Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.






Searching the World for the Best, the Worst, the Outrageously Cheap, the Insanely Overpriced, and the Undiscovered

By Mike Veseth

(Rowman & Littlefield, 2013)

Extreme Wine by Mike Veseth

Extreme Wine by Mike Veseth

Mike Veseth has quite a penchant for writing books with expansive subtitles, which is extreme in itself. (His 2011 book on globalization was titled Wine Wars: The Curse of the Blue Nun, the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck, and the Revenge of the Terroirists.) It should also caution the reader that Veseth, despite being a wine economist, is not writing for an academic audience. Extreme Wine is written in the same chatty, informative style that Veseth uses in his popular Wine Economist blog.

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by Sophie Gayot





I think when restaurateur/hotelier Michael Zislis created The Strand House Culinary Masters Series, he had a very good idea. Every time I have attended one of the events, the restaurant has been completely full. I didn’t see a single empty seat; instead I saw lots of people enjoying the cuisine of Josiah Citrin, Michael Cimarusti, Nancy Silverton, Alain Giraud, Douglas Keane or Tory McPhail to name just a few of the participating chefs. To top it off, diners can eat the fine food while watching the sun set over the Manhattan Beach pier and the Pacific.

During one of the dinners, where Trefethen wines were served, I finished the evening talking with chef Rick Tramonto who had flown in from Chicago. In the above video, you can watch as we flip through the pages of his autobiography together. Tramonto is a true success story; TRU restaurant under his direction was named one of’s Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007. And Restaurant R’evolution in New Orleans, where he has partnered with chef John Folse, made’s Top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S. list this year.

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The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

By Ken Grossman

(Wiley, 2013)

Beyond the Pale: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. by Ken Grossman

Beyond the Pale: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. by Ken Grossman

It’s easy to forget how revolutionary Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. was at the time of its creation by Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi. In 1980, there were just 40 breweries in the U.S., mostly brewing bland lagers in industrial quantities. The idea of creating full-flavored, hoppy beers that could compete with long-established German imports (at least, in terms of price), was a daunting prospect. Fortunately, Ken was an incredibly hardworking, entrepreneurial and resourceful guy. He was always building things and building businesses, beginning with bicycles (he managed a few bicycle shops in Chico) before focusing entirely on beer.

Continue reading “Beyond the Pale – Book Review” »

Cooking with Scott Conant

on October 26th, 2013
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by Sophie Gayot





If you have experienced chef Scott Conant’s cooking at one of his five Scarpetta restaurants (New York, Toronto, Miami, Las Vegas, Beverly Hills), chances are that you would like to enjoy some of his dishes in the comfort of your own house.

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The Good Housekeeping Christmas Cookbook

(Hearst Books, 2013)




Good Housekeeping Christmas Cookbook


The Good Housekeeping Christmas Cookbook is all you need to make the most wonderful time of the year a roaring success. The gorgeously illustrated tome is loaded with recipes for foods that you really want to make and eat, from “Showstopping Roasts” to “Sideshows” like whole-grain apple-fennel stuffing, and Brussels sprouts with pancetta and rosemary. Cocktail recipes are fantastic like Holiday Spritzers, Ruby Bellinis and Holiday Champagne Punch.

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Beyond Bacon: Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole Hog

By Stacy Toth and Matthew McCarry

(Victory Belt Publishing, 2013)






Beyond Bacon

Paean to Pork

Many people try to divorce the food they eat from the animals that provide the sustenance. Beyond Bacon is not for them. In this self-described “love letter to pork,” pictures of lively little piggies prancing through fields are followed by whole page, full-color photos of butchers attending to lumps of fat and muscle. With diagrams of cuts, nutritional analyses of brains, hearts and bone broth and a how-to guide for rendering your own lard, not much is left to the imagination here.

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The Cocktail Lab: Unraveling the Mysteries of Flavor and Aroma in Drink, with Recipes

By Tony Conigliaro

(Ten Speed Press, 2013)


The Chemistry of Cocktails

When it comes to instructional books, we often hear the word “art” thrown around — the art of filleting a fish, the art of screenwriting, the art of whittling — but not many are quite as literal as molecular mixology master Tony Conigliaro’s The Cocktail Lab. Not only is the book’s presentation an aesthetic delight, from the retro cover with metallic accents to the clean layout of text and illustration, but each photo is a still-life portrait of the featured cocktail, making it almost as delicious to consume visually.

Continue reading “The Cocktail Lab: Unraveling the Mysteries of Flavor and Aroma in Drink, with Recipes – Review” »

Escapism in a Glass

on August 19th, 2013
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Tangerine Speedo

The Tangerine Speedo, one of many cocktails available at Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas


by Becky Sauer

If a tropical retreat is not in your near future, you can still pretend you’re in paradise with help from the new cocktail book “Liquid Vacation: 77 Refreshing Tropical Drinks from Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas.”

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Fifty Shades of Kale

By Drew Ramsey, M.D. and Jennifer Iserloh

(HarperWave, 2013)




Fifty Shades of Kale

Kale juice, crunch kale chips, kale Caesar salad on restaurant menus … kale is the new black! We got the last confirmation that people are indeed crazy for this cruciferous veggie when our local Latino grocer started selling the Tuscan variety alongside queso de Oaxaca and homemade tortillas.

Fifty Shades of Kale takes kale to lofty new heights via recipes that sneak it into anything from pizza and fajitas to chocolate dessert and Campari cocktails. Whether you are already one of its devotees or still need to embrace this shade of green, you will love the practical recipes including huevos rancheros; black bean soup with fresh lime; and mushroom and kale risotto; and might even be tempted by the kale Pisco Sour and The Lacchiato — yes, it’s a kale macchiato!


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The Complete Guide to Naturally Gluten-Free Foods

By Olivia Dupin

(Fair Winds Press, 2013)

The Complete Guide to Naturally Gluten-Free Foods by Olivia Dupin

The Complete Guide to Naturally Gluten-Free Foods by Olivia Dupin

Naturally Gluten-Free Foods approaches going gluten-free with enthusiasm. People who have to avoid this wheat protein for health reasons, not because it’s a trendy weight-loss approach, will be happy to find simple recipes for familiar foods which are, as the title promises, naturally sans gluten. So you won’t need obscure health food store ingredients or expensive, hard-to-find substitutions.

The book begins with the story of author Olivia Dupin’s own struggle with gluten intolerance and an explanation of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Several chapters offer practical information, including descriptions of symptoms, lists of foods to avoid and lists of naturally gluten-free foods, as well as suggestions for handling various tricky situations – from cravings to social awkwardness – and clarifications about terminology that kitchen beginners may not recognize.

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