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My Ten Favorite Wine Books

Far fewer people read wine books than cookbooks. Many are written at a high level of scholarship by Masters of Wine (MW’s) for other wine connoisseurs. It’s harder to find an entertaining wine book penned by a professional writer.  A select number of authors are able to translate their immense wealth of knowledge into a useful book for the everyday wine explorer. My favorites among them:

Instructional: How to Taste: A Guide to Enjoying Wine by Jancis Robinson. I love the authority, friendliness, and practical tasting exercises in this book. There are theory and practice sections on wine tasting skills — different types of oak, regional differences, the impact of temperature, pairing. The book is written by a distinguished MW, columnist, TV personality and editor of the Oxford Companion to Wine. Continue reading

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My Favorite Cookbooks

While everyone’s an expert in the blogosphere, cook book writers with a distinctive voice and dependable information endure. I just attended a presentation, Food Writing Today: A Panel Discussion on Where We Are and Where We’re Going, organized by the NYWCA (New York Women’s Culinary Alliance), which hammered at this theme. The panel included Deb Perelman, author of the wildly popular blog,; Irena Chalmers, cooking school owner and author of Food Jobs; Judith Weber, a top literary agent; and Susan Schwartzman, a successful publicist, and was moderated by Sarah Moulton, chef, author and TV personality.

Despite being a nation of foodies, there have been serious cutbacks in cookbook publishing budgets. Publishers previously had cookbook editors; now, editors have broader responsibilities. Newspapers have in some cases abandoned their food sections. Continue reading

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Wine and Food – Cabernet Franc with Cheese and Two Great Sporting Events

Yesterday the roads were quiet, the beaches empty on the East End of Long Island. The weather was sunny and in the 40s, daffodils and bright yellow forsythia are in bloom, and grape buds were swelling.  It was a lovely afternoon for wine and cheese. We enjoyed Cabernet Franc with a selection of aged, mild, firm-textured cow’s milk cheeses. Try it with Cheddar, Gouda, Parmesan, Romano, Comté, Appenzeller, Manchego or Roncal. As with food pairing, look for a cheese which offers similar depth of flavor.

Also yesterday, Europe hosted two major sporting races, one by land and one by sea, but they were not quiet.

France hosted the very macho “Queen of the Classics” bike race, Paris Roubaix, that dates back to 1896 and includes 51.5k of bone-shaking, rough granite cobblestones along its 257.5k route. The Belgian superstar Tom Boonen easily won for the fourth time, tying Roger De Vlaeminck’s 4-win record.  One of the main contenders, Fabian Cancellara, broke his collarbone last week at the Tour of Flanders and could not compete, and two of the pre-race favorites, Filippo Pozzato and Thor Hushovd, crashed mid-race. Spectators get very close to the cyclists, crowd along the roads to cheer them on or take their pictures, and sometimes the racers have to push them away.

Also yesterday, London hosted The 158th Boat Race, which pits Oxford versus Cambridge along 4 miles of the Thames. The race was interrupted by an Australian swimmer who was protesting the race’s elitism, the race temporarily stopped, then one of the Oxford crew’s oars broke, Cambridge easily won, and the Oxford bow man, exhausted, had to be taken to the hospital. I saw this in person last year – it was a great big outdoor party where spectators sat along the banks of the river, happily sipped Pimms cocktails and enjoyed the pageantry.

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Wine and Food – French Brasserie Food and Cabernet Franc

Old fashioned, classic French dishes such as herbed roasted chicken with roasted potatoes or steak au poivre with French fries make great matches with Cabernet Franc. The wine has just the right amount of weight, tannin, acidity, fruit, earthiness and smoothness of texture to complement these familiar meals. Continue reading

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Wine and Food – Italian Dishes and Cab Franc

It’s comforting to remember the smell of garlic nuts at the local Italian restaurant when I was a kid, the midnight snack aroma of sausage and pepper heroes, the fragrance of risotto at a Milanese restaurant, the scent of caramelizing onions coming through the apartment door.  Hot and sweet sausages, porcini mushrooms, red onions, garlic and bell peppers all smell so good while they’re cooking. They’re full of flavor, full of comfort, and full of associations.

North Fork Cabernet Franc is a food friendly wine that goes well with Italian cuisine. Its berry and spice aromas, acidity, moderate alcohol, balanced acidity and fine soft tannins pair very well with these flavorful dishes. Continue reading

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Wine and Food – Cab Franc and Tex Mex

This time, leave the beer in the refrigerator. Cabernet Franc is really tasty with Tex Mex.

Also, make our own salsa sauce. You won’t regret it. The colors are brighter, the taste is zingier, the texture livelier. The ingredients are easy to find at the grocery store and don’t require any cooking. The basic recipe is a cinch– chop and macerate plum tomatoes or tomatillos, garlic, red bell peppers, jalapeño or serrano peppers, red onions, cilantro, lime, Continue reading

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