Every year, I try to put together a holiday gift list or two for foodies and cooks everywhere. It should be noted that I’m not super big on gadgetry (your cook may be) so my lists reflect more the ingredients, cookbooks and food inspiration that my foodie friends and I enjoy. Today’s list is all about a few great new cookbooks and guides I’m looking forward to this season.
Foodie Holiday Gift Ideas: Cookbooks and Guides
This year there are a LOT of great books out for food lovers and I’m pleased to announce that some of the best titles come from the tastiest chefs and foodies right here in Portland.
Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird by Gabriel Rucker
One of my absolute favorite restaurants here in Portland, from the foie gras jelly doughnut and duck breast with chive crepe roll to bleu cheese burgers and honey, bacon and apricot cornbread with maple ice cream, Rucker doesn’t miss a beat. And though the food sounds high class (Rucker is after all a James Beard award winner) the atmosphere is pure chill — perfect for Portlanders.
Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand by Andy Ricker
I have been passionate about Pok Pok and the culinary exploits of Andy Ricker since its first incarnations as a little hut on the front driveway of a residence on Division Street. Where you could order papaya salad and baby octopus skewers with lime and sit huddled beneath a giant outdoor space heater, on one of two outdoor benches to nosh. Fast forward to today, and Ricker has built himself a bicoastal empire that includes Pok Pok, the Whiskey Soda Lounge (both coasts), Pok Pok Noi, Sen Yai, Pok Pok NY, Pok Pok Phat Thai (NYC). Though his restaurants run the gamut from chi chi to grab and go, they all start with the roots of Thai street fare and though you may think you have tasted Thai food before this, your palate will heartily disagree, as your tastebuds come alive with flavor combinations never before experienced (unless you’ve been to Thailand.)
Now, Ricker brings his signature Thai flair home to your kitchen, making it all accessible through early chapters, dedicated to technique, equipment, ingredients (including mail-order sources), explaining regional differences in Thai cuisines and more.
The Unofficial Girls Guide to New York: Inside the Cafes, Clubs, and Neighborhoods of HBO’s Girls by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin
Love HBO’s Girls? Love to eat? Love New York? Then the Unofficial Girls’ Guide to New York is for you! Filled with 21 illustrated maps, more than 100 photos and 20 recipes that bring the Girls’ favorite haunts to life, this fun and spunky guide will have you channeling Lena Dunham’s characters (Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna) in no time.
Breakfast: A History (The Meals Series) by Heather Arndt Anderson
Local Portland writer and foodophile, Heather Arndt Anderson has opened up a can of “Who Hash”style whoop-ass on that most important of meals — breakfast. Though I have not yet had the chance to read this gem, I have perused the contents of its bindings and can tell you, I’m most excited to dig in. Here’s what Publisher’s Weekly had to say:
“According to author Arndt Anderson, J.R.R. Tolkien’s hobbits had it right all along when it comes to breakfast. Their lives in the shire afforded them six meals a day, ‘three of which before lunch: breakfast, second breakfast, and elevenses…’ In this literary paean to the morning meal, Anderson provides historical, social, and cultural perspectives on breakfast consumption . . . references foods traditionally eaten in other countries, looking at jook (rice porridge) in China, for example, and platters of feta, olives, figs, and cucumbers or fresh flatbread with labneh (spreadable yogurt cheese) in the Middle East. . . She gives beverages such as coffee, tea and orange juice their due and provides significant background on the major players in the cold-cereal industry like Kellogg and Post.”
Next week: Foodie Holiday Gift Ideas, Part Two: Food Fiction and Movies