Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rachel cooks the books

In my job as co-host of A Matter of Taste, I get a lot of cookbooks to review. Sometimes a book just really turns you on, and sometimes not. For me, I always look up a recipe that I like to cook and see what the new book does with it. If it fits with the ingredients I like to cook with, or the way I like to cook a certain food, then I will consider trying other recipes. The newest book I received, called "Saving Dinner Basics" is a how to book designed for people who don't know how to cook. Just for fun I looked up a recipe for Gazpacho, a tomato dish that I make quite often.
I was appaled at the long list of ingredients and complicated prep I found. The dish is simply
tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, bread soaked in vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. This book was suggesting adding V-8 juice, chicken broth and lemon juice in addition to all the standard
stuff. Totally unecessary elements to me. The way I see it is if a simple recipe that I know is not good, then I don't want to use any of the recipes in the book, so I will not make room on my shelf for it. The latest book that did turn me on is called "Stonewall Kitchen favorites". It comes from the founders of a specialty food acompany in Maine. They started making jams and selling them at a farmers market, and their popularity grew into a major food producing coompany. This is their third book and boy is it great. Everytime I pick it up, I get inspired. The pictures have eye appeal, the names of the dishes sound great, and the ingredients are simple and create fabulous combinations. I expected to not like the book thinking everything would require you to buy their products in order to make the dish, but that was not the case. And by the way, not only do they have a great recipe for Gazpacho, but all their stuff is great. So, next time you are in a bookstore or on line at Amazon, look up this book and give it a try. This is comfort food that pleases.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

David's view on drinking Champagne and sparkling wines.

As a wine industry veteran, and host of a radio show about wine, food, travel and lifestyle, a wine question comes up quite often from listeners and friends. It's "when should I drink that special bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine?" My response usually begins with "what is the wine and how long have you had it?" In the 15 years of the radio show, the most interesting response was from a radio listener in 1992 who had been saving a bottle of Dom Perignon for 26 years in her refrigerator, and was looking for an appropriate occasion to open it. My first question was, is she married, and for how long? She had celebrated her 30th anniversary earlier that year. With simple math it became clear that 52 birthdays had passed, 26 anniversaries, 26 Valentine's Day, 26 New Years Eve, Christmas every year, many childrens birthdays, and countless dinners had gone by with that bottle in her refrigerator since she acquired it. So I finally said to her "What would be a special occasion"? It became clear that she was asking a serious question, and with a straight face, I suggested that perhaps tomorrow morning, upon awakening, she look in the mirror, and if she sees her reflection, make that the day for celebration, and open the bottle. I never heard from her as to whether or not the Dom was in good shape or not. But my point is that Champagne and sparkling wines need not only be consumed on "special days" but are wines like any other that should be enjoyed as any other. Drink them with dinner, brunch, as apertifs, or as a welcome to guests in your home. Life is too short to over think a wines proper place our lives. enjoy life now, for who knows what tomorrow may bring.