No one has transformed the way Americans think about food—its place in our individual and collective lives, and as a conveyer of our values—than Alice Waters. The founder of iconic Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California, and the driving force behind the Edible Schoolyard program that has introduced tens of thousands of schoolchildren across America to the art of growing and cooking food, Waters has now written her long-awaited memoir. In Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook (Clarkson Potter, $27) she describes her roots in New Jersey, her coming of age during the political tumult of the 1960s, and her ongoing crusade to make locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, and “slow food” the mainstays of a new American cuisine. Throw in a few spicy love affairs, her passion for books, and a life spent intersecting with presidents and movie moguls, and you’ve got a book that is a satisfying and delicious full-course meal.
Beer lovers unite in this truly unique volume that celebrates the vibrant and exciting culture of beer drinkers around the world. “A globetrotting journey through the world of beer,” Atlas of Beer (National Geographic, $40) collects maps, timelines, historic and modern photographs, and a seemingly endless parade of facts and anecdotes that dive deep into the process of making, tasting, and appreciating beer. Authors, professors, and passionate beer lovers Nancy Hoalst-Pullen and Mark W. Patterson have conveniently organized information by continent, presenting the ingredients, rituals, and lifestyles throughout each region that revolve around the crisp flavor of fermented hops. Everything you ever wanted to know about Oktoberfest, Trappist ales, home brewing trends, the IPA hype, and even which glass you’re supposed to drink from can be found between these covers. Perfect for the beer drinker or geography and history buff in your life, Atlas of Beer will encourage them to raise their glass to the vibrant, rich, and rapidly growing community of beer!
At last, the secrets of palak chaat are revealed! The crispy fried spinach with tomato, onion, tamarind, and yogurt has a fanatical following at Rasika (and Rasika West End). Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj (Bombay Room) opened Rasika in late 2005, and brought chef Vikram Sunderam from London to create its innovative dishes. It instantly became a D.C. sensation. In Rasika: Flavors of India (Ecco, $34.99), written with David Hagedorn, they invite you into the kitchen and share the thorough grounding (and the professional secrets) that will help you cook these delicious dishes. Yes, you will shop for ingredients which cannot be substituted for (example: curry leaves and Kashmiri chiles); you will spend time making the foundational pastes and sauces to freeze (ginger-garlic; caramelized onions; kadi and korma); and have a restaurant-worthy mise-en-place. But then you’re ready to cook a long list of tantalizing appetizers; vegetable and rice dishes; fish and seafood; meats and poultry; and plenty of dals, naans and parathas, chutneys and desserts. Chef Sunderam even shows you how to configure your grill to make a good tandoori oven—and how to make easy microwave basmati rice. The best part is you can always go to Rasika to see how far you’ve come with your at-home lessons!