reference department. And what’s the fuss?
Start with the book’s dedication: “For those
who like to eat, drink,
and learn.” Don’t we all
want to feel we are that
kind of person? The author is a certified wine
expert who posits that
wine and cheese pairings
are one of the greatest
food and drink combinations we can experience. Now, he does
admit that being good at putting wine and
cheese together takes practice. To remove
any intimidation factor, Centamore offers a
clarifying, supportive, enthusiastic program
in pairing. The basic principles are explained
in clear terms. He highlights the important
considerations involved, such as determining
dominant flavors and textures. The question
of whether to complement or contrast is
addressed (all presented with the author’s admonition to like what you like and go with
your preferences). The heart—meat?—of the
book is a series of profiles of specific wines,
arranged by category: sparkling, white, red,
and dessert wines. For each wine, suggestions are made as to what kind of cheese goes
best. This primer ultimately inspires readers
to create successful pairings on their own.
The Thousand Dollar Dinner: America’s
First Great Cookery Challenge.
By Becky Libourel Diamond.
Oct. 2015. 272p. Westholme, $26 (9781594162312);
e-book (9781594166020). 642.5.
Cooking competitions existed long
before cable television made them the nation’s evening diversion. In 1851, New
York and Philadelphia vied for dominance
on the eastern seaboard. Manhattan’s famous Delmonico’s hosted a dinner for 15
Philadelphians to show off their gourmet
achievements. Not to be outdone, Quaker
City restaurateur James Parkinson invited
the New Yorkers to his eponymous eatery.
This dinner, a 12-hour feasting marathon,
astonished even tasted-it-all Gothamites
with its 17 exquisitely perfect courses paired
with the world’s finest wines. Researcher
Diamond spiritedly deconstructs the food
and drink from this lavish entertainment.
She does not go so far as to offer recipes, but
her sensible and sensitive detailed analyses of
each of the dozens of dishes virtually materialize them for the reader’s sight, smell, taste,
and touch. Although the age of this sort of
sumptuous banqueting has passed, contemporary tasting menus from acclaimed chefs
owe much to the precedents of feasts such
as this one. Includes extensive bibliography.
Women Chefs of New York.
By Nadia Arumugam.
Oct. 2015. 288p. illus. Absolute, $35 (9781632860767);
e-book (9781632860774). 641.14.
One chef’s guilty pleasure is powdered
cheese, another chef’s secret is using herb
purees as sauces, and another chef calls Au-
gust her favorite month in which to cook.
Although the 100 un-
usual recipes presented
here are certainly one
attraction of Arumu-
gam’s latest book (her
first was Chop, Sizzle &
Stir, 2009), interviews
one women chefs are, in
a word, mesmerizing. Far from being up-
and-comers, these cuisiners have more than
paid their dues and have been appropriately
honored, whether running a many-starred
restaurant, winning a James Beard award,
or appearing on the Top Chef television pro-
gram. April Bloomfield, of the Spotted Pig,
claims, “There are no rules to salad,” while
Leah Cohen, who specializes in Asian fu-
sion at an eating establishment called Pig
& Khao, offers her version of quail adobo.
Photographs of dishes and restaurant interi-
ors liberally augment the text. The dishes are
inventive and appealing; try Empire Diner
patty melt or smoked duck and soba or lime
chili doughnut holes. Perhaps novice cooks
and bakers should possess intermediate skills.