MY 20TH ANNUAL SURVEY OF FOOD AND DRINK-RELATED BOOKS
SUITABLE AS HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR THE 2016/17 PARTY PERIOD
NOVEMBER 16, 2016
By Dean Tudor, Ryerson Journalism Professor Emeritus and Gothic Epicures Writing,
www.deantudor.com (World Wine Watch Newsletter).
There are always many new food and wine books out there for people who have picky tastes!! What to choose? I have cast about for material and have come up with a decent selection of materials published in 2016 to satisfy any pocketbook, any host, and any friend or relative. All books and book-like materials that are listed here are RECOMMENDED for gifting, and can be purchased at a discount via Amazon.Ca, Chapters.Indigo.Ca (with free delivery on a total purchase of over $35 or so), or even The Book Depository in Guernsey (free delivery and no GST from the UK).
Price Alert: because of US dollar fluctuations with Canada, all prices will vary.
Part One: TOP GIFT IDEAS
A. Art/travel/restaurant cookbooks might be some of the best books to give a loved one (or to yourself, since you are your own best loved one). Most may cost you an arm and a leg. Books for the coffee table have their place in the gift scheme: just about every such book is only bought as a gift! And are often perused first by the donor (you). Don't let the prices daunt you. Such books are available at a discount from online vendors. Because of the "economy", not too many pricey food and wine books were released last year and this year, and some book reviewers were cut off from receiving many expensive imported books but sent galley proofs, a PDF or a BLAD instead.
** NUMBER ONE HOLIDAY TOP GIFT BOOK FOR ANY CATEGORY **
TASTE OF PERSIA (Artisan, 2016, 392 pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is by Naomi Duguid, author of award-winning cookbooks dealing with the world stage such as Burma (2012). Here she travels through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Kurdistan, her memoirs coupled with recipes from the old Persian Empire, gateway through the culinary world. As she says, the cuisine reflects a love for the fresh and the tart. Pomegranates, saffron threads, kebabs, barbari breads, pilafs: 125 recipes cover these and more. Typical are preps dealing with "ash" (stews), rose water, filled dumplings, stuffed veggies and halvah. The tome is part regional cuisine and part stories, magnified by her own photography. Studio shots are done by Gentl + Hyers. There's a small section on Georgian wine and Armenian brandy, followed by a glossary, bibliography, and conversion charts. An adventure in flavour and community indeed.
--LE MANOIR AUX QUAT' SAISONS; the story of a modern classic (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016, 480 pages, $99 CAD hardbound) is by Raymond Blanc, owner-chef of the establishment hotel-restaurant located in Great Milton, Oxford. As the publisher notes, this is a chance to step within the walls for a personal tour by Blanc, season by season. He reveals how every element of the place--from the Japanese garden to the Citronelle bedroom--was brought to life, and takes the reader into the kitchen to show the culinary secrets of this double Michelin-starred restaurant (it has had its stars for the past 26 years). The book features 120 of Le Manoir's celebrated dishes, including ricotta agnolotti, venison grand veneur, blood orange carpaccio, and apple tart Maman Blanc. Illustrated with full-color photography--of the gardens, rooms and recipes--and specially commissioned artwork that captures its magical quality. Totally self-taught, Raymond Blanc is one of Britain's most respected chefs. In 2007 he was awarded an OBE for services to culinary excellence. He is the bestselling author of several books, including Kitchen Secrets.
--TEN RESTAURANTS THAT CHANGED AMERICA (Liveright-Norton, 2016, 529 pages, $47 CAD hardbound) is by Yale history prof Paul Friedman who writes historical books about taste and spices. Here he continues his writings through a social/cultural history of different foods and tastes in the USA. These are the ten most influential restaurants that affected dining out in America: Le Pavillon (French cuisine), Chez Panisse, Antoine's (New Orleans regional cuisine), Howard Johnson's (travel and road houses), Schrafft's (urban lunch spots that catered to women), Mama Leone's (Italian), The Mandarin (San Francisco Chinese), Delmonico's (the first, from 1830's), The Four Seasons, and Sylvia's (Harlem, Afro-American food). His text is well-written and approachable, illustrated with vintage photos, menu covers, cartoons, and promotional flyers. No fast/junk food joints. It is easy to criticize choice of restaurants, but I could not replace any; I could just add to with at least Stars (Jeremiah Tower) and Moosewood (Mollie Katzen). Just add your own three more for a Top 15!!
--THE SERIAL ENTERTAINER'S PASSION FOR PARTIES (Gibbs Smith, 2016, 192 pages, $42 CAD hardbound) is by designer Steven Stolman. It's his fourth work as the Serial Entertainer, with a home in Palm Beach where most of his entertaining is done. He's got it all arranged by theme: what to do on New Year's Eve, weddings, birthdays, tent parties, goody bags, and galas for high society and red carpets. I am in awe. Most of his menu planning and decor can be trickled down for home use. But not cheaply since there are economies of scale. Oh, and he has a few recipes too. A nifty title for that entertainer friend of yours – just to give him/her some ideas. But beware the glint in the eye...
--TASTE & TECHNIQUE (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 386 pages, $54 CAD hardbound) is by Naomi Pomeroy, chef-owner of Beast and Expatriate in Portland OR. It weighs in at 2.5 kilos, most of which is needed to support the gorgeous photos by Chris Court, although Naomi does her own food styling. These are, in words of the subtitle, "recipes to elevate your home cooking" and your muscles. [I always make photocopies of recipes so I don't have to hoist the cookbook or spill anything on it]. Her tome is arranged by course or food group (app to dessert), with much material on the pantry/larder/ingredients/techniques components. It is mostly French style cuisine, with a detailed approach to mastering balance, acidity, and seasoning. The 140 preps of her fundamentals and building blocks are dedicated to the farming community. A strong gift cookbook.
--SOMETHINGTOFOODABOUT (Clarkson Potter, 2016, 240 pages, $39 CAD hardbound) is by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, a hip-hop music producer who attempts to answer the question: can food be art? These essays and narratives here talk about the matter as Thompson explores creativity with innovative chefs. He's got conversations with ten chefs, interviewing them on what makes them creative, how they see the world, and what drives them in their work. No recipes, just the interviews and photos. A good book for the advanced foodie in your life.
--OTTAWA COOKS (Figure 1 Publishing, 2016, 232 pages, $37.95 CAD hardbound) is by Anne DesBrisay. It's part of a series of works on local chefs and their food. For the last two years, it was Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. This year it is Ottawa and Edmonton. Here are the signature recipes from the great chefs of the NCC area. There are 41 preps from dining places which include Beckta, Beau's All Natural Brewing, and Supply & Demand. A good gift for anyone from Ottawa.
--EDMONTON COOKS (Figure 1 Publishing, 2016, 256 pages, $37.95 CAD hardbound) is by Tina Faiz and Leanne Brown. Here are the signature recipes from the great chefs of the Edmonton area. There are 38 preps from dining places which include Culina, Little Brick and Tzin. A good gift for anyone from Edmonton.
--ARAXI: roots to shoots (Figure 1 Publishing, 2016, 232 pages, $37.95 CAD hardbound) centres around just the one place in Whistler, BC. It's been around for awhile (it it opened in 1981). Currently, James Walt and his two sous-chefs run it (Aaron Heath and Jason Redmond), and they are the authors here. In layout it is pretty well standard, with chapters dealing with apps, mains and desserts – but matched by top-notch photography (worth the price alone). Together the authors tell the story of the restaurant and its bar in an engaging memoir style. Over 100 preps cover their signature dishes over time and their cocktails. A nifty gift for anyone who has visited the place.
--CINCIN (Figure 1 Publishing, 2016, 232 pages, $37.95 CAD hardbound) centres around Cin Cin Ristorante in Vancouver, which promotes a wood-fired cucina. Andrew Richardson is the executive chef at CinCin; he opened it in 2012 after a career in Europe and BC. It is Mediterranean cuisine, principally Italian, and arranged as an Italian meal: antipasti, primi, secondi, contorni, and dolci. There are 73 of them plus 19 "basics". It is as you would expect at the restaurant, but tailored for home use. There are wood-grilled Alaska sea scallops, ravioli of fire-cooked squash, and lemon crema with smoked pistachios. A very useful gift for someone with that wood-burning smoker.
--DINNER AT THE LONG TABLE (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 2016, 314 pages, $54 CAD hardbound) is by Andrew Tarlow (owner of Diner, in Brooklyn, along with five other restaurants in the NYC area) and Anna Dunn, the bartender for the group. These are preps from the chefs in the Tarlow group, organized by 17 menus that emphasize the long table experience of community dining. There's a men for birthday celebrations, one for each of the seasons, one for the New Year, another for an afternoon around the fire. One of my faves is the "agro & dolce", a lunch for eight that features roasted beets, homemade yogurt, smoothie (for the whey), rosemary and olive focaccia, saffron artichokes, sardines, and cod – plus some sides. It is a posh gift-book, with great photography and a fabric ribbon bookmark (always classy).
--JAPAN: from the source (Lonely Planet Books, 2016, 272 pages, $35.99 CAD hardbound) is by Tienlon Ho, Rebecca Milner, and Ippo Nakahara. Each is responsible for a specific geographical area; there are five of these, plus a glossary. These are the best local dishes from restaurant chefs, such as squid croquettes or scallops simmered in miso. And, of course, there are cultural notes about the dish, the region, and the chef.
--SPAIN: from the source (Lonely Planet Books, 2016, 272 pages, $35.99 CAD hardbound) is by Sally Davies. There are four geographical regions (NE, Central, NW and South) plus a glossary. These are the best local dishes from restaurant chefs, such as mallorquin flatbreads or duck with pears. And, of course, there are cultural notes about the dish, the region, and the chef.
--APPETITES; a cookbook (Ecco, 2016, 304 pages, $46.50 CAD hardbound) is by Anthony Bourdain, well-known chef and TV personality (e.g., Parts Unknown). This is his FIRST cookbook in ten years, so that kind of makes it an automatic choice for a gift. It's here in this section because it is also pricey. This is home cooking and home entertaining. Since he now has a young daughter he is more "available" at home. In his own words, he has "morphed into a psychotic, anally retentive, bad-tempered Ina Garten." He is as unapologetic as always, but it is home cooking, probably at its best.
--SICILY (Hardie Grant Books, 2016, 272 pages, $56.99 CAD hardbound) is by Katie and and Giancarlo Caldesi, authors of other Italian cookbooks (Amalfi Coast, Venice, Rome) and owners of restaurants and cooking schools. It is part memoir, part cookbook, part travelogue, with descriptions of local cooks. Arranged by course (antipasti through dolci). Of particular interest to many GF people is the pasta fresca senza glutine. And the rice timbale...A perfect way to cook and eat a bowl of pasta while watching Montalbano, the best detective Sicily can offer up.
--DISHING UP NEW JERSEY (Storey Publishing, 2016, 278 pages, $28.95 CAD paperbound) is by John Holl. It is one of a series, "Dishing Up", rotating through the 50 states of the USA. Virginia and Maryland have been done, as was Minnesota (see below). The standard is 150 recipes from the Garden State: diners, boardwalks, food trucks, farm stands, restaurants. Such local items appear as disco fries and funnel cakes. Preps are sourced as to origin. Good gift for anyone you know who comes from New Jersey.
--DISHING UP MINNESOTA (Storey Publishing, 2016, 281 pages, $28.95 CAD paperbound) is by Teresa Marrone. The "Land of 10,000 Lakes" has 150 recipes to share, from chefs, farmers, state fairs, food trucks, foragers, winemakers, and brewers. Some local items include herring, trout, walleye, as well as morels and chanterelles, wild blueberries and wild game. Preps are sourced as to origin. This is the ninth in the "Dishing Up" series. A nifty gift for that local Minnesotan you know.
--THE BREAD BAKER'S APPRENTICE. Rev. Ed., 15th Anniversary Edition (Ten Speed Press, 2001, 2016, 322 pages, $54 CAD hardbound) is by Peter Reinhart, co-founder of Brother Juniper's Bakery. It's a tutorial tome on bread-making, one of the first of its kind. It won a Beard Award and an IACP Cookbook of the Year in the same year. The tutorial covers the first 100 pages; the recipes follow in the latter 200. There have been a few changes and tweaks, and he did update the resources list through 2015. But there are no gluten-free accounts. If you do not have the original, this is a good cookbook.
--THE TASHA TUDOR FAMILY COOKBOOK (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016, 168 pages, $29.99 CAD hardbound) is by her grandson Winslow Tudor, who grew up in Vermont next door and now runs the family business. Here are heirloom recipes and memoirs from her Corgi Cottage, featuring Tasha Tudor receipts (as she called them) and watercolour illustrations. He philosophy was "In all things moderation except gardening". So she had a huge veggie garden as a source of food, along with a freezer and a larder – not much meat was eaten. The cookbook is pretty basic, with beef pies, chicken pies, apple dumplings, chocolate puddings, and all manner of local vegetables. It's comfort food to match the comfort watercolours...a good too for her fans and admirers, and a chance to buy some reproductions of her art.
--POLSKA: new Polish cooking (Quadrille Books, 2016, 256 pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is by Zuza Zak. She says that most Poles prefer to eat at home or at the home of friends and family, rather than at a restaurant. With that in mind, she has developed a tome of traditional Polish food with contemporary twists, such as Polish kimchi with venison. She covers the basics of Polish food cultural history, emphasizing regionalism and the seasons along with Jewish and Gypsy influences. Her Polish pantry contains yellow wax beans, twarog cheese, herrings, Polish sausage, dill, buckwheat, sauerkraut, gherkins and more. It's arranged by course with special sections on beans, kasza, dumplings, and zakaski party foods. There is even a bibliography for further readings.
--CUBA! (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 250 pages, $40 CAD hardbound) is a travel food book which explores Cuba through its recipes and food stories. Photographers Dan Goldberg and Andrea Kuhn have visited the country off and on over five years. Jody Eddy did the text, and Mollie Hayward did the recipe development. There are 75 preps that are indicative of where Cuba is now in the food hierarchy. It ranges from the bites of pork and mango salsa through the grilled shrimp with sugarcane, fish with mojo, verdado lobster roll, pistachio pistou, and yucca fries – followed by the mains and usual sides and desserts. They have a discussion on the Cuban pantry, which contains conch, chorizo, mojo, plantains, and bijol. Excellent graphic design and layout and sharp travel notes about the food and the kitchens (commercial and family).
--ISRAEL EATS (Gibbs Smith, 2016, 240 pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is by Steven Rothfeld, who also did the photography. The work is oversized, but this gives him more space to do a comprehensive survey of Israeli food through five areas: Tel Aviv, North, Jerusalem and Judean Hills, Centre, and South. These are the innovative cooks of Modern Israel: farmers, chefs, local artisans. They all have stories and recipes to tell. So this is a memoir of travels with many photos of people, places, and 100 attributed dishes and recipes. Here the classic dishes are updated and contemporary new ones created. A tome for the fans of Yotam Ottolenghi.
--THE LOVE AND LEMONS COOKBOOK (Viking, 2016, 295 pages, $35 CAD hardbound) is by Jeanine Donofrio of loveandlemons.com. It's subtitle is "an apple-to-zucchini celebration of impromptu cooking", with seasonal produce and savoury flavours. There are 100 vegetarian recipes here, drawn from her website, with vegan and gluten-free options. What is also good about the book is that she has some recipe variation charts for lots of comfort and homey foods.
--THE LONDON COOKBOOK (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 290 pages, $47 CAD hardbound) is by Aleksandra Crapanzano, with top log rolling from Yotam Ottolenghi ("London's favorite restaurants offering their favorite recipes"), Ruth Rogers ("uncover the city's best-kept culinary secrets"), Claudia Roden ("the best chefs behind it and their glorious dishes"), Daniel Humm ("a wonderful ode to this incredible food, this fascinating city, and its remarkable chefs"), Ruth Reichl ("irresistible portraits of the fascinating people who are changing the way we eat"), Danny Meyer ("winning collection of recipes") and Dan Barber ("deftly captures the pulse and vitality"). 100 eclectic preps from restos, dessert shops, coffee houses, cocktail lounges, and holes-in-the-wall – all adapted for the home kitchen.
--PURE ARTISTRY (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 342 pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is by Emily Lael Aumiller, who has come up with a variety of extraordinary special-occasion vegan and gluten-free cakes. These are recipes, techniques and designs from Brooklyn`s Lael Cakes. These cakes are all bright, playful, classic, geometric, and even dramatic. These are high end creations, and there are terrific pictures and technique instructions. The best recipes, to my mind, are the Mexican chocolate cake, the Madagascar vanilla bean cake, and the lemon poppy cake. Lael Cakes use a gluten-free flour blend of millet, tapioca, corn starch, potato starch, and brown rice flours.
--FAR AFIELD (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 304 pages, $54 CAD hardbound) is by Shane Mitchell (text) and James Fisher (photos). It is a large format travel title detailing rare food encounters from around the world. Many of the chapters were also published in travel and food magazines, but quite a few are new or redone. There are taro farmers in Hawaii, Icelandic shepherds still using Viking techniques, gauchos in Uruguay, potato farmers in Peru, and fishermen in Kenya (among others). For each, there are texts, photos, and a handful of relevant recipes. The chapter dealing with tribeswomen of the India subcontinent include preps such as goat stew, raw mango chutney, stuffed peppers, and more. Given its size and price, this can be a pretty good coffee table tome!
--FRENCH COUNTRY COOKING (Clarkson Potter, 2016, 336 pages, $45 CAD hardbound) is by Mimi Thorisson, host of some French cooking shows and author of "A Kitchen in France". It's about an old chateau in the Medoc region (No. 1 rue de Loudenne) that she and her husband Oddur have restored. It is basically meals and moments from a village in the vineyards (or so says the subtitle). There are notes on shopping, renovating and cooking as she meets the local farmers and artisans. Great photos by Oddur, but no wine recommendations. The recipes are sourced from her and the locals, and include such as guinea hen ravioli or pearl onion tarte tatin.
--THE ADVENTURES OF FAT RICE (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 312 pages, $47 CAD hardbound) is by Abraham Conlon, Adrienne Lo, and Hugh Amand. These are their collected recipes from the newly hot Chicago restaurant Fat Rice, which specializes in food from Macau (Portuguese-influenced SEA food, located an hour ferry ride from Hong Kong). As a trading port with spices, the city did a lot of curries as reflected in this cookbook. There is material about culture and about food plus a huge assortment of preps such as Min Chi (Macanese minced meat hash) or Po Kok Gai (chicken curry with chourico and olives). This is a good contribution to the international cookbook shelf.