Holiday Gifts for Wine Lovers (November 18, 2004)
by Dean Tudor
It gets harder each year to match up the recipient with the gift
there are so many new and newish items out there! But I have cast the
web and I have come up with a decent selection to satisfy any pocketbook
and any friend.
I begin with an assortment of new toys and gadgets. One new item is
the Wine Prism, a glass straw with a hole in the side. You suck in wine,
and the hole helps to aerate it. Not for everyday drinking, but for tasting
the first, finest moments of a quality wine. I have tried it, and it works.
It even makes cheap wine taste good on the initial palate. It comes in
a carrying case, so you can take it to wine tastings. Worth a try, at
US$20 or so, through www.wineprism.com
or 1-800-322-8878. Another gadget is the Breville Wine Chiller. It chills
a room-temperature bottle of wine in about 5 minutes, without ice, making
it ideal for spontaneous/impromptu gatherings. There is a coolant (which
must be pre-frozen), a timer, and an insulated carry bag. An Australian
product, about $70 in Canada (www.breville.ca).
Software this year has gone big and small. First the small. Tony Aspler
has a wine program and tasting notes for the PDA, his Pocket
Wine Cellar, which comes with membership in TonyAspler.com. There
is also "Parker in Your Palm," a Robert Parker software for
the PDA. The stand-alone version (US$49.95) includes a database of 5,000
affordable wines from recent vintages. The version for eRobertParker.com
subscribers is $29.95, and allows downloading of as many wines as can
be stored on the available memory of your PDA. You can do a text search,
a specified criteria search, or a vintage chart search.
Now the big. There are online versions of cellar software, developing
high-tech ways for collectors to manage their bottles. The on-line inventory,
which you can look at from any computer with Internet access, gives you
the chance to monitor the size, the value, the purchases, the drinkability
dates, and even wine futures. Vinfolio is a company that helps customers
create an inventory in their own home or at the company's warehouse. Through
the company, you can photograph each bottle, enter it into a web database,
and label it with a bar code. Changes are easy: after consuming or purchasing,
just wave a wand over the label. Unfortunately, it only works in the US.
Other countries have a send in a spreadsheet of their collection to be
imported into the VinCellar software that is used. Vintrust is another
firm. CellarTracker, though, is free for use. However, you have to manually
input your data and changes. About 1500 collectors use CellarTracker,
with over 300,000 bottles in the collective databases. There is also a
chat room for discussions about wine. collecting, vintages, TNs, etc.
In between, of course, there are the software programs that run on your
own PC. They all seem to come out of Australia or New Zealand must
be something about being antipodean. The latest is The Uncorked Cellar,
from Australia. In addition to the usual database setup, it also has updates
three times a year, with new material about wines and software upgrades.
You can, of course, arrange and sort, and search for wines. It has a fairly
complete guide to wines as well. You can see and print graphs, do advanced
searches, lists of wines by year, peak periods of maturation, printable
tags for the cellar, etc. There is a free evaluation copy for sixty days.
The Full Mode will then cost you $99 Australian. There are less expensive
versions of Uncorked Cellar, but they do not have the full functionality.
Contact email@example.com for
Stocking stuffers are at the top of everybody's gift list: something
affordable ($1030) that can also double as a host gift, something
small and lightweight. In the past few years, card sets have developed.
Silverback, through Whitecap, has a series of "Smarts" games.
There are FOODSMARTS (Whitecap, 2004, ISBN 0-9721876-2-6, $29.95) and
WINESMARTS (Whitecap, 2004, ISBN 0-9721876-0-X, $29.95), which are boxed
sets of 100 question-and-answer cards, divided into four categories: ingredients
or grapes, vocabulary, regions or cuisines, and wild cards. Each has a
12-page tip guide plus a score sheet. Lots of fun for over the holidays.
THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE DECK (Chronicle Books, 2004; distr. Raincoast, ISBN
0-8118-4344-0, $20.95) presents 60 recipe cards for traditional favourites
(gingerbread, Lebkuchen, Norwegian lace cookies, brownie cookies) and
some contemporary ones too. Perfect for that cookie exchange you've always
wanted to start. Also from Chronicle Books is THE BUBBLY DECK (ISBN 0-8118-4296-7,
$20.95), a 50-card set detailing the history, the vocabulary, the food
pairing, the toasts, plus 40 recipes for such as Kir Royale and Champagne
Sunsets and the classic sugar cube Champagne Cocktail. PARTY DRINKS (Ryland
Peters & Small, 2004; distr. Thomas Allen, ISBN 1-84172-771-7, $19.95)
goes with PARTY FOOD (ISBN 1-84172-770-9, $19.95). Both are collections
of 40 laminated cards with colour photos. Party Drinks includes recipes
for margaritas, coolers, champagne cocktails, martinis, while Party Foods
has mini wraps, spiced nuts, potato skins, and sweets too.
Other non-book stuffers include themed mini notebooks from Ryland Peters
& Small, distributed by Thomas Allen, specifically, CELLAR NOTES (ISBN
1-84172-749-0, $9.95) and RECIPE NOTES (ISBN 1-84172-747-4, $9.95). Each
book has 96 lined pages, a wire-o-binding, and an elastic closure band.
The wine book has space for white wine, red wine, sparklers. The food
book has soups and salads, eggs and cheese, pasta and rice, fish and meat,
sweets and party food. Both books are meant for those people who need
organizing. WINENOTES (Silverback, 2004; distr. Whitecap, ISBN 0-9721876-1-8,
$19.95) has 150 pages for notes (two wines to a page), plus tips on decoding
wine labels, grape varieties, and even regional maps. Portable, of course,
for that wine tour of Okanagan or Finger Lakes or Niagara, Napa, Sonoma,
Willamette, etc. One drawback: the book has no space for rosé,
so do not taste any of them.
Calendars are monster hits, both wall and desk. The best of the desk
are the two "page-a-day" calendars from Workman (distr. Thomas
Allen). THE WINE LOVER'S CALENDAR 2005 (ISBN 0-7611-3174-4, $14.95) has
been put together by Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible. There
is a new varietal highlighted each month, tips galore for pouring and
tasting, food and wine matching, etc. etc. 137 "must try" wines
are highlighted. 365 BOTTLES OF BEER FOR THE YEAR 2005 (ISBN 0-7611-3349-6,
$14.95) is by Bob Klein, author of The Beer Lover's Rating Guide. Most
of the beers appear as imports in Canada, but otherwise there are few
Canadian brews here. Other material here includes beer festivals, beer
facts, label lore and vocabulary. If you buy and of the PAD calendars,
then you can go online to the website and pick up other stuff, usually
There is a category of foodbooks called "little cookbooks";
these are usually placed at POS (point-of-sales) spots. I have located
a very good collection, mainly from Celestial Arts and distributed by
Ten Speed Press. Most of these books have no index, which is regrettable.
There is VERY PESTO (ISBN 1-58761-208-9, $8.95 paper), with 30 recipes
(17 for herb pestos) for pasta, appetizers, salads, and sides and pizza.
It was originally available in 1985. VERY SALAD DRESSING (ISBN 1-58761-209-7,
$8.95 paper) has 50 recipes, involving oil and vinegar dressings, creamy
salad dressings, dressings with fruits and vegetables and marinades. It
was first published in 1997. THE ASPARAGUS FESTIVAL COOKBOOK (ISBN 1-58761-174-0,
$8.95 paper) was first published in 1986; it has the winning recipes from
the Stockton California Asparagus Festival, a three-day event drawing
100,000 eaters. There are about 50 recipes here, including desserts.
Some small, nifty pocket reference guides can be useful for furtive
browsing to show off your expertise. There is DIM SUM (Chronicle Books,
2004; distr. Raincoast, ISBN 0-8118-4178-2, $10.95 paper), which is a
pictorial guide to all the main dishes (shrimp dumplings, etc.) plus chopstick
usage and etiquette. Categories include steamed, deep fried, pan fried,
congee, and desserts. All in 80 pages. HarperCollins has a Gems series.
There is COLLINS GEM WHISKY (HarperCollins, 2004, 239 pages, ISBN 0-00-714411-3,
$11.95 paper covers) by Carol P. Shaw. It was first published in 1993;
this is the latest edition with updates to single malts and their marketing.
150 Scotches are covered. There are details of age, strength, and taste
rating, with lots of small but useful photos. There is even a history
and description of miniatures, plus website data. COLLINS GEM HERBS AND
SPICES (HarperCollins, 2004, 240 pages, ISBN 0-00-712197-0, $11.95 paper
covers) covers 90 herbs and spices, with usage in cooking and medicine.
Material includes home cultivation and subsequent storage. Like the Scotch
book, the arrangement is alphabetical from "alecost" to "yarrow,"
each with a colour photograph.
There is a sub-category of stocking stuffers that is really appreciated
by wine and food lovers: the ANNUAL. Most of these books are pocket guides,
at least the wine ones are. The food books are regular-sized. There is
THE BEST AMERICAN RECIPES 2004/2005: the year's top picks from books,
magazines, newspapers and the Internet (Thomas Allen, 2004, ISBN 061845506X,
300 pages, $37.95) is out for the sixth time. All recipes (for all courses)
are sourced, such as New York Times, Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Saveur,
email lists, cookbooks (Flay, Bertolli, Bayless, Trotter, Lawson)
even flyers. All are retested in the publisher's test kitchens, and comments
are added about any difficulties or how to fix things. Trends noted include
the use of silicone tools in the kitchen, the return of pecorino Romano,
grinding your own spices, and the resurgence of Scandinavian foods. BEST
OF THE BEST; the best recipes from the 25 best cookbooks of the year (American
Express, 2004; distr. Canadian Manda Group, ISBN 1-932624-00-7, 287 pages,
$44.95) is similarly shaped. More than 100 recipes, about four from each
book, all re-tested. Cookbooks include "From Emeril's Kitchen",
Nigella Lawson's "Forever Summer", Bouley's "East of Paris",
Wolfert's "The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen". This is its seventh
year of production.
On to the wine annuals. The leaders are HUGH JOHNSON'S POCKET WINE BOOK
2005 (Mitchell Beazley, 2004; distr. McArthur, ISBN 1-84000-895-4, 288
pages, $19.95) and OZ CLARKE'S POCKET WINE GUIDE 2005 (Harcourt Books,
2004; distr. Raincoast, 320 pages, $20). Both are guides to wines from
all around the world, not just to the "best" wines. Similarities:
Johnson claims 6000 wines are listed, while Clarke says 7000. News, vintage
charts and data, glossaries, best value wines, and what to drink now are
in both books. The major differences: Johnson has been at it longer and
has more respect for his exactitude and scholarliness. His book is arranged
by region; Clarke's book is in dictionary, AZ form. It is really
six of one, half a dozen of another.
Almost annual is MICHAEL JACKSON'S COMPLETE GUIDE TO SINGLE MALT SCOTCH
(Running Press, 2004; distr. HarperCollins, ISBN 0-7624-1313-1, 448 pages,
$38.50), now in its fifth edition. The history and corporate sections
have been revised and brought forward. There is a dictionary arrangement
for the single malts, arranged by distillery. More than one thousand TNs
are complemented by sharp photos of the distilleries. A mammoth undertaking
at a value price. Also almost annual is the WINDOWS ON THE WORLD COMPLETE
WINE COURSE: 2005 EDITION (Sterling Books, 2004, distr. by Canadian Manda,
ISBN 1-4027-1733-4, $37.95), an absolute bargain, written and revised
by Kevin Zraly. It was last published two years ago. Unfortunately, Windows
of the World went down on 9/11, but it continues to live on through the
new editions. This is one of the best of the introductory wine course
books, with basic data supplemented by a generous selection of "questions
and answers". There is a newer North American wine supplement with
maps and AVAs explained. Full-colour labels and more maps complement the
region-by-region vintage analyses.
Other wine annuals deal with recommended wines. They can afford the
space for more, in depth TNs. THE WINE LIST 2005: the top 250 wines of
the year (Headline Books, 2004, distr. McArthur, ISBN 0-7553-1250-3, 240
pages, $18.95 paper covers) is by Matthew Jukes, wine writer for the Daily
Mail. His annual has been published since 2002. Although British in orientation,
the 250 wines chosen as the best usually appear in Canada. Full TNs, along
with advice on food matching with wines and a gazetteer of the best wine
estates in the world. The six major categories are covered (red, white,
rose, sparkling, sweet, fortified). You can match this annual with ANDREA
IMMER'S 2005 WINE BUYING GUIDE FOR EVERYONE (Broadway Books, 2004, ISBN
0-7679-1545-3, 255 pages, $17.95), which is her third edition. She looks
at 650 top wines as found in many US stores and regular restaurants. Her
choices are also available in Canada from time to time (200 wines were
changed this year from the 2004 edition). There are comments on each wine
from both consumers and wine trade professionals, along with TNs and a
pronunciation guide. There is a section on new trends: prices up, Two
Buck Chuck, pinot grigio, Chilean reds, Tuscan reds, Shiraz peaking. FOOD
& WINE MAGAZINE'S WINE GUIDE 2005 (American Express, 2004; distr.
by Canadian Manda Group, ISBN 0-916103-98-6, 320 pages, $17.95) offers
notes on 1400 wines from all over the globe; there are plenty of European
wines here. Sections cover the elements of tasting, a Wine Value Finder
(a listing of 50 rated wines that offer the best value for the price:
thankfully, only one chardonnay is listed). Glossaries, guides, tips,
matches, best of lists it goes on and on. Again, many of the wines
can be found in Canada.
Coffee-table books have their place in the gift scheme: just about every
such book is only bought as a gift! In addition, do not let the prices
daunt you. Most expensive books are available at a discount from Amazon.Ca
or Indigo with free delivery thrown in, above a certain price (usually
$39). This year's alcohol parade is led by SCOTCH WHISKY: a liquid history
(Cassell Illustrated, 2003; distr. by Canadian Manda Group, 288 pages,
ISBN 1-84403-078-4, $59.95), authored by Charles MacLean, who has been
a prolific writer on whisky for over 20 years. Most recently, he has been
Editor at Large of Whisky Magazine. The oversized book has historical
photos, corporate histories, the development of the drink, some data on
temperance movements and modern day operations. The style is largely anecdotal
in a posh presentation. From the wine side, there are three definite winners.
One is BURGUNDY AND ITS WINES (Raincoast, 2004, 144 pages, ISBN 1-55192-665-2,
$39.95), by Nicholas Faith with Andy Katz photos. It is in the same series
as Bordeaux and Its Wines (Joseph) and Tuscany and Its Wines
(Johnson). Material covers the culture, history, landscapes, peoples,
foods and wines. It is meant for the traveler (armchair or otherwise),
but attempts to cover "thousands of stubbornly individualistic wine-makers".
The second is WINES OF SOUTH AMERICA (Mitchell Beazley, 2003; distr. by
McArthur, 192 pages, ISBN 1-84000-609-9, $60), by Monty Waldin, who has
worked around the world for a range of wine producers in Bordeaux, Chile,
California and Germany. He is also a free-lance writer, winning a major
prize for his "Organic Wine Guide" in 1999. The gorgeous pictures
are by Jason Lowe. There are lots of interviews and quotes from sources.
Chile gets 80 pages, Argentina has 60 pages, even Uruguay gets 26. Bolivia,
Brazil, Peru and Venezuela have a handful. Key facts, maps, notes on producers,
but no TNs. The third is NAPA VALLEY (Chronicle Books, 2004; distr. Raincoast,
ISBN 0-8118-4088, 120 pages, $27.95 paper covers), now in its fourth edition
(first published in 1993). The glossy book has great photos from Richard
Gillette, and states which wineries have the best architecture, panorama
view, art works on view, gardens, picnic sites. There are sections on
local history and winemaking, winery tours, best times to come to Napa,
directory data. Twenty-eight major wineries are covered. The fourth is
an omnium gatherum of wine history: THE STORY OF WINE: new illustrated
edition (Mitchell Beazley, 2004; distr. McArthur, ISBN 1-84000-972-1,
256 pages, $50) by the prolific Hugh Johnson. It was originally issued
in 1989 to accompany his TV series of the time. Now it has been revised,
condensed, and updated through the past fifteen years to take into account
the dramatic upsurge of the New World, previously almost ignored in his
series. A fabulous presentation of words and illustrations (almost all
historical), marred somewhat by the non-inclusion of icewine. The first
edition was the winner of EIGHT major book awards!
The food parade of coffee-table books is gastroporn at its excessive
best. I have reviewed many expensive books in my monthly column, and all
of those books had extensive recipes. Here, I will just cover the more
juicy ones, the one with few recipes. First up is PIERRE GAGNAIRE: reflections
on culinary artistry (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2003; distr. by Canadian
Manda Group, 240 pages, ISBN 1-58479-316-3, $75), by the eponymous Michelin
three-starred chef. He opened his first restaurant in 1980 in France.
He also owns Sketch in London. There are no recipes in this book,just
mouth-drooling photos of his creations, photographed between January and
November 2000. This is great photography (by Jean Louis Bloch Linee) of
finished preps, plus zooms and close-ups. There are 170 dishes here, in
full colour. Gagnaire became famous for his architectural nature, both
horizontal and vertical. And you can plainly see that in the photos. FOOD
AND TRAVELS ASIA (Mitchell Beazley, 2004; distr. McArthur, ISBN 1-84000-907-1,
240 pages, $50) is by Alastair Hendry, a renowned food writer and photographer
who has won multiple awards. Here he travels to Burma, India, Thailand,
Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, and Bali. These are stories of home-cooking,
with photographed people, places, and things, not to mention some recipes.
An interesting travelogue. BRINGING TUSCANY HOME: sensuous style from
the heart of Italy (Broadway Books, 2004; distr. by Random House, 228
pages, ISBN 0-7679-1746-4, $42) is by Frances Mayes, successful author
of Under the Tuscan Sun and other books dealing with Tuscany. This
one appears to be the next logical development, and is being heavily promoted
for this season. It is mainly about home decorating with a side on cooking-eating-drinking:
how to choose a Tuscan colour palette and personalize a room, how to cultivate
a Tuscan garden, how to set a Tuscan table, what is in the Tuscan kitchen
and larder (olive oil, limoncello, panini, pesto), and Tuscan wines (too
brief). Great photos of Tuscan Villa lifestyle, but only 25 recipes. There
are resource lists for shoppers and travelers on where to find Tuscan
At the other end of the coffee table books is FOOD: a culinary history
from antiquity to the present (Penguin Books, 2004, ISBN 0-14-029658-1,
592 pages, $37.50 paper covers). It was first published in Rome in 1996,
then in English by Columbia University Press, and is now available as
a Penguin paperback. J.L. Flandrini and M. Montanari did the editorial
work. It deals with many origins, with a mostly European perspective on
food history. There are reproductions of art works, but all are in black
and white only. They editors try to address the question: "why are
the same foods prepared differently in different countries?" Economic
and demographic factors play a hand. They contend also that the roots
of modern culinary history lie deep within France. That may be so, but
the symbolic aspects of eating still need to convince me. Nevertheless,
an affordable posh-looking book that makes you think.
For the more literate person, there are, of course, NOVELS on a wine
theme. Leading this year's crush is Peter Mayle's A GOOD YEAR (Knopf,
2004, 287 pages, ISBN 0-375-40591-7, $34), which stars Max Skinner as a
fish-out-of-water vineyard owner in Provence (his late uncle left it to
him). There are lots of comely wenches, food and wine in this book of
great fun. Mayles is the author of A YEAR IN PROVENCE. This is his
ninth book and fifth novel.
And let's not forget Canada's leading wine novelist, Tony Aspler. It's
murder in the wine business, he says punningly. He is the creator of three
vintage mystery novels in which Ezra Brant (an internationally known wine
writer) solves an intriguing series of murders in three of the world's
most renowned wine regions. Along the way, Brant tastes his way through
the fascinating inner sanctum of the wine world, from exclusive award
ceremonies to centuries-old and suspenseful wine cellar. So follow Tony
Aspler's fictional wine writer-detective in BLOOD IS THICKER THAN BEAUJOLAIS,
THE BEAST OF BARBARESCO, and DEATH ON THE DOURO. An ideal Christmas gift
for the wine lover/mystery buff in your life. All copies are autographed.
One title: $12 + $6 postage/handling + GST. Set of three: $30 + $8 postage/handling
+ GST. To order, just stop by the order page.
Related to novels are the "memoirs" of writers, chefs, and
wine people. Some have called these memoirs "creative non-fiction,"
suffering from embellishments and gilding. And also suffering from a lack
of indexing. Nevertheless, they are rewarding to read. Who cares about
poetic license? Here then are some that stood out from last year's run,
and any of them would make great gifts for the reader. SHAKEN AND STIRRED:
through the martini glass and other drinking adventures (HarperCollins,
2004, ISBN 0-06-074044-2, 192 pages, $25.50) is by William L. Hamilton.
This is a guide to the after-five lifestyle in New York. Hamilton writes
the bi-weekly "Shaken and Stirred" column for the New York
Times "Style" section, and this is a collection of his essays:
40 columns expanded, along with 25 unpublished efforts. Go on a pub crawl
to the various lounges and bars in NYC. Or stay home and make drinks from
his 60-plus recipes. THE ART OF EATING (John Wiley, 2004, ISBN 0-7645-4261-
3, 784 pages, $31.99 paper) is by M.F.K. Fisher. This is the classic collection,
first published in 1954 as a gathering of five of her food books: Serve
It Forth, Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf, The
Gastronome and Me, and An Alphabet for Gourmets. It has now
been reissued as a "50th Anniversary Edition" in an affordable
paperback, with various appreciations written by people most affected
by her (Julia Child, Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl, James Villas). FORK IT
OVER: the intrepid adventures of a professional eater (HarperCollins,
2004, ISBN 0-06- 058629-X, 324 pages, $34.95) is by Alan Richman, an 11-time
James Beard award winner. The majority had appeared in GQ and Food & Wine
magazines. Here are restaurant reviews and anecdotes from around the world.
Some of his wittiest stuff was his article on wine expectoration (wine
spitting) and drinking wines with US wine collectors in restaurants in
France. Well worth a read.
On the road again we go with TASTING PLEASURE: confessions of a wine
lover (Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-027001-9, 342 pages, $22.99 paper covers),
which is Jancis Robinson's memoirs: who she meets, where she goes, how
she got started, and even some tasting notes. She's the editor of Oxford
Companion to Wine and has been slowly assuming responsibility for
Hugh Johnson's wine book properties. IS THERE A NUTMEG IN THE HOUSE? (Penguin
Books, ISBN 0-14-029290-X, 322 pages, $20.99) is by Elizabeth David, a
sequel to An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. Both books were published
posthumously. Both are anthologies, a selection of her published writings,
as well as material from her files, letters and notes, never before published,
from the 1950s through to 1980s. Plus 150 recipes of every sort (all indexed,
of course). LOVE AND SWEET FOOD: a culinary memoir (Thomas Allen, 2004,
ISBN 0-88762-153-8, $24.95) comes from the pen of Austin Clarke, a Giller
Prize-winning author who has detailed his basic Barbados roots. These
are the food memories and recipes from his childhood, concentrating on
chicken, rice, okra, salt, and beef (when available). Here you will find
smoked ham hocks with lima beans, pigtails and rice, kingfish and white
rice, split-pea soup, pepper pot pelau, oxtails with mushrooms and rice.
The recipes are in a separate section, and unfortunately, there is no
index to the recipes nor to the memoirs. A THOUSAND DAYS IN TUSCANY: a
bittersweet adventure (Workman, 2004; distr. Thomas Allen, ISBN 1-56512-392,
$35.95) is by Marlena de Blasi, who also wrote A Thousand Days in Venice.
She (an American chef and journalist) and her Italian husband are now
repairing an old stable to live in. There is no phone, no central heating,
no real kitchen. Gee, life is tough. De Blasi goes down the fish-out-of-water
path, describing her life with the locals, the food, and the wines. She
combs the outdoor markets, harvests grapes, goes to an olive mill, and
the like. There are a few recipes scattered through the book. GREEK SALAD:
a Dionysian travelogue (Wine Appreciation Guild, 2004, 279 pages, $14.95US)
is by Miles Lambert-Gocs, a wine writer (he produced "The Wines of
Greece" for Faber and Faber). He covers in 26 humourous essays
three regions: the Aegean Islands and Crete, the Mainland, and
the Ionian Islands and Corfu. Just about everything happens in the tavernas.
The backdrop is local food and wine, plus the usual assortment of local
characters. There are even some regional maps, so that you can know where
Other related but non-vinous books include the remarkably efficient
RECIPE FILE (Ryland Peters and Small, 2004; distr. Thomas Allen, 144 pages,
ISBN 1-84172-762-8, $29.95), which was originally published in 2001 as
My Cooking Journal but has not been revamped. It's a place to keep
all the scraps of recipe cards, notes, lists, addresses, clippings, ideas,
in one place. It is organized on themes, so it becomes an elegant cookery
book, journal, notepad, and directory. There are lined sheets for your
own notes. There are also a few dozen classic recipes already in the book.
Physically, the book has folders, concealed wire bindings, and an elastic
banded closure to keep it all tidy.
Napkin folding has apparently gone "big business." I've reviewed
at least three guidebooks over the past two years, and there are two more
issued this year. THE ART OF NAPKIN FOLDING (Laurel Glen, 2004; distr.
by Raincoast, 64 pages, ISBN 1-59223-192-6, $21.95) is unique in that,
in addition to the illustrated book, there is a practice napkin. The book
is origami based (the author Gay Merrill Gross is an expert). The designs
are arranged in order of difficulty, and there are also unique table settings.
Gross also claims copyright for seven of the 35 designs. The other is
STYLISH NAPKINS (New Holland, 2003; distr. Canadian Manda, 64 pages, ISBN
1-84330-541-0, $22.95) which promises that the 20 napkin forms can be
done in five minutes each. It too seems to be origami-based, and the book
was originally published in 1998. the price difference can be put up to
the use of more colour in the New Holland book.
More next year... Have a Merry and a Happy... Dean Tudor