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 2017 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 $25 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 this
year. Herewith, and in random order:
--DAVID TANIS MARKET COOKING (Artisan , 2017, 480 pages, $58 CAD
hardbound) is by, well, Chef David Tanis. You know the chef has arrived
when the publisher puts the name as part of the actual title. He's worked as
a chef for three decades, notably at Chez Panisse and Cafe Escalera. He's
also the author of several cookbooks, and is currently writing a weekly food
column for the New York Times. Here is a collection of 200 recipes and
thoughts, ingredient by ingredient, on food likely to be found at farmers'
markets, or, as the French say "la cuisine du marche". As he says, it means:
I go to the market, see what looks best, and then decide what will go in the
meal. Fresh ingredients provide the inspiration, and the majority of the
preps are veggie-based and global in scope. Indeed, the arrangement is by
vegetable, with alliums (garlic, onions, leeks, shallot, scallions) having a
chapter all to themselves. There is also material on seasoning and kitchen
essentials (eggs, dairy, rice, pasta, noodles, et al).
--THE LAMBSHANK REDEMPTION COOKBOOK (Dog 'n' Bone, 2017,
144 pages, $29.95 hardbound) is by Lachlan Hayman, who also wrote
Killing Me Souffle (a collection of music-based recipes). Here he has
collated 50 movie-inspired recipes. Although Silence of the Lambs is here
renamed Silence of the Clams (and comes in as a bacon and clam
chowder), I think the original fava beans and liver with Chianti would have
been more appropriate. But chacun a son gout. Most of the dishes relate to
a re-titling of the films, such as Bratwurst at Tiffany's, The Hummus Crown
Affair, The King's Peach, or My Big Fat Greek Salad. Jurassic Pork also
works for me. Good idea for the movie mavens.
--ISTANBUL & BEYOND (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017, 352
pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is by food writer Robyn Eckhardt. It's an
exploration of the diverse cuisines of Turkey, with excellent travel and food
photography by David Hagerman. There is also material on stocking the
Turkish pantry for the serious cook, and a glossary. This is the cross-roads
country between Europe and Asia, and shows heavy influences from the
surrounding countries such as Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria
and Greece. All courses are covered, and there is a separate index to
recipes by category. For example, breads include borek, tahini buns, pan
bread, kete, corn breads, flatbreads, hand-pies, and bread rings. Plenty of
meat, but no pork. Historical cultural and travel notes accompany just about
--VENETO: recipes from an Italian country kitchen (Guardian Books/Faber
and Faber, 2017, 288 pages, $42.95 CAD hardbound) is by Valeria
Necchio, who grew up in the countryside of inland Veneto (not Venice itself).
Here she tells stories of food, people and places, sharing recipes with
credit. This is, as Alice Waters endorsed, regional home cooking at its best.
The first part explores "then", the second part does "now" (both 125 pages
each) while the third part is the Venetian seasonal pantry. There's baccala
mantecato, schie frite, sarde in saor, ovi e sparsi, maroni rosti, fritaja de
erbe – and scores more. Good company for Brunetti when he travels inland.
--LISBON (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 256 pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is
by UK freelance food writer and TV presenter Rebecca Seal who has
written other food travel books (Istanbul, The Islands of Greece). She's got
some culinary links to former Portuguese colonies such as Goa,Brazil and
Mozambique, which have added to the local Lisbon food scene Each
recipe has a story. The classics are here: salt cod and chickpea seals, piri
piri chicken, Goan fish curry, and, of course, clams with pork (or is it pork
with clams?). Preps are titled in both Portuguese and English, and the index
provided a comprehensive analysis. Travel and plated photos are by her
husband food and drink photographer Steven Joyce. A very worthwhile gift
for people who have already been there and want to refresh their memories.
--RIVER COTTAGE A TO Z: our favourite ingredients and how to cook them
(Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017, 708 pages, $86 CAD hardcovers) is by
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall plus contributions from eight others on the River
Cottage team. They go to work with short notes and cross-referenced
recipes for each ingredient (with writer attribution). It is this year's monster
gift at this price and weight of just under six pounds (2.6 kilos). Not for the
slight. It is a fine reference tool as well since there is a lot here that you may
never see or use, such as puffballs, woodcock, winkles, purslane, or snipe.
But the common are also covered, such as eggs, bacon, cheese, salt, and
allspice. Each mini-essay details the origins, propagation, and culinary
uses of vegetables, herbs, seafood, and meats. Beware, though, of the
distinct British orientation (eg, aubergines).
--BANGKOK (Ten Speed Press, 2017, 360 pages, $47 CAD hardbound) is
by Leela Punyaratabandhu, who writes about Thai food (she had previously
authored Simple Thai Food). This one covers the food of Bangkok, her
hometown. It's loaded with street food which, of course, needs a strong
urban/tourist environment. In addition to the photos of plated recipes, there
are many stories of Bangkok with photos of the landscape. Here are 120
preps ranging from curried chicken puffs, omelette rolls with crabmeat and
shrimp paste relish, chicken matasman curry, noodles and desserts. She's
got strong notes on pantries and rice, as well as the engaging stories of
--DALMATIA (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 224 pages, $57 CAD hardbound)
is by Ino Kuvacic, who owns and chefs at Dalmatino in Melbourne. It's this
year's Croatian cookbook (there is usually one a year). These are preps
from Croatia's Adriatic coast, with four chapters covering veggies, seafood,
meat and sweets. Most of the photos are of the plated foods, but there are
some obviously tourist-y ones from along the coast. Try brudet (Dalmatian
fish stew), crni rizot (black risotto) and duved (sauteed veggies with rice).
--LURE (Figure 1, 2017, 240 pages, $38.95 CAD hardbound) is by Ned
Bell, once executive chef of Four seasons Hotel Vancouver and other
places but now heavily involved with seafood sustainability groups such as
"Chefs for Oceans" which he founded in 2014. He's writing with Valerie
Howes, food editor of Reader's Digest Canada and currently writing a work
on edible landscapes and seascapes of Fogo Island, Newfoundland. These
are sustainable seafood recipes from the West Coast of Canada. The
recipe section is arranged by type: white fish, fatty fish, shellfish, and sea
greens. It is headed by a recipe list by course, so you can always find a
sandwich or soup or app. There is a 50-page chapter on specie profiles, so
you can get the lowdown on what to look for when buying and how to prep.
There's one dessert here (seaweed brownies), and one drink (seaweed
vodka caesar) plus salads, mains, snacks, appetizers, sandwiches, and
soups. He's identified all the healthy fish and shellfish species on the West
coast, so it is a useful tome to assuage any feelings of irresponsibility.
--THE CHILTERN FIREHOUSE: THE COOKBOOK (Ten Speed Press,
2017, 320 pages, $66 CAD hardbound) is from a London restaurant in a
Victorian building which also houses a 26-suite hotel. The building, in
Marylebone, was once the Manchester Square Fire Station, but was
renovated by Andre Balazs (who also owns hotels in New York and
Hollywood). He's on the title page, as is Nuno Mendes the chef. The
Firehouse is strong on cocktails and snacks. Stephen Fry's faves are the
Firehouse Sazerac, bacon cornbread fingers with chipotle maple butter and
fried chicken with smoky bacon ranch dip. Among the mains you will find
the red mullet with endive hearts, mussels and marcona almonds. To
conclude, Fry wants to die with the frozen apple panna cotta on his lips. A
third of the (oversized) tome is cocktails and snacks, and if you add starters
(which are actually large snacks or small plates), then you are up to page
170 -- more than half the book. Mains and deserts are about 100 pages.
Add brunch and a lot of well-sited photos with a history of the establishment.
Recommended strongly as a gift for the millennials.
--THE DESSERTS OF NEW YORK (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 242
pages, $34.99 CAD softbound) is by travel cookbook author Yasmin
Newman. It is a detailed survey guide to the various places one can find
desserts in NYC, with info on places, people and areas. She's got the
recipes for the "best" NYC cheesecake, NYC cupcakes, and NYC banana
cream mille crepes – among others. For your NYC friends and visitors.
--THE GRAND CENTRAL MARKET COOKBOOK (Clarkson Potter, 2017,
256 pages, $40 CAD hardbound) is by Adele Yellin (her firm owns and has
operate the GCM since 1984) and Kevin West. This is cuisine and culture
from downtown Los Angeles. The GCM has been here since 1917; this is its
centennial year. The 34 stalls are a mix of legacy tenants and new vendors –
all culturally diversified with a great ethnic mix of food. There are 85 recipes
to make at home, plus pix of the buzz at the market. Narratives include
behind-the-scenes stories and interviews with popular vendors and longtime
shoppers. Preps have been sourced from the stalls and the whole book has
been wrapped around excellent photography and illustrations.
--IN MY KITCHEN (Ten Speed Press, 2017, 286 pages, $42.50 CAD
hardbound) is by the indefatigable Deborah Madison, one of the most
important cookbook authors (14) with major awards (Beard, Fisher, IACP)
working in the area of vegetarian food. More than 100 recipes here come
from her personal selection of what she eats today in New Mexico. It's all
organized by major ingredient, and each prep has some vegan and gluten-
free variations. Consider the basic tomato and red pepper tart in a yeasted
crust, or the Japanese sweet potato soup with ginger and smoked salt.
She's got lots of cook notes and tips for the preps, complemented by
sterling close-up photography. A great gift idea – in fact, buy two and keep
one for yourself.
--PROVENCE TO PONDICHERRY (Quadrille, 2017, 288 pages, $50 CAD
hardbound) is by Tessa Kiros, with photography by Manos Chatzikonstantis
and food styling by Michail Touros. It's about the French threads in food and
travel, and goes through Provence, Guadeloupe, Vietnam, Pondicherry, La
Reunion, and Normandy – all within 300 or so pages. Part memoir and part
recipes, with lots of photos. There's rougail tomate, coriander chutney, sticky
rice with coconut and ginger, tapenade, fried shallots – and more. A great
guide for the traveller.
--FRANCE: from the source (Lonely Planet Books, 2017, 288 pages,
$34.99 CAD hardbound) is by Carolyn Boyd. Each chapter covers a
specific geographical area; there are four of these (northern, central,
southeast and southwest France), plus recipe sources. These are the best
local dishes from restaurant chefs, such as snails with butter and parsley or
salade lyonnaise or salade nicoise. And, of course, there are cultural notes
about the dish, the region, and the chef. One of a very impressive series
(which already has Japan, Spain, and Mexico).
--MEXICO: from the source (Lonely Planet Books, 2017, 288 pages,
$34.99 CAD hardbound) is by five different authors, each to a region. There
are five geographical regions (Baja California, Yucatan, Oaxaca, Pacific
Coast and Mexico City) plus recipe sources. These are the best local
dishes from restaurant chefs, such as habanero salsa, tuna tostados,
ceviche, chicken legs with red chile spices, pozole, and turkey soup with
meat balls. And, of course, there are cultural notes about the dish, the
region, and the chef. One of a series.
--STREET FOOD ASIA (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 306 pages, $60 CAD
hardbound) is by Luke Nguyen of Saigon who travels through Malaysia,
Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, with photography by Alan Benson. It's an
oversized tome concentrating on both the street food (such as duck egg and
beef martabak) and the vendors, with cultural stories about the food. It is all
aromatic fragrant food, full of baguettes and banana leaves, pork and rice,
tamarind water, tea and tofu. And now you can make the foods at home with
the given recipes.
--DINNER (Clarkson Potter, 2017, 400 pages, $47 CAD hardbound) is by
award-winning IACP and Beard author Melissa Clark, staff food writer for
the New York Times. She's got 200 recipes that, in her opinion, "change the
game". It's arranged by main ingredient: chicken, meat (but including duck
and turkey), ground meats, seafood/fish, eggs, pasta, tofu, veggie dinners,
rice, pizzas, soups, salads, and add-ons such as dips/spreads/breads. It is
an oversized and heavy tome, very impressive as a gift.
--ACQUACOTTA (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 272 pages, $50 CAD
hardbound) is by Emiko Davies, who has lived in Tuscany for many years.
This is the cuisine of Tuscany's Silver Coast by the Tyrrhenian Sea (Monte
Argentario, with its Port Ercole where she lived for awhile: "Cucina
Maremmana"). These recipes and stories are dominated by the water and
lagoon, although there are preps from the surrounding woods and cultivated
farms. The chapter "Dal Mare e Dalla Laguna" seems to have many ancient
seafood dishes from the fishing towns. She's even got a bibliography for
further reading. Lots of non-food photos and stories also makes this a travel
--THE COMPLETE ASIAN COOKBOOK (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 640
pages, $75 CAD hardbound) is by Charmaine Solomon. It was first issued
in 1976 and extensively revised in 2011; over its life it has sold more than a
million copies. The collection of 800+ recipes from Asiatic countries (India,
China, Japan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Burma,
Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, Korea, and Thailand) has been
translated into other European languages. This is its 40th anniversary
celebration edition. It's a huge oversized tome but is very comprehensive
and well-written – it is sure to please as a terrific gift.
--MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME (Gibbs Smith, 2017, 208 pages, $50
CAD hardbound) is by Sharon Santoni, whose blog is the same as the
book's title. It deals with entertaining through the seasons (beginning with
spring), and comes with gorgeous photography by Franck Schmitt.
Scattered throughout are easy versions of classic French cuisine, such as
cherry clafoutis, quiche Lorraine, fougasse bread, tarte Tatin, and roast duck
– about 15 in all. A definite coffee table tome; indeed, it IS a coffee table –
just attach legs (available separately). Her topics are universal: daily life in
rural France (here, Normandy) with its ups and downs; French girlfriends;
intricacies of village life; and searching for brocante treasure in the flea
markets of Paris and the countryside. Well-worth a look.
--KING SOLOMON'S TABLE (Knopf, 2017, 386 pages, $47 CAD
hardbound) is by Jean Nathan, multiple cookbook award winner (Beard,
IACP, Child) and host of PBS cookery shows. For forty years she has
specialized in Jewish cooking themes, and here gives us a culinary
exploration of Jewish diaspora cooking from around the world. It is an
informative guide to the international global scope of Jewish cooking,
arranged by course and major ingredient: pantry matters, morning dishes,
starters, salads, soups, grains, veggies, fish, poultry, meats and sweets.
She's got socca, spanakit (Georgian spinach salad) and keftes garaz
(Syrian meatballs). Most of the 170 preps are accompanied by detailed
cultural notes and photos. There is also an in-depth bibliography and a
thorough index. Well-worth perusing.
--PORTLAND COOKS (Figure 1 Publishing, 2017, 226 pages, $37.95
CAD hardbound) is by local cookbook author and food writer/blogger
Danielle Centoni, who also has a Beard Award. It is another in the great
series from Figure 1 detailing recipes from a city's best restaurants and
bars. Having done the major cities of Canada, the Canadian publishers are
expanding to contiguous locations such as Portland (can Seattle be far
behind?). The series is fairly straightforward: there is an introduction to the
restaurants and the local food scene, followed by a home version of the
restaurant's recipe (usually one or two) and some detail about the
establishment with pix. Copyright to the preps is normally held by the
restaurant; they are loaded with ideas. It's a great tome for any fan or
resident of Portland.
--TORONTO EATS (Figure 1 Publishing, 2017, 238 pages, $37.95 CAD
hardbound) is by Amy Rosen, author of Toronto Cooks (2014) in the Figure
1 series. That work sold pretty well, and as she says "now we're back for
seconds". Here are 100 signature recipes from 50 chefs (some of whom
were in the first one). Restaurants here include Boralia, Byblos, Honest
Weight, Lena, Nota Bene, Pizzeria Libretto, Zucca Trattoria. There are
stories from the restaurants (who hold the copyrights to the recipes) and
photos, plus pix of plated dishes. A great addition to the Toronto scene, and
a must-read for the Holidays.
B. And how about gift books for the beverage drinker? Try –
--HALLIDAY WINE COMPANION 2018 (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 776
pages, $57 CAD paperbound) by James Halliday, who has been at wine
writing for about 47 years. This is the definitive guide to Australian wines.
He gives us data about the wineries and their vineyards, deets on
addresses, social media, opening hours, names and other numbers,
followed by detailed tasting notes, vintage-specific ratings, advice on
optimal drinking period, ABV, and prices. There are supposed to have been
some 10,000 wines tasted for this edition, and he has full tasting notes for
3859 (couldn't he push it up to 4K?), ratings and prices for 2979 other
wines, 1237 winery profiles (77 are new wineries), "best of" lists and five-
star wineries listed. There are vintage charts and maps plus multiple
indexes. But I am sure if he got together with his Kiwi counterpart, they could
come up with some antipodean pocket guide at 256 pages to cover both
countries and sell it in North America and the UK; it's sure to be a winner.
--DR. ADAM ELMEGIRAB'S BOOK OF BITTERS (Dog 'n' Bone, 2017, 160
pages, $30 CAD hardbound) is "the bitter and twisted history" of one of the
cocktail bar's most fascinating ingredient. There is a brief history, followed
by the "myth of Angostura". Fascinating indeed is the manufacturing
process. Tastewise, a light use of bitters picks up flavours in the cocktail
and emphasizes them with a slight tang. Elmegirab, a bar writer and
educator who also owns a bitters company, provides us with 50 cocktail
recipes created by bartenders (including himself) from around the world.
They showcase the different intents of bitters: acidity on the palate, saltiness
enhancement, savoury umami, and the like. A good book to have.
--THE CURIOUS BARTENDER'S RUM REVOLUTION (Ryland Peters &
Small, 2017, 256 pages, $37.50 CAD hardbound) is by Tristan
Stephenson, who has authored four other Curious Bartender books
(Whiskies, Cocktails, Gin, plus one on Coffee) over the years. This is a
guidebook to the rum revival, with cultural and historical notes and photos.
Yesterday's grog has become a range, from white rum through aged and
spiced varieties – just about all of it premium spirits. Sugarcane and
molasses never had it so good! He's got notes on 50 or so rum distilleries
throughout the world, 250 tasting notes, plus the stories behind the iconic
drinks of Mai Tai, Mojito, Pina Colada, and Planter's Punch.
--THE CHAMPAGNE GUIDE 2018-2019 5th edition (Hardie Grant Books,
2017, 368 pages, $50 CAD hardbound) is by Tyson Stelzer who covers 625
Champagnes from 113 important producers. It is as up-to-date as it can be,
with new chapters on tips for buying Champagne this year, a chapter on
Champagne and food matching, and updated deets on 95 producers (a few
have been dropped but 40 new players have been added). Houses and
cuvees that did not make the cut are featured in the index only. Some wines
are tasted on the Champagne site while others were tasted in Australia (and
can be indicative of travel and storage). Grape varieties and percentages
are indicated as well as long tasting notes and points out of a hundred.
Glossaries are also included. Great guide for travellers too. A posh book for
a posh wine.
--ANCIENT BREWS REDISCOVERED AND RE-CREATED (W.W. Norton
& Company, 2017, 291 pages, $35.95 CAD hardbound) is by Patrick E.
McGovern, an adjunct professor of anthropology at U Penn who has written
two other "ancient" drink books: "Uncorking the Past" and "Ancient Wine".
Here he looks at beer and the early experimentation with high-sugar fruits,
honey, roots, cereals, herbs and tree-resins. He combines archaeology with
science to cover China, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, Scandinavia, Peru – and more
– in their attempts at the perfect brew. Along the way he has the original
recipes, the re-created preps (not guaranteed, says the publisher), and food
pairing. Plus archival illustrations and a chapter-by-chapter bibliography.
--NEW ZEALAND WINE: the land, the vines, the people (Hardie Grant
Books, 2017, 376 pages, $85 CAD hardbound) is by geographer Warren
Moran, professor emeritus at the University of Auckland, which originally
published this tome late last year. Here is the international edition published
in Australia and now being made available in North America. Moran has
extensively covered the rural industries of New Zealand. This is a great
introduction to the wines: the terroir, the grape varieties, the families and
personalities, the companies, and the wines themselves. There's a brief
history and then a swing through the eight wine regions. All with maps,
archival photos, panoramic views, and the rise (and importance of )
sauvignon blanc on the world stage. Pricey, but definitive – and more than
just a coffee table addition.
--NATURAL WINE; in introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made
naturally. 2nd Edition. (CICO Books, 2014, 2017 $34.95 CAD hardbound)
is by Isabelle Legeron, MW
There is a large argument raging in the wine world over what is a natural
wine. Some believe that it should be applied only to organic and
biodynamic farms; others think it should also mean "sustainable" or "green",
etc. The key would simply be to get rid of the word "natural" and just have
"organic or biodynamic" and "sustainable". It is only the organic and
biodynamic wines that are certifiable. There are no controls over the rest of
the "natural" wording on the label. Indeed, some organic wineries just press
organic grapes and then use regular winemaking techniques. They can still
call their wines organic. I know of many farms who use the term "natural" to
reflect their organic practices, because they just do not have the money nor
the wait time to apply for certification. Wine is a process, and it is also an
industry. Wineries try to be consistent from year to year because they have a
product to sell. The weather determines the "corrections" the winemaker
needs to take (more acid, earlier/later picking, more sugar, more irrigation,
etc.), but a natural O or B winery rolls with the punches and produces wine
"as is". The author takes us through the year and discusses wine faults,
stability, health issues, taste, fermentation, sulphites, and a load of
contentious issues. She gives notes on over 150 wines, sorted by types
(bubbly, red, white, orange, rose, sweet). Not surprisingly, France has the
most listings, followed by Italy: these are the two leaders by production.
Other additional sections cover a glossary, lists of associations and wine
fairs, restaurants and stores for the US and UK, and a bibliography.
--THE ESSENTIAL COCKTAIL BOOK (Ten Speed Press, 2017, 342
pages, $24.99 CAD hardbound) is by a former wine editor at Food & Wine
magazine, Megan Krigbaum. It is a guide to modern drinks with about 150
recipes. There is the usual primer on bar essentials covering ingredients
and glassware plus garnishes. This followed by the classic recipes (170
pages) and then the modern recipes (130 pages), ending with a collection
of syrups. All of the modern ones come from current bartenders at current
bars, all of the preps being sourced. Good photos for the presentation and
the garnishes. You won't need more than this charming tool unless you just
want to improvise on your own...and why not?