The Guilt of Promises Unfulfilled

People send me books to write about on my blog. I only review them if I like them. But to know whether I like them or not I must, per necesse, read them. There is a lofty Matterhorn of books on my desk, an alp as yet unscaled. “Fills me with guilt,” as Mr. Bingley once remarked about the library at Netherfield. So let me lift the peak, the summit, off the mountain and open it…

Riesling Cooks  is published by Cave Spring Cellars, in celebration of the winery’s 25th anniversary. The subtitle is “25 Riesling recipes from 25 of North America’s hottest chefs.” I think we can assume they mean most popular chefs rather than most intemperate or closest to combustion. And glancing down the list I see that almost every chef has contributed only one recipe, not 25. The exception, appropriately enough, is Chef Kevin Maniaci of On the Twenty, Cave Spring’s own restaurant, who provides a complete three-course menu of simple but delicious-sounding dishes. The list of other contributors is impressive indeed. Susur and Keith and Jamie. The Michaels Bonacini, Stadtländer, Olson, Moffatt and Weiss (that’s Professor Michael Weiss of the Culinary Institute of America who shares his recipe for a Savoury Potato Krugel). Mark McEwan and also Marco Canora of Hearth in New York City, one of the great embassies of Niagara Riesling in the U.S., thanks to the passion of Canadian General Manager, Paul Grieco. Neil Baxter, Anne Yarymowich and Jonathan Gushue. Donna Dooher, Anna Olson and Lora Kirk. Niagara’s finest, including Erik Peacock of Wellington Court, Ryan Crawford of Stone Road Grille, Tony de Luca and Robin Little.  Rodrigo De Romana of Rodney’s Oyster House, doing salmon not oysters, Kevin McKenna of Globe Bistro and Earth, Peter George and Roberto Fracchioni…

It is a constellation of culinary stars, each one offering a scrumptious and doable dish designed to pair beautifully with one or other of Cave Spring’s array of Rieslings. As luck would have it, I have eaten one of the dishes in the book, the delectable Catfish Tacos shared by Ottawa-based chef Michael Moffatt of Beckta Dining and Wine and of Play, where I hoovered the aforementioned, one long-ago lunchtime. The picture above is of those very tacos, here riding the range with a humble but marvelous sidekick of “shaved Brussels sprouts.” Why point out that they have shaved? I wondered that, too. Are the macho tacos so obviously stubbly that some explanation is needed for the smooth green chins of the diminutive brassicae? It’s probably something to do with the well-known fact that catfish have whiskers.

Everyone knows Riesling is the best grape for food-pairing. And this book has one advantage that none of the other, much larger tomes on my desk can boast. It’s free. Dash immediately to your computer and type to order a copy. Quantities are limited. Life is short. Riesling is good.

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