As the Christmas season approaches it’s always great to receive tips on what to buy, particularly if you are at a loss. For a food and wine lover there is nothing like receiving a good book for Christmas. Here is a list of some of our favourite books on food and wine. We are sure you will not be disappointed. We have reviewed some of the books in more detail so if you are interested you can take a look in the Book Review section on Food and Wine Gazette.
Here are our top 10 books on food and wine:
1. Massimo Bottura: Never Trust A Skinny Italian Chef: The top book of the year must be Massimo Bottura’s Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef. This is a fantastic book about food, cooking and creativity. It is not your run of the mill recipe book and unless you are a really dedicated cook, you are unlikely to replicate most of these creations. But what the book does is bring you the stories behind the dishes of one of the world’s most famous restaurants. It’s also a wake up call to follow your passion, engage in creativity and learn to see things in a new way. There is no question that only Bottura can get away with certain things. But make no mistake, what appears simple is the subject of very deep thought and experimentation. And looking at the recipes of simple ideas shows you to what lengths Bottura and his team go to create unforgettable flavours and experience. This book is a real gem.
2. The Silver Spoon New Edition: There is a secret to mastering Italian cooking and that has the name of The Silver Spoon. There are few cookery books which I consider essential to have in the kitchen but this is certainly one of them. It is a bible of Italian cooking with classic Italian dishes. Most of the recipes are simple to make and follow and provide you with the basics from which to take your cooking to the next level. It is clearly a must for anyone serious about cooking Italian food. And with so many recipes in it, you will not need many more books.
3. Kitchen Secrets: Raymond Blanc: A French chef that moved to the UK years ago, he has been among the chefs that have created a revival and an interest in the UK for food. In Kitchen Secrets, he shares many recipes based on different themes such as tomatoes, eggs, bread and yeast, shellfish, autumn and winter vegetables to mention just a few. Some of the recipes are simple, others more complex. But what’s interesting about the book are the hints which enable you to learn so much more than a normal recipe book.
4. The Complete Robuchon: If the Silver Spoon is a perfect guide to Italian cooking, then the Complete Robuchon is your top book for French cooking. Robuchon needs no introduction. But in this book, he covers all you need to know about French cooking. From Boeuf Bourguignon to his famed mashed potatoes, everything is covered. There are no photos, but do not be intimidated. His tips are second to none and this is probably the book from which I have learnt most about cooking. The tips at the start of each section are exceptional. And with 900 recipes you will never be lost for ideas.
5. Giorgio Locatelli Made in Sicily: If you are looking for a Mediterranean cookbook then you should seriously consider this one. I have tried many recipes from this book and the results have always exceptional. There could be a certain bias because I am familiar with many of the Sicilian dishes he explains. But the recipes are simple to follow and there is also ample description of Sicily, its landscape and food that make you want to grab the next flight. It’s almost as good as taking a trip to Sicily.
6. On the subject of Sicily, if you love wine and you like to read about winemakers, the places that make a wine special, then you would do well to give Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey (At Table) a try. We have reviewed the book earlier so you can find a review in the book review section. It is a fantastic tour of Sicily and its top wine producers.
7. Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World’s Greatest Wine: For the wine lover who has read many books, this is one with a twist. It is about the story to poison the World’s Greatest Wine Domaine Romanee Conti. It reads like a great novel but it is based on a true story making it all the more incredible. The story is well written and engaging.
8. Ray Walker The Road to Burgundy: The Unlikely Story of an American Making Wine and a New Life in France (6.11.2013) Another feel good book. This is about an American who decided that he needed to follow his passion and started to make wine in Burgundy. This is a story of someone who caught the wine bug and decided to go against all odds and make wine in France. It is an interesting story of perseverance and hope.
9. The World Atlas of Wine Most wine lovers would have this book. For anyone starting to develop an interest in wine or else wanting to carry out research for any wine trip, to any wine region in the world, no book is more useful than the World Atlas of Wine. This gives a description of the different wine regions in the old and new world with detailed maps and the best wineries in each destination
10. Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us The list would not be complete without a book which uncovers how most of the food industry use these three ingredients to create addiction. This is a must read if you want to gain awareness of what goes into your plate when you leave it in the hands of the food industry. It is an eye-opener and an important read.