I can usually deduce just how much fun I have had with a cookbook through its relative condition. All of my Nigel Slaters are utterly destroyed, the Fergus Hendersons in tatters, the Jennifer McLagans spattered in all manner of pan juices, and my single Curtis Stone a model of pristine immaculacy.
When David Ort’s Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook (Whitecap) fell through the letterbox at the close of 2013 I had little idea of just how much time I would end up spending with it in the new year. Having known David Ort for quite some time through Toronto’s vibrant food and drinkster scene , I was more than aware of his love for craft beer. But it was in methodically working through this, his first book, and surveying the archives of his foodwithlegs.com website, I came to understand that he has a fair amount of (self-taught) talent in the kitchen department also.
Whilst reading I often found myself wishing that I had been there with Ort, pottering around in his kitchen, recipe testing, and sipping upon a battery of different beer styles. After a few chapters I came to the conclusion that while he put a lot of work into this book, he also enjoyed every moment of its development.
With over 60 carefully selected recipes where beer plays an integral role in the final outcome of the dish rather than simply being a substitute for wine and/or stock, Ort’s book reads pretty damn well. His endearingly chummy introductions to each recipe echo his amiable nature, and through his personality give The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook an admirable accessibility that is often lacking in many similar volumes.
If I were to choose a favourite recipe I most most probably plump for Ort’s take on oven-baked Risotto with Red Cabbage, Bacon, and Apples… with a healthy splash of strong Belgian Ale. I actually enjoyed the results so much I went to the trouble of making it twice in one week, although second time around I chose to augment it with a garnish of brined/poached organic ox tongue, as is my want.
My review copy of the Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook is already looking a bit worse for wear after only a couple of months, the pages stained from chopped red cabbage and reeking of Coffee Porter. It’s a lot of fun.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he’s extremely glad to have a book like this in his kitchen.