One of the best things about any holiday is the anticipation of its arrival. Perhaps that’s why we love November so much; the holiday season is drawing closer, and lights and decorations and music are beginning to creep in. We’re embracing these shorter days and colder temperatures by practicing the beloved art of hyyge, and that means lighting candles, getting cozy under soft blankets, and reaching for a good book.
And so, as we begin to plan and stockpile for a very merry December, here is some reading material that’ll set the stage for the cocktails and delectable treats that go hand in hand with the season.
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide To Culinary Creativity, Based On The Wisdom Of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs
Hoping to trade in a traditional turkey dinner for some more eclectic fare next month? This book, winner of the 2009 James Beard Book Award for Best Book: Reference and Scholarship, is all about the art of seasoning. Which spices and herbs will showcase which ingredients to the fullest potential? Which temperatures and textures compliment a given dish? This book is a detailed exploration of the nose and palette, complete with anecdotes and advice from America’s most imaginative and innovative chefs. The Flavor Bible will quickly become a kitchen staple for its unique and comprehensive approach. “[It] resembles none of the foodie culture’s memoirs or cultural histories or cookbooks,” writes Emily Nunn in her review for The Chicago Tribune. “It’s more like the I Ching.”
Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail
Here’s another James Beard award-winner — this time for Best Beverage Book. This volume is brought to us by Dave Arnold and the creative team at Brooker & Dax, New York’s famed high-tech bar. This establishment is mecca for those interested in the chemistry behind cocktails; no detail is overlooked here, from the cut of an ice cube to the acidity of an apple. This is a volume designed to help you truly impress guests; wow them with techniques like using enzymes to clarify the cloudiness of lime juice, nitro-muddling basil (a technique that prevents browning), and infusing liquors with the most unexpected ingredients. Vodka and peppercorn? Yes, please. Four hundred and fifty coloured photographs will add inspiration to ambition when it comes to planning your next cocktail party.
Wine Folly: The Master Guide (Magnum Edition)
There’s an undeniably intimidating art to wine connoisseurship; in order to become a certified Master Sommelier, one must identify — through a blind taste test — the grape variety, country of origin, district and appellation of origin, and vintage of six different wines within twenty-five minutes. Is it any wonder that the pass rate for this prestigious exam is approximately 10%? But there’s no need to get intimidated when ordering your next bottle at a restaurant; Wine Folly is a comprehensive, accessible guide to the vintages of the world. Over one hundred grapes and wines are presented within these pages, each colour-coded for easy understanding. A wine region explorer, complete with detailed maps, provides the reader with an understanding of both the established and up-and-coming vineyards of the world, suggested food and wine pairings, and so much more. Dreaming of one day joining the elite world of sommeliers? Start with this comprehensive book and get sipping.
Where Chefs Eat
There’s an old adage that if you want to pay attention to fashion, look not at what designers create — look at what they wear. Should the same be said when it comes to seeking out the world’s greatest eats? Frankly: yes. Where Chefs Eat is a comprehensive guide to where 650 of the world’s finest chefs recommend a meal; over 4,500 spots throughout 70 countries will have you eating your way around the world like a pro… and even finding some gems close to home. City maps, reviews, and recommendations from some of the culinary elite (think Helena Rizzo, Jason Atherton, Yoshihiro Narisawa) on everything from brunch and midnight snacks to high end eats and budget treats fill these pages. So while you may have plans to cook multitudes next month, don’t be afraid to reach for this book (and its corresponding app!) and let someone else do the cooking every once in a while.
Death & Co.
For over a decade, Death & Co. has been a cocktail institution in Manhattan’s East Village, with a subsequent cocktail lounge and restaurant in Denver. This official book by the bar’s innovative team takes the reader straight behind the counter and into the world of craft cocktails; mouth-watering photography and illustrated charts and infographics present nearly five hundred iconic drinks, with helpful hints about which spirits, tools, and ingredients will be necessary in establishing your own bar at home (a particularly helpful guide in the lead-up to the holiday season). Rich essays about bar regulars and the ins and outs of this elegant establishment will leave the mixologist in you ready to get creative.
Room For Dessert
Fans of the popular Netflix Series Chef’s Table: Pastry will already be familiar with famed New York pastry chef Will Godfarb. As a young man he set out for Paris to learn the art of pastry making, and later found himself with a job at the prestigious (and three-times Michelin starred) restaurant El Bulli. He returned to New York and opened a restaurant with several partners, where he enjoyed a quick rise to stardom that unfortunately sparked conflicts among his team. Goldfarb set off for Bali and his talents temporarily lay dormant — until he decided to revive some of the many tricks still up his sleeve. Despite the complex nature of many of Goldfarb’s desserts, this volume contains step-by-step guides and photography that will help at-home chefs turn ordinary treats into delectable masterpieces.
The Monocle Guide to Drinking and Dining
Monocle has been a leading presence across multiple platforms for over a decade; from magazine to twenty four-hour radio station to website and retailer, Monocle boasts one of the names in the British lifestyle and global affairs sector. In The Monocle Guide to Drinking & Dining, the brand takes a refined but unpretentious approach to eating out; this handsome volume is specifically designed for “anybody who enjoys food but can do without the foam, fuss, and trickery it’s often served with.” It also focuses on the experience beyond the meal itself: hosting, tipping, sourcing produce from the freshest markets, and even instructions for handling the sharpest kitchen instruments are all explored within this beautiful linen hardcover edition. Also included is a rundown of the world’s must-visit restaurants, so whether you’re dining out or in, Monocle has you covered.
Meehan’s Bartender Manual
Here is yet another James Beard winner (Cookbook Award, “Beverage” category) and its scaled-back, classic design earns it the unofficial award for the most gorgeous volume on our list. Renowned mixologist Jim Meehan cut his teeth behind prestigious bars in New York City before opening his own locations (the faux speakeasy PDT in NYC and Prairie School in Chicago) and founding Mixography Inc., a consulting agency that assists those in the service industry in everything from cocktail design to operations and brand advocacy. Meehan’s Bartender Manual is toted as his magnum opus, relating both the rise of own prolific career and the history of the bar business. One hundred and fifty black-and-white illustrations by artist Gianmarco Magnani bring to life this deep dive into all aspects of the hospitality industry: the history of cocktails, service, menu development, interior design, spirits production, mixology, tools, and more. And, of course, this volume wouldn’t be complete without select recipes; the one hundred cocktails presented within these pages, including signature Meehan originals, will have you feeling like a pro this holiday season.
Culinary Artistry is dedicated to the idea that food preparation is an exquisite art form; think of the plate as a blank canvas, and this book as the artist’s companion. Devoted to “the intersection of food, imagination, and taste,” this required reading presents interviews with thirty of America’s leading chefs — notable figures found within these pages are Rick Bayless, Daniel Boulud, Gray Kunz, Jean-Louis Palladin, Jeremiah Tower, and Alice Waters, many of whom are authors of their own celebrated cookbooks. Part recipe guide, part compilation of anecdotes, these distinguished chefs talk inspiration and execution in everything from the selection and pairing of ingredients to the curation of many dishes into a cohesive menu. If you’re planning on cooking a multi-course feast next month, this book will no doubt lend some ideas on putting together the perfect, balanced, exciting menu.
Secrets of the Sommeliers: How to Think and Drink Like the World’s Top Wine Professionals
Once you’ve whetted the palette with the introductory crash course of Wine Folly, it’s time to graduate to Secrets of the Sommeliers. This volume (you guessed it — a James Beard winner) introduces the reader to the world’s top wine professionals and sommeliers through intimate portraits and stories. Writing with journalist Jordan Mackay, Rajat Parr brings his incomparable experience to this candid window into the world of fine wines; a sommelier turned winemaker, Parr runs his own wineries in Oregon and the Central Coast of California, biodynamically and organically producing pinot noir and chardonnay (exclusively). Drawing from his own expert knowledge of the field and pairing it with insights from the industry’s very best, Secrets of the Sommeliers shares tips on tasting and serving wine, sourcing rare wines for fair prices, cherry-picking the very best varietals that a region has to offer, and making inspiring food pairing. This book will have you adorning your holiday table with the very best bottles and ringing in the New Year with an inspired, “Cheers!”