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Friday, December 14, 2018


3.ESTELA (Artisan, 2018, 304 pages, $50 hardcover) is by Ignacio Mattos, who worked with Mallman and chefed at various places in NYC until he opened Estela. He now has several other bars and cafes in New York City. His collaborator is food writer Gabe Ullas. Log rollers include Mallman, Waters, Tanis, and Ruth Rogers. Estela  specializes in playfulness and boldness, emphasizing the unexpected and surprising such as shaved thin button mushrooms over ricotta dumplings, or fish sauce and pickling broth as accent points. His forte is layering where you can dig down to the most emphatic flavours. The 133 recip3s here come from the restaurant (lamb ribs with chermoula and honey, cherry tomatoes with figs and onions, or mussels escabeche on toast). Arrangement is by course, with salads followed by raw and/or cooked seafood, mains, desserts, and brunch. I loved the veal sweetbreads with onions.
4.LET'S EAT FRANCE (Artisan, 2018, 432 pages, $75 hardbound) is mainly by Francois-Regis Gaudry, French food critic, journalist, and broadcast host; there are about 120 other contributors as well, all sourced, and identified with pix. It was originally published last year in French as "On va deguster La France". At 10 inches by 13.5 inches it certainly is a coffee table unto itself.  It's a treasure trove for Francophiles. with compelling infographics and stories to flesh out the encyclopedic
nature of  covering 1250 specialty foods, 375 classic recipes, 350 broad topics, 260 personalities, and of course the hundreds of maps, charts, tips, and anecdotes that make the tome come alive in the post-Larousse era. It's historical, so you'll get mini-bios of Brillat-Savarin, Bocuse, Troisgros, Curnonsky, et al. There are poster-size guides to the breads, wines, frites, figs, oysters – and more --  of France. This book's  arrangement is random which makes it easy to read and appeals to millennials, but there is a comprehensive index and cross-references to tie it all together. Minutiae here includes the tar baby leg of lamb, for which you will need a construction site. Most illustrations are in colour and are historical, with some advertisements. The work concludes with a bibliography of French food cookbooks and articles. Very impressive indeed. This is one of those books you buy for someone else...but you  read it first yourself!
5.THE WINE TABLE (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018, 497 pages, $75 hardbound) is by Vickie Reh. This is a good collection of recipes and advice, with memoir-type materials. It is all about recipes and wine pairings from the kitchens of winemakers. We've seen these kinds of books before, but mostly done about California/Oregon winemakers. Here, the emphasis is European wine countries of France and Italy. There is some introductory material on the principles of wine tasting and pairing, followed by visits to 18 wineries (Weinbach in Alsace, Lo Sparviere in Franciacorta, Arianna Occhipinti in Sicily, Sulauze in Provence, Champagne Legras & Haas, among others). Each is described and the recipes begin to flow. Reh also has material about farm markets, wine bars, restaurants, and wine shops. This is a real collector's tome, weighing in at 2.6 kilos!
6.THE JEWELLED TABLE (Hardie Grant Books, 2018, 272 pages, $50 hardbound) is by Bethany Kehdy. She's got over 80 Middle Eastern recipes, reinterpreted for the modern cook . Events covered include simple weeknight suppers, brunches, celebratory feasts, and more. Other material includes the pantry items needed, menu plans and techniques needed, plus some memoir-type material about food from the Middle East (she's Lebanese). There's a bibliography to other Middle East food reference books, including of course her earlier introduction to Middle East food,' The Jewelled Kitchen". Good food photography.
7.FROM THE EARTH (Hardie Grant Books, 2018, 249 pages, $86 hardcovers) is by the multiple award-winning Australian chef Peter Gilmore. It's an oversized tome (13 inches by 9.5 inches), perfect for covering an entire coffee table all by itself! He celebrates the diverse world of heirloom veggies. These are some of the world's unique and almost forgotten foods. Each has a recipe plus detailed profile and photograph. Also featured are like-minded growers that Gilmore collaborates with. He does have a substitution list for recipes, being aware that "unique' and "forgotten" vegetables are not really available universally. There's "Country Gentleman Corn" with its milky white haphazard kernels, "Kyoto Red Carrot", "Black Chick Pea", "Gete Okosomin Squash", and about 45 or so more.
8.BASQUE COUNTRY (Artisan, 2018, 326 pages, $50  hardcover) is by Marti Buckley; it comes loaded with log rollers who run Basque restaurants. Which is a good thing since this work is a culinary journey through a food lover's paradise, on the cusp of Spanish and French cooking plus its own Basque style. Preps are derived from family tables, dining societies, restaurants, bars, and Basque country grills. It begins, of course, with "pintxos" (pintxoak) the small plates, followed by soups (zopak), fish and shellfish, other mains, sweets and drinks. The major regions are covered with notes and photos plus some recipes. At the back of the cookbook there are resources listed and a translation guide. The drink section is very small, with only such as vermouth, Basque sloe liquor and sangria.
9.COPENHAGEN FOOD (Quadrille, 2018, 288 pages, $50  hardcover) is by Trine Hahnemann, Danish food writer and cookbook author centred in Copenhagen. These stories, traditions and recipes come from her top places to eat, drink, and socialize in Copenhagen: bakeries, markets, cafes, bars, and restaurants. She's got historical background as well as personal vignettes, plus, of course, 70 recipes – all arranged by 8 districts (which also include the suburbs). Lots of good travel and food photography makes this a winner for ex-pats.
10.ATELIER (Figure.1, 2018, 248 pages, $55 hardbound) is by award-winning chef-owner Marc Lepine with Ottawa food writer Anne Desbrisay. These are the signature recipes of Ottawa's Atelier restaurant. As the promo says, "Designed for foodies and chefs with an interest in modern cuisine, this impressive volume is an exciting tribute to one chef's unique culinary philosophy."  The beginning highlights the origins and the visions; this is followed by the inventive recipes. Throughout there is stunning photography by Christian Lalonde. Book ribbons help you keep your place. I was impressed by the thoroughness of the preps. One example was "Mossy Trunk" which is a combo of specific smaller recipes for ramp persillade, beef shanks, soft-boiled quail eggs, lemon confit, green asparagus ribbons, green asparagus puree, morel mushrooms, and topped with a variety of flowers, tendrils and sprouts.
11.THE NOMA GUIDE TO PERMENTATION (Artisan, 2018, 456 pages, $60 hardcover) is by Rene Redzepi and David Zilber. Redzepi is the chef and co-owner of Noma in Copenhagen, many times recognized as the best restaurant in the world. He has appeared twice on Time's cover and been profiled in two feature-length documentaries. His " Noma" cookbook was both an IACP and a James Beard winner. Zilber (from Toronto) is a chef and photographer from Toronto who has worked at Noma since 2014 and has served as director of its fermentation lab since 2016. Together they have created the basic work on fermentation (the basic pillar of Noma) in food, with koji, kombuchas, shoyus, misos, vinegars, garums, lacto-ferments, and black fruits and vegetables. It may appear to be esoteric to most cooks and home artists, but for the fermentation lover it is a treasure. There is a lot of science here, but the recipes and techniques are invaluable, such as the "coffee kombucha" made from the remains of coffee grounds, the pearl barley koji, and the butternut squash vinegar.  Both chefs believe that fermentation is responsible for making food more complex, nuanced and delicious. Plus of course the health and digestive benefits. Over 100 recipes.
12.LITERARY LIBATIONS (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018, 212 pages, $24.99 hardbound) is by Amira Makansi who concentrates on what to drink with what you read. There is a subject heading at the Library of Congress for this, "Drinking of alcoholic beverages in literature".  She starts with the classics from Europe, moves on to the classics from the USA, and thence to mysteries, science-fiction, drinks for lovers, contemporary books, magic potions for swords and spells, and then kiddie drinks for kid lit. She's got them all covered. There's an explanation of the genre and of a specific title, followed by a pairing and rationale. Some are obvious, such as Bloody Mary with Dracula and old vine Zinfandel with The Grapes of Wrath. The Great Gatsby gets a French 75.  A great tool for a book club.
13.YOU AND I EAT THE SAME (Artisan, 2018, 216 pages, $29.95 softbound) has been edited by Chris Ying. It also comes with a Foreword by Rene Redzepi of Noma.  It is one of a series of books from MAD Dispatches (MAD is Danish for "food"), a non-profit founded by Redzepi. It is  "dedicated to bringing together a global food community with an appetite for change". Here is a collection of stories and interviews edited by the co-founder of the late "Lucky Peach". There are 19 sections, each dealing with how we are connected to food, what we have in common, and each written by a different global food writer. One chapter is titled "Everybody Wraps Meat in Flatbread" (tacos to dosas to pancakes to crepes), another is "Much Depends on How You Hold Your Fork" (an interview with Margaret Visser), a third is "Fried Chicken is Common Ground". Cuisine is a shared experience, and immigration is the key to creating good food.
14.MENUS (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018, 174 pages, $25.99 hardcover) is by Jacques Pepin. It has no recipes, and no actual menus. Instead, it is a technicolour work based on Pepin's artwork for blank menus and guest lists. He calls it "a book for your meals and memories". These are for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and weddings. His fave 75 drawings with borders can be used with guests signing in, wines consumed, music played, space for comments, etc. It's a novel idea at an affordable price (the tome is 12 inches by 10 inches). Visit
15.BEST AMERICAN FOOD WRITING 2018 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018, 288 pages, $22.99 papercovers) has been edited by Ruth Reichl. It is a new annual entry in HMH's "The Best American Series", ignoring any mention of Holly Hughes' "Best Food Writing" annual which has been around since 2000. The latter covers globally, while Reichl's is USA only. There are 28 essays here, reprinted primarily from periodicals that published in 2017. What I like about it is that there are several pages at the back listing "other notable food writing", so you can actually track them down via a public library or the Internet. It also has one of the last writings of the late Jonathan Gold of the LA Times.


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