By Jessica Allen - Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 0 Comments
I always imagined that the cabbage rolls my mom and her sister make–the best, in my books–hail from some recipe that my grandmother’s ancestors brought to Canada from Germany’s Alsace-Lorraine region some 150 years ago.
Nevermind that cabbage rolls and Alsace-Lorraine have little to do with each other. More importantly, it turns out the Vi Moffat, the English woman who lived across the street from my mom and her siblings in Strathroy, Ont., was the one who shared the recipe with my grandmother.
Memories can be tricky.
The 7th annual Terroir hospitality and food industry symposium on Apr. 8 in Toronto, was dedicated to the stories, memories and culture that surround food. The impressive roster of speakers, with nary a French, Spanish or Italian representative in sight–an observation that Scandinavian chef and author Trine Hahnemann pointed out as being indicative of the changing of the guard, so to speak, all had narratives swathed in nostalgic memories to share.
By Jessica Allen - Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 11:13 AM - 0 Comments
Every month, Toronto’s Cookbook Store manager Alison Fryer shares their bestsellers list with us. The February top-sellers, says Fryer, may have been partially determined by both Valentine’s Day and Family Day, with Nigella Lawson’s ode to Italy coming out near the top and Fifty Shades of Chicken making an appearance in the no. 10 spot. Plus, she says, “French, vegetarian, quick and one-pot [cookbooks] all resonate this month as we hunkered down in the kitchen during a wild month of winter weather.” And the fascination for food journal writing continues not only with the “much-hyped latest issue of Lucky Peach coming in at no. 1, but also with the third issue of Toronto-based ACQTaste, which quietly hit the list this month.” Fryer also recommends the Spanish So Good magazine for those that love pastries, desserts and incredible food photography. Although it’s not a magazine in the traditional sense, ” it is the go-to publication for pastry chefs.”
1. Lucky Peach issue #6, edited by David Chang and Peter Meehan
2. Nigellissima, by Nigella Lawson (read our interview and watch our video with Lawson here)
3. Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
4. For the Love of Soup, by Jeanelle Mitchell
5. ACQTaste, edited by Chuch Ortiz
6. So Good Magazine issue #9
7. Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, by Jamie Oliver
8. One Pot French, by JP Challet
9. Dirt Candy by Cohen, by Dunlavey & Hendrix
10. Fifty Shades of Chicken, by FL Fowler
By Jessica Allen - Monday, February 18, 2013 at 2:34 PM - 0 Comments
The cookbook star on food, travel and the virtues of vermouth
By Jessica Allen - Monday, February 18, 2013 at 2:25 PM - 0 Comments
Bestselling author and TV personality Nigella Lawson visited the new Chatelaine test kitchen powered by GE this morning to talk about her new book, Nigellissima, a collection of 126 Italian-inspired recipes. We had a chance to speak with Lawson about food writing, the pressures of a non-Italian tackling Italian recipes and the virtues of vermouth.
A: I will, and do you know what I love most of all? Seeing a really old, used, beloved copy. It always warms my heart.
Q: This book is actually the way I came at the discourse of food writing 16 years ago, and via you I was introduced to other food writers, namely Elizabeth David and Anne del Conte and so on. So I’m curious to know how you arrived to the subject.
A: Completely by mistake. It was a long time ago so I was relatively young and I always thought that I wanted to write a novel. And then one day my late husband John said to me, ‘You think everyone is as confident in their attitudes towards food as you are–you should write about it.’ This [How To Eat] isn’t really a recipe book–there are lots of recipes in it–but it’s a different sort of book. It’s about talking about food and why it matters. So I spoke to my agent and asked what he thought and he said let’s do it. And I said, ‘I don’t really know if I want to do a food book.’ And he said, ‘Before you write a great symphony just do a few chords. This will be it.’ Of course I wrote this book and realized I didn’t want to be a novelist. I’m not a novelist. I felt I found my voice through food. So it was just an accident. At the time I was journalist–not even a food journalist; I’d write about anything–but you see the thing is food is not to be left to the experts because we all eat. We eat everyday and food is such an important part of our lives, not just in terms of giving us all sustenance but emotionally it explains so much about us. So I wanted to write about food in its context–sometimes historically and sometimes I suppose sociological, and sometimes just purely personal. So for me it’s just the biggest subject in the world and I love every aspect of it.
By Jessica Allen - Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 2:07 PM - 0 Comments
Nigella Lawson will be in Toronto on Monday to promote her new cookbook, Nigellissima, in the Chatelaine test kitchen, just three floors down from the offices of Maclean’s.
I, for one, am excited. For years her first book, How to Eat (1998), sat on my bedside table. To be honest, I rarely cooked recipes from it–heck, I rarely cooked at all–but it was so beautifully written that I couldn’t put it down. And she lead me to other food writers, including Elizabeth David and Anna del Conte. Food writing, Lawson taught me, was a genre all unto its own.
Nigellisima, her 10th book, has 120 Italian-inspired recipes and are written with Lawson’s usual flare, which includes descriptors that are singularly hers in style: Radicchio is “beautifully bitter;” Marsala-soaked porcini mushrooms have “husky depth;” and her cinnamon almond cake is “meltingly damp and fragrantly redolent of marzipan.”
Bu why Italy, and why now? In fact, the germ for her latest book may predate her other literary offerings. Lawson, who started as a journalist (by 26, she was the deputy literary editor of the The Sunday Times), spent a year working in Florence during her gap year at university. Not only did she work as a chambermaid during her sojourn, but she also learned how to cook–and eat like a Florentine, and a life-long love affair with all things Italian was born.
When I speak with Lawson on Monday about her new book I’ll ask when to adhere to and break with Italian culinary traditions and find out how she manages–after all her books, TV shows, awards, apps and gastronomic entrepreneurial forays–to stay genuinely enthusiastic about food.
By Jessica Allen - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 8:12 AM - 0 Comments
Sometimes it’s difficult not to grow weary in the face of keeping up with food trends. But there are writings relating to food of which I will never tire. Here are some of my favourites that’ve been covered really well in 2012 and that I hope to see more of in the year ahead.
1. Great profiles:
In 2012, I enjoyed reading more about people who make food rather than reading pieces devoted to food itself. There were some incredible profiles this year, from such big-name industry players as London’s Yotan Ottolenghi and Paris’s Apollonia Polaine–both from The New Yorker food issue–to local chefs like Toronto’s Keith Froggett, whom David Sax wrote about in The Grid. More please!
2. Heritage foods:
Speaking of profiles, remember when the New Yorker wrote about South Carolina locavore-extraordinaire Sean Brock in 2011? He’s the chef of Husk Restaurant who’s obsessed with bringing many of the region’s forgotten varietals of plants and animal breeds back to the table (he also has a cookbook coming out in 2013.) ”Since building a network of farmers, grain purveyors, food historians, and scientists during the past few years, Brock’s seed-saving mission has revived about 35 Southern plants, some of which might otherwise have gone extinct,” writes Cooking Light, which awarded Brock its Trailblazing Chef of the Year Award. In recent years, there’s been plenty of attention to paid to heirloom foods: from Red Fife, a Canadian grain that fell off our radars until Toronto chef Jamie Kennedy championed its virtues in 2006, to apples, of which there are thousands of varietals besides the ubiqitious Red Delicious, Granny Smith or Macintosh. And even though seed libraries, repositories that preserve seeds for generations to come, are nothing new (even Thomas Jefferson collected heirloom seeds), I hope to read more about them–and all things heirloom-related–in 2013.
By Jessica Allen - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 1:45 PM - 0 Comments
Any gastronome worth her weight in saffron knows to make a bee line for the Cookbook Store when they’re hungry for a good read.
For the past 30 years, manager Allison Fryer has stocked the Toronto shop’s shelves for the food and wine community with the culinary world’s best cookbooks, magazines and literature. The store also plays host to events featuring homegrown chefs, like Rob Feenie and Michael Smith, and such international sensations as Thomas Keller and Nigella Lawson.
Fryer, who can smell a food trend a mile away, also tabulates the store’s bestsellers list. That’s why we’ve asked her to share the best in food books that are flying off the shelves. Here’s the August list:
2. Dearie, by Bob Spitz
3. Quinoa 365, by P. Green & C. Hemming (Canadian)
4. The Farm, by Ian Knauer
5. Plenty, by Y. Ottolenghi & S. Tamimi
6. For the Love of Salad, by Jeanelle Mitchell (Canadian)
7. For the Love of Soup, by Jeanelle Mitchell (Canadian)
8. Great Food Fast from the Kitchens of Every Day Food Magazine
9. The Book of Kale, by Sharon Hanna
10. Clueless Vegetarian, by Evelyn Raab (Canadian)
By Jessica Allen - Monday, June 11, 2012 at 6:16 PM - 0 Comments
Late on Sunday morning some 200 food lovers paid $30 a piece to hear Calvin Trillin and Adam Gopnik talk about Canadian comestibles. If there was anyone counting on a weighty discussion on the state of food in this country, they would have been sorely disappointed. Trillin, 77, and Gopnik, 56, were like old friends sitting on a porch catching up, telling tales and throwing zingers. And from the sounds of the applause and belly-shaking laughter from the mostly silver-haired audience that punctuated the 80-minute talk, everyone left fully satiated.
What gives these accomplished writers–Gopnik is the author of eight books and has been a New Yorker contributor since 1986, while Trillin will celebrate his 50th anniversary as a New Yorker contributor next year–the know-how to discuss this country’s food affairs? Well, explained Gopnick, ”we are both greedy guys who like to eat, and we’re both semi-Canadian.” He was raised in Montreal, while Trillin has spent the past 39 years summering at his Nova Scotia home.
That’s precisely where Trillin, who grew up in Kansas City, had his first real Canadian food experience: “Being able to get fresh fish off the boat. You either learn to clean the fish or not eat the fish.” Nova Scotia is also where Trillin does a little cooking. An abundance of good ingredients means he can do it simply. Take his smoked mackerel pâté–one of the three to eight dishes, “depending on how you count,” Trillin can prepare. All you have to do is blitz the fish in a food processor. (On special occasions, like Canada Day, he might add a little mayonnaise and a perhaps a squeeze of lemon.)