New and Noteworthy Books

These books aren't, strictly speaking, about cheese but they've come across my desk recently and since I'm a sucker for a good food (or wine) book I thought you, dear reader, might like them, too. Pacific Northwest: Ultimate Winery GuidePacific Northwest: The Ultimate Winery Guide: Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia by Christina Melander with photos by Janis Miglavs Chronicle Books  120 pages $22.95

Worth buying for the gorgeous photographs of Northwest wine country alone, the real heart of this book is its exploration of the region's wineries. As author Christina Melander notes, the book is a guide and jumping off-point for the wine enthusiast. She doesn't pretend to catalog every winery, instead selecting what I might call the 'gems' - thirty wineries that represent the best and brightest of what the Northwest has to offer.

Melander opens the proverbial door to each winery, fleshing out the photographs with behind-the-scenes stories of the people, the places and wines. As a result of her expert guidance, I found this book to be much more interesting and comprehensive than many wine guides which are content to gloss over the basics and move on.  You'll also find a restaurant guide, resource list, glossary and a nice piece on the transformation of grapes into wine. A great introduction to local wine for the novice as well as a handy guide for people interested in understanding more about the region's wine industry.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * Pure Flavor: 125 Fresh All-American Recipes from the Pacific Northwest by Kurt Beecher Dammeier with Laura Holmes Haddad Clarkson Potter  256 pages  $32.50

Kurt Dammeier, restaurateur and owner of Beecher's Handmade Cheese in Seattle, has transformed into the role of author with this new Northwest inspired cookbook. This is another gorgeously photographed book with lots of enticing shots of the Pike Place Market's mouthwatering fruits, vegetables and seafood to get you in the mood to cook.

The term "northwest" is in danger of becoming a food cliche, so often is it used to signify all that is good, fresh, local and wholesome. This book, however, is firmly rooted in the region and the recipes reflect Dammeier's dexterity with the incredibly bounty of local ingredients like Dungeness Crab, salmon and locally grown fruits and vegetables. Naturally, you'll see Beecher's Cheese appearing throughout the book, most notably in a recipe for Beecher's Mac & Cheese, which readers may have had the opportunity to try if they've visited Beecher's at the Market.

I also enjoyed the occasional pages, sprinkled throughout the book, that profile local food icons like cheesemaker Sally Jackson, winemaker Alex Golitzin (Quilceda Creek Winery) and baker Gwen Bassetti (founder of Grand Central Bakery). These moments pay tribute to the people who are, in large part, responsible for developing and nurturing the food culture in the region - and for laying the groundwork so that innovators like Kurt Dammeier could come along later and work their magic.