Bill Bryson: One Summer America 1927


I love Waterstone's, I really do, but whenever I pass a local book store in England, I try to step in and buy one or more books. Small independant book stores should remain in business, if it isn't for the sake of diversity, it's for the principle of supporting local economies. So when I recently walked through Hayes Wharf in London and spotted the Riverside Bookshop I went in and left with a bag o'books. Amongst the one that caught my eye and wallet that moment was the new one from Bill Bryson.

Since a good friend gave me, at New Years Eve, A small History of Nearly Everything I am a dedicated admirer of Mr Bryson. And everytime he publishes a book I am a buyer !

This book talks about 1927 and especially about Charles Lindbergh and his flight from America to Europe (Paris). We often forget but there was a time when the USA were non-interventionist and had one of the smallest armies and air forces of the world. The book talks about things and people we know by name, but nothing more. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehring, the Prohibition, Al Capone, Henry Ford, the names sound familiar but we don't really know who they were.

For me this is the reason why you should buy and read this book. It gives an insight in the American psyche and into the shared memory every American has. On top of this, it is well written (as usual), entertaining and well, fun to read.

To be read with a Budweiser or a Californian Chardonnay.


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Steinreich, Riesling Trocken, Weingut Ansgar Clüsserath, 2011

It is sometimes uncanny how wines can reflect a personality which makes them almost living creatures. Smelling them, tasting them, listening to them, makes you aware of their uniqueness, and sometimes they make me think very much of women. A first impression that attracts you, something special in their face or voice, a more biological reaction next (I would like to make love to this one) and then a sudden widening of your understanding that comes by listening to her...and suddenly you fall in love because she is unique.

Some of the better Rieslings are in my eyes very feminine and very often make me think of somebody. The Steinreich I drank yesterday was elegant and fine and yet also voluptuous and sensual. It had touches of peach or abricot, almost velvet-like, but also, a bit later, zesty, youthful and vibrant grapefruit. A very faint layer of minerality enveloped it all, shone through at certain moments and then was hidden again.  It was almost like talking to my wive for the first time: being attracted by her feminity which is soft and nice and special and then suddenly discovering the sparkles in her eyes and mind and the seriousness underneath it all. And you realise that this could be the beginning of a long and wonderful story...

This wine was made by Eva Clüsserath in the village of Trittenheim in the Mosel, Germany. Eva took over the winemaking in 2001 after studies in Geisenheim, Germany's wine-high school, and quickly developed a wide fanbase in Belgium. The grapes from this wine come mainly from the Trittenheimer Apotheke, a Steillage with gradients of up to 78% and a soil of schist. Fermentation is always spontaneous and can last several months. The wines ripen in big old wooden barrels and acquire their maginficent depth without losing their edge there. Eva is married to Philipp Wittmann, one of the most talented winemakers of Rheinhessen, and if the theory is true that a winemaker's personality shines through in the wines they make, a very very lucky man !

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Eva Clüsserath



For Belgium: www.vinikusenlazarus.be

I failed to find an importer in the UK, so if somebody knows ? 




Jonathan Grimwood: The Last Banquet

Brocciu di Donna

Take two pints of whey made from an equal mixture of ewe and breast milk and heat until hand-hot in a ceramic pot over a steady heat. (I've never produced satisfactory results, certainly nothing that equals the brocciu di Donna from Corsica using breast milk alone.) Add three teaspoons of salt and two-thirds of a pint of fresh breast-milk and two thirds of a pint of fresh exe's milk. Heat to just below the simmering point without allowing the milk to catch on the side of the pan. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Lift the cheese from the whey and drain through muslin. The result should be ivory coloured. Tastes creamy, rich, almost silky.



I read this book during my summer holidays and I devoured it. Since then it has been lying around in the house and I keep taking it up to reread passages and think about it, and that is a sign of a book that will stay with me for a while. I love that.

It tells the lifestory of the fictional character Jean-Marie d'Aumout, from 1723 when as an orphan from a noble but extremely poor family he is saved and send to military academy, to his death in 1790, eaten by his tame tiger with the sans culottes on the threshold of his chateau. In between he lives the life of a diplomat and a spy, in the political and social turmoil of the 18th century, but more important for the story, he tastes: all food he can find, women, and life.

The book is a beautiful mix of strange recipes, descriptions of food and friendships, and all this with the complex society of the period as a very interesting and fascinating background. Jean-Marie moves in high circles but sees the first signs of a society about to change, with the jacquerie of 1736, the Corsican fight for Independence and ultimately the French Revolution.

It is a lovely book for everybody who likes food, history or just a well written story.

To be read with a Sauternes.