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Books That Cook

By December 2007Comments

With Vineyard Cuisine: Meals & Memories from Messina Hof, Merrill and Paul Bonarrigo, the husband-and-wife team that own and operate Texas’s own Messina Hof Winery and Resort, branch out into new territory.

When the Bonarrigos planted their first vineyard in the early 1980s, there were just three wineries in the whole state. Vineyard Cuisine attests not only to the expansion of Paul and Merrill’s business, but also to the growth of their marriage, faith, and family. The book combines a wide variety of recipes, from Treberwurst to Strata Milano, with memories.

Cooking is an extension of the Bonarrigos’ marriage, with recipes inspired by their trips to Germany and France and by their families’ origins (Paul is Sicilian, Merrill is German). The Bonarrigos’ culinary forays are an extension of their wine-making business: most of the recipes call for specific Messina Hof wines, which can be an off-putting departure from the convention of listing only generic ingredients. This isn’t to say that the writers don’t know their stuff: helpful charts detail wine and sauce pairings, natural flavor affinities with wines, and wine serving tips. And the rich recipes, for a banana bread with a hint of Muscat canelli and a Sicilian escarole soup, to name a couple, are mouthwatering.

These combinations of cuisines and genres make for an unusual, yet enticing, cookbook.

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