"Tulip and Parsley " (2007) by Galina Stepanoff-Dargery
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BEST NEW FOOD AND DRINK BOOKS FOR SUMMER by John Mariani
NEW YORK CORNER: Elettaria by John Mariani
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: Do the 2005 White Burgundies Wear the Emperor’s New Clothes? by John Mariani
NEW FOOD AND DRINK BOOKS FOR SUMMER
The time to relax and read is upon us, and while most food and drink books are made to be glanced at while cooking or drinking, a notable few are an interesting for the way they are researched and written as for their good taste. Here are some of the new ones stacked up by my chaise lounge this summer, a pitcher of daiquiri nearby.
THE GREAT WALL: Recipes and Travels in the Other China by
Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid (Artisan, $40)--Another great big,
heavy, well-illustrated tome by the authors of the award-winning Hot
Sour Salty Sweet, this is a lavish production that takes the
far outside the city eateries designed for tourists into regions as
remote as Golmud, the Aktai Mountains, and Mongolia in search of the
vast array of cuisines that make up the gastronomy of this highly
diverse country. The recipes seem to be as close as possible to
RALPH BRENNAN'S NEW ORLEANS SEAFOOD
COOKBOOK by Ralph Brennan, with Gene Bourg (Vissi d'Arte
Books, $45)--Odd, really, that a city so based on its seafood has never
had a first-rate seafood cookbook. Ralph Brennan, who owns Redfish
Grill among other restaurants in the Big Easy, has given the city and
us what it has long needed, full of tantalizing Louisiana recipes and a
text by local food writer Gene Bourg who knows everything worth knowing
about the local food and drink. Kerri McCaffety's photos are, as
always, revealing of all that makes this food so irresistible.
DRINKING by Kingsley Amis (Bloomsbury, $19.99)--Could their
possibly be a duller title for some of the sprightliest writing about
the joys of imbibing? The late Mr. Amis, who certainly did plenty of
on-site research on the subject of cocktails, gives us some hilarious
takes on old cocktails, new cocktails, his cocktails. There is a
terrific essay on hangovers, and even some fun quizzes at the
end. Did you know that after the battle of Trafalgar, Admiral
Nelson's body was shopped back in a cask of rum?
. . .
AND A FEW MORE JUST FOR THE RECIPES
Without a Doubt by Rick Moonen and Roy Finamore
Stein's Complete Seafood by Rick Stein
Great Big Butter Cookbook edited by Diana von Glahn
by Paul Cuvelier
Fresh by Joyce Goldstein
Baker's Odyssey by Greg Patent
whole trendy idea of
what used to be called "fusion cuisine" used to bug me, not because
crossbreeding food cultures is a bad idea in itself but because so many
early practitioners hadn't a clue how to go about it, having spent ten
days in Bangkok or a fortnight in Tuscany or a weekend cooking class in
Morocco, only to return to the U.S. and start mixing everything up
without having grown up or trained in the cuisine. The results
were usually dreadful.
Elettaria is open for
FROM THE WINE CELLAR
Do the 2005 White Burgundies Wear the Emperor’s New Clothes?
by John Mariani
In his new, comprehensive book, The Wines of Burgundy (U. of California Press, 878 pages), Master of Wine Clive Coates awards the 2005 vintage of white burgundies 18.5 points out of 20—“fine plus.” He also blasts the wine media—especially Americans—for simply not understanding Burgundy and for carping that it is overpriced, calling critics “often misinformed or just plain pig-ignorant.”
I certainly do not pretend to possess Coates’s experience in tasting burgundy, but I think I can tell when a vaunted wine is simply not very enticing, especially at prices well above $50 a bottle. The very finest white burgundies, like the 2005 Domaine Romanée-Conti Montrachet, are selling for up to $5,000 a bottle.
Assuming wines of that order and rarity will always sell to people who may or may not ever drink them, most of us are left to ferret out good white burgundies at prices somewhat easier to afford. That was my modus operandi in sampling a slew of various white burgundies from 2005, none more than $85. This price category is not, I’m sorry to report, where the much-touted brilliance of the 2005s shines.
From Volnay to Meursault, from Chablis to Chassagne-Montrachet, the wines in this under $100 price level are pleasant white wines but nothing to rave about. And although white burgundy lovers insist the wines need another two to four years of age, I found little in those I sampled to suggest they would get much better.
Truly boring was a Chassagne-Montrachet ($55) by Etienne Sauzet, whose reputation ranks high in Burgundy. I found the wine one-dimensional and without structure, its fruit and acids barely emerging.
Henri Boillot’s Meursault ($45) is entry level Meursault, a region that produces a tremendous amount of white wine in the Cote de Beaune. Neither indicative of any particular style nor distinctive enough to be readily identified as Meursault, this was a good white wine, nothing more or less.
Somewhat finer was a Louis Jadot Meursault, at $37 a very nice example of what this varietal can be—very dry from the clay and pebbled soil, but with warmer chardonnay butter notes.
Then there is good old dependable Chablis, which at its best is a sturdy, flinty, dependable white burgundy whose charms are not expected to be too lush. A Joseph Drouhin at $20 was delightful for all those reasons, and at a price where I think Chablis is best enjoyed with a platter of iced shellfish.
One might argue, Clive Coates among them, that I was tasting the lesser white wines of Burgundy, no premier or grand cru. But for that I would have had to spend much more money. For the prices I did pay, I know plenty of wonderful white wines, including chardonnays from California, Italy, and elsewhere that would give me much more pleasure and much more to enthuse about.
John Mariani's weekly wine column appears in Bloomberg Muse News, from which this story was adapted. Bloomberg News covers Culture from art, books, and theater to wine, travel, and food on a daily basis, and some of its articles play of the Saturday Bloomberg Radio and TV.
FOOD WRITING 101; Try to Vary
Your Use of Adjectives
“MacArthur’s: Terrific fried chicken. . .”
“Take Five: . . . a terrific fish taco, meatball wedge. . .”
“Smoque BBQ: Terrific ribs. . . “
“Wholly Frijoles: . . . mango cheesecake, and it was terrific.”
--Pat Bruno, “Dining,” Chicago Sun-Times (May 16, 2008).
Beginning this week on the first Wednesday of each month Morton's The Steakhouse Buckhead
holds “Wine Down Wednesdays” From 5:30 to 7 p.m., $12 buys guests
a generous sampling of 3-4 wines plus complimentary appetizers. Call
On June 10 at NYC’s Adour,
François Parent Burgundy Winemaker & Vineyard Owner, will be
guest at a 4-course dinner by Chef Tony Esnault. $400, Call
* On June 19 the 2008 Taste of Cambridge, the 6th annual charitable food festival, highlights the diverse restaurants that Cambridge, MA, has to offer, at 100-800 Technology Square, Cambridge . New additions incl. a pastry corner, charcoal grills, and a VIP area and some returning favorites such a Chef’s Hat Raffle and of course live music. To benefit Community Servings and Harvard Square Homeless Shelter. $50 in advance, $60 at the door; VIP tickets $75. Visit: www.tasteofcambridge.com
* On June 21 in San Francisco Masa's Restaurant announces the return
of guest chef, Richard Reddington for a 25th Anniversary, with Masa’s
current chef Gregory Short $195 pp. with wine pairings offered by
Master Sommelier Alan Murray. Visit or call 415-989-7154.
* On June 23 a Justin Winery dinner will be held at Four Seasons Resort Lana`i, The Lodge at Koele, Hawaii. Executive Sous Chef Fabrice Huet and special guests Deborah and Justin Baldwin, proprietors of Justin Winery, will plan a meal, for $125 pp. Call (808) 565-2335.
* On June 24 Chef Anthony Susi of Sage Restaurant in Boston, prepares
a 5-course dinner created around the Estate Wines of Sardinia’s Sella
& Mosca. $65 pp. Call 617-248-8814 or visit
* On June 25 & 26 in Dallas, 62 Main will be holding two events back to back with importer Jack Jelenko. Wednesday, June 25th will be a Mandois Champagne dinner. $89 pp. and on the 26th Maison Park Cognac and cigar night in our Bar on 2. $55 pp. Visit www.62mainrestaurant.com.
Everett Potter's Travel Report:
I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler, ForbesTraveler.com and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star places as five-star experiences." To go to his blog click on the logo below: THIS WEEK: An interview with Bob Spitz, author of The Saucier's Apprentice: One Long Strange Trip Through the Great Cooking Schools of Europe; A Walking Tour in Tuscany; Richard West on The Geography of Bliss
Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contrinbutor John A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio. He is also the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, and his past reviews can be accessed at KNPR.org. Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.
Tennis Resorts Online: A Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991). THIS WEEK: A Report on The Four Seasons Jackson Hole. Click on the logo below to go to the site.
MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Robert Mariani, Naomi Kooker, Suzanne Wright, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery, Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.
Any of John Mariani's books below
may be ordered from amazon.com by clicking on the cover image.