Through his groundbreaking menu at Noma in Copenhagen, René Redzepi questioned our long-held core beliefs of what is delicious and what is edible. In The Noma Guide to Fermentation (Artisan, $40), René and his Head of Fermentation, David Zilber, push us to the next frontier of cooking by challenging us to see what is possible if we pay attention and engage with the ingredients in front of us in an open, questioning way. Much like Samin Nosrat’s 2017 Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, here the essential elements of flavor are broken down and laid bare. Considering the complex science involved in the creation of everything from lacto-tomato water to coffee shoyu, the great surprise of this book is the clarity and simplicity of the recipes and the universal application of the specific processes. I can’t stress enough: this isn’t just for your friends that like to pickle! It’s for any home chef (or eater) that thinks seriously about how to make their food more delicious.
Written with both the novice and curious tea drinker in mind, Sebastian Beckwith and Caroline Paul’s A Little Tea Book: All the Essentials From Leaf to Cup (Bloomsbury, $20) is a primer on all things Camellia sinensis (tea plant). But don’t think this little book just contains a few tips on making a proper cuppa—it brings history, culture, science, and industry into the brew as well to expound on the complexity of the tea world. Did you know that tea aficionados use descriptive smells such as saddle leather, roasted chestnut, and even boggy moor to explain their favorite tastes? You will never sip a mug of Earl Grey the same way again. Punctuated with inviting illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton (of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat fame) this guide will inspire readers to throw out their tea bags and reach for the loose leaf.
From the authors of the Death and Co., a book that has become a must for cocktail lovers an enthusiast in recent years, comes another, slightly different but still fantastic book about the spirits we love and enjoy experimenting with. Cocktail Codex (Ten Speed, $40) at first glance seems like a book about six cocktails: the old-fashioned, martini, daiquiri, sidecar, whisky highball, and flip, but, it’s so much more. Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, and David Kaplan realized that these are the six drinks that can be used as a template for everything else and that will guide you into your adventure of mixing drinks. Perfectly organized and cantered around the basic six, the book offers a more in-depth overview of everything you need to know: the difference between Gin and London dry Gin, between Whiskey, Scotch and Bourbon, bitters and garnishes, types of glasses and mixing tools, origins, fundamentals and formulas. Every chapter is accompanied with beautiful pictures that will make you want to organize a party for your friends just so you can show off your mixing skills. Just in time for the holidays, treat yourself or surprise an aspiring mixologist friend with this beautiful and useful gem.