Bound to Please
500 Cheeses (Sellers Publishing, 2010; $17), by Roberta Muir, provides a wealth of knowledge packed into a deceptively small book. Arranged by style, beginning with soft, fresh cheeses and ending with hard, aged cheeses, this reference guide is easy to follow. Each style is represented by five varieties with notes on the country of origin, the type of milk used, historical facts, pairing suggestions, and tasting qualities. Completing the educational experience, the book includes a short history of cheese, a breakdown of the cheesemaking process, an explanation of appellation systems, and a glossary of terms.
If choosing a red wine seems mystifying, 500 Red Wines (Sellers Publishing, 2009; $17) by Christine Austin will simplify your search. This compact guide banishes the intimidation factor with just enough info to inform your choices. Wines are organized geographically; five wines are featured from each region along with a description of the area, price range, food-pairing suggestions, tasting notes, vintage years, and vineyard details. A description of the winemaking process, a glossary of terms, shopping advice, and more are also included.
Following the same formula as its red wine counterpart, 500 White Wines (Sellers Publishing, 2009; $17) by Natasha Hughes and Patricia Langton is easy learning in a six-by-six-inch format. Each regional spread includes a small map with numbered circles signifying vineyard locations, and wine titles are accompanied by useful symbols, notifying the reader of rosé, barrel-aged, sparkling, and sweet wines. Beginning with the New World and moving into the Old, this book covers the world of wine in 288 pages. Discover new flavors, regions, grapes, and budget-friendly wines, and say goodbye to cluelessness.
For the wine devotee, The Most Beautiful Wine Cellars in the World (VdH Books, 2010; $89.50) is an expansive volume that tours nearly 60 wine cellars in Europe, North America, Lebanon, and China, led by chef and sommelier Jurgen Lijcops. Richly textured, full-page photography gives a rare sense of having entered these hallowed caverns of the wine world, each filled with heirloom bottles and private collections. Highlights include the ancient Rákóczi Cellar in the Hungarian region of Tokaj, dating to the 15th century, as well as the subterranean complex of six cellars spread over 7200 square feet owned by Park B. Smith, a Connecticut collector.
Ever wonder what a typical day of eating looks like for ordinary people around the world? Peter Menzel and Faith D’Alusio have, and the result is their new book What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets (Ten Speed Press, 2010; $40), which chronicles the couple’s three-year journey through 30 countries, capturing in words and photos the foods that people across the globe consume. From a bike messenger in Japan and a Maasai herdswoman in Kenya to a coal miner in Kentucky and a bullfighter in Spain, this remarkable collection details every item consumed for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Adding substance to these comparative profiles, the authors have also included essays on food politics, nutrition, and the culture of cooking from experts, academics, chefs, and other food luminaries.
With the renaissance of local farm markets, seasonal produce, and backyard veggie patches across the country, now is the time to read up on the pleasures and benefits of learning to “put food by,” as our grannies called it. Canning, pickling, and preserving basics form the foundation of The Art of Preserving (Williams-Sonoma, 2010; $30) by Rick Field, Rebecca Courchesne, and Lisa Atwood. But the photo-filled book goes far beyond these practical skills, offering a collection of more than 130 recipes for preserved products and how to use them in finished dishes. Blueberry-Plum Jam Turnovers, Grilled Lamb Burgers with Fresh Mint Jelly, Bing Cherry Syrup, Pear Cardamom Butter, and Jelly Doughnuts are just a few examples of how the authors turn pantry products into prized ingredients.
Through photographs and 30 vignettes, nature photographer David Middleton chronicles the day-to-day life of a working dairy farm in Quite a Sightly Place: A Dairy Farm in Vermont (Commonwealth Editions, 2010; $30). Once a town of 50 dairy farms, Danby, Vermont, is now home to only four, one of which is operated by the Bromley family. Middleton was part of Bromley’s tiny work force for four years, learning the trade and the family and falling in love with the farm along the way. In his reverential style, Middleton reveals characters such as owner Roger; his 94-year-old father, Hugh; and, of course, the cows, with humorous prose and vivid images.
Apples I Have Eaten (Chronicle Books, 2010; $15) is an endearingly small, red-bound guide to the apples we can’t find in grocery stores. Curator Jonathan Gerken hunts for unique apples at farmers’ markets, at orchards, and through acquaintances, then captures images of the fruit before taking a bite. He collected 20-plus varieties—sweet, tart, and everything in between—over the course of one autumn and each is depicted life size with an image of both the whole fruit and its cross section. Intriguing species like Winter Red Flesh, Hidden Rose, and Black Twig pepper the wordless book, and make one yearn for autumn trips to the orchard and homemade apple pie.
Tartine Bread (Chronicle Books, 2010; $40), by esteemed California baker Chad Robertson, is a very personal baking book. Beginning with the story of his quest for the bread of his dreams, Robertson introduces his readers to his method of breadbaking in meticulous detail. Beautiful photographs by Eric Wolfinger illustrate the steps to the recipes and give the reader a glimpse of life in the bakery. Appealingly bound in images of Tartine’s sought-after breads, this big hardcover contains a wealth of knowledge presented by a craftsman who genuinely wants to pass on his hard-won discovery of a bread to beat all breads.