Food Mag Roundup: A New Year, A New Batch
With a hearty helping of positive feedback on the holiday magazine roundups in November and December, I've been motivated to make this a regular monthly feature. Expect a variety of least five magazines to be mentioned every month, with an invitation to chime in on your favorites and additional pubs worth mentioning. Here's what I've got on my desk at the moment...
Theme: "Best of the Year" -- trend spotting for the year ahead.
Does Theme Deliver? I guess, but it all feels a bit thin to me. There's a fun travel piece on how to eat your way through Mexico City, deemed BA's "destination of the year," but the rest of this feature leaves me wanting more. I wanted to know, for example why brown butter is its "flavor of the year" or why there's a photo of chocolate pudding pie on the cover when we've just stuffed our faces over the holidays.
How Much How-To: The only smidge I could decipher is a pictorial entitled "The New Spice Rack," which identifies six spices trend-minded cooks are playing with.
Does It Inspire Inquiring Minds? Maybe. For a few. I'm just not feeling the love.
Additional Notes: New logo design, more wine coverage than in past.
Web Site: Bon Appetit at epicurious
Theme: Winter Comfort
Does the Theme Deliver? It really does. Similarly to Vegetarian Times (see below), there's a worthy collection of soup recipes with a global focus, plus a useful pictorial on international pantry staples. Entertaining feature includes a menu of cold-weather goodies, such as minestrone and a gratin of turnips.
How Much How-to: A thorough "cooking class" on braising by the cookbook writing team of Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarborough - a useful feature for this time of year, when home cooks are hankering for hot pots of stew. Well done.
A backgrounder on formerly exotic tropical fruits now making their way into American produce sections.
Thumbs Up: The recipe feature from Italian cookbook author Guiliano Hazan, who offers five cold-weather dishes from the Veneto region. This is a goodie!
Thumbs Down: I'd rather do without the gardening how-to on planting amaryllis bulbs, the beauty tips or the workout feature. I'm coming to CL for kitchen ideas; otherwise, I'd pick up Real Simple, Body & Soul or O for a content potpourri.
Web Site: Cooking Light.
FOOD & WINE
Theme: "100 Best Recipes, Restaurants & Wines for 2008"
Does Theme Deliver? It does, particularly for those who like to rummage through lists. I am partial to the 29 travel-related tidbits and less keen on the 30-some literal "food" items.
Entertaining is the book's secondary focus, with three recipe stories -- breakfast, New Year's in Aspen and a oddly-themed piece about making your own home bar with Mexican vittles. Weird.
Thumbs up: Its list of sustainable seafood choices. Brief backgrounder, but a useful reminder (and small enough to tear out and put in your wallet when shopping at the seafood counter).
Thumbs down: No how-to whatsoever.
Web site: Food & Wine
Theme: "What is Southern?"
Does Theme Deliver? In a vacuum, yes. There is some beautiful writing within, including the raison d'etre for the issue, a never before-published essay by the late Edna Lewis, Laura Shapiro's interview with Lewis's soul mate Scott Peacock, and a kicky travel-to-eat piece on Nashville by local darling and novelist Ann Patchett.
And then there's the treasure trove of recipes, culled from Miss Lewis, Peacock as well as keeper collection of cakes.
How Much How-to: Nice pictorial on making biscuits.
Additional notes: Undoubtedly great reading and recipe clipping opportunities, but I have to wonder why this theme was chosen for the first issue of the year, when people may still be tired from the holidays and paying more attention to their waistlines. I hope it doesn't go unnoticed.
Web Site: Gourmet at epicurious
Theme: "Eat Green, Get Lean!" -- touting 31, under 300-calorie recipes.
Does the Theme Deliver? Maybe I'm being too literal, but I'm seeing relatively little green veg in these pages. The "lean" part however, is substantial, without a preachy diet tone.
Thumbs Up: The multi-cultural soup article, featuring six different recipes, each with a unique ethnic focus. Useful background notes for each soup from a cookbook author specializing in said cuisine.
The "Put the Veg Back in Vegetarian" article, with six recipes from cookbook author Molly Katzen (who's just published a new book), is a good wakeup call for this time of year.
Thumbs Down: Like the theme, the issue is also lean, fewer than 100 pages. I want more for $4.99.
Web Site: Vegetarian Times
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