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Savory information presented on a stylish plate.

A locavore and James Beard Award–winning food writer adapts the French wine-growing concept of terroir, “the taste of place,” to champion a variety of foods from the Western hemisphere.

Jacobsen (The Living Shore: Rediscovering a Lost World, 2009, etc.) journeyed from Alaska to Mexico and myriad other places to savor salmon, chocolate and other foods that benefit greatly, he argues, from local conditions, which create the uniqueness of their flavors. After explaining the concept of terroir, the author begins his day with Vermont maple syrup and establishes his expository pattern for ensuing chapters. The author discusses the terrain, biochemistry and natural history of the product (nothing too recondite), introduces quirky local authorities on the item and ends with recipes and suggested websites for further reading. In Jacobsen’s skillful hands, the organization never becomes onerous or even obvious. His exuberance, joy in his pursuit and playful diction combine to spice the literary dish most appealingly. After the syrup, Jacobsen examines Panamanian coffee (and has dark things to say about dark roasts), apple cider from Washington’s Yakima Valley, exotic honeys (there’s a grand one from Pitcairn Island), potatoes and mussels from Prince Edward Island, goodies foraged from the forest floor in Quebec, oysters from Puget Sound, avocados from Mexico, Yukon River salmon, California wines, Vermont cheese and, for dessert, chocolate from the land of the Maya, who, Jacobsen notes, baptized their children in it. Surprise is a constant companion—fine wine from the Walla Walla Valley in Washington? the best authentic chocolate in Somerville, Mass.?—as are the author’s unique comparisons: “In composition and behavior, a cheese is not unlike a dead body. It starts of fresh and springy and ends up ripe and runny.” Unfortunately, many of these products bear prices beyond the means of most consumers.

Savory information presented on a stylish plate.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59691-648-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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