Pat and David

‘Family’ shows the way to fad-free vegetarian cooking

‘Family’ shows the way to fad-free vegetarian cooking

Cookbooks seem to run in phases. A few years ago, we saw a lot of volumes devoted to various ways of cooking meat, especially barbecue. And there are the perennial single-country cuisine books penned by veteran authors. Lately, vegetarian cookbooks by millennial food bloggers seem to dominate. But when we first looked at Hetty McKinnon's new book, Family, we missed the subtitle. We were simply struck by how delicious the recipes sounded. After flipping through, we looked again and realized the full name was Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day (Prestel Publishing; $35). McKinnon moved her restaurant, Arthur's Kitchen, from Sydney to Brooklyn a few years ago, and just continued making strikingly imaginative food that happens to be vegetarian. Maybe we should...Read More
Consider Mionetto Prosecco for the Easter table

Consider Mionetto Prosecco for the Easter table

We don't need a lot of persuasion to pour a glass of Prosecco. The bright, fruity wine—especially when it's produced with very little residual sugar—can be extremely food-friendly. Here in the U.S., we tend to treat Prosecco as an apéritif. The wine is native to the Veneto and Fruili-Venezia Giulia, and the Venetians and Friulani think of it as a wine to drink anytime. We agree. So this spring we tried out the most readily available Proseccos from Mionetto (usa.mionetto.com/us), an important producer in the village of Valdobbiadene and also the largest Prosecco importer in the U.S. We're told that Mionetto effectively introduced the wine to the mass market in America in 2000, so our hats are off to them for enriching American tables. Prosecco...Read More
‘Orange Blossom & Honey’ conjures memories of Marrakesh

‘Orange Blossom & Honey’ conjures memories of Marrakesh

We never had a bad meal in Marrakesh. Reading John Gregory-Smith's new cookbook, Orange Blossom & Honey: Magical Moroccan Recipes from the Souks to the Sahara (Kyle Books, $29.99) brings back delicious memories of smoky meat from the outdoor grills on Jemaa el Fna and tagines with the tangy flavor of preserved lemon served in pretty little restaurants with tables arrayed around burbling fountains. In a cooking class in the courtyard of a riad in the heart of the souk, we learned to make couscous “as light as air” and a variety of vegetable salads that have become mainstays of our diet. Here's a link to some of those recipes. As Gregory-Smith demonstrates, there's much more to discover about Moroccan cuisine. He traveled from “the...Read More
John Whaite views world through lens of comfort food

John Whaite views world through lens of comfort food

Comfort food is such a personal thing. For Pat's Irish-American family, it's a serving of champ, the rich dish of mashed potatoes and spring onions with lots of butter and cream. For David, it's cornbread like his Kentucky grandmother used to make with bacon drippings and unbolted meal. In his new book, Comfort: Food to Soothe the Soul (Kyle Books, $29.99), chef and cooking school proprietor John Whaite explores the taste of comfort around the world. He adds his own twist to traditional Mexican chilaquiles by adding eggplant and feta, uses sweet apricots to balance the heat of Scotch Bonnet peppers in West African Jollof rice, and tops a Scandinavian-style pizza with salmon fillets and pickled cucumber. But Whaite was raised in Lancashire in northwest...Read More
The Renaissance rises again in ‘The Chef’s Secret’

The Renaissance rises again in ‘The Chef’s Secret’

We always rely on food to open new places and experiences to us when we travel. But, on a recent cold night here in Boston, we were reminded that food can also be the key to other times and locales. Novelist and culinary enthusiast Crystal King has just published her second book, The Chef's Secret (Atria Paperback, Simon & Schuster, $16.99). To create an imagined life for Bartolomeo Scappi, the famous Renaissance-era chef who created over-the-top feasts for cardinals and popes, King studied his elaborate cookbook L'Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi (in a translation from the University of Toronto Press) and then let her imagination take over. “I thought what was his life like,” she told a small group gathered at Juliet restaurant in Somerville (www.julietsomerville.com)...Read More
Serve hearty soup and rustic bread for St. Patrick’s Day

Serve hearty soup and rustic bread for St. Patrick’s Day

No corned beef and cabbage for us this year. As we were contemplating a lighter meal to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, we turned to two new cookbooks by great Irish chefs. We've written before about Darina Allen, the cookbook author and co-founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School, which is located on an organic farm in County Cork. Her new book, Simply Delicious: The Classic Collection (2019, Kyle Books, $29.99), gathers some of her favorite recipes from her television cooking show and cookbook series of the same name. The 100 recipes illustrate Allen's love of traditional Irish cooking as well as her enthusiasm for cuisines around the world. They represent her straightforward approach to creating good, flavorful food. We have to admit that we were initially...Read More
Los Vascos: Carménère and all that jazz

Los Vascos: Carménère and all that jazz

We've written before about some of the wines from Viña Los Vascos (www.lafite.com/en/the-domaines/vina-los-vascos/), the Domaines Barons de Rothschild property in Chile's Colchagua Valley. We tasted the whole portfolio recently at a luncheon at Les Zygomates (winebar129.com/) bistro and wine bar in Boston. It confirmed our previous impression that the wines offer tremendous value. Moreover, the values aren't just on the bargain end. The 1,581-acre estate also produces an ultra-premium wine, Le Dix, with a depth and complexity that belies its $65 list price. Claudio Naranjo (above), the amiable general manager of Los Vascos, took us through the wines.  Most of the Chilean wines that reach New England hail from the historic Maipo Valley, but the 22 wineries of Colchagua, about two hours south of Santiago,...Read More
Finding a sprightly pairing for Boizel Brut Réserve

Finding a sprightly pairing for Boizel Brut Réserve

Champagne is the acknowledged queen of sparkling wines, but every regal house has its signature. Boizel champagnes from Épernay show an elegance and finesse that stems from using hand-harvested grapes from the top crus and blending the still wines of each year with wines reserved from the previous two harvests. This produces a year-to-year consistency that makes the non-vintage bottles best representative of the house style. Three years of bottle aging on the lees adds additional complexity. So when we acquired a Brut Réserve that had been disgorged at the end of 2016, we weren't quite sure what to pair with it. This particular champagne gains its floral bouquet from 30 percent Chardonnay, its lean structure from 55 percent Pinot Noir, and a delicious fruitiness...Read More
Everything old is new again, especially in Limoux

Everything old is new again, especially in Limoux

The Benedictine monks at the St. Hilaire abbey in Languedoc definitely stole a march on Champagne. In 1531, an abbey scribe wrote about inducing a secondary fermentation in wine flasks stoppered with cork from forests in nearby Catalunya. That was more than a century before Dom Perignon went to work in the cellars of Champagne. Languedoc growers have been making sparkling wine for almost 500 years now. In accordance with the French regulations introduced in 1990, it's called Crémant de Limoux. And it's a bargain. Selling at $17–$20, the Crémant de Limoux Rosé Brut St. Hilaire from Côté Mas is great for simple sipping and even better paired with food. Winemaker Paul Mas pushes the limits of allowed grapes for the AOC. The wine contains...Read More
Cava continues the sparkling saga

Cava continues the sparkling saga

We've been buried in updating Frommer's Spain, which explains our online absence since the New Year. So in the continuing series on sparkling wines, most of which are not named Champagne, it seems only appropriate to write a bit about the truly excellent Lady of Spain Brut from the Paul Cheneau line. The parent company is Giró Ribot, one of the preeminent old families in the Penedès region, a largely white wine region between Barcelona and Tarragona. It's bounded on the north by the jagged massif of Montserrat, on the south by the coastal hills of the Mediterranean. Giró Ribot is located in Sant Fe del Penedès. It's an agricultural village about five miles southwest of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, the center of Penedès sparkling wine....Read More