Anthony Bourdain's "Les Halles" Cookbook
Bourdain, as anyone who read his excellent Kitchen Confidential will agree, is a muscular chef. Oven doors aren't closed, they're slammed. Pots aren't placed on stoves, they're thrown. Wimps in the kitchen are soon winnowed out. Jamie Oliver would probably get sexually assaulted by the sous chef. A Hemingway in the kitchen, not a Scott Fitzgerald, Bourdain writes the way he cooks. Two fisted sentences invite you outside for a fight, adjectives question your parentage, nouns ask you who you're looking at. It's great stuff and he clearly knows his bistro cooking. He is, after all, Executive Head Chef at Les Halles in New York and this book is a welcome antidote to so many fey cookery books.
Dealing in classic French flavours and ingredients Bourdain doesn't muck about. Here you'll learn how to cook like the big boys, so if you don't like the sight of guts then turn away. Pages of no-nonsense hearty French grub are packed between the simple brown covers, and the typography and design are both stylish yet simple. Make room for it on your shelves and watch your other cookbooks back respectfully away.
Schott's Food and Drink Miscellany
Part whimsy, part fascinating facts and wholly indispensable, Schott's miscellany is a charming mock-period piece that has to be a great gift for any foodie you know this Xmas.
Where else will you find a treatise on Hippogaphy (eating horses), a guide on how to read tealeaves and a list of Homer Simpson's favourite Mmmms (Mmmm.organised crime!).
You can also see how Coca Cola is logo'ed in various Eastern scripts, learn classic cocktail recipes, see the official shelf life of a variety of popular tinned goods and be amazed at the backstage food and drink contractual demands of famous bands. There's even an illustrated guide to poisonous mushrooms.
A classic type face, a silk page marker and detailed line illustrations complete the Edwardian look and feel, and yet it bubbles over with 21st Century wit and irony. A pocket sized book that's seriously informative and great fun to dip in and refer to.