Archive for the Book Review Category

What I’m Reading: The Billionaire’s Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace

Posted in Book Review on June 30, 2009 by winechef

billionairesvinegarThe Mystery of The World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine.

An absolutely mind-blowing read.The story unravels like a murder mystery. Or was there ever a murder? Did the wine ever exist? This story of wine counterfeiters, bottles auctioned for over $30,000, tampered corks, bottles, labels had me on the edge of my seat from the get go, trying to keep up with the names, the wines, the regions, the auctions, the tastings…the research put into this book was astounding. From Thomas Jefferson’s records to tracking the culprit across the world, following up with auctioneers, billionaires, and wine professionals. The sales, the tasting, and the accusations continued for nearly two decades when lab research began to confirm suspicions; while the findings are inconclusive, Wallace is able to portray every side of the story, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. This book is equivocal to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and is a must read for everyone with even the faintest interest in wine.

Also available abridged on Audible.


What I’m Reading: Will Write For Food by Dianne Jacob

Posted in Book Review on June 30, 2009 by winechef

Will Write for Food coverIn preparation for an upcoming class at the Writing Salon with fellow Baker’s Dozen member Dianne Jacob I have taken WWFF off of the shelf and have committed to rereading it by the July 11th class date. This will be the final step before submitting the proposal for Inked Rogue Chefs directly to Ten Speed Press and the Chronicle.

In addition to that I will be getting back on the blogging band wagon and writing more than ever. I’m also starting the Bay Area Winechef podcast by the end of the week, which will cover local farmer’s markets, Bay Area chefs, industry writers, and interviews with some of the most amazing people in the industry.

Then who knows, hopefully this will be the begining of something extraordinary!

What I’m Reading: Dessert FourPlay

Posted in Book Review, Celebrity Chefs, Inked Rogue Chefs: The Book, Pastry Chefs on January 2, 2009 by winechef

2481036697_88fb9be4dfAs New York’s sexiest chef Johnny Iuzzini has committed to being an Inked Rogue Chef I was compelled to pre-order his book Dessert FourPlay, which finally arrived after Christmas, and after months of anticipation. I had no idea what to expect and had no intention of actually reading a recipe book (I know, not a typical chef’s perspective). Instead I found myself unable to put it down and inspired to do pastry again professionally (now if only there were any jobs…). The pictures are almost three dimensional and the desserts are all doable in a home kitchen. There is very little of the “molecular gastronomy” techniques or ingredients,which is impressive considering how inventive, haute and modern everything seems, and all of the ingredients that seem like they might be remotely inaccessible, Johnny clearly lists where to find them on the same recipe page! He uses tomatoes, parsley, balsamic vinegar, beets,  basil, and rhubarb pickles combines with vanilla, cream, chocolate, simple syrup and cake…and it all makes sense!

Most intriguing to me at this point? Powdered Coconut milk (used in a portion of the Strawberry FourPlay), Candied Beets, Herb scented fruit leather, and homemade Japanese Mochi!

Johnny plays with texture, flavor, temperature, innovation, and technique throughout the book, offers ways to cheat by “making it simpler”, and provides accessible resources. Each theme or ingredient is presented in four completely distinct versions that will be sure to open your mind and send your palate into another dimension. Dessert FourPlay will be the most invaluable book to the home or professional Rogue (pastry) Chef in recent memory.

To see a video clip of Johnny on ABC click here.

Favorite things of 2008

Posted in Book Review, Chocolate, Cooking at Home, Food News, Personal, Podcast, Pork, Product Review, Sommelier, Wine Review on December 29, 2008 by winechef

Sure it’s a random list, but it’s been a random year. Who knew I’d still be serving at the same restaurant after a year? Add getting married, a trip to Thailand, adopting a Teacup Dane, and pursuing Rogue Chefs full time has made for some amazing experiences. Here is a list of the little things that have contributed to making life just that much better.

M. Chevallier Carte Noir Brut Cava cava

A wedding on a budget. I tasted 6 methode traditional bubblys under $10 to serve at our wedding (the difference? no headache being at the top of the list) and was beyond pleased with this one. At about $60 for a case I made sure to stock up, so the wedding was just the beginning of the experiences with this awesome cava. It served for everything from last minute gifts to Hibiscus tangerine mimosas to an excuse to practice sabreing. Available at Trader Joe’s for $4.99

Metrokane Champagne Sealermetrokane

And on the off chance that you haven’t removed the top of your champagne (or beer) bottle with your trusty 12 inch chef knife and have some champagne left over, this easy to use sealer works better than anything I’ve used. You can store your opened bottles on their sides and never lose a drop. They remove with hardly a flinch and apply with little to no effort. Available online and in stores at Bed Bath and Beyond (I covet the 20% off coupons).

Moo Cards

These are inexpensive unique customizable business cards that can be designed and received within 2 weeks. High quality and always sure to leave an impression on the receiver. I’ve used mine to promote the blog, the book, my chef and sommelier services, and photography. Available online 100 for $19.99 plus shipping and handling.


I did not start out liking this. If it weren’t for my genius techie husband in the adjoining room it probably would have ended up following the sewing machine out the window. The problem? It’s just too easy. It makes too much sense. It practically knows me. And now I can’t imagine life without it. I even love the screen saver. I would however have opted for the bigger screen (24″) if I were to do it over again. And a laptop is on the short list of things to get when I receive that enormous advance for the book I’ve been counting on. Available online and in stores for $1199


My iTunes audio faves of 2008 in order of awesomeness:

goodfoodKCRW’s Good Food, Splendid Table, NPR’s Kitchen Window and NPR Food, and Vinecast.


I wonder where I would be without my iPod, it’s Podcasts, and membership. Needing something to distract from the hour and a half that I spend commuting daily I have become practically addicted to audio distractions. Yes, there is always a print book next to my bed or in my bag, but I have come to rely on audiobooks to help me get through the growing stacks that I have accumulated during the year. There aren’t as many food related audiobooks out there but here are my faves of 08:

Setting the Table by Danny Meyer, Waiter Rant by The Waiter, and Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Molecular Gastronomy by Herve This may have you fall asleep on the road and still not clear on the concept.

Blue Bottle Coffee

blue-bottleAh, legal crack in the morning. Not available in as many places as necessary but you can find it here. Order more than you think you need.

Breville Stainless Steel Electric Kettle

And make it with this awesome, sleek, effective water heater that can allow you to make perfect batches of french presses at home or while catering…Available online and at Bed Bath and Beyond for $79.99 (use the coupon!).breville

Bacon and…

Oh Vosges, only you could get me addicted to a chocolate that I can’t afford on a regular basis. So thanks to a recent podcast I’m making my own version. And thanks to my husband, I can’t stop dipping my bacon in maple syrup. There was also a drink “Bacon and Eggs” at Epic that used bacon dust to rim a martini glass. Oh and the Maple Bacon lollipops from Lollyphile. The bacon lip balm that I have yet to try. Bacon and Cocoa Nib infused whiskey that I’m making. The Bacon, Chestnut, and Brussels Sprout dish that I am still swooning over. And Bacon and Skulls blog where I can stay up to date on everything Bacon.

That’s about it, now on to 2009…

What I’m Reading: Eat, Memory: edited by Amanda Hesser

Posted in Book Review on December 1, 2008 by winechef


Ah, Amazon, how I love your suggestions! And your “one click” buy option! So easy to use when you’re half a magnum into the night.

Anyhoo, I finished Eat, Memory in less time than it took me to get through the latest Martha Holidays edition, and I have to say I am happy that this ended up on my shelf. That is, my new shelf. I had to come to terms with the fact that this whole Amazon “One Click” was garnering me books faster than I could create room, in my head, much less home, for them. Ikea came calling like a siren of organization.

My favorite story of the collection was the one about the almond carrot salad by chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill. I believed it wholeheartedly as I began reading it, then I truly felt his pain, panic, humility, and success as he dug himself into and then out of, an amazing, no, epic quandary.

Either way this is a great book with great recipes to match the stories (reminded me of Garlic and Sapphires in that regard), which are just short enough to retain my ever shortening attention span.

If you are interested, and you should be, Amanda Hesser will be spending an evening with the Common Wealth Club on December 4th in San Francisco.

On another note, a new regular at “Ocean Seasoning” has been sitting at the counter on weekend nights, quietly reading a novel, savoring glasses of wine, and sampling the menu while managing to have two free hands! Elsa Trexler gave me a quick tutorial on using a fork to hold open a book to its proper page, while propping the book up with a glasses case, or anything else to have the book at an angle that is easier to read. One look and I was sold! There is almost nothing that I enjoy more than having a fantastic meal and reading a great book. It’s true Blackberry, there is nothing that will substitute the original. Plus you make my thumbs ache.


PS Some books may take some wrangling to make this work, and while I never mind a few splashes of whatever it happens to be that I am enjoying (a nice reminder of where I was the next time I open the book) many of you will find this guaranteed resource invaluable to the cleanliness of your tomes.

Desserts by the Yard

Posted in Book Review, Pastry Chefs on August 24, 2008 by winechef


I just finished reading Sherry Yard’s Desserts by the Yard, a virtual autobiography through delectable desserts. This is the first cookbook that I have read cover to cover (no, not even the French Laundry), and now I’m on my way to Home Depot to find shower liners that I can use as tuille stencils. The book is fully dog eared and ready to fill my home with desserts that I have no business eating right now.

Cooked: From the streets to the stove, from cocaine to foie gras

Posted in Book Review on September 10, 2007 by winechef


This is another amazing autobiography by an amazing chef. This book is not so much about the food as it is about Jeff Henderson’s amazing life growing up an ambitious crack dealer who was a millionaire before he was 20, to a hard life in jail that lead to eye opening self discoveries, and finally his release where he pursued his dream to become a chef.

Nothing is sugar coated. I am sure that he left out the rougher aspects of the streets and prison, as well as indulging in all of his escapades as a hustler, but you get a genuine feel for what he went through from his life as a child of divorced parents, to his life achievements of becoming a chef, a mentor, and a parent himself.

The book itself is incredibly well written, and with no mention of a ghost writer, Henderson is a master of words and story telling, as well as the stove. His efforts to make up for his past are being taken on ten fold in the form of motivational speaking, various organizations and charities, and hiring rehabilitated felons at the Café Bellagio, where he is the executive chef. Jeff Henderson’s story  is truly one of success and determination.