Picture this: a full house at your place in the weeks leading up to the Big Holiday. You come out of the kitchen with a tray. And on that tray, Seared Scallop with a Pickled Ginger and Clementine Butter Sauce. And nestled next to it, a platter of Meatballs in Camembert Sauce that you put down on the table right next to the Chipotle Goat Cheese Dip with Bagel Wedges. And the whole place sighs. Oh heck, this is your fantasy: the whole place applauds. To be honest, though, Shari Darling would take it up a notch: she’d have the whole place moan.

The culinary orgasm is sometimes just a happy accident. As a home cook (I’m not a chef), I love to hear my guests moaning over my food and wine choices …. For many of us, provoking this sublime response in others is hit and miss. What if you could learn the science and art of causing the culinary orgasm by purposefully preparing hedonistic recipes and matching wines, and you could produce them on a consistent and frequent basis?

In Orgasmic Appetizers and Matching Wines (Whitecap Books) Darling takes us there. Why appetizers instead of something more substantial? “Appetizers are indulgent and irresistible, risky and exciting. They’re sexy!” Are you sensing a theme here?

Orgasmic Appetizers and Matching Wines will make a terrific present to yourself on your quest for unforgettable holiday entertaining, or to make a strong statement under someone’s tree. This might very well be one of those gifts that just keep on giving.

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