Sunday, 22 November 2015

Photography by Tom Ang (Published by DK Press)

A picture says a thousand words, or so goes the idiom, and the sweep of recent history enforces this notion --  stories have been told through the camera lens for the preceding two centuries and that is only increasing now with the ubiquity of social media and the accessibility of modern digital photography.

Cover of Photography: The Definitive Visual History
(by Tom Ang | published by DK )
While the medium is the message, photography has been the medium of choice. 
In Photography: The Definitive Visual History, prolific author and professional photographer Tom Ang (Twitter handle: @Tom_Ang ) provides an invaluable tome to those new to the genre as well as those experts looking for an elegant hardbound addition to their library. 

Picking up the book and leafing through the high archival quality pages one immediately senses the love for the craft. From the cover featuring Richard Avedon's 'Carmen (Homage to Munkacsi), coat by Cardin', Place Francois-Premier, Paris, 1957  through to the unforgettable images by the likes of Sebastio Salgado, Henri Cartier Bresson, Cindy Sherman, Steve McCurry, Joe Rosenthal, Stanley Forman, Marc Riboud, Luigi Ghirri, Sergio Larrain, Bill Brandt, Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Agustin Casasola, Man Ray (the list in seemingly endless) this tour de force is encyclopedic without being academic. It succeeds in teaching and informing without being sterile.

It is necessary to point out that Tom Ang isn't a shrinking violet. He is passionate about his craft, eagerly relaying the minutiae that those with an untrained eye may miss, and he doesn't mind taking a political position.

In Ang's own words:
Anyone with any interest in photography will find something they like. And those who know a lot may find something they don’t like. Because I am not afraid to express my opinion, or to reveal the uncomfortable truths. But I also take you on human stories too.

  • That Robert Capa was literally kicked in the butt onto the Normandy Beaches
  • The leading portrait photographers of New York in the late 19th century were women
  • The Leica was invented by an asthmatic engineer who enjoyed hill rambling
  • The inventors of Kodachrome were world-class musicians
(bold emphasis added)

The 480 pages may be dizzying in its depth for neophytes but the question of treating photography as a visual art practice is clear. Some have argued that art in the modern context has lost its meaning by being commodified for markets but this book, which Ang had originally penned as Photography - the story, gives a narrative that takes us from The Dawn of Photography (1825-1849) to The Digital Age (2000-Present) with an homage to the artistry and the technology.

We recommend this as a great addition to anyone's bookshelf but more so with the holidays around the corner.

Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea that talent combined with 10,000 hours of practice can lead to greatness. Well there really isn't a better place to start for anyone, be they casual learners or voracious autodidacts, than DK Canada’s Gift Boutique, where you’ll find a superb collection of books that will make you an expert in everything from Coffee to Whiskey, and everything in between.

DK Books are a gem of knowledge. Each one aims to educate and enlighten, while enriching our lives with a thirst for curiousity. Here's the preview DK Gift Boutique for 2015. 

This article was originally published on our sister site

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Understanding Kaiseki 懐石

A wonderfully accessible article on Understanding Kaiseki by Vaughn Tan (Twitter: @vaughn_tan ) in The Atlantic from 2009 (excerpt below):
Definitions of "kaiseki" often emphasize the multicourse, highly-seasonal nature of a kaiseki meal, and compare it to tasting menus and "Western-style haute cuisine"; it is the kind of meal you would go to When Only The Best Will Do. This is true. A kaiseki restaurant is a bit like a Michelin-starred restaurant: both will likely feature labor-intensive preparations, use choice ingredients, and be expensive. But there's more to kaiseki, at least the Platonic ideal of it that was described to me.

Kaiseki can be written in Japanese using two sets of ideograms: the first, 懐石, stands (approximately) for "stone in the robe;" the second, 会席, stands (again approximately) for "formal occasion." There is broad agreement that the second evolved out of the first. The stone in the robe form of kaiseki is much rarer today. This branch derives from the tea ceremony and from the vegetarian cooking traditions of Zen monasteries (you may sometimes see it referred to as shojin ryōri), and emphasises economy and wise use of materials instead of lavish ingredients and showing-off. The story (too convenient and thus singularly unconvincing) is that the food was so austere that monks in temples would warm stones and keep them in their robes next to their stomachs to ward off hunger pangs--hence the name. (Vaughn Tan, Understanding Kaiseki, The Atlantic, October 8, 2009)

The true exponent of Kaiseki in Toronto is Masaki Hashimoto, owner of the eponymously named  Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto ), whose meals range from $200 to $300 per head depending on the option chosen (as per below)

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Poggiotondo Brunello di Montalcino and The Venetian Bargain

It is back. 

By 'it' we mean the 2010 vintage of Poggiotondo Brunello di Montalcino which retails for $39.95 at Vintages locations withing Ontario LCBO's (VINTAGES 276576 | 750 mL bottle).

The Venetian Bargain
The 2010 vintage, described as 
"Rich and supple in texture, framing cherry, raspberry, licorice, tobacco and subtle underbrush flavors" by Bruce Sanderson of Wine Spectator does require laying down for a few years. If you insist on drinking now then please decant and take your time. While subjective, it will probably reach its prime drinking age in a couple of years and be good for another decade (from now).

We also suggest avid readers curl up with a good book to accompany it if there aren't friends around. Check out The Venetian Bargain by Marina Fiorato which was reviewed at SukasaReads in 2014.
This beautiful period piece embodies the sights and sounds of Venice, while portraying the horror of the times.
The prose is descriptive and poignant. It is nice to see a young female lead who embodies character and brains, in a time when women weren’t necessarily known to hold their own professional status. (Sukasa Reads Review, 13 May 2014) 
On this Wine Wednesday we at SukasaStyle recognize that life isn't perfect but if it were then we would suggest the 2006 vintage of Poggiotondo Brunello di Montalcino which we reviewed in August 2013. It was aging well back then and should be better now. The noble sangiovese grape ages better than most others. As Eric Asimov of The New York Times wrote this year (on Brunellos in general)  "...the best examples of Brunello di Montalcino are among the world’s greatest wines".

Halloween is over, and the holiday season is just around the corner. Put your feet up and relax with this stellar wine and book paring while you have the opportunity.

This is a SukasaStyle Books & Wine post.