In my last diary, I included novels I’d had going by the bed. Since then, my stacks have been made up of cookbooks as I immersed myself in them for a holiday roundup, out next month. You can find my favorites on that list. But here are some top choices from people I know that I couldn’t include because, well, ethics.
I don’t think I need to tell you that Liz Prueitt and Chad Robertson’s revised edition of Tartine is great, thanks to 60 new recipes and the incorporation of lots of alt-grains into favorites, or that Alison Roman’s Nothing Fancy is so. Much. Fun.
What might not be on your radar but is worth seeking out is Apollonia Poilâne’s debut cookbook, Poîlane: The Secrets of the World Famous Bread Bakery. A third-generation Parisian baker, she has bread in her bones, as well as lots of delightfully off-center ideas in her head. I was lucky to host a tea for her at my apartment last month. Lucky not only because a giant box of bread arrived from Paris (they FedEx daily), but also because she taught me how to make bread sandwiches: two slices of sourdough slathered with unsalted butter surrounding a thin slice of rye with salted butter. Surreal pleasure. I also used her recipe for chocolate-covered bread chips (pour melted dark chocolate over the “chips” — crispy bits made by baking thinly sliced stale bread in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes — stir to coat, then refrigerate or let sit out until set), which is now my go-to answer for what to do with those last slices of bread that don’t get used in time.
And now, please forgive a quick self-promotional blast: Two books that I worked on out are out this fall. I was lucky to be asked by Le Bernardin wine director Aldo Sohm to help him write a guide for the wine-curious. The result is Wine Simple, which former Bon Appétit colleague Alaina Sullivan knocked out of the park with her design. If you love someone who doesn’t know anything about wine but is ready to learn, please help!
I also wrote the text for Signature Dishes That Matter, an illustrated survey of dishes — with recipes in back! — that have changed gastronomy, from Michel Bras’ molten chocolate cake to Gabrielle Hamilton’s sardines with Triscuits. I learned so much — the real reason to write a book. If only I could have spent a day/week/year researching and writing each entry, but the ROI on that model is…yeah. This is what to give the food nerd in your life. Design-leaning food nerds, too: Because it’s a Phaidon book, it’s gorgeous.
So if you’ve been wondering why xtine hasn’t been monthly, or even bi- or trimonthly, it’s because I still have a soft spot for print. Amen.
The holiday gift guide is on its way. I promise!