Sunday, November 4, 2012

Two from the Times

There are two new books that came out in October from staffers at the New York Times, and both are good reads.

On top in the picture is Thanksgiving by Sam Sifton, currently the National News Editor.  Among his former positions was restaurant critic and the guy who answered the phone on Thanksgiving to answer questions on how to cook the holiday turkey or the side dishes.  This is a brief book with some opinions and a number of recipes for the day.  His main point, and one I strongly endorse, is that this holiday is about tradition.  Don't experiment, don't change the basics, just cook them well and enjoy.  Quick and easy read and a story distilled down to its basics proving things don't have to be complicated to be good.

How to Love Wine, a Memoir and a Manifesto is by Eric Asimov, the chief wine critic of the Times. This one has much more length and is full of opinions. There's way too much in this book to discuss in brief notes here, but for years I've read his columns and articles in The Times and of the national or international critics currently working his opinions and his choices in wines are the ones I find resonate most with my mind and palate.  The book intermingles wine opinions with a good amount of  biographical information explaining how he got to this point and to these opinions.   Somehow I wasn't surprised to learn that one of the critics he 'cut his teeth on' in his journey with wine was Gerald Asher, former columnist for Gourmet Magazine.  I still have binders of photocopied pages of more than a hundred articles by Gerald Asher that I still re-read and refer to frequently.  Those well worn pages are full of the joy of wine and that same joy is what comes across here.

I do not like numerical ratings on wine and have never used them here, but if I did I'd give this book 97 points.  If it were twice as long I might give it a 100.

Thanksgiving by Sam Sifton.  Random House. October 2012.  $16 from Amazon.

How to Love Wine, a memoir and a Manifesto by Eric Asimov.   Harper Collins.  October 2012.  $17 from Amazon.

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