A Feast At The Bookshelf (William Widmaier’s “A Feast At The Beach”)

Vinted on February 7, 2011 binned in book reviews, wine books

It’s been months since the most recent “official” book review on the virtual pages of 1WineDude.com.  This hasn’t been due to a paucity of book samples coming my way – I’ve just sadly had little time to devote to them, because my time management skills are on par with Chad Ochocinco’s ability to stay out of the public eye.

Fortunately for me – and, I think, for many of you – William Widmaier’s A Feast At The Beach hit my mailbox.  It clocks in at less than 150 pages, with most chapters – vignettes of Widmaier’s late `60s childhood in Provence, centered around wine, food, and the family kitchen – short enough to be enjoyed while taking care of quick business (on the toilet… c’mon, you know you were thinking it).  The book is interspersed with recipes that look simple and delicious (but I wouldn’t recommend combining them with the toilet-reading).

Anyway, delving into A Feast At The Beach has the feel of exploring the back-catalog of posts from a supremely well-written blog. The first few sentences of just about every chapter draw you in, connect you with Widmaier’s Provencal childhood memories, but in their disarming terseness remain blessedly free of any hint of cloying, saccharine wistfulness.  Exhibit A – his take on pesto (when comparing it to the French pistou):

“I am addicted to fresh homemade pesto. Forget the manufactured, preserved concoctions in jars. They compare to fresh homemade pesto like motor oil compares to Normandy butter.”

You’ve just gotta love that.  And as a wine lover, you’ve got to admire Widmaier’s take on the wines of Provence, which are prevalent throughout the book and often show that he knows of what he vinously speaks: “A huge part of the joy of wine, at least in my view, is having a sense of place that goes with the wine. Wine is more than the taste on the palate; it is place, memories, history and art. This is why with wine, taste is such a personal thing – it includes one’s romantic notions.”  Bingo, dude.

Personally, I’m pleased to have stumbled upon a memoir that is well-written enough to be romantically reflective without losing its edginess. Which makes A Feast At The Beach such a rare book – it’s one that can be equally at home on your grandmother’s beach house coffee table as well as your own nightstand.  $14.95-ish (cheaper at Amazon.com).






  • Patti Brown

    Sweeeet review! Just read the book, and dude, I have to concur that even for a girl, it is a seriously good read. (Erm, although I read it in the kitchen) -Just sayin..

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Patti -you picked a much more appropriate spot in the home to enjoy the book, I think! :)

  • ptelli

    A book to read with a glass of wine….Loved it!

  • @girlonwine

    Enjoyed the review! I'll have to look out for this one. I like wine books that are written in bite-sized chunks like that. I recently read Jay McInerney's A Hedonist in the Cellar, which was also organized in short vignettes. Now I'm trying to read another wine book that's structured in looong chapters and it's a tougher go…

  • Dan Ganshirt

    Great article! I have found vignettes to be excellent reading in the "small home library". I'll have to check this book out. Also, Ochocinco is going back to Johnson…to your point he's got to stay in the spotlight.

  • 1WineDude

    Thanks – I'd agree this book is a nice change from the normal "weighty tome" format for wine books. :)


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