By Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox*
Bean to Bar Chocolate by Megan Giller
I have had chocolate in a number of forms and locations ranging from exotic and improbable such as a safari lodge and mundane such as my kitchen. I have sampled supermarket milk chocolate bars and dark chocolate gourmet bars, foreign and domestic. Over the years my preference has migrated from garden variety milk chocolate to the more flavorful options offered by specialty brands and artisan vendors. For some time I have been a fan of single origin chocolate bars, especially the plain dark chocolate ones layered with flavors.
My most recent chocolate experiences were enhanced manifold by Bean to Bar Chocolate America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution (Storey Publishing, $19.95), a new book by Megan Giller. Thanks to her detailed descriptions, I became much more aware of the diversity of the domestic craft chocolate movement and dozens of bean to bar makers. The 231-page hardcover book published this year features color photos, color illustrations and chocolate recipes.
Bean to Bar chocolate from Uganda grown and crafted in Africa
My favorite part of reading her book was the gourmet experiences that followed from preparing her recipe for Water-Based Drinking Chocolate (from Aubrey Lindley, co-owner, Cacao). I also tried the Cocoa Tea (from Miss Choco) made with roasted nibs and water, although that was less to my liking. Once I procured the chocolate bars the Water-Based Drinking Chocolate was a cinch. Like the Cocoa Tea the recipe calls for only two ingredients, chocolate (or roasted nibs) and boiling water.
A few ounces of chocolate melted in a little hot water highlighted the qualities of each type we tasted.
For the Water-Based Drinking Chocolate we sampled four chocolate bar varieties, an organic and sustainably produced bar purchased at the supermarket; a bean to bar 70 percent single origin from Uganda made by De Villiers Artisan Chocolate near Paarl, South Africa; and a half and half blend (all we had available were partial bars) of single origin bean to bar Honduras The Lost City 72 percent and Dominican Republic Duarte 70 percent from Castronovo Chocolate from Stuart, Florida.
The beverage made with the supermarket bar was so awful we threw it out without finishing the serving. The Ugandan beverage tasted better although it was lumpy and had a medium to mild flavor, nothing extraordinary. The texture, even after whipping it twice with a small whisk, was lumpy. In defense of the makers it was past its expiration date. It was a good thing that we first tried the recipe with the Castronovo chocolates because we might not have sampled further otherwise.
The Castronovo chocolate bars were our favorites for the chocolate beverage.
The Castronovo blend was delightful, dark and rich with a hint of smokiness and flavors that lingered on the palate. Later, I bought more of the Dominican Republic Duarte, my favorite of the two available at the small shop where I purchased them, planning another Water-Based Drinking Chocolate made with those bars. Also, I want to sample more domestic bean to bar chocolates and plan tastings, maybe even try some of the other recipes in the book.
Megan Giller, author, Bean to Bar Chocolate
Giller, a Brooklyn resident, is a food writer, specializing in New York City and Austin, Texas. She writes Chocolate Noise, a blog. Giller’s chocolate knowledge shines throughout the book and her enthusiasm is contagious. She shares information on the craft movement, the people behind the chocolates from the farms to the makers and their approach to purchasing cacao beans, roasting, processing and making mostly single origin chocolate, mainly with only a limited number of ingredients. She also addresses history, equipment, labels, sustainable practices and pricing. There is a list of her favorite bean to bar makers in the back of the book.
*Book photos: Storey Publishing
Click to buy Bean-to-Bar Chocolate
Paris Metro Photo*
For lovers of the Paris metro and transit fans Actes Sud recently published Paris Metro Photo ($55), a 406-page hardcover volume featuring some 250 photos of the heyday of the Paris metro. It has more than a century of photographic documents and photos from Robert Doisneau, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassaï, Edouard Boubat, Izis (Israëlis Bidermanas), Francois Kollar, Willy Ronis, Robert Capa, William Klein and Johan Van der Keuken among others.
The book features varied genres and photographic practices, including photojournalism, photo stories, street photography, fashion photography, architectural photography and industrial photography all centered around the history of the development of the Paris metro. In 1900, when the first metro rolled from west to east across Paris, from Porte Maillot to Porte de Vincennes it quickly became a cultural symbol of France, Art Nouveau and urban technological innovation. By then photography had been around for five decades and technological advances had made light cameras possible.
The book is divided into twenty year periods beginning in 1900. Each photo is accompanied by a description and date. The photo sources are public and private such as art galleries, AKG Images, Getty Images, libraries, and museums in France, The Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland, and the United States. The book was published as a project of the Paris RATP (Régie Autonome des transports Parisiens) public transport authority. In addition to the photos there introductory statements by Anne-Marie Garat and Julien Faure-Conorton (he selected the photography) as well as a brief description for each twenty year section of photography.
*Photo courtesy Actes Sud
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The Tall Trees of Paris*
In The Tall Trees Of Paris (Overcup Press, $49) art enthusiast Matt Wagner showcases 42 contemporary Parisian artists and their work. The 285-page hardcover color book in English and French, released May 2016, took him a year from idea to publication. There was no cost to the artists to be included.
Each artist profile includes a photo of the artist's work space, a portrait of the artist or the self image of her or his choice, and photos of his or her work. Wagner selected the artists through his contacts in the art world. The handwritten answers to nine identical questions appear on one page and a typewritten translation in English appears on the opposite page. Among the questions are the artist's favorite restaurant, bars, shops and museums.
“Paris is the foundation of contemporary art, the requirement for graduation,” said Wagner in a press release promoting his new title. “Accordingly, it’s also easily overlooked. Like arches that support an ancient aqueduct, nobody even notices them as long as the water is flowing. But without Paris, the flow of art would have stopped. Paris is good at art. Good enough that people have stopped noticing and just take it for granted. Ultimately, the Tall Trees books are about people. The questionnaires introduce the featured artists to readers, detailing their favorite things about the place they live and work. We become invested in the artist’s wellbeing like that of a friend.”
The artists featured are: 2Shy, Alëxone, Alexandra Arango, Céline Artigau, Nicolas Barrome Forgues, Martes Bathori, Blek Le Rat, Agnes Boulloche, Broll & Prascida, Thierry Bruet, Ludovic Debeurme, Veronique Dorey, Dugudus, Elobo, Christelle Enault, Agnès Ernoult, Sébastien Féraut (Niark1), Christian Guemy (c215), HONET, Kerascoët, Koleo, Koralie, Eric Lacan (Monsieur Qui), Hubert de Lartigue, Jean Leblanc, Jean Lecointre, Lek & Sowat, Levalet, Nicolas Martin, Jean-Michel Ouvry, Tristan Pernet, Aurore Petit, Bruno Pontiroli, Francesca Protopapa (il Pistrice), Sebastien Preschoux, RERO, Jérémy Schneider, Supakitch, Sébastien Touache, TYRSA, Amandine Urruty, and Frédérique Vernillet.
Matt Wagner, editor, The Tall Trees of Paris
The Tall Trees of Paris
book is for the curious, the traveler and the art lover," Wagner said, by email through his publisher, when asked who might like his book. "It’s a great travel guide for finding undiscovered spots in Paris and it’s great for learning more about discovered and undiscovered artists." As to the criteria he used in selecting the artists for inclusion, he said,"
I am completely selfish in this aspect. I choose artists that I like their work. Lucky for me that my taste is pretty diverse. That diversity comes through in the curation of the book with the selection of painters, installation artists, sculptors, street artists, illustrators, etc.
With the Paris book I mostly found artists through networking. I would meet one artist or another curator and they would recommend an artist. That artist would then recommend another. I was able to build up quite a roster of artists in this manner."
When asked what was the greatest surprise he had from the book project he said, "My biggest surprise is how hard I fell in love with Paris. I had only been a tourist previous to the book and didn’t really think I would become so enamored with people of Paris."
Wagner is the founder, owner, and curator of Hellion Gallery in Portland, Oregon. Born, raised and educated in Indiana, after moving west, Wagner fell in love with Portland and learned the ropes at several galleries before opening Hellion in 2010. Prior to the Paris book, he published The Tall Trees of Tokyo (2012) and The Tall Trees of Portland (2014).
*Photos courtesy of Matt Wagner
Click to buy The Tall Trees of Paris
Market Food: South Africa
Following the explosion of local markets and the emergence of talented foodie entrepreneurs, Dianne Stewart and her two daughters, Lissa Stewart and Jessica Cairns, felt driven to travel around South Africa in search of the best market food. Two years later, in 2015, they published Market Food: South Africa (Bookstorm), a 167-page softcover book for tourists and locals. The book is divided into six sections: Find Your Local Market, Market Tastes, Market Meals, A Little Extra, Sweet Sensations, and Thirst Quenchers.
"Having experienced numerous food markets abroad, we knew that the world-class South African food markets were worth promoting," Jessica Cairns said via email. "We visited markets nationally, in search of markets with their own unique personality and we sort after talented food vendors who were producing creative food of a very high quality. Market Food includes a directory of markets that we visited around the country and a diverse assortment of great market food recipes accompanied by the foodie entrepreneur’s unique stories. The book aims to promote the food markets and these talented vendors."
Dianne Stewart, Lissa Stewart and Jessica Cairns, authors, Market Food
Their favorite part of the project Cairns said by email was, "Eating our way around the markets! Sampling the delicious food, chatting to the vendors to get the background to their food and how they ended up at the markets. Dianne and Jessica collated the vendors recipes and retold the vendor’s personal stories while Lissa had the task of capturing the market atmosphere and the delicious food through the photographic lens."
The biggest surprise? "The depth of the talent at these markets and the diverse personalities of each market- some tucked away in bustling harbour precincts, others on lush wine estates, in parks or inner-city warehouses," Cairns said.
The three continue the promotion of food markets and talented food vendors on their website and social media channels (marketscoop.co.za) where they feature an updated national market directory (each market has its own page with photographs, maps and opening times), scoops of what is happening at markets around the country and the personal stories of some of the vendors they meet at the markets. Dianne Stewart is author of 30 books, Jessica Cairns is a former international banker, and Lissa Stewart is a food photographer.
Lettuce and a Lady's Breast
In Lettuce and a Lady's Breast Looking back over 50 years of cooking Billy Gallagher (Billy Gallagher and Associates) outlines the highlights of his culinary life from his roots in the United Kingdom to South Africa. He shares insights from his personal life, his life as a chef as well as his work with the South African Chefs Association (SACA) and the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS). The 330-page softcover book, published in 2015, is divided chronologically. It is peppered liberally with black and white and color images and photos.
Babel (Babylonstoren) by Maranda Engelbrecht is a 237-page softcover oversize book published in 2013. The visually appealing book has full color photos of the produce and meals from Babel, its namesake restaurant located within Babylonstoren, a relatively new produce farm lovingly established and nurtured in a former cattle farm, in South Africa's Winelands region near Cape Town.
Maranda Engelbrecht, author, Babel
The self described food stylist's affection for presentation is evident in the page size photos of plants and dishes served at the restaurant as well as the restaurant itself. Many of items on the restaurant menu are routinely made from products grown on the farm and its environs. The book is available for sale at a large shop on the farm.
Photos courtesy of Dianne Stewart, Lissa Stewart, Jessica Cairns and Babel
Click to buy Market Food: South Africa and Lettuce and a Lady's Breast
Birds of Kenya
Photo: Princeton Press
The thousands of flamingos on Lake Nakuru may be perhaps the most famous of bird sightings in Kenya's Rift Valley.
There are many bird other species in that area, which includes four national parks: Lake Nakuru, Lake Bogoria, Mount Longonot, and Hell's Gate. Birds of Kenya’s Rift Valley (Princeton University Press, $29.95), a 256-page softcover book by Adam Scott Kennedy published in 2014, features the 320 bird species he believes travelers are most likely to encounter on safari in the region, which runs from Lake Baringo in the north to Lake Magadi in the south.
In the book, there are 500 color photos, most by the author, as well as non technical information on the ecology of the area and bird behaviors by species. It is divided into seven sections: Birds of Lake and Marsh; Up In the Air; Birds of Prey, Birds of Grassland and Open Areas; Birds of Wood, Scrub and Garden; and Night Birds.
Scott Kennedy has served as principal leader on birding holidays in Africa, South America, Europe, and New Zealand. He and his wife, Vicki, operate as private safari guides, specializing in photographic and wildlife safaris in East Africa. He is the author of Birds of the Masai Mara (see New Masai Mara bird book available).
Click to buy Birds of Kenya's Rift Valley (WILDGuides)
*A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania
Safari goers headed to Tanzania may be interested to know that a new field guide highlighting 135 species of larger mammals (60 percent of mammals identified in Tanzania are rodents, bats and shrews), ranging in size from the hedgehog to the humpback whale, was published. The East Africa country is best known among game viewing and nature enthusiasts for the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Part of the WildGuides, A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania (Princeton University Press, $29.95) by Charles Foley, Lara Foley, Alex Lobora, Daniela De Luca, Maurus Msuha, Tim R. B. Davenport and Sarah Durant is a 320-page paperback book published in 2014. It includes 300 color illustrations and 140 maps. The book is the second in the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)-Tanzania Programme field guide series. Author royalties from the book are to be donated to the Wildlife Conservation Society to support the Tanzania Carnivore Project or other wildlife projects in the country.
Forty percent of Tanzania's larger mammals are strictly or mostly nocturnal, requiring night drives or walks for optimum viewing. The authors recommend red colored filters during those hours.
For land animals there is information on identification, subspecies, similar species, ecology, behavior, distribution, conservation status, and where best to see each type of creature. The conservation status categories are: Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened, and Least Concern. There are also plates with side-by-side photographic comparisons of species that are easily confused, and first-time-ever species checklists for the national parks.
Charles Foley is assistant country director for the Wildlife Conservation Society in Tanzania. Lara Foley is program manager of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Tarangire Elephant Project. Alex Lobora is senior research officer at the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute. Daniela De Luca is senior scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s conservation programs in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania and Zanzibar. Maurus Msuha is head of wildlife information and education at the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute. Tim R. B. Davenport is country director for the Wildlife Conservation Society in Tanzania. Sarah Durant is senior research fellow at the Zoological Society of London’s Institute of Zoology.
*Photo: Princeton University Press
Click to buy A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania