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Thursday, December 8, 2016

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP 20/20 WINES: 20 under $20 and 20 over $20 for December 10, 2016.

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP 20/20 WINES: 20 under $20 and 20 over $20 for December 10, 2016.
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing My Internet compendium "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.
So many people have asked me for wine recommendations, with numbers only. The readers' most common response is that while they like what I say, they only relate to the score. The score is a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, where e.g. a Southern Rhone tastes like a Southern Rhone and not like a Northern Rhone) and Quality/Price Ratio. Let's take it for granted that, e.g., a Riesling tastes like a Riesling, and the wine has some value in the marketplace either above or below its selling price. This way too I can also cover more wines.
This restructured wine newsletter for the Ontario market (with wines available through the LCBO and Vintages on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at or at
R-Primus The Blend Colchagua Valley 2014, $19.95, +712463, 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92.
R-Joseph Drouhin Macon-Bussieres Les Clos 2014 $20.95 +470179 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92.
R-Castelli del Grevepesa Clemente VII Chianti Classico Riserva 2011 $21.95 +643205  14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  92.
20 under $20
R-Maquis Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Rapel Valley 2013, $18.95, +311720, 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  90.
W-Amaral Sauvignon Blanc Leyda Valley 2015, $14.95, +367292, 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
R-Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva Pinot Noir Leyda Valley 2015, $17.95, +404210, 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  91.
W-14 Hands Chardonnay Washington State 2014, $18.95 +468546, 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  89.
W-Wakefield Estate Chardonnay Clare Valley/Padthaway 2015 $15.95, +711556, 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R-Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon Clare Valley 2014 $18.95 +14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
R-Domaine Jean Bousquet Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Tupungato Mendoza 2013 $19.95 +678813, 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  90.
R-Quinta das Setencostas Alenquer 2012 Portugal $13.95 +50930, 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R-Chateau Hyot Cotes de Castillon 2012 $17.95 +63537, 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
W-Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling VQA Niagara 2015 $16.95 +802234, 9.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
W-Pierre-Luc Bouchaud Muscadet Sevre & Maine Sur Lie 2015 $14.95 +82461 12% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
R-Ardal Crianza Ribera del Duero 2010 $19.95 +167601 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90.
R-Castellanu Filicheto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2012 $18.95 +184937 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
W-Ruppertsberger Linsenbusch Gewurztraminer Spatlese Germany 2015 $17.95 +320473 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
W-Louis Latour Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir IGP Var +714451 $19.95, 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90.
W-Pierre Sparr Reserve Gewurztraminer Alsace 2012  $18.95 +747030 13% ABV, MVC/QPR:  90.
R-Donnafugata Sedara Sicilia 2014 $16.95 +900274, 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90.
W-Louis Latour Grand Ardeche Chardonnay IGP 2014 $19.95 +947549 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
W-Zenato San Benedetto Lugana 2015 $17.95 +707158 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88.
20 over $20
W-Creekside Reserve Sauvignon Blanc VQA Creek Shores 2013, 26.95, +53371, 12.5% ABV,  MVC/QPR:  91.
R-Emiliana Coyam Colchagua Valley 2012 $29.95, +63891 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
R-Paul Hobbs Crossbarn Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2013 $69,95 +118695, 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W-Paul Hobbs Chardonnay Russian River Valley Sonoma County 2014 $64.95, +119073 14.2% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R-Tawse Growers Blend Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula 2011 $25.25 +130989, 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R-Chateau des Charmes Old Vines Cabernet/Merlot VQA NOTL 2012 $21.95 +222372 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  90
R-J. Lohr October Night Chardonnay Arroyo Seco Monterey County 2014 $34.95 +225375, 14.9% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90.
R-Henry of Pelham Estate Cabernet/Merlot VQA Short Hills Bench 2012 $24.95 +395855, 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90,
W-Tawse Limestone Ridge North Riesling VQA Twenty Mile Bench 2014 $23.95 +431593, 9.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
R-Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2012 $42.95 +468520, 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
W-Stratus White VQA NOTL 2013 $38.20 +660704, 13.8% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91.
W-La Crema Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2014 $29.95 +962886, MVC/QPR: 90.
W-Clarence Dillon Clarendelle Blanc 2014 Bordeaux $23.95 +28845 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
R-Sartori Corte Bra Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009 $49.95 +225540 15.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  91.
R-Domus Vitae Brunello di Montalcino 2007 $69.95 +330746 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
R-Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni IGT Toscana 2013 $47.95 MAGNUM +474759 13% ABV, MVC/QPR:  89.
R-Chateau Devise D'Ardilley Haut-Medoc 2012 $29.95 +642512  MVC/QPR: 89
R-Travaglini Gattinara 2010 $29.95 +713354 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  89.
W-Louis Moreau La Vigne Blanche Chablis 2015 $21.95 +474932 12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Top Food and Wine Gift Book "Stocking Stuffers" for 2016 Holiday Period

Stocking stuffers should be at the very top of everybody's gift list: something affordable from under $10 up to $25, 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 those from the colour-photo-friendly Ryland Peters and Small, based in UK but also in USA. They offer (in no particular order) small gift books such as MACARONS (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) by Annie Rigg, with 30 recipes for an afternoon tea. Salted caramel  is impressive., as is passion fruit. CICCHETTI (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) by Liz Franklin details Italian appetizers from Venice, such as speck and smoked ricotta or tramezzini or fig & blue cheese pizzette (more than 40 recipes in all). SALT (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) by Valerie Aikman-Smith deets all the major kinds from French fleur de sel to smoked and Himalayan in 40 recipes. OILS (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) is by Ursula Ferrigno, and it covers  16 fruit, nut and seed oils in more than 30 recipes. Some preps here are interchangeable.  PEPPER (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) is another single ingredient title by the same author of Salt (above).  45 recipes feature pepper as both a seasoning and main ingredient. Includes Malabar, Lampong, Tellicherry, Szechuan and Sansho. POWER GRAINS (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) covers superfoods such as quinoa and amaranth, and has variety in its 29 recipes. MODERN DIM SUM (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) by Liu Hoh features 30 recipes of easy-to-prepare but authentic "yun cha" lunches. These are trolley dishes of dumplings, rolls, and wraps. MILKSHAKE BAR (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) by Hannah Miles has 33 recipes for the classics with syrups, fruits and mixes. Miles has also done SOUP AND A SANDWICH (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) with 25 preps such as spicy Asian broths and Mediterranean soups, paired with a comparable sandwich or wrap or toastie to serve along them. TEA WITH JANE AUSTEN (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) is by Pen Vogler, inspired by the novels. 20 preps detail cakes, bakes and pastries from the Regency period. There is also come good commentary here, and it is a perfect small gift for a Janeite.
Another publisher (Gibbs Smith in Utah) has a range of "101 Things to Do with..." in all variety of  32 subjects. This year, they've got 101 THINGS TO DO WITH BEER (128 pages, spiral bound, $13.99 CAD) , from appetizers to sweets. There are notes on flavour profiles of pilsner to stout, general cooking advice on how to handle beer, and preps such as BBQ sauces, beer soups and stews, and breads. 101 THINGS TO DO WITH BACON (128 pages, spiral bound, $13.99 CAD) is good for breakfasts, soups, salads, sandwiches, and six desserts. Gibbs Smith also has HOW D'YA LIKE THEM APPLES (128 pages, $23.99 CAD) with 50 preps, both sweet and savoury, from apps to salads to desserts. There's a good apple slaw here. PUMPKIN IT UP (128 pages, $23.99 CAD) also has 50 preps for such as roasted pumpkin seeds (always useful), pumpkin spice latte, and pumpkin dutch baby. Another is EAT MORE TORTILLAS (128 pages, $23.99 CAD) which also has 50 preps for nachos, pinwheels, and chicken veggie quesadilla stacks. Ideal for students, especially since the range of baked-fried-rolled-wrapped-stuffed-cheesy tortillas is for both savoury and sweet. FIRE PIT COOKING (128 pages, $23.99 CAD) is a nice small work to take with you on trips to outdoor grills or BBQ. There is material on building a fire pit plus 80 recipes. Topics include wrapped in foil, on a stick, tarts on fire, clay pots, iron pies, sandwiches, and more. BIG DIPS (128 pages, $23.99 CAD) does cheese, salsa, pesto, hummus, and sour cream in 68 recipes (plus variations). Each has its own chapter. Platforms include homemade pita chips, tortilla chips, ciabatta toast, and basic crostini.
Chronicle Books also has a range. There's SALMON (144 pages, $27.95 CAD paperbound) with 45 recipes and 40 pages of primer. It covers raw, cured, stove top, oven bakes, grilled and leftovers such as frittatas. MON CHER ECLAIR (112 pages, $23.95 CAD paperbound) has all things for cream puffs, profiteroles and gougeres. 40 classic recipes are here with scaled (weighed) ingredients. SOUTHERN APPETIZERS (144 pages, $27.95 CAD hardbound) is interesting for its mostly upscale nature: this is mostly New Orleans or creole, not backwoods. 60 preps, with material on buffets and party planning. Expect muffaletta bites, marinated shrimp salad, smoked pecans, hot dips. THE EVERYDAY MEAT GUIDE (184 pages, $27.95 CAD paperbound) is a butcher's advice tool on how to shop, cook well, eat better, save money. It's a manual. BEST DRESSED (Chronicle Books, 2016, 112 pages, $26.95 CAD hardbound) is a collection of some 50 recipes for salads, plus many variations. It is a mix of vinaigrettes and other dressings plus the occasional salad (e.g. Escalole salad with tangerines, almonds, and citrus-honey-rosemary vinaigrette). All salads can easily be perked up with brightness, boldness, and richness. They've even got a selection of toppings and many bases of serve-ons.
--TABLE MANNERS (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2016,  148 pages, $28 CAD hardbound) is by Chef Jeremiah Tower. It is a guide for how to survive every situation and to navigate the practical world of fine dining (what to wear, how to serve, what to eat, etc.). A great food title for every millennial to read. Give it to your kids too...
--DR. BURNORIUM'S HOTTEST EVER SAUCES (Dog 'n' Bone Books, 2016,  96 pages, $19.95 CAD hardbound) covers 40 of the world's hottest sauces, at the high end of 1 million Scoville units. The title comes in the shape of a hot-sauce bottle, ideal for stuffing a stocking. It is a good read with reviews, stories, and chili deets.
--VIILI PERPETUAL, NO-COOK HOMEMADE YOGURT (Familius Books, 2016, 66 pages, $11.50 CAD paperbound) is by the prolific Caleb Warnock who specializes in small survival books such as this one. Viili originated in Finland as 100% natural yogurt, and he tells us how to start it, how to use with pasteurized milk or raw milk or powdered milk, how to keep the yogurt sweet, and more. Twenty recipes for cheeses, smoothies, frozen treats, dressings, entrees and desserts.
--15-MINUTE MINDFUL MEALS (Familius Books, 2016, 99 pages, $13.95 CAD paperbound) is also by Caleb Warnock, with Lori Henderson. This is healthy home cooking, 250 recipes using natural produce. Arranged by meal period, to create healthy meals, with desserts and snacks. Great for college students or millennials. These good ideas really work.
--CAST-IRON COOKING (Storey Publishing, 2016, 96 pages, $19.95 CAD paperbound) is by Rachael Narins. Her 40 preps cover the "Full English Breakfast", pan pizza, and spanokopita.
--POWER BOWLS (DK, 2016, 72 pages, $11.99 CAD hardbound) is short and sweet – all you need in one healthy superfood bowl. For breakfast, quinoa and berry porridge or ancient grains porridge with pear (and 4 others). For lunch, perhaps buckwheat and baba ganoush or 6 others. Dinner: spiced millet and veggie bowl or 7 others. Good idea for tips on prepping in advance.
--ULTIMATE ONE-POT DISHES (Ebury Press, 2016, 160 pages, $21.99 CAD paperbound) is by Alan Rosenthal. These are simple and delicious stews and one-pot meals, with an international bent of paella, Brazilian black bean stew, Catalan fish stew, and tagines.
--TOAST (Prion Books, 2016, 120 pages, $19.95 CAD hardbound) is a very funny work by the UK writer Nick Parker. He's got histories, stories and recipes for his "superfood" . His faves are mushrooms on toast (SOS in the military), scrambled eggs on toast, and cheese or beans on toast. There's about a laugh a page.
--FRIES! (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016, 144 pages, $23.95 CAD hardbound) is by Blake Lingle, who runs a fry restaurant. It is his ode to the world's fave food. It is a history with some procedures given.
--100 BEST VEGAN RECIPES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 192 pages, $23.00 CADS hardbound)  is by Robin Robertson. These 100 recipes are drawn from the author's "1000 Vegan Recipes" cookbook (but 10 are actually new here). These are the classic, basic, and essential preps for any vegan anywhere. It's a great cookbook to get you started.
--DELICIOUS DUMP CAKES (St. Martin's Griffen, 2016, 118 pages, $22.99 CAD paperbound) is by Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore. 50 simple desserts can be made in 15 minutes or less, for families with children or who want to keep the cooking "simple". They use canned fruit, cake-mixes, and nuts and chocolate: just layer the ingredients, bake at 350 and allow to cool.
--ONE-POT PASTA (Hardie Grant Books, 2016, 72 pages, $16.99 CAD hardbound) is by Sabrina Fauda-Role. You can do this from pot to plate in under 30 minutes. Here are 30 preps: all the ingredients go into one pot at the same time (pasta, water, and sauce mixture). Cook for 15 minutes or so, no draining needed. Techniques are given, and it is all expandable to a range of ingredients to feed an army. Typical are carbonara, Thai salmon. Included are vegetarian, meat and seafood dishes.
--BEST SALTY SWEET SNACKS (Countryman Press, 2016, 127 pages, $19.95 CAD, paperbound) is by Monica Sweeney who describes the  snacks as "gooey, chewy, crunchy treats for every craving". They are nutty, chocolatey and savoury. Good flavour combos are given for caramel-nut-apple dippers, or bacon-caramel corn, or pineapple mini pizzas.
--THE TABASCO COOKBOOK    (Clarkson Potter, 2016, 144 pages, $21.99 CAD) was first issued in 1993 by the McIlhenny owners of Tabasco sauces. The 80 recipes (some revised) cover the classic recipes for game day, the Sunday brunch, the grill, Southern food – even dessert.
--SUPERFOOD BREAKFASTS (DK, 2016, 64 pages, $11.99 CAD) has quick and simple high-nutrient recipes to kickstart the day: grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, nutri-powders. The 25 preps include smoothies and pancakes. Very useful for quick meals for just one person.
--COOKIE CLASSICS MADE EASY (Storey Publishing, 2016, 96 pages, $15 CAD paperbound) is a collection of one-bowl recipes, such as pumpkin spice, Italian wedding cakes, ginger molasses, shortbreads, chocolate raspberry, key lime – 43 in all.
--ENERGY BITES (DK, 2016, 61 pages, $9.99 CAD) has high protein recipes for increased vitality and wellness. There are items here for re-fueling after a work out or an immunity boost. There are only 15 recipes but they are all low Glycemic Index, use no refined sugar, and only healthy fats. The procedures cover techniques for baking, no-baking, and savoury foods.
Other little books, for beverages, include those on beer, wine and spirits:
--THE BEER GEEK HANDBOOK (Storey Publishing, 2016, 192 pages, $21.95 CAD paperbound) is by Patrick Dawson who wants you to live a life ruled by beer. It's an illustrated FAQ to the world of beer, with tastings and pairing, using tulip glasses, taking "beercations" to Belgium, Germany, Colorado, New England (but the British Isles are not listed). There are descriptions of cult breweries, dictionaries, glossary, and a pronunciation guide. He's got quizzes, top ten lists, and a hip and savvy writing style. Millennials anyone?
--THE WINE JOURNAL (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016, 264 pages, $19.95 CAD paperbound) is by Jennifer McCartney, a poet-drinks writer. It is a pocket-sized guide for jotting down thoughts about your wine. There is space for wine deets of name, price, tasted where and when, vintage, region, shared with, served with, and more. She's also got some helpful data on tasting basics and glossaries.
--POCKET BOOK OF CRAFT BEER (Dog 'n' Bone, 2016, 208 pages, $21.95 CAD paperbound) is by Mark Dredge. He covers 300 different beers arranged by style, from Pilsner to Stout to Extreme Beers. His scope is International, so Canada is included. Features all the deets plus an image of the beer bottle.
--PARISIAN  COCKTAILS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2016, 128 pages, $21.95 hardbound) is by Laura Gladwin. Here are 65 elegant drinks from Paris (spirits, Champagne cocktails,  disgestifs) along with some amuse bouche. Good illustrations, and fancy foods.
--SHAKE.STIR.SIP (Chronicle Books, 2016, 128 pages,  $  CAD hardbound) is by Kara Newman. Here are 50 effortless cocktails, each made in equal parts (e.g. Negroni, Martini) so there is no real exact measuring needed. These are all the most popular cocktails, easy to make with a minimum of bar glasses and garnishes and other add-ons.
--THE POCKET BOOK OF COCKTAILS  (Ryland Peters & Small, 2016, 176 pages, $19.95 CAD paperbound)  is packed with 150 easy cocktails devised by leading bartenders plus a beginner's guide to cocktail making equipment and glassware.
--CUBAN COCKTAILS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2016,  128 pages, $19.95 CAD hardbound) has been compiled by Katherine Bebo. There are about 60 recipes for mojitos, daiquiris, and other rum drinks, both classic and contemporary, from Havana.  The thought of Cuba is very popular right now: get there before the Americans do...
--COCKTAILS FOR DRINKERS (Countryman Press, 2016, 144 pages, $19.50 CAD) is by Jennifer McCartney who stresses the basic side of drinks with red wine, spritzers, Bellinis, etc. The subtitle says "not even remotely artisanal". These drinks have three ingredients or less that get to the point of wit and verve. The emphasis is on drinking.
--GIN; shake, muddle, stir (Hardie Grant Books, 2016, 144 pages, $  CAD hardbound) is by Dan Jones who believes in top brand selection for gins. He's got material on stocking the home bar, DIY infusions and syrups, and a range of garnishes. These are 40 of the best gin drink cocktails, including his fave, the Dirty Martini with its caperberry brine.
--SPRITZ (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 166 pages, $24.99 CAD) is by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau. Spritzes are Italy's iconic apertivos, and of course the authors provide a wide-range of drinks that come from a variety of US bartenders. They tell how to build  a spritz bar. There are also food recipes to accompany the drinks: sardines, tuna, olives, almonds – much like Spanish tacos. Try the Negroni Sbagliato (prosecco replaces gin) or Venetia Spritz (bitters-prosecco-soda).
--THE BOOK OF DANGEROUS COCKTAILS (Castle Point Books/St. Martins Press, 2016, 156 pages, $20.99 CAD hardbound) is on the Mary Jane wagon. It's by Dylan March and Jennifer Boudinot, who present us with adventurous recipes for serious drinkers.  Many are excessively alcoholic or not diluted enough, but others are made with marijuana-infused gin and other such infusions, to create "Smokin' Sidecar" or "Wake 'n' Bake". A laid back book, although I would have thought alcohol alone would do the trick. For your new weedwacker friend...
Annual calendars are always monster hits and are often appreciated, both the wall and the desk type. The best of the desk are the "page-a-day" (PAD) calendars from Workman.  A YEAR OF GOOD BEER 2017 (Workman, 2016, $19.99 CAN) has a combined Saturday and Sunday page. Price is up $2 over last year. Most of the beers appear as imports in Canada, but otherwise there are few Canadian brews included. Lights, wheat, lagers, ales, porters, stouts, seasonal beers, and lambrics – they're all here, 165 or so craft beers. Check out Brew Dog's The End of History at 55% ABV. Other material in this PAD includes beer festivals, beer facts, food and beer pairing, tasting notes, label lore, trivia, and vocabulary. There are also "must-try" US beer recommendations. If you buy any of the PAD calendars, then you can go online to the website and pick up other, free stuff,  at
For wall calendars, there is  HOMEGROWN GOODNESS SIMPLE PLEASURES CALENDAR 2017 (Workman, 2016, $19.99 CAN) which has homespun touches on foods. Each month features full-colour graphics, many combined with a hand-lettered saying. A juicy summer tomato ("Start fresh!"), a bundle of Indian corn, a festive holiday ornament ("Tis the season to be jolly"). Packaged with 12 colour recipe cards. On the wall too is OLD FARMERS ALMANAC BEST-LOVED RECIPES 2017 (Yankee Publishing, 2016, $11.99 CAD), this time including puffed apple pancake, pasta, cheese, and teas.
And for other non-book items, there have been many blank books this year. For the home chef, there is OUR RECIPE JOURNAL  (Ryland Peters & Small, 2016, 224 pages, $26.95 CAD hardbound), a guided blank journal designed so that you can record all of your fave recipes to create a unique legacy to pass down. There are sections of lined pages and prompts to remind you to add cooking times and difficulty ratings. There are also ribbon markers and a slipcase. There is a CRAFT BEER TASTING KIT (Dog 'n' Bone, 2016, $29.95 CAD kit) with a 64-page paperback, 20 beer mats, a flavour wheel, 200 tasting notes and a bottle opener. But no beers – buy those yourself. Sales of craft beers in North America total over $25 billion annually; you are going to need some help in sorting through all these! Other useful items: KITCHEN STICKY NOTES (Chronicle Books, 2016, $19.95 CAD) is a collection of  shopping reminders and to-do lists to keep you organized – 150 sticky flags, 50 lists, and 50 sticky notes, each coming with a colour drawing of a fruit or veggie. BEHIND THE BAR (Chronicle Books, 2016, $24.95 CAD) are two tea towels of classic designs for your bar. 100% cotton with silk screened designs (50 x 71 cm). COCKTAIL COASTERS (Chronicle Books, 2016, $22.50 CAD) is a set of 15 re-usable cocktail coasters with recipes. There are three each of five designs (e.g. Dirty Martini) and a storage box.
And so on to the wine annuals. The  international leader is HUGH JOHNSON'S POCKET WINE BOOK 2017 (Mitchell Beazley, 2016, 336 pages, $18.99 CAD hardbound) a guide to wines from all around the world, not just to the "best" wines. 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. This is his 40th edition and he marks this anniversary . His book is arranged by region; there are notes on the 2015 vintage and a few details about the potential of 2016, along with a closer look at the 2014. He's got notes on what wines are ready to drink in 2017.  There is a section on food and wine matching and also a listing of his personal 200 fave wines.
In Canada, we have  THE 500 BEST-VALUE WINES IN THE LCBO: 2017 (Whitecap, 2016, 230 pages, $19.95 CAN paperbound) takes a run at the wines for sale in Ontario at the government-run LCBO. This ninth edition by Rod Phillips, wine scribe for the Ottawa Citizen, has wines arranged by wine colour and then by region/country with price and CSPC number. He tasted 1500 wines. Each of the 500 value wines gets a rating (the basic is now 3.5 stars out of five; there have not been any 3 star wines since 2011), and there is an indication of food pairings. A good guidebook, but I'm afraid most people will just look through it for the 5 star selections and leave it at that. Turnover in Ontario occurs regularly as quotas are unmet or prices rise or the producer decides it is time for a change; there are over 100 new entries this year. Coverage is limited to LCBO General Purchase wines and LCBO Vintages Essentials, the wines that are available (if only by special internal order) in every LCBO store. Phillips has also included the LCBO perceived sweetness notations rather than the older Sugar Codes, and he has included some space at each wine for the reader to make personal notes.
If you have the money (this outsized winebook is definitely not a stocking stuffer) and know someone who likes Australian wines, you'll get great pleasure out of HALLIDAY WINE COMPANION 2017 (Hardie Grant Books, 2016, 776 pages, $56.99 CAD paperbound) by James Halliday, who has been at wine writing for over 45 years. This is the definitive guide to Australian wines. He gives us data about the wineries and their vineyards, deets on addresses, social media, opening hours, names and other numbers, followed by detailed tasting notes, vintage-specific ratings, advice on optimal drinking period, ABV, and prices. There are supposed to have been some 9,000 wines tasted for this edition, and he has full tasting notes for 3963 (couldn't he push it up to 4K?), ratings and prices for 3645 other wines, 1302 winery profiles (68 are new wineries), "best of" lists and five-star wineries listed. There are vintage charts and maps plus multiple indexes. But I am sure if he got together with his Kiwi counterpart, they could come up with some antipodean pocket guide at 256 pages to cover both countries and sell it in North America and the UK, sure to be a winner...

Top Gift Books for Family Cooking/Healthy Food for 2016

--AMERICA'S BEST PIES 2016-2017 (SkyHorse Publishing, 2016, 380 pages, $36.99 CAD hardbound) comes from the American Pie Council which runs the APC National Pie Championship and the Great American Pie Festival. These are 200 recipes that are champion winners from various categories. Most are from 2010 through 2015, although there have been competitions since 1995. The award winners are clearly indicated and there is a colour photo of each pie. Suggested preps to try include lime coconut chess pie, apple rhubarb, and lemon blueberry. Many have cream cheese in their recipes for that extra velvety mouthfeel and calories.
--FIX-IT AND FORGET IT SLOW COOKER CHAMPION RECIPES (Good Books, 2016, 600 pages, $38.99 CAD loose leaf bound) is by Phyllis Good who has sold about 14 million books over the years, all on FIFI – she's been on a mission for all families to use their slow cookers for more than just stews and soups – families can use it for just about everything that needs a heat source. This loose leaf work has 450 recipes for all courses and all manner of food. The preps were contributed from all over North America, and every recipe is a "champion" winner somewhere. She's got multiple indexes, including a quick and easy index. If you have a slow cooker, this tome is for you. If you don't have a slow cooker, maybe this would be a good time to buy one, especially for her revealing FIFI BAKING WITH YOUR SLOW COOKER (Good Books, 2016, 328 pages, $30.99 CAD paperbound) – 150 recipes dealing with breads, pizza, cakes, tarts, crisps, bars, pies, and cupcakes. Everything is baked in the slow cooker; there's no need to heat up a summer house with a stove.
--BEST OF BRIDGE: THE FAMILY SLOW COOKER (Robert Rose, 2016, 342 pages, $29.95 CAD spiralbound) continues the 1975 origins, but this time with Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, Sue Duncan, and Julie Van Rosendaal carrying the torch. These are 225 all new recipes for stews and gooey food, arranged by course of apps through desserts, breakfasts and beverages. Tried and true and Canadian,  but no venison or beaver stews: use the beef recipe as an all-purpose meat stew.
--175 BEST AIR FRYER RECIPES (Robert Rose, 2016, 288 pages, $27.95 CAD paperbound) is by the prolific Camilla V. Saulsbury. It is one of a "dedicated cooking implement" series, here: the air fryer. While it produces crispy and tasty results, it uses very little oil. So you get the crisp flavour without the calories. Air fryers can also roast and bake. Thes preps are guaranteed to perform in an air fryer. With superheated hot air, you can re-create beer-battered fried fish, buttermilk fried chicken, cake doughnuts, coconut shrimp, and others.
--175 BEST INSTANT POT RECIPES (Robert Rose, 224 pages, $19.95 CAD paperbound) is by the equally prolific Marilyn Haugen who has done a book on spiralizers and on sandwich makers. Here she tackles the 7-in-1 programmable electric pressure cooker, also known as an "instant pot". It is a cooker with multiple functions such as pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute pan, yogurt maker, and warmer.  So it does a lot of things, and can be applied to all the slow cooker recipes, including lamb shanks, meatballs, cherry and coconut granola, and root veggie ratatouille. Not all at once, mind you.
--FOOD SWAP (Storey Publishing, 2016, 258 pages, $28.95 CAD paperbound with 4 sheets of cardstock labels) is  by Emily Paster, cofounder of the Chicago Food Swap. She's a big believer in shared food. It is a community thing, for bartering, sharing and giving. There are 80 easy enough recipes here to get you started, as well as plenty of details for how to create a food swap. Try salted caramel sauce, lemon curd, green tomato salsa, Indian chutney – anything that can be preserved for later eating – and then trade them around for fund raising or to widen your pantry.
--THE BEST HOMEMADE VEGAN CHEESE & ICE CREAM RECIPES (Robert Rose, 2016, 144 pages, $19.95 CAD paperbound) is by Marie Laforet who gives us an ethical, healthy and tasty kitchen for the family. This one is for the dairy freeks who want a better but tasty lifestyle without dairy fat. Laforet advocates natural and organic ingredients for her 25 vegan sorbets, ice pops, frozen desserts. And the same for the artisanal cheese knockoffs.
--REAL FOOD, REAL GOOD (Penguin, 2016, 270 pages, $26 CAD paperbound) is by Michael Smith, top Canadian TV food host and cookbook writer from PEI. He says you could eat well with over 100 simple recipes plus variations. It's traditionally arranged by breakfast, soups, salads, mains, veggies, breads, and desserts. There is a large section on basics and pantries, emphasizing food lists for comestibles that you should have on hand (maybe a food swap?). He encourages you to make convenience takeout food at home, to save money, with recipes for such as fruit roll-ups, granola, ketchup, hummus, sushi, and chicken wings among others.
--WEIGHTWATCHERS FAMILY MEALS (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 416 pages, $41.99 CAD hardbound) has 250 recipes for family and friends; 140 of them are gluten-free. They've got tags for quick/vegetarian/and GF recipes. Typical comfort foods include spicy sweet potato oven fries, miso-glazed salmon, and chocolate gingerbread. As well, there are some menus and weekly plans. Other helps: pantry lists, freezer lists, how to host a party, and some recipes for drinks.
--THE YOUNG CHEF (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 192 pages, $32.50 CAD paperbound) is by Mark Ainsworth of the CIA. It's for  kids 10 – 14, with 100 kid-tested recipes and techniques for those who love to cook, including DIY hummus and Chinese takeout chicken. Procedures and variations are illustrated, and the language is kid-friendly (not condescending). Parents can stand by, but it is all family food anyway.
--IT'S ALL EASY (Grand Central Life & Style, 2016, 270 pages, $42 CAD hardbound) is by Gwyneth Paltrow. These are weekly recipes for the busy home cook, another entry in the quick and easy sweepstakes of cookbook writing, all geared to families. There are plenty of star turns here, and pictures. 130 recipes, most using little or no sugar-dairy-gluten. The range is breakfast to supper, and seems to be fairly broad and complete.
--KATHYRN AT HOME (Gibbs Smith, 2016, 224 pages, $43 CAD hardbound) is by Kathryn M. Ireland; it is a guide to simple entertaining as she does it at a French country farmhouse/guesthouse.  It is now 12 bedrooms after 25 years. She's got a similar one in LA. The tome is a collection of recipes, table top decor, wines, colours, and background music, all arranged by course (breakfast followed by market, lunch, al fresco dining, etc.). There are lots of pix and memoir  material dealing with simple entertaining, great for families on the weekend or special occasions.
--THE DELICIOUSLY KETO COOKBOOK (Alpha Books, 2016, 223 pages, $30.95 CAD paperbound) is by Molly Pearl, who has written many paleo cookbooks, and Kelly Roehl, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC, who is a specialist in ketogenic diet therapy. Here are 150 keto-friendly preps for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. The ketogenic diet is similar to the paleo diet, and uses fat for energy instead of sugar. On the switchover there may be side effects: these are carefully explained. It seems to be a good cookbook for those who are paleo yet want to lose weight on a regular basis.
--EATING CLEAN (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 392 pages, $36  CAD paperbound) is by Amie Valpone. It is a 21-day plan to detox, fight inflammation, and re-set your body. The author says that it is particularly good against Lyme disease, hypothyroidism, and colitis. She has an excellent section on what to do when cravings strike.
--THE BONE BROTH SECRET (Hay House, 2016, 384 pages, $24.99 CAD paperbound) is by Louise Hay and Heather Dane. It has been described as a culinary adventure in health, beauty, and longevity. 100 preps cover broths, elixirs, mains, breads, desserts, cocktails, beauty remedies, along with a dose of memoirs and stories.
--COOK YOURSELF YOUNG (Quadrille, 2016, 160 pages, $32.50 CAD paperbound) is by naturopath Elizabeth Peyton-Jones. She gives 100 preps for slowing down the aging process and rejuvenating your thinking processes. It is a meatless book, with colour codes for vegan, raw, gluten-free, and dairy-free. It is an alkaline approach to counteract acidity in your body. Good advice for better sleep and weight loss.
--THE 2-STEP LOW-FODMAP EATING PLAN (The Experiment, 2016, 280 pages, $29.95 CAD paperbound) is by Sue Shepherd. She tells you how to cut out foods that cause distress, by building a custom diet that relieves symptoms of IBS, lactose intolerance, and gluten sensitivity. She's got 80 preps that avoid FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharide Disaccharide  Monosaccharide and Polyols) which is a group of poorly absorbed food to be avoided. On page 11 she lists them under five main classes.
--HEALTHY GUT COOKBOOK (DK Books, 2016, 224 pages, $24.95 CAD paperbound) is by Gavin Pritchard and Maya Gangadharan who give us 150 recipes to improve digestive health, with advice for leaky gut syndrome. All preps have icons for such as paleo, low-FODMAP, dairy-free, and nut-free. Their book is structured for progressive gut healing with weekly menu planners, food prep advice, and how to maintain a diet without caving to cravings. They have five stages to get to the change of life.
--THE PALEO JOURNEY (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016, 210 pages, $27.99 CAD hardbound)  is by Simone McGrath. She's got recipes for weight loss and allergies, to lead to superior health the natural way. She begins with what foods to avoid and why, moving on to how to do paleo while outside the home (friends, restaurants, work). About half the tome is on advice such as exploring all the options available and the paleo lifestyle. It comes with the LC subject heading: "Prehistoric cooking – nutrition".
--THE COMPLETE 10-DAY DETOX DIET PLAN & COOKBOOK (Robert Rose, 2016, 352 pages, $24.95 CAD paperbound) is by naturopath Karen Barnes. She's got tons of advice and 150 recipes to turn your life around after a hard season of food and drink. This cleansing and detox diet is easy to follow with its realistic practicality. It's an aid to optimizing weight, improving digestion, skin, joints, energy levels, hormones, immune systems and overall vitality. She's even got data on toxic materials such as pesticides and heavy metals. The preps go from juices to smoothies to breads and dips, to legume and vegetable dishes.
--THE PALEO DIABETES DIET SOLUTION (Robert Rose, 2016, 288 pages, $27.95 CAD paperbound) is by Jill Hillhouse and Lisa Cantkier, both nutritionists. They propose to manage your blood sugar with 125 recipes plus a 30-day meal plan. The paleo diet is fresh, unprocessed meat, fruit, veggies, seeds and nuts which are all nutrient-dense, lo-carb, fibre-rich with vitamins and minerals. The preps here emphasis that density and provide a paleo lifestyle to help manage diabetes. Obviously, not a cure, just sensible (and tasty!) management.

Top Gift Food Reference Books/Memoirs/Literary Histories -- for 2016

--THE WURST OF LUCKY PEACH (Clarkson Potter, 2016, 240 pages, $34 CAD) is by Chris Ying and the editors of "Lucky Peach" magazine. It is a cookbook on sausages and making your own. Part one is geographic Europe and five other continents, exploring the history of choucroute garnie, currywurst, cevapi, boerewors, and merguez. Part two takes a look at chorizo, mortadella and various wieners. There are contributions by many chefs here, such as Rick Bayless. It is a definitive book.
--BLUE GUIDE: ITALY FOOD COMPANION (Somerset Books, 2016, 216 pages, $16.99 CAD paperbound) is a phrasebook and miscellany that will get you through the Italian peninsula: what to order, what it means, how to pronounce, navigating a menu, reading a wine label, plus other trivia. It's an A – Z dictionary format, with a section of useful phrases.
--WORLD ATLAS OF TEA (Firefly Books, 2016, 240 pages, $39.95 CAD hardbound) is via the UK; its author is Krisi Smith, co-owner of Bluebird Tea Company. She also runs courses in tea mixology. The market for tea in North America has quadrupled in just 20 years, and there is a need for a substantial printed and illustrated guide to existing tea areas around the world: from plantation to table. The four major sections include basics (varieties, grades, harvesting, history), brewing and drinking (tea tools, buying, storing, tasting, health benefits),  blending, and the tea-producing countries in Africa, India, Middle East, Far East, and South America. Well-illustrated with pictures and maps, a nifty title for the tea collector.
--WORLD WHISKEY. Rev. ed.  (DK, 2016, 352 pages,  $31 CAD hardbound) has been edited by Charles MacLean, author of ten books on whiskey (including the definitive "Scotch Whisky" and "Malt Whisky"). This is another "tell it all" book, international in scope, with 167 pages on Scotland, 34 for Irish, 12 on Canada, 50 on the USA, 25 for Japan, 13 for the
rest of Europe, and six for Australasia. The writers clearly show the impact of climate, water, heather, sea breeze, barley, peat, malting techniques, distillation processes, type of wood used for storage, maturation periods. General sections cover aromas and flavours, peats and bogs, regions, terroirs – with lots of illustrations and diagrams. There are short sections on whiskey cocktails (with recipes), and food and whiskey pairing. But this is principally a directory to some of the
finest distilled grain-based spirits in the world (over 700 of them, with 1200 colour photos). Tasting notes are also included.
--THE BOOK OF KITCHEN WITCHERY (CICO books, 2016, 144 pages, $29.95 CAD paperbound) is by Cerridwen Greenleaf who tells us how to turn our kitchen into a pagan power centre. She's got spells, recipes, and rituals for magical meals, and enchanted garden, and a happy house. I'll go along with that, since she wants us to learn how to cook enchanting meals. All the High Holidays are here, from the Wiccan Wheel of the Year, and she covers herbs, crystals, colours, and altars. She encourages us to grow our own gardens to make our own medicines, teas and tinctures. Through energy management, we can also eliminate negative energy emanating at home.
--HOW TO BAKE EVERYTHING (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 703 pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is by the indefatigable Mark Bittman, who, believe it or not, still needs log rollers (Ottolenghi, Batali, Kimball and others) to sell his books. This is simplified and straightforward ways to bake. There are over 2,000 recipes here covering everything: quick breads, muffins, pancakes, cookies, cakes, pies, frozens, crackers, yeast breads, pastry, frostings – and more! A great resource, although serious bakers may be let down by the lack of scaling.
--THE SPICE COMPANION (Clarkson Potter, 2016, 305 pages, $59 CAD hardbound) is by Liev Lev Sercarz, founder of La Boite (biscuits and spices since 2009) in NYC. It is a guide to the world of 102 spices, the best and most commonly used. After the primer on history, sourcing, the importance of blending and storing there are 260 pages of alphabetically arranged spices, from Ajowan to Zuta. He's got the deets on flavour and aroma, origin, harvests, traditional uses, some pairings he recommends, recipe ideas, and a blend for each spice.  He's even got icon keys for usage. Throughout there are great illustrations of the spices and blends.
--FOOD ANATOMY; the curious parts & pieces of our edible world (Storey Publishing, 2016, 224 pages, $24.95 CAD paperbound French covers) is by Julia Rothman, author of other "anatomy" books. She's an illustrator with her own lines of wallpaper, stationery, dishware, and other items. Here she draws edible food from around the world, including street food, place settings, cooking tools, breads and dumplings, and fried foods. Food journalist Rachel Wharton adds text and editorial materials with some little-known facts to match up with the drawings. This book has foodie "gift" written all over it!
--F.SCOTT FITZGERALD'S TASTE OF FRANCE (CICO Books, 2016, 160 pages, $36.95 CAD hardbound) is by Carol Hiker. It's a series of recipes inspired by the cafes and bars of Fitzgerald's haunts in Paris and the Riviera in the 1920s. It is a culinary tour with 60 preps, ranging from breakfast to late night dinners. Each prep is headed with background and cultural detail, and there are extensive sidebars as well on Americans in Paris, the Riviera of the 1920s, "the jazz age", cafes, various chefs, and drinking before noon. There is a timeline and a list of further readings. Lots of good photos from the the period, plus finished plates.
--SQUIRREL PIE (AND OTHER STORIES) (Bloomsbury, 2016, 387 pages, $37 CAD hardbound) is by the redoubtable Elisabeth Luard, who has been travelling all of her life. She's an award-winning food writer with over a dozen books:  "I write about food in its historical, geographical and social context. I've also written three memoirs with recipes and a couple of doorstopper novels. In an earlier life I was a natural history painter specialising in botany and birds." Here she continues her memoir, collecting stories about the forests of Maine, the islands of Crete and Sardinia, the Rhone and Danube Rivers, and even two deserts. Recipes are at the end of each chapter, and – miracle of miracles – there is even an index.
--MARIJUANA EDIBLES (DK, 2016, 128 pages, $18.95 CAD hardbound) is by Laurie and Mary Jane, a mother and daughter-in-law edibles company in Portland Oregon. It's small enough to be stocking stuffer, but I'd like it here in this category. Cooking with marijuana is a skill based on the infusion  method, with coconut oil. Here are 40 cannabis-infused desserts: cookies, bars, pies, tarts, pastries, cakes, puddings, candies, frozen desserts. The roasted sweet corn popsicle is amazing – a Field of Dreams!!
--KNIVES & INK (Bloomsbury, 2016, 195 pages, $32 CAD hardbound) is by Isaac Fitzgerald and Wendy MacNaughton. They interviewed 50 chefs, to get the stories behind their tattoos and their own food work. There are watercolour reproductions of the tattoos, and even a sourcing for the tattoo artists involved. 24 recipes are also included. Dominique Crenn of San Francisco is one of the chefs; she is the Celebrity leader at this year's DevourFest in Wolfville, NS which features women in the world of gastronomy.
--A THYME AND PLACE (Skyhorse Publishing, 164 pages, $30.99 CAD) is by Tricia Cohen and Lisa Graves (Lisa did the hand drawn illustrations). It recounts medieval feasts with 35 recipes for the modern table. They celebrate the festivals throughout the year. Each is tied to a Renaissance period event such as Twelfth Night, St. Bridgid's Day and Candlemas, Shrove Tuesday, St. Swithin's Day, Martinmas, and more. There are historical tidbits about each holiday, followed by an appropriate but modernized recipe (there are no original recipes from the medieval period).
--PEN & PALATE (Grand Central Life & Style, 2016, 296 pages, $31.50 CAD) is by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen, two young ladies who try to master the art of adulthood through cooking. These are the chills and spills of memorable meals spanning years; it is a joint memoir of the best of friends, with illustrations by Tram. Forty recipes (not indexed) and eighteen vignettes, worth a read.
--REAL FOOD/FAKE FOOD (Algonquin Books, 2016, 318 pages, $41.95 CAD hardbound) is by Larry Olmstead, food and travel writer, with appearances as a food expert on radio. His exposure of counterfeit  Kobe beef (a chapter in this book) was done for Forbes and was well-received. He looks at: Parmesan cheese made from sawdust (cellulose), lobster rolls without lobster, non-virgin olive oil, general fish. Only one chef in Canada is licensed to import and serve real Kobe beef from Japan (he's in Montreal). Prosciutto as a meat has its problems. You don't really want to talk about labelling in the wine world. Other foods: coffee, honey, juice. His polemic is part cautionary tale and part crusade. Deception is always about more money for profits, and relies heavily on bait-and-switch. But then you can read all about it here.
--FAST AND FEARLESS COOKING FOR THE GENIUS (For the Genius Press, 2016, $34.95 CAD paperbound) is by my wife Ann Tudor (MAJOR CONFLICT OF INTEREST HERE, THUS THE NEUTRAL REVIEW). She outlines a number of basic and easy principles and techniques for cooking, using ingredients and methods that are sometimes idiosyncratic but approachable and time-tested throughout her life. And she's got memoir stories of successes and failures. It's for the millennial who doesn't cook. Ann's creed: don't be afraid, have a basic pantry with both normal and new-to-you ingredients, and approach the whole business in a spirit of play. Contains no recipes to frighten you.
--FOOD CITY (.W.W. Norton, 2017 [sic], 460 pages, $38.95 hardbound) is by the late Joy Santlofer who spent her last five years researching and writing the food history of New York City. This tome covers four centuries of food-making in the area, from the Dutch to the modern times.  In dealing with the food supply, she conveniently breaks it down for us into four categories – bread (such as white flour and donuts), sugar and rationing, drink (milk, lager, stills, coffee), and meats (Manhattan cattle drives). It is loaded with black and white photos, both historical and contemporary, and engaging sidebars. At the back there are endnotes and an index.
--SORTING THE BEEF FROM THE BULL (Bloomsbury Sigma, 2016, 319 pages, $32 CAD hardbound) is by academics Richard Evershed and Nicola Temple. They deal with the science of food fraud forensics, looking into olive oils, horsemeat in burgers, bogus beverages, chicken eggs, melamine in infant's milk, nut shells in spices, and mislabeling of fish. They duplicate some of the material covered  by Olmstead but go on with others, meanwhile detailing the dishonesty, duplicity, and shortcuts of "food adulteration" that leads to false labeling. Of course, it is all motivated by higher profits. Their number one suggestion (and the easiest): simply read the small print on the back label – bring a magnifying glass with you to the store.
--DANGEROUS DIGESTION (University of California Press, 2016, 213 pages, $34.95 USD paperbound) is by E. Melanie DuPuis, an academic in Environmental Studies at Pace University.  It is another book in the California Studies in Food and Culture series. This is a book of social activism about the politics of American dietary advice over the years. Food rules have apparently been driven by an OCD (obsessive-compulsory disorder) need for purity, some of which applies to the American organic food movement (according to the author). At the other end there is the conventional "spray and pray" for a guaranteed crop. She deals with big agri-business too, although Monsanto is not in the tome.
--A TASTE OF POWER (University of California Press, 2016, 262 pages, $29.95 USD paperbound) is by Katharina Vester, who teaches at the American University in Washington DC. She believes  that cookbooks and other culinary texts taught Americans how to distinguish themselves from Europeans. They inspired women to participate in nation-building before they had the right to vote. Food writing shaped ideas about nationalism, gender, and sexuality. In addition to end notes and a bibliography, there is even a food noir discussion on the Maltese Falcon.
--RHAPSODY IN SCHMALTZ (St. Martin's Press, 2016, 297 pages, $37.99 CAD hardbound) is by Martin Wex, and Albertan living in Toronto. He writes here about Yiddish food and why we cannot stop eating it, beginning with a history and impact  of this cuisine brought over from Europe. There are some references to modern culture (TV and films) as well. It is written with good humour about the traditions, and comes complete with endnotes and bibliography.
--52 WEEKS OF COOKIES (Familius, 2016, 330 pages, $27.95 CAD paperbound) is by Maggie McCreath. She refused to get depressed by her son's deployment to Iraq, so she made cookies every week and sent them off as care packages. These are the stories (and the recipes) behind a year's worth of cookie developments. A good way to handle stress.
--SAVE ROOM FOR PIE (Farrar, Straus & Giraux, 2016, 290 pages, $29.99 CAD hardbound) is by Roy Blount Jr. It's an off-the-wall collection of food songs and "chewy marinations". The miscellany comes from previously published works and radio programs. Every food gets its turn in short poems or sidebar prose: song to the apple, to hot dogs, to grease, to eggs, and more.
--MY ORGANIC LIFE (Vintage Books, 2015, 2016, 284 pages, $21.95 CAD paperbound) is by Nora Pouillon. It's a reprint about how a pioneering chef helped to shape the daily eating patterns of North Americans. She was the founder of America's first certified organic restaurant, and was there at the birth of the farm-to-table movement. At the back of the time, there are 10 recipes.
--THE FRENCH CHEF IN AMERICA; Julia Child's second act (Appetite by Random House, 2016, 324 pages, $32.95 CAD hardcovers) is by Alex Prud'homme, Julia Child's great-nephew and the co-author of her autobiography "My Life in France" (2006). It covers the  PBS period from the sixties through to her death in 2004 at age 92. This period opens  post-tome "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and shows her vulnerabilities as she copes with finding her voice in middle age, dealing with envious colleagues, and handling fame. It is also a period of early mentoring and strong relationships, as with her long-time editor Judith Jones. She had strong principles, believing in butter and cream but not believing in vegetarianism and "nouvelle cuisine". There are extensive end-notes, a bibliography and a thorough index.
--A PROPER DRINK (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 342 pages, $36 CAD hardbound) is by Robert Simonson, the New York Times spirits writer. It's about the contemporary craft cocktail revival, and is based on over 200 interviews with movers and shakers from around the world, principally bartenders. Dates and places are cited for the references. These are the people who have, as the author states, "saved the civilized drinking world".  These are memories, stories, musings, and histories of bars, characters and restaurants. Some drinks may seem contrived, such as a White Negroni (around since 2001), but they all have their fans: 40 major newish cocktail recipes are included, such as Penicillin, Jasmine and Gin-Gin Mule.
--GENERATION CHEF (Avery, 2016, 312 pages, $35 CAD hardbound) is by Karen Stabiner, journalism teacher at Columbia who has written about food and cookbooks. It is the story of Jonah Miller, who at 24 quits as a sous chef to open a Basque-themed cuisine restaurant called Huertas in NYC's East Village. She follows the ambitious Miller through the location stage, the financial stage, the labour stage, and the opening stage (with material on critics). She's also got some stories about other ambitious young chefs who have TV appearances and how they got their restaurants. Thus, she looks at the restaurant culture in the US – and by extension, to all of North America, and the competitive success needed. A nice reminder gift for your chef (or budding chef) friend.

Top gift books for the beverage drinker

--THE CANON COCKTAIL BOOK (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 338 pages,  $40 CAD hardbound) is by Canadian-born Jamie Boudreau, who opened the multiple-award-winning Canon in Seattle in 2011 and now has a 100-drink basic menu, and James O. Fraioli, who is an award-winning (including Beard Award) cocktail and cookbook author. Indeed, the bar is only 450 square feet, with seven tables for 32 people – they need the unseen space for bottle storage. Three menus support the bar: a bi-monthly seasonal menu, a 100 page long cocktail menu, and a 165 page long spirit menu of 3500 bottles. These are recipes from the bar. He's got a special section on Canada, honouring the west coast and even Toronto. These are his takes on the classics and the contemporaries. Extremely useful and a great souvenir.
--THIS CALLS FOR A DRINK (Workman, 2016, 264 pages, $22.95 CAD hardbound) promises to give us "the best wines and beers to pair with every situation", as described by author Diane McMartin. This is how to drink like an adult, what wine goes with a one night stand, with a blind date,  if you are newly single, or binge watching television. She covers work, holidays, music festivals, weddings, baby showers, and dating. There are some good inspirations here, a mix of serious and humourous.
--GRAND BORDEAUX CHATEAUX (Flammarion, 2016, 200 pages, $85 CAD hardbound) is a joint effort with texts by Philippe Chaix, tasting notes by James Suckling, and photographs by Guillaume de Laubier. It is a weighty tome coming in at just under 2 kilos. It's main value is to go inside the great wine estates of Bordeaux. Here are 12 chateaux with state-of-the-art cellars that were designed by acclaimed architects. Included are Lafite Rothschild, Margaux, Mouton Rothschild, Petrus, Cheval Blanc and seven more. No Latour, mostly because it doesn't have a modern designed wine cellar. La Dominique is here, especially as it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. A good holiday volume for the wine collector.
--FRENCH WINE; a history (University of California Press, 2016, 335 pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is by Rod Phillips, a history professor at Carleton University and who is also a wine writer. His work covers 2500 years on a number of different and evolving levels: vineyard areas, volumes of wine production, climate changes, new methods of making wine, regulation and fraud, changing markets, terroir, export trades. Benchmark wines are made in every region: France is the go-to place for wines in the style of  Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Rhone Syrah, Provence Rose, Rhone GSM, and many others. For all of this in 335 pages (with end notes and index), it is a marvellous overview. Phillips is also very good at making the  connections through his synthesis. I think his best chapter deals with phylloxera and renewal (1870-1914).
--ZEN AND TONIC (The Countryman Press, 2016, 240 pages, $32.95 CAD hardbound) by Jules Aron presents savoury and fresh cocktails for the enlightened drinker. The preps are for making your own drinks at home, using organic spirits, fresh produce, herbs and other botanicals, and natural sweeteners. Covered are drinks that are lush or fruity or fresh or crisp or sweet or spicy, or some or all of these. What with all the add-ons and infusions, these are tall drinks, practically meals in themselves. Personally, I don't think you need organic spirits (they are pricey), but do go the sustainable route with the other ingredients.
--APERTIVO (Rizzoli, 2016, 224 pages, $35 CAD hardbound) is by Marisa Huff. It deals with the cocktail culture of Italy, with recipes for both drinks and for small dishes to eat with those drinks. All the preps and cocktails come from the better bars and restaurants of Venice, Milan, Turin, and others: the expensive, upscale parts of industrial Italy. Of course, it is also a travel guide to the region. The basic Italian classics are here: the Negroni, the Bellini, and the Spritz. Vermouth and bitters, coupled with the botanicals of gins, give you the herbs that are good for you and your digestion. Suggested foods include carbonara tramezzini and fried sage leaves.
--CHIANTI CLASSICO (University of California Press, 2016, 339 pages, $55.95 CAD hardbound) is by Bill Nesto MW and Frances Di Savino. It is a comprehensive search for one of Tuscany's noblest wines. Previously they had authored the award-winning "The World of Sicilian Wine". It's got the history, the Medicis, the Florentine state, and then the slow degradation to the simple wine of the straw fiasco. The geographic and cultural complexity of the region is enhanced by profiles of modern day wineries. 2016 is the 300th anniversary of the Medici decree delimiting the region of Chianti. A good solid read.
--DRINKS; A USER'S GUIDE (Tarcher Perigee, 2016, 258 pages, $27 CAD hardbound)  is by Adam McDowell, a Toronto drinks writer with the National Post. It includes beer, wine and cocktails for everyday and all occasions, with advice on what wine to order in a restaurant. Other tips include: don't drink wine at weddings as they are nearly always poor; try cocktails instead. His tome is basically for beginners, with sections on stocking the home bar, how to make flawless cocktails, and some sparkling wine alternatives.
--BUT FIRST, CHAMPAGNE (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016, 288 pages, $46.99 CAD hardbound) is by David White, a renowned wine writer living in Washington, DC. It's a modern guide to the world's fave wine, complete with a history of the region and of its wines, a glossary, a bibliography, material on how to purchase and taste Champagne, sabrage, and organic/biodynamic viticulture. He's got profiles of 80 of the leading producers (they sell millions of bottles each year), and some of the best growers (look for R.M on the bottle's label; they sell only thousands of bottles a year). Each profile has the appropriate deets. A good heavy tome for the Champagne lover.
--HOPTOPIA (University of California Press, 2016, 306 pages, $41.95 CAD paperbound) is by Peter A. Kopp, a history prof at New Mexico State University. It's a history of hops, an entry in the California Studies in Food and Culture publication program at UC. Basically, the American craft beer revolution of the late 20th century came about through earlier global events that merged in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Travelling from Eurasia, hops arrived in the Pacific Northwest in the 19th century, and ultimately Oregon was pronounced the "Hop Center of the World". Kopp 's academic work tells the story through the environment, the culture, the economy, the labour and the science of the region. "Cascade" hops comes to mind easily from this region, as does "Nugget" and "Willamette". An engaging tome, with many endnotes, bibliography, and comprehensive index, but very readable.
--AMERICAN RHONE (University of California Press, 2016, 311 pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is by Patrick Comiskey, a major contributor to Wine & Spirits Magazine and other publications. It is the story of a movement by some California winemakers to replicate the wines of Southern Rhone in France by putting their own stamp on them. They are loosely called the "Rhone Rangers", and have their own festivals and wine competitions.  The subtitle here is "how maverick winemakers changed the way Americans drink". Grapes from the Southern Rhone include the reds  Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre (Mataro) , and the whites Viognier (think Condrieu), Roussanne, and Marsanne. The overheated Rhone Valley nicely transfers to Central California and to Australia. Here Comiskey explains why this wine category is expanding with more production from more acreage and energy. It is, after all, the American frontier experience. One of its leaders has been the eclectic Randall Grahm (Bonny Doon Winery).

Sunday, December 4, 2016


NOVEMBER 16, 2016
By Dean Tudor, Ryerson Journalism Professor Emeritus and Gothic Epicures Writing, (World Wine Watch Newsletter).
          Twitter: @gothicepicures
There are always many new food and wine books out there for people who have picky tastes!! What to choose? I have cast about for material and have come up with a decent selection of materials published in 2016 to satisfy any pocketbook, any host, and any friend or relative. All books and book-like materials that are listed here are RECOMMENDED for gifting, and can be purchased at a discount via Amazon.Ca, Chapters.Indigo.Ca (with free delivery on a total purchase of over $35 or so), or even The Book Depository in Guernsey (free delivery and no GST from the UK).
Price Alert: because of US dollar fluctuations with Canada, all prices will vary.
A. Art/travel/restaurant cookbooks might be some of the best books to give a loved one (or to yourself, since you are your own best loved one). Most may cost you an arm and a leg. Books for the coffee table have their place in the gift scheme: just about every such book is only bought as a gift! And are often perused first by the donor (you). Don't let the prices daunt you. Such books are available at a discount from online vendors. Because of the "economy", not too many pricey food and wine books were released last year and this year, and some book reviewers were cut off from receiving many expensive imported books but sent galley proofs, a PDF or a BLAD instead.
TASTE OF PERSIA (Artisan, 2016,  392 pages, $50 CAD hardbound)  is by Naomi Duguid, author of  award-winning cookbooks dealing with the world stage such as Burma (2012). Here she travels through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Kurdistan, her memoirs coupled with recipes from the old Persian Empire, gateway through the culinary world. As she says, the cuisine reflects a love for the fresh and the tart. Pomegranates, saffron threads, kebabs, barbari breads, pilafs: 125 recipes cover these and more. Typical are preps dealing with "ash" (stews), rose water, filled dumplings, stuffed veggies and halvah. The tome is part regional cuisine and part stories, magnified by her own photography. Studio shots are done by Gentl + Hyers. There's a small section on Georgian wine and Armenian brandy, followed by a glossary, bibliography, and conversion charts. An adventure in flavour and community indeed.
--LE MANOIR AUX QUAT' SAISONS; the story of a modern classic (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016, 480 pages, $99 CAD hardbound) is by Raymond Blanc, owner-chef of the establishment hotel-restaurant located in Great Milton, Oxford. As the publisher notes, this is a chance to step within the walls for a personal tour by Blanc, season by season. He reveals how every element of the place--from the Japanese garden to the Citronelle bedroom--was brought to life, and takes the reader into the kitchen to show the culinary secrets of this double Michelin-starred restaurant (it has had its stars for the past 26 years). The book features 120 of Le Manoir's celebrated dishes, including ricotta agnolotti, venison grand veneur, blood orange carpaccio, and apple tart Maman Blanc. Illustrated with full-color photography--of the gardens, rooms and recipes--and specially commissioned artwork that captures its magical quality. Totally self-taught, Raymond Blanc is one of Britain's most respected chefs. In 2007 he was awarded an OBE for services to culinary excellence. He is the bestselling author of several books, including Kitchen Secrets.
--TEN RESTAURANTS THAT CHANGED AMERICA (Liveright-Norton, 2016, 529 pages, $47 CAD hardbound) is by Yale history prof Paul Friedman who writes historical books about taste and spices. Here he continues his writings through a social/cultural  history of different foods and tastes in the USA. These are the ten most influential restaurants that affected dining out in America: Le Pavillon (French cuisine), Chez Panisse, Antoine's (New Orleans regional cuisine), Howard Johnson's (travel and road houses), Schrafft's (urban lunch spots that catered to women), Mama Leone's (Italian), The Mandarin (San Francisco Chinese), Delmonico's (the first, from 1830's), The Four Seasons, and Sylvia's (Harlem, Afro-American food). His text is well-written and approachable, illustrated with vintage photos, menu covers, cartoons, and promotional flyers. No fast/junk food joints. It is easy to criticize choice of restaurants, but I could not replace any; I could just add to with at least  Stars (Jeremiah Tower) and Moosewood (Mollie Katzen). Just add your own three more for a Top 15!!
--THE SERIAL ENTERTAINER'S PASSION FOR PARTIES (Gibbs Smith, 2016, 192 pages, $42 CAD hardbound) is by designer Steven Stolman. It's his fourth work as the Serial Entertainer, with a home in Palm Beach where most of his entertaining is done. He's got it all arranged by theme: what to do on New Year's Eve, weddings, birthdays, tent parties, goody bags, and galas for high society and red carpets. I am in awe. Most of his menu planning and decor can be trickled down for home use. But not cheaply since there are economies of scale. Oh, and he has a few recipes too. A nifty title for that entertainer friend of yours – just to give him/her some ideas. But beware the glint in the eye...
--TASTE & TECHNIQUE (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 386 pages, $54 CAD hardbound) is by Naomi Pomeroy, chef-owner of Beast and Expatriate in Portland OR. It weighs in at 2.5 kilos, most of which is needed to support the gorgeous photos by Chris Court, although Naomi does her own food styling. These are, in words of the subtitle, "recipes to elevate your home cooking" and your muscles. [I always make photocopies of recipes so I don't have to hoist the cookbook or spill anything on it]. Her tome is arranged by course or food group (app to dessert), with much material on the pantry/larder/ingredients/techniques components. It is mostly French style cuisine, with a detailed approach to mastering balance, acidity, and seasoning. The 140 preps of her fundamentals and building blocks are dedicated to the farming community. A strong gift cookbook.
--SOMETHINGTOFOODABOUT (Clarkson Potter, 2016, 240 pages, $39 CAD hardbound) is by Ahmir  "Questlove" Thompson, a hip-hop music producer who attempts to answer the question: can food be art? These essays and narratives here talk about the matter as Thompson explores creativity with innovative chefs. He's got conversations with ten chefs, interviewing them on what makes them creative, how they see the world, and what drives them in their work. No recipes, just the interviews and photos. A good book for the advanced foodie in your life.
--OTTAWA COOKS (Figure 1 Publishing, 2016,  232 pages, $37.95 CAD hardbound) is by Anne DesBrisay. It's part of a series of works on local chefs and their food. For the last two years, it was Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. This year it is Ottawa and Edmonton. Here are the signature recipes from the great chefs of the NCC area. There are 41 preps from dining places which include Beckta, Beau's All Natural Brewing, and Supply & Demand. A good gift for anyone from Ottawa.
--EDMONTON COOKS (Figure 1 Publishing, 2016, 256 pages, $37.95 CAD hardbound) is by Tina Faiz and Leanne Brown. Here are the signature recipes from the great chefs of the Edmonton area. There are 38 preps from dining places which include Culina, Little Brick and Tzin.  A good gift for anyone from Edmonton.
--ARAXI: roots to shoots (Figure 1 Publishing, 2016, 232 pages, $37.95 CAD hardbound) centres around just the one place in Whistler, BC. It's been around for awhile (it it opened in 1981). Currently, James Walt and his two sous-chefs run it (Aaron Heath and Jason Redmond), and they are the authors here. In layout it is pretty well standard, with chapters dealing with apps, mains and desserts – but matched by top-notch photography (worth the price alone). Together the authors tell the story of the restaurant and its bar in an engaging memoir style. Over 100 preps cover their signature dishes over time and their cocktails. A nifty gift for anyone who has visited the place.
--CINCIN (Figure 1 Publishing, 2016, 232 pages, $37.95 CAD hardbound) centres around Cin Cin Ristorante in Vancouver, which promotes a wood-fired cucina. Andrew Richardson is the executive chef at CinCin; he opened it in 2012 after a career in Europe and BC. It is Mediterranean cuisine, principally Italian, and arranged as an Italian meal: antipasti, primi, secondi, contorni, and dolci. There are 73 of them plus 19 "basics". It is as you would expect at the restaurant, but tailored for home use. There are wood-grilled Alaska sea scallops, ravioli of fire-cooked squash, and lemon crema with smoked pistachios. A very useful gift for someone with that wood-burning smoker.
--DINNER AT THE LONG TABLE (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 2016, 314 pages, $54 CAD hardbound) is by Andrew Tarlow (owner of Diner, in Brooklyn, along with five other restaurants in the NYC area) and Anna Dunn, the bartender for the group. These are preps from the chefs in the Tarlow group, organized by 17 menus that emphasize the long table experience of community dining. There's a men for birthday celebrations, one for each of the seasons, one for the New Year, another for an afternoon around the fire. One of my faves is the "agro & dolce", a lunch for eight that features roasted beets, homemade yogurt, smoothie (for the whey), rosemary and olive focaccia, saffron artichokes, sardines, and cod – plus some sides. It is a posh gift-book, with great photography and a fabric ribbon bookmark (always classy).
--JAPAN: from the source (Lonely Planet Books, 2016, 272 pages, $35.99 CAD hardbound) is by Tienlon Ho, Rebecca Milner, and Ippo Nakahara. Each is responsible for a specific geographical area; there are five of these, plus a glossary. These are the best local dishes from restaurant chefs, such as squid croquettes or scallops simmered in miso. And, of course, there are cultural notes about the dish, the region, and the chef.
--SPAIN: from the source (Lonely Planet Books, 2016, 272 pages, $35.99 CAD hardbound) is by Sally Davies. There are four geographical regions (NE, Central, NW and South) plus a glossary. These are the best local dishes from restaurant chefs, such as mallorquin flatbreads or duck with pears. And, of course, there are cultural notes about the dish, the region, and the chef.
--APPETITES; a cookbook (Ecco, 2016, 304 pages, $46.50 CAD hardbound) is by Anthony Bourdain, well-known chef and TV personality (e.g., Parts Unknown). This is his FIRST cookbook in ten years, so that kind of makes it an automatic choice for a gift. It's here in this section because it is also pricey. This is home cooking and home entertaining. Since he now has a young daughter he is more "available" at home. In his own words,  he has "morphed into a psychotic, anally retentive, bad-tempered Ina Garten." He is as unapologetic as always, but it is home cooking, probably at its best.
--SICILY (Hardie Grant Books, 2016, 272 pages, $56.99 CAD hardbound) is by Katie and and Giancarlo Caldesi,  authors of other Italian cookbooks (Amalfi Coast, Venice, Rome) and owners of restaurants and cooking schools. It is part memoir, part cookbook, part travelogue, with descriptions of local cooks. Arranged by course (antipasti through dolci).  Of particular interest to many GF people is the pasta fresca senza glutine. And the rice timbale...A perfect way to cook and eat a bowl of pasta while watching Montalbano, the best detective Sicily can offer up.
--DISHING UP NEW JERSEY (Storey Publishing, 2016, 278 pages, $28.95 CAD paperbound) is by John Holl. It is one of a series, "Dishing Up", rotating through the 50 states of the USA. Virginia and Maryland have been done, as was Minnesota (see below). The standard is 150 recipes from the Garden State: diners, boardwalks, food trucks, farm stands, restaurants. Such local items appear as disco fries and funnel cakes. Preps are sourced as to origin. Good gift for anyone you know who comes from New Jersey.
--DISHING UP MINNESOTA (Storey Publishing, 2016, 281 pages, $28.95 CAD paperbound) is by Teresa Marrone. The "Land of 10,000 Lakes" has 150 recipes to share, from chefs, farmers, state fairs, food trucks, foragers, winemakers, and brewers. Some local items include herring, trout, walleye, as well as morels and chanterelles, wild blueberries and wild game. Preps are sourced as to origin. This is the ninth in the "Dishing Up" series. A nifty gift for that local Minnesotan you know.
--THE BREAD BAKER'S APPRENTICE. Rev. Ed., 15th Anniversary Edition (Ten Speed Press, 2001, 2016, 322 pages, $54 CAD hardbound) is by Peter Reinhart, co-founder of Brother Juniper's Bakery. It's a tutorial tome on bread-making, one of the first of its kind. It won a Beard Award and an IACP Cookbook of the Year in the same year. The tutorial covers the first 100 pages; the recipes follow in the latter 200. There have been a few changes and tweaks, and he did update the resources list through 2015. But there are no gluten-free accounts. If you do not have the original, this is a good cookbook.
--THE TASHA TUDOR FAMILY COOKBOOK (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016, 168 pages, $29.99 CAD hardbound) is by her grandson Winslow Tudor, who grew up in Vermont next door and now runs the family business. Here are heirloom recipes and memoirs from her Corgi Cottage, featuring Tasha Tudor receipts (as she called them) and watercolour illustrations. He philosophy was "In all things moderation except gardening". So she had a huge veggie garden as a source of food, along with a freezer and a larder – not much meat was eaten. The cookbook is pretty basic, with beef pies, chicken pies, apple dumplings, chocolate puddings, and all manner of local vegetables. It's comfort food to match the comfort watercolours...a good too for her fans and admirers, and a chance to buy some reproductions of her art.
--POLSKA: new Polish cooking (Quadrille Books, 2016, 256 pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is by Zuza Zak. She says that most Poles prefer to eat at home or at the home of friends and family, rather than at a restaurant. With that in mind, she has developed a tome of traditional Polish food with contemporary twists, such as Polish kimchi with venison. She covers the basics of Polish food cultural history, emphasizing regionalism and the seasons along with Jewish and Gypsy influences. Her Polish pantry contains yellow wax beans, twarog cheese, herrings, Polish sausage, dill, buckwheat, sauerkraut, gherkins and more. It's arranged by course with special sections on beans, kasza, dumplings, and zakaski party foods. There is even a bibliography for further readings.
--CUBA! (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 250 pages, $40 CAD hardbound) is a travel food book which explores Cuba through its recipes and food stories. Photographers Dan Goldberg and Andrea Kuhn have visited the country off and on over five years. Jody Eddy did the text, and Mollie Hayward did the recipe development. There are 75 preps that are indicative of where Cuba is now in the food hierarchy. It ranges from the bites of pork and mango salsa through the grilled shrimp with sugarcane, fish with mojo, verdado lobster roll, pistachio pistou, and yucca fries – followed by the mains and usual sides and desserts. They have a discussion on the Cuban pantry, which contains conch, chorizo, mojo, plantains, and bijol. Excellent graphic design and layout and sharp travel notes about the food and the kitchens (commercial and family).
--ISRAEL EATS (Gibbs Smith, 2016, 240 pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is by Steven Rothfeld, who also did the photography. The  work is oversized, but this gives him more space to do a comprehensive survey of Israeli food through five areas: Tel Aviv, North, Jerusalem and Judean Hills,  Centre, and South. These are the innovative cooks of Modern Israel: farmers, chefs, local artisans. They all have stories and recipes to tell. So this is a memoir of travels with many photos of people, places, and 100 attributed dishes and recipes. Here the classic dishes are updated and contemporary new ones created. A tome for the fans of Yotam Ottolenghi.
--THE LOVE AND LEMONS COOKBOOK (Viking, 2016, 295 pages, $35 CAD hardbound) is by Jeanine Donofrio of It's subtitle is "an apple-to-zucchini celebration of impromptu cooking", with seasonal produce and savoury flavours. There are 100 vegetarian recipes here, drawn from her website, with vegan and gluten-free options. What is also good about the book is that she has some recipe variation charts for lots of comfort and homey foods.
--THE LONDON COOKBOOK (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 290 pages, $47 CAD hardbound) is by Aleksandra Crapanzano, with top log rolling from Yotam Ottolenghi ("London's favorite restaurants offering their favorite recipes"), Ruth Rogers ("uncover the city's best-kept culinary secrets"), Claudia Roden ("the best chefs behind it and their glorious dishes"), Daniel Humm ("a wonderful ode to this incredible food, this fascinating city, and its remarkable chefs"), Ruth Reichl ("irresistible portraits of the fascinating people who are changing the way we eat"), Danny Meyer ("winning collection of recipes") and Dan Barber ("deftly captures the pulse and vitality"). 100 eclectic preps from restos, dessert shops, coffee houses, cocktail lounges, and holes-in-the-wall – all adapted for the home kitchen.
--PURE ARTISTRY (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 342 pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is by Emily Lael Aumiller, who has come up with a variety of extraordinary special-occasion vegan and gluten-free cakes. These are recipes, techniques and designs from Brooklyn`s Lael Cakes. These cakes are all bright, playful, classic, geometric, and even dramatic. These are high end creations, and there are terrific pictures and technique instructions. The best recipes, to my mind, are the Mexican chocolate cake, the Madagascar vanilla bean cake, and the lemon poppy cake. Lael Cakes use a gluten-free flour blend of millet, tapioca, corn starch, potato starch, and brown rice flours.
--FAR AFIELD (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 304 pages, $54 CAD hardbound) is by Shane Mitchell (text) and James Fisher (photos). It is a large format travel title detailing rare food encounters from around the world. Many of the chapters were also published in travel and food magazines, but quite a few are new or redone. There are taro farmers in Hawaii, Icelandic shepherds still using Viking techniques,  gauchos in Uruguay, potato farmers in Peru, and fishermen in Kenya (among others). For each, there are texts, photos, and a handful of relevant recipes. The chapter dealing with tribeswomen of the India subcontinent include preps such as goat stew, raw mango chutney, stuffed peppers, and more. Given its size and price, this can be a pretty good coffee table tome!
--FRENCH COUNTRY COOKING (Clarkson Potter, 2016, 336 pages, $45 CAD hardbound) is by Mimi Thorisson, host of some French cooking shows and author of  "A Kitchen in France". It's about an old chateau in the Medoc region (No. 1 rue de Loudenne) that she and her husband Oddur have restored. It is basically meals and moments from a village in the vineyards (or so says the subtitle). There are notes on shopping, renovating and cooking as she meets the local farmers and artisans. Great photos by Oddur, but no wine recommendations. The recipes are sourced from her and the locals, and include such as guinea hen ravioli or pearl onion tarte tatin.
--THE ADVENTURES OF FAT RICE (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 312 pages, $47 CAD hardbound) is by Abraham Conlon, Adrienne Lo, and Hugh Amand. These are their collected recipes from the newly hot Chicago restaurant Fat Rice, which specializes in food from Macau (Portuguese-influenced SEA food, located an hour ferry ride from Hong Kong). As a trading port with spices, the city did a lot of curries as reflected in this cookbook. There is material about culture and about food plus a huge assortment of preps such as Min Chi (Macanese minced meat hash) or Po Kok Gai (chicken curry with chourico and olives). This is a good contribution to the international cookbook shelf.


The Event: Tasting of Beaujolais and Gamay arranged for the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada by Andre Proulx.

The Date and Time:   Saturday, November 26, 2016  Noon to 4PM
The Event: Tasting of Beaujolais and Gamay arranged for the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada by Andre Proulx.
The Venue: The Wine Writers' Circle of Canada Clubhouse
The Target Audience: members of the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada – expected audience of 12.
The Availability/Catalogue: all of the wine are available in Ontario.
The Quote/Background: It had taken some time to round up these wines, and we'd like to thank Sopexa for their strong participation.
The Wines:
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Jean-Michel Dupre Vieilles Vignes de 1935 Morgon 2014, $19.95 Vintages +440297
-Lucien Lardy Cote du Py Morgon 2014, $24.95 Vintages +468694
-Chateau de Pizay 2014 Morgon TBD France Sopexa
-Henry of Pelham 2015 Gamay $19.95 Niagara At Winery
-Chateau des Charmes 2015 Gamay Droit $17.95 Niagara Vintages +346742
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Jean-Michel Dupre Vieilles Vignes de 1940 Beaujolais Villages 2014, $16.95 Vintages +468710
-Lucien Lardy 2014 Beaujolais Villages Blanc price TBD  Hobbs & Co
-G Descombes 2014 Brouilly TBD France Sopexa
-Oak Bay 2012 Gamay $18.50 BC Okanagan At Winery
-Dominique Piron 2014 Chiroubles TBD France Lifford
-Chateau Thivin 2013 Cote De Brouilly TBD France Sopexa
-Chateau Bonnet 2013 Chenas TBD France Sopexa
-Grange of Prince Edward Select 2013 Gamay $22.95 PEC At Winery
-13th Street 2014 Sandstone Gamay $29.95 Niagara Vintages +130195
-13th Street 2015 Gamay $19.95 Niagara Vintages +177824
-Eastdell 2014 Gamay $13.95 Niagara LCBO +214890 
-Cave Spring Cellars 2014 Gamay $15.95 Niagara LCBO +228569 
-Malivoire 2015 Small Lot $19.95 Niagara At Winery
-Malivoire 2015 Le Coeur $24.95 Niagara At Winery
-Chateau des Charmes 2014 Gamay $14.95 Niagara LCBO +57349 
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Casa Dea 2014 Gamay $15.95 PEC At Winery
-Rezin 2013 Beaujolais TBD France Sopexa
-Georges Duboeuf 2014 Morgon - Cote De Py TBD France Philippe Dandurand Wines Ltd
-Grange of Prince Edward 2013 Gamay $16.95 PEC LCBO +615062 
-Malivoire 2014 Gamay $17.95 Niagara Vintages +591313
The Food: basic nuts, pretzels, breads, water
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 94.


Time for my annual Christmas Greeting to all my beloved friends and relatives...A Child's Christmas in Toronto

A Child's Christmas in Scarborough
By Howard Engel  (with apologies to Dylan Thomas)
Whenever I remember Christmas as a child in Scarborough Toronto, I can never remember whether the slush was new or old, or whether we lived on the sixth street north of the shopping plaza stoplights and I was seven years old, or whether it was the seventh street and I was six. But still my nose and fingertips tingle at the thought of Christmas in the row-housing, whose names rang their challenging, forlorn ways down to the fast-backed, nerve and gear-wracking lanes of the freeway: Elegance Manors, Tweedingham Mews, Buckingham Back Courts; and I am again a boy among boys, riding our crash-barred, chrome-bedazzling bikes through the supermarket swing doors, grabbing girls' toques and Popsicles in the Mac's Milk and diving with our arms spread to make angels in the snow-banks that the ploughs churned up, plunging our hands to the soggy, stitch-straining armpits and pulling out, as I am doing now, uncles with ham-red hands, scratchy and sizzling-hot in their wife-bought cable-knits and apr├Ęs ski, who through the live-long Christmas afternoons watched the Buffalo Bills and the Los Angeles Rams battling in full colour on a purple field, and sat through Sugar Bowls and Dust Bowls, Cotton and Flannel Bowls until the punch bowl was emptied for the last time and they moved up the queasy, shifting stairs from the rec-room to the hall. And clear as the chlorinated water in the taps, but not so clear as a secret rivulet in the snows that we boys found near the highway that was gone in the spring when the hill was cleared for a condominium, I see Uncle Harry turning away the Salvation Army girl at the door and making us all laugh as she fell on the path on the ice I should have chipped away.
Christmas in Scarborough was nothing if it was not families and laughter. But before the compacts and the late-models and the single sports car owned by Aunt Hetty, the divorcee, who bought the Fugs record, before the hoards of uncles and aunts and cousins jousted for a parking spot and the superintendent appeared to ask us to remove a car that had been parked in someone else's spot, there were the presents that smoothed Father's absence due to overtime, and Mother's voice raised in the kitchen downstairs while the supper held in the stove at low heat congealed.
And there were disappointments, for as one scavenged among boxes and ribbons and discarded batteries from robots that never worked, and broken strings from suddenly mute Talking Barbies, there had to be one, small, bright and unutterably just right present that lies forever hiding over the rim of memory even now, as I remember, I can see it dancing somewhere in the dark room before sleep, and even in the dreams of Christmas night, when I ran through the vanished fields of our subdivision and climbed and tumbled in the haylofts of the vanished barns, it was there amongst the ghosts of swallows and blue jays and horses -- all gone now, like the words we wrote in last year's snow: Fanny Hill puts out. And, in the moonlight in the dark of the yard unlit by streetlights because of Charlie's air rifle and where no car would desecrate its stillness and the dark velvet of its shadows with the cold incandescence of its lights, I crept close to the sleeping whaleback of the hay-breathing house. I stole past the oaken veneer majesty of my parents' door, and finally warm in the acrylic goose down of my bed above orchards and cockcrow and the sailing ship moon on the skating pond; I slept until dawn sped back the whole farm and the cattle and the soft-eyed horses back to the darkest corner of my room where the sun never shines and socks can sometimes be found amid the slut's wool.
And then it was afternoon: and all the cousins, friends of friends, who had been stuffed into spare rooms and cautioned to nap because they had stayed up all night in candy-caned anticipation of catching Santa and delayed for a day his return to the department store throne, were awakened and sent off into the streets. And, waking from a dream in which I chased the blue and white stocking-capped boys, bigger boys from the skating rink at City Hall, glimpsed once on television, I dress in my fur-lined boots, was stuffed into station wagons with protesting uncles who drove as though the football games of all the world were punting in the shadows of the last-minute goalposts. And then we were sliding down the slopes of everlasting snow, everlasting for as long as the machine flew Niagaras of chipped ice over its diesel-throbbing back. And there, in that spinning time, I have my ski-lift ticket stapled to me, as though I were my own receipt for being, and hug for dear day the live cable that pulls me to the top and almost doesn't let go, and then I am poised on last year's skis, and am ready to take my turn. And then I do that. And I do it again, and then I come home for tea, uncles and the barracks of my Christmas soon-to-be-forgotten child's life.
And I remember that Aunt Hetty, who was the centre of attention in the kitchen but was not allowed in to help with the gossip, lay stretched out on the Spanish sofa, her soft, brandy-breath keeping Ernie, her latest lover, stupefied. Then Uncle Herbert appeared from the depths of the basement like a drunken porpoise and chased the whole kitchen gaggle with a plastic spring of mistletoe, and came to a bad end with his elbow in the gravy boat. Then Father phoned from Number 41 Station to say that he had been in the eggnog again and that he would be detained, and Mother drank the cooking sherry, and the turkey went unbasted. Then Uncle Frank who had been a stockbroker and then a convict tried again to dance the Windfall of '65 and fell through the picture window. Then the neighbours knocked on the wall and we knocked on the neighbour's wall and then the police came.

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