Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Good Books

We regularly pick out some memorable books in various categories (eg Cookbooks, Travel Guides etc) that might interest you or let Amazon choose.



Modernist Cuisine
Nathan Myhrvold

A new 2438 page cookbook set has burst onto the scene and is certainly making waves!

It is the result of the obsession of former Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold in collaboration with Chris Young and Maxime Bilet both of whom spent time working with Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck before joining Myhrvold at his Intellectual Ventures in Seattle.

Now we should add that we think that many of the outward manifestations of modernist cuisine leave us cold. Spherification, liquid nitrogen cooking, foams and gels are not for us. However, this set of books goes beyond the frippery and delves into the HOW and WHY of cooking in a way that helps the reader understand cooking in much more depth.

And there is another dimension to the books that is truly staggering. The photography is simply awesome! It is used to elaborate on a concept in a way that words could never do.

The bookset isn't cheap but it is worth every cent. This has to be the ultimate birthday present this year!





The Essential Mediterranean
Nancy Harmon Jenkins

Nancy Harmon Jenkins is a fine writer who believes in telling the whole story, not reducing recipes to the simple and simplistic. In this book she anchors her recipes on some of the produce treasures of the Mediterranean including salt, olive oil, wheat, pasta, wine, tomatoes, pork and seafood among others. The chapter entitled The Family Pig is a classic with a more erudite discussion of curing pork than that found in Ruhlman's Charcuterie. 

This is not only a useful cookbook but is also a fascinating discourse on the wonderful foods of the Mediterranean.





Thomas Keller and Jeffrey Cerciello

The term bouchon comes from the traditional eateries of Lyon where marvellous food is dished up at affordable prices. This book is a bold new venture for Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame who has teamed up with chef Jeffrey Cerciello from Bouchon to produce a massive tome that sets new standards for the preparation of classic French bistro food. All the classic recipes are included along with detailed instructions on how to prepare them in the home kitchen. This book will be around for a very long time and will become a classic for both home cooks and professional restaurateurs. 




The Balthazar Cookbook
Keith McNally, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson

Balthazar is one of our favourite restaurants in the United States and, along with Gramercy Tavern and Café Boulud, one of our three favourites in New York. It was established by experienced restaurateur Keith McNally. We like it because it is not pretentious. It sets out to be a French bistro and succeeds admirably. The book has an excellent introduction by expatriate Australian and prominent art critic Robert Hughes. This is a lovely vignette of life behind the scenes in a busy restaurant. The recipes are beautifully presented and easy to cook in a home kitchen. The layout of the book is clean and classical and is supported by over one hundred beautiful photographs.





Thai Food
David Thompson

David Thompson writes with extraordinary knowledge, passion and commitment. He is truly a master, and this book should be a bible for anyone remotely interested in cooking or eating Thai food. An absolutely essential read prior to visiting Thailand if food is one of your obsessions. 



Travel Guides

StyleCity Amsterdam
Sian Tichar

At first glance this book appears to have more style than substance but nothing could be further from the truth. There's a wealth of great information beneath its beautiful bonnet, including its excellent neighbourhood maps that became the guides for all our walks. It's an especially good guide for food lovers, with writer Sian Tichar capturing the essence of each of the places we visited, and including local secrets, such as Lof, which don't appear in other guides. 




Food Guides

Gelato: Finding Italy's best Gelaterias
Michael McGarry

A beautifully written guide to the best gelaterias in Italy. But it is more than that. It also provides useful information about the difference between gelato and ice cream, some background to 'gelato lore' and detailed instructions on how to find the best places.

We thoroughly recommend this guide whether you intend to go to Italy or not!