Island Lake Lodge: the cookbook

I buy books for Christmas presents. Always and for everybody. Whenever possible, I stick to Canadian books. For the price of a decent bottle of wine, a book gives the recipient an art object, hours of entertainment, inspiration, a space for productive introspection, a cast of imaginary friends, and an excuse to spend the day curled up by the fire.

This year, my book of choice is Island Lake Lodge: the cookbook. This newly published masterpiece is a table book, a photo gallery, a history, a celebration, and a gourmet cookbook all in one. Of course, anyone who has been to Island Lake Lodge knows that it’s one of the most beautiful and pristine spots on earth. This book (thanks to photographer Henry Georgi) captures that beauty in all four seasons and from a number of peaks. When I send this gift to my family and friends, it’ll be both a boast and an invitation – Look where I live! Why wouldn’t you come visit?!

At first, I was intimidated by the recipes. The concept is modeled on the popular and much-loved Whitewater cookbooks, but because the meals at this cat-skiing resort are much higher-end than the standard day-lodge fare, the recipes in the Island Lake Lodge book are also more challenging. There are words like mousseline, coulis, tarte tatin, crostini, and gastrique.

I’m pretty good at rice bowls and chilies.

But my friend Keya assured me – “There’s French Toast. Page 7. How hard can that be? It’s French Toast.” So, I started with the breakfast foods. Completely do-able … and delicious. I progressed to Kerri Maier’s bars and cookies, which were a huge hit with the whole family. Next, someone directed me to the Curried Lentil Soup. Loved it. Plus, it turns out that all the soups are great and not terribly tricky at all.

The main courses, though, definitely involve a hefty time commitment and some labour. So, that makes two more things you give with this book: a culinary challenge and an experiential education in gourmet cooking.

One tip: If you’re anything like Hurricane Angie in the kitchen, keep this beautiful book well out of splattering range.

Some other book gift ideas:

For the humanitarian/traveler: Six Months in Sudan by James Maskalyk
For the short-story lover: Vanishing by Deborah Willis
For the poetry-lover: One Crow Sorrow by Lisa Martin-DeMoor
For the sport fanatic: King Leary by Paul Quarrington
For the woman hockey player: Twenty Miles by Cara Hedley
For the mom: Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott
For the aging athlete: Midnight Hockey by Bill Gaston
For the local shopper: a subscription to The Red Berry Review

Merry Christmas … and happy reading.