The Great Little Food With Wine Cookbook (117 pages, trade paper, $7.95 ISBN 0962992704)
Cooking With Wine (209 pages trade paper, $14.95 ISBN 0962992739)
both by Virginia and Robert Hoffman, The Hoffman Press 1997
Though we seldom review books together -- in fact, this is the first time -- The Great Little Food With Wine Cookbook and Cooking With Wine belong together on the bookshelf, if not in the kitchen.
This is not to say that they serve the same purpose: they don't. Cooking With Wine is aimed at the serious, more advanced cook with some knowledge of wine while The Great Little Food With Wine Cookbook is aimed at the neophyte with both or either. As well, both seem to fit their respective targets neatly. They are, however, both published by the same house -- The Hoffman Press of Santa Rosa, California and are imbued with the same no-nonsense tone and feel.
I like these books. I like the fact that they treat wine matter-of-factly and not like some mystical ingredient that only a chosen few may understand. Both books offer not only recipes, but offer advice about wine and food pairings as well as basic information about North American varietals: good information for anyone with an interest in wine.
It's accessible information, too in that even those with no wine knowledge but a desire to learn can understand. From Cooking With Wine, for instance, we learn that:
Sauvignon Blanc is a classic French wine, that is now being made here. The dryer versions are often called Fume Blanc. Like Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, it goes well with most foods, and is also a "safe choice".
This is plain language that even the greenest neophyte won't find intimidating.
The Great Little Food With Wine Cookbook takes things a few steps further and offers information on reading a wine list; serving wine and even how to understand a label.
The recipes are, of course, central to both books and it's here where they really shine. The recipes in Cooking With Wine have been culled from the files of winery chefs, those in The Great Little Food With Wine Cookbook have been selected for their ease of preparation but I found the recipes in both books to be clear, relatively straight-forward and inviting. Both books also include suggestions for appropriate wines to serve with each recipe, but the emphasis is on enjoying the experience of cooking with wine and reaping the rewards of bringing beautifully prepared food to table.
A recipe from The Great Little Food With Wine Cookbook
A recipe from Cooking With Wine
Reviewed by Linda Richards