencarrow Chardonnay Martinborough NZ, +16028 Vintages, $21.95: one of the nicest balanced fresh chardonnays to come past my palate in quite some time, full of that old style oaking (not too toasty but at least noticeable). Golden hue and golden tastes, stressing a nuttiness from the French oak (20% new) and the wild yeast fermentation (50%). Aged on the stirred lees for 10 months. Plenty of stonefruit nuances. 13% ABV. The buttery finish lingers and nicely accompanies many complex first course dishes. Quality/Price rating is 93 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
9.Quails' Gate Pinot Noir 2018 BC Okanagan VQA, +585760 Vintages, $32.95: typical cool climate approach to pinot noir, emphasizing its savouriness: yellow flower aromatic notes, candied red fruit, sweet green herbals and black pepper on the medium- soft juicy-citric finish. 93% Pinot Noir, 7% Gamay (although this varies from year to year, usually within a percentage point). Aged in French oak barrels for 10 months. Astounding residual sweetness of 0.28 g/L. 13.5% ABV. Tasted over several days. Probably best with any Christmas fowl. Quality/Price rating is 91+ points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
10.Quails' Gate Dry Riesling 2018 BC VQA Okanagan +308312 Vintages $19.95: this particular wine benefits from both an early and a late picked harvest, with the early contributing fresh acid and the later nectarine and citric orange tones. It's very crisp and dry (4.7 g/L RS) and full of orchard fruit (apples, pears, apricots, nectarines, peaches) and sweeter citric fruit such as tangerines and mandarins. There's lots going on here. Best with spiced or vinegared seafood. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
Under $20 [this is the annual "value" release, post-Christmas/New Year, hence few wines are over $20]
=========
W+147975    GÉRARD BERTRAND RÉSERVE SPÉCIALE VIOGNIER    IGP Pays d'Oc    2018    $14.95    MVC/QPR: 92
W+488981    FOLLAS NOVAS ALBARIÑO    DO Rías Baixas 2019    $17.95     MVC/QPR: 89
W+458810    TOM GORE CHARDONNAY    California    2018    $19.95 MVC/QPR: 89
W+328559    CATHEDRAL CELLAR CHARDONNAY    WO Western Cape    2019    $17.95 MVC/QPR: 91
R+631820 DESQUICIADO MALBEC Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza 2017 $16.95MVC/QPR: 89
R+254458    BUENA VISTA CABERNET SAUVIGNON North Coast    2018    $19.95MVC/QPR: 91
R+488015    QUINTA DO ESPÍRITO SANTO    Vinho Regional Lisboa 2017 $14.95 MVC/QPR: 89
 
Over $20 [sorry, I have not tasted any from Jan 9 release at this price level]
========

Your health depends on my health. We cannot escape one another in these perilous times.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

* THE REISSUES, THE REPRINTS, AND THE NEWER EDITIONS...

* THE REISSUES, THE REPRINTS, AND THE NEWER EDITIONS...
  ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 
...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 CURIOUS BARTENDER'S GUIDE TO MALT, BOURBON & RYE WHISKIES (Ryland Peters & Small, 2014, 2020, 176 pages, $14.95 USD hardcovers) is by Tristan Stephenson, not only a drinks author but also a brand ambassador and consultant in the UK world of cocktails. This, his second work covers malt, bourbon and rye types of whiskey, with histories, an exploration of the barrel-aging process, and a trip to major distilleries throughout the world (but principally the UK and the US). It's a second edition of a 2014 book but he has updated it and given us many more places to visit in his Directory of Distilleries. He's also got some classic preps for cocktails, such as the Boilermaker. It follows the rising tide of brown spirits that has returned after many years of clear spirits. There are lots of colour photos and a description of each business (along with tasting notes) including what to watch out for.  Oh, and there are some nifty cocktail recipes. An absolutely perfect oversized book for the bourbon, rye, and whiskey lover.
 
 
15.INDIAN CUISINE (DK Books, 2006, 2010, 2020, 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-9941-7, $29.99 CAD hardbound) is a publisher's book, with contributions by Vivek Singh, G. Sultan Mohideenh, Das Sreedharan, and Mahmood Akbar – all international chefs with British and American experiences. This is its third edition, with 200 recipes written for the modern  home cook. The arrangement is by principal ingredient, with veggies up first, followed by fish, poultry, meat, rice and bread, plus sauces and chutneys. The book opens with international ingredients explained, mainly from North India, South India and Pakistan. There is a concluding glossary. Most everything here is a "curry": curry is defined as any fish, meat or vegetables cooked with spices in a liquid. Spices determine the differences. 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
 
 
 
16.SURF-SIDE EATING (Ryland Peters & Small, 2020, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-207-3 $24.95 USD hardbound) is a publisher's anthology collection of recipes from 13 different food writers. Valerie Aikman-Smith has the most with 27 preps, followed by Shelagh Ryan and Laura Santini with 15 each. It's a good assembly of food and food ideas for prepping and eating in a relaxed mode while by the seaside. So the emphasis is on coastal seafood such as fish tacos with chipotle-lime cream, spciy tuna and black rice bowl, or a Thai steamed snapper. The arrangement is by time of day: rise and shine, brunch/lunch, all-day dining, BBQ at the beach, sunset dinners and desserts – all along with various beverages with or without alcohol. It's a nifty idea, with many preps involving little or no work, or even sharable work. I particularly enjoyed the quinoa and asparagus salad with matcha lemon dressing, the grilled halloumi with jalapeno and lime and tequila relish, and, of course, the crab with mango and coconut – all from my own imitation seaside kitchen at a lockdown home and supermarket delivery. 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.
 
 
17.STREET FOOD    (Ryland Peters & Small, 2020, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-216-5, $19.95 USD hardbound) is a publisher's anthology collection of recipes from 25 different food writers. Nitisha Patel leads the way with 7 preps (pakoras, dhal, kulfi, samosas, rolls) followed by the rest who have about 4 or 5 recipes. Some even have just one or two. The range is international, of course, and this leads to many "food trucks" and stalls. These are all quick bites and mobile snacks, arranged by continent. The range is from the Americas to Europe to Africa and the Middle East, ending up with Asia and India. There is something for everybody, with the inevitable caution that a steady diet of street food may keep you up at night. So: from the USA comes the Hawaiian poke, Peru has the mackerel ceviche, Southern US has pulled pork, Buffalo NY has its wings, New York City has egg rolls, Jamaica has a jerk, Mexico has quesadillas and pork tamalee, and more. There's a whole season's worth of food here for takeaway lovers. Each prep comes with a story and a photo of the plated product. Unfortunately, there is no recipe here for cassava fries which must be the ultimate fried food in the world! But otherwise, what fun! 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: 91
----------------------------------------------------

Chimo! www.deantudor.com