The SOMM Journal

April / May 2015

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Page 12 of 112

12 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2015 { editor's notebook } Marco Pierre White was the youngest chef ever to earn three Michelin stars. Having mentored some of the food industry's biggest players, including Mario Batali, Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal, this bigger than life chef is an iconic name in the culinary universe. He is polar- izing, radiating raw talent and emotion, he was dubbed the "enfant terrible" of the food world. In the 25th anniversary edition of his book, White Heat, now called White Heat 25 ($40, Mitchell Beazley), White is on display in all his glory. Each page offers his humor and eccentricity. Featuring 70 of White's clas- sic recipes, this book is less a guide to cook from than a portrait of this dynamic personality. Fricassee of seas scallops and calamares with ginger and sauce nero, braised pig's foot, and roast guinea fowl with wild mush- rooms are some of the exquisite recipes. Pulling the entire piece together are the iconic photos by the late Bob Carlos Clarke of Chef White ruling his kitchen. Brilliant. In San Francisco a small restaurant opened 20 years ago in the Mission district and, after moving twice, still stands as one of the most important culinary influ- ences in that food-obsessed city. Charles Phan's The Slanted Door is one of the nation's most acclaimed eateries. Now delivering the inside secrets of his mecca of modern Vietnamese cuisine to home kitchens is The Slanted Door cookbook ($40, Ten Speed Press). Discover tapioca dumplings in banana leaves, delicately crafted crispy rice cakes, lush vegetarian crepes and habit-forming shrimp on sugarcane skewers. The classics are here too, such as papaya salad and braised ginger chicken. For dessert don't miss the spiced beignets and roasted apricot tarts. But The Slanted Door isn't just about great food. It's also contains recipes for some of the restaurant's widely admired craft cocktails. Gorgeous to leaf through and even better to use. The brew that is as old as mankind—comforting, cel- ebratory and football-Sunday appropriate—beer is a worldwide staple. But as popular as it is across the U.S., beer is complex and truly understood by few. Leading a magnificent tour of the major beers from the world's premium beer-making countries are brew titans Fabio Petroni, Pietro Fontana and Giovanni Ruggieri in their masterful Beer Sommelier: A Journey through the Culture of Beer ($40, Sterling Publishing). Brimming with detailed profiles and marvelous photographs, the book offers serious aficionados niche knowledge about the ten principal styles and production methods in the world. Great for developing your on-premise beer list. Providing a more sweeping panoramic view of the global beer landscape are Stephen Beaumont and Tim Webb, the respected authors of Pocket Beer Guide 2015: The World's Best Craft and Traditional Beers ($20, Firefly Books.) They cover 3,500 beers from 65 countries succinctly, coupling each with information on how to enjoy the beer in its original culture and setting, as well as taste ratings indicated by stars. THE READING ROOM A Parting Shot IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, THE WINE EDITOR of the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné, who is leaving his post to take his act to New York City, is an expert at burning bridges. In a rambling recent Sunday column he launched a broadside at the San Francisco sommelier community, saying it was on the decline. He posited that there is a "brain drain" in SF wine service as many somms have left town. It ain't what it used to be, he says. He accused the current generation of not wanting to work the floor. He suggested that many restaurateurs would rather depend on outside consultants and distributors to put together their wine lists. The reaction from sommeliers was instantaneous and vocal. Many expressed incredulity, disappoint- ment and anger at this unwarranted attack. If half the somms in town have left, how come there was such a loud and widespread outcry? San Francisco is blessed by being the gateway to the nation's most important growing region, but rather than succumbing to the provincialism that infects such places as Bordeaux, Beaune, Alba and Mendoza, San Francisco wine lists celebrate won- derful finds from all corners of the globe. It's easy to find great Burgundy, Barolo, Priorat, Rheingau and Santa Barbara wines all over town. It takes creative, knowledgeable sommeliers to make that happen. I'm writing about this because there actually is a very positive blow-back to this not really very important story. Beside the departure of Mr. Bonné from the city he snidely demeans, it shows that, given the right stimulus, the sommelier community can come together and make its voice heard. This is something that needs to be encouraged. Granted most somms work long and hard at their jobs. They don't really have time for organized activi- ties. Nevertheless, communication between mem- bers of this very honorable profession is essential. Somms need to support each other and let their compatriots know that they stand together against mean-spirited criticism that is just plain wrong. —Anthony Dias Blue

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