Book Reviews

40 Years of Chez Panise – Book Review **** (4/5)

From Chez Panise


“France changed my life forever.  I knew I wanted to live the way my French friend did.  These were people who thought of good food as an indispensable part of live, for whom each day was punctuated by food-related decisions.  It went without saying that one had to get to the bakery early, to get a fresh, hot baguette; naturally one spent an hour or so in the afternoon in a café with one’s friends; and of course one only brought produce in season because that when it was least expensive and tasted best.  Eating together was the most important daily ritual in their lives, a critical and nonnegotiable time when the flavors and smells of roasted chickens and sizzling garlic, the crunch of crusty bread, and the taste of local wine drew out everyone’s  most passionate ideas and feelings.”


The same is true at the château where  “friends are always coming over for dinner and we are cooking our way collections of recipes from all kinds of people.  As with Chez Panisse, we also found that the people who were obsessive about growing the best-tasting produce were also concerned about the health of the soil, the welfare of beneficial insects and other animals, and the clarity of the water running off their fields.  They were interested in rediscovering older varieties that were harder to grow, and less prolific, but much tastier, and which brought a sense of continuity with the past to both their fields and our tables.


At dinners with good friends, we talked easily and at length about–everything!  The kitchen was a platonic ideal of a kitchen:  a fireplace in the corner, stacks of post, and marble mortars, shelves full of rare […]

By |October 23rd, 2011|Book Reviews, Cuisine|Comments Off on 40 Years of Chez Panise – Book Review **** (4/5)

Standing in a River Waving a Stick (Book Review **** 4/5)

Standing in a River Waving a Stick, New York: Simon & Schuster (1999) by John Gierach

My favorite quotes or summaries from this book are:

This business of changing fly patterns, looking for the right one, is central to the sport. All of us, secretly or otherwise, believe it’s the fly that makes the difference, although we’ll admit that even the right fly has to be cast accurately and drifted properly to work.  Still, when someone is catching more fish than we are — and when we’re not too embarrassed to ask–we say, “What fly are you using?” as if that one bit of information was all we needed.

Okay, but if you ask three different fishermen you’ll probably get three different answers, so you have to suspect that although the knowledge passed on by other fly fishers is a great gift, the true solution is somehow yours and yours alone. 

Everyone I know who has fly fished for long has theories about fly patterns, all of which sound reasonable enough on a long drive or around a campfire….

The choice of a fly pattern for nymphing can seem too huge to comprehend, and I’ve seen nymph fishers standing like zombies on riverbanks, gazing into open fly boxes, literally frozen by indecision.  (I recognize that when I see it because I’ve done it myself.)

The thing is, aquatic insects spend most of their lives on the stream bottom, where they are regularly eaten by trout.  Mayflies and stone flies have a nymphal stage.  These are six-legged, armored bugs that fly fishers think are handsome but I heard one non-anglers describe as looking like wet cockroaches.

Caddis flies and midges have bottom-dwelling larval stages that run into pupae before they swim to the surface […]

By |October 9th, 2011|Book Reviews, Fishing, Fly Tying|Comments Off on Standing in a River Waving a Stick (Book Review **** 4/5)

Hunt, Gather, Cook (Book Review **** 4/5)

Hank Shaw is an award-winning journalist and makes his debut from his blogger’s guide to a book on foraging, fishing, hunting, simply entitled Hunt, Gather Cook–and makes the most of the fruits of a day spent gathering food in the field. His blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, has developed an avid following among outdoor people and foodies alike.

Hank Shaw’s blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, and which is more impressive than the book, can be found at:

His poacher’s blog, which is also worthy of mention, despite his bad-form tactics, can be found at:

By |October 8th, 2011|Book Reviews, Cuisine, Fishing, Recipes, Wingshooting|Comments Off on Hunt, Gather, Cook (Book Review **** 4/5)

Made in Italy – Book Review 5/5 (*****)

‘”Made in Italy ” is my cookbook of the year.  If I had to choose one place to live my entire life, Italy would be hard to beat, as the food is unsurpassable and it varies from town to town.  The countryside is beautiful and the food stuffs are abundant.  This book covers all of those beauties of Italy.  So many books are take-offs on television celebrities, featuring dumbed-down restaurant favorites simply catering to the home cook.  If you only buy one Italian cookbook, buy this one.  Locatelli’s recipes are the real deal, many from his restaurant, and the reminiscences from his life.  It is large and covers everything from risotto to panettone.  While many of the recipes are complex and will require adventures to the market for ingredients, most are simple and easily tackled for the home chef looking to present the finest dishes that Italy has to offer.

By |September 17th, 2011|Book Reviews, Cuisine|Comments Off on Made in Italy – Book Review 5/5 (*****)

Basics of Bird Dog Training by Bill Tarrant

Basics of Bird Dog Training article by Bill Tarrant Part I and Part II.

By |July 16th, 2011|Book Reviews, Wingshooting|Comments Off on Basics of Bird Dog Training by Bill Tarrant

Mike Gould’s Power Bar

This is the Mike Gould power bar, as described in this article by Bill Tarrant.

By |July 16th, 2011|Book Reviews, Wingshooting|Comments Off on Mike Gould’s Power Bar

Active Nymphing (book review 2/5**)

Rick Osthoff, Stackpole Books, 2006

In this comprehensive book on nymph fishing, the author challenges the long-held notion that nymphing involves little more than dead drifting with the current. Osthoff advocates an active strategy of moving the nymph, applying effective casting and creative presentation techniques this book exhausts the techniques of nymphing.

However, it fails to consider the previous works on the subject of active nymphing, such as those by Sawyer, Kite and others.  It is good general overview of all of the methods of fishing below the surface with files.  It probably is well received for trout fisherman in the Midwest, but for our selective trout on mostly tailwaters in the Rocky Mountain streams, I felt that the information to be of limited practical application and failed to even catch the depth of what was already written by Sawyer and Kite, among others.

By |July 3rd, 2011|Book Reviews, Fishing|Comments Off on Active Nymphing (book review 2/5**)

The Blackberry Farm Cookbook (book review 5/5*****)

Sam Beall, 2009 Clarkson Potter

One reviewer said, “Farm-to-table is one of those irritating culinary trends that is hard to really stay irritated by. Fundamentally, it’s just so darn right: we should be eating seasonally and locally, we should be supporting sustainable agriculture and the preservation of heirloom vegetables. The most delicious food is the stuff that’s been harvested (butchered, cultivated, fished) as close as possible to the kitchen that’s cooking it.”

I find this review troubling.  Why is the idea of farm to table irritating to anyone?  It makes sense.  I believe, it makes sense to everyone, even vegans.  This book is separated into seasons, the seasons of our life–the seasons of our food.  It is about food from Knoxville, Tennessee, a bit dressed up, as the author is the son of the Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant founder.  Not exactly what you would call a hunter-gatherer tradition, but one he seems to now claim.

Anyway, the recipes are separated into seasons, starting with summer’s Blackberry Cobbler and a diatribe on smoking at the Barbie.  But the first one I found interesting was infusing peaches into his BBQ sauce or blackberries.  And I like the southern sweet tea infused with various things from raspberries to blue berries to strawberries, all set to cure in canning jars with the old French lids.

First a discussion on smoke, which is “almost a sacrament below the Mason-Dixon Line.”  Cherokee fires in a pit banked by river rock topped with large joint meat and buried, to wood-fired clay ovens, brick ovens, fireplaces and smokehouses.  From pig cookers welded by locals to kettle grills, the Kamado ( a clay and ceramic style tandoori cooker), to wood cookers and it goes on.

And the explanation of the two kinds of Tennessee fried chicken.    The Kreis’s Tennessee Fire Fried Chicken is worth repeating, which we have adapted for […]

By |July 2nd, 2011|Book Reviews, Fur and Feather, Wingshooting|Comments Off on The Blackberry Farm Cookbook (book review 5/5*****)

At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman (book review 5/5*****)

John Gierach, Simon & Schuster, NY 2003

This book is classic Gierach and good reading.  It features his BFF, Mike Clark, who is a self-taught bamboo rod maker, now living in Lyons, Colorado, near Gierach, who meets Walt Carpenter, who worked for two of the greats in bamboo, Leonard and Payne, and then built his own rods using the old F.E. Thomas Milling machine.  He mentions his favorite light bamboo rods: a 7’9” Legacy by John Bradford, a 7’9” by Mike Clark, and an old 7 ½-foot F.E. Thomas Special, circa 1940—all two-piece 5 weights, which is not what I would consider light, but he is a dyed in wool dry fly fisher with larger favorite flies than mine. 

And there are stories about his other buddy, A.K. Best, who talks about his mentoring under Koke Winter.  And an old guy, who said to Gierach, “Boy, I’ve forgotten more about fishing than you’ll ever know.”  Or the retort that “Fly-fishing can be upscale and exotic if you want it to be and can afford that, but at base it’s homegrown, backyard stuff:  something people used to do when the chores were done; a way of goofing off that was barely justified by a couple of fresh fish for supper.”

There is more than great characters and quotes, such as discussion of Muriel Foster’s Fishing Diary and videos on fly fishing which “seems a little like movie sex: fun to watch, but a long way from the real thing” wand which can amount to “information without proper instruction.”  I like the comment of the fly shop customer who asks how long to get really good at this and Gierach responds, “Ten years, if you fish three or four times a week.” 

We […]

By |June 14th, 2011|Book Reviews, Fishing|Comments Off on At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman (book review 5/5*****)

The World of Polo (book review, 1/5 *)

The World of Polo, Past & Present by J.N.P. Watson, Salem House Publishers, 1992

This book is the pictorial history of Polo, but it ends in 1992, so few of the current players are featured.  Most of the photographs are dated and it’s really more of “who’s who” of has-beens in polo.  Not that this is bad idea, it’s just it reads more like the society page than it does a real history of places, players, or ponies.

By |May 30th, 2011|Book Reviews, polo|Comments Off on The World of Polo (book review, 1/5 *)