Six New Cookbooks I’ve Just Got to Have

Prior to my trip back to the states this week, I just put in my order for some new cookbooks to schlep back with me. Because of limited space chez David, I have to be somewhat selective about which books I get, since there’s only so many things I can squeeze in around here.

These are the six that made the cut, although I’ll probably see a few more that I can’t resist.

God help the baggage handlers, if I do.


1. This is the book that so many, including me, have been waiting for: A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes, the new book by David Tanis. For those of you who don’t know him, David was and is a chef at Chez Panisse, and was there when I started way-back-when.

Since then David moved to Paris part-time and started a fabulous supper club, Chien Lunatique, and has made me some of the most spectacularly-simple and spectacularly-good meals. Romain is still raving about his pot au feu….four years later! I believe last time he brought it up, he got a little misty-eyed. I don’t know if I can repeat that exceptional meal, but if the recipe’s in here, I’m certainly going to try. I could use someone getting misty-eyed about something I do once in a while, too.


2. Even though I can’t pronounce his name, like—at all…I loved the last book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, The River Cottage Meat Book. And even though I never got around to making the Deviled Kidneys, which I was going to do for the site (mind you, not because I’ve been craving kidneys), this remains one of my all-time favorite books.

The River Cottage Cookbook is Hugh Whatever-His-Last Name-Is’ general cookbook and I’m anxious to see what’s inside this one. I hope it’s worth the wait. And weight. Hefting in at 3-pounds, that’s a few less bags of marshmallows I can haul back.


3. Years ago Richard Olney came to Chez Panisse when this book was originally released. He brought bottle of this world-famous Sauternes with him, considered by many to be the best, and rarest, wine in the world. One sip justifies the price, in my humble opinion.

Yet I stupidly…or I guess I should say, foolishly didn’t get a copy of the book. It went out of print, prices skyrocketed into the hundreds, and I was sad about my missed opportunity. After years of waiting, lusting after this book about my favorite wine, and a few false starts, Yquem has finally been re-released and I can’t wait to pour through the pages. Even if I can’t pour much of the pricey elixir itself.


4. The cover of Fat by Jennifer McLagan is gorgeous, and shows what a brilliant, gorgeous, and beautifully-executed cover can do for a mis-understood ingredient.

I want fat. And soon, I’m gonna get it.


5. Normally I’m not so keen on chef’s books. Too often they’re wordy, overblown, and the recipes are invariably multi-day affairs. Not exactly the way I like to cook.

I already know I’m going to make nothing from this jumbo book. But if the concept and style live up to the hype and promise, Alinea is perhaps going to be the most exciting book to come along in a long time. I’m anxious to see what chef Grant Achatz has produced in this unconventionally-produced cookbook.


6. Who gives a damn what’s inside—I can’t wait to get my hands on Dessert FourPlay.

For obvious reasons.

(And I’m beginning to see why they keep squirreling my picture away inside of my books. Hrrmph!)


  • David,
    This help a lot.
    I’ll definitely will buy “Dessert Fourplay” and both of David’s books.

  • I have a review copy of Fat and it is wonderful! I highly recommend it. Now that fig book, I didn’t know about and the Yquem book is a must have for my ‘man with pan’ husband’s Christmas parcel.

  • David, I saw David Tanis on Martha Stewart this week. The book looks grand, but in Chicagoland, it is not exactly fresh fig heaven. Sadly. Did you work or overlap work with David at Chez Panisse?

    Speaking of figs, I love walking through California, in this case, Sonoma, in a park and people are free to pick the figs on the trees. It’s so very cool and depressing all at once.

    And as for Dessert Fourplay, does that cover include an 8 x 10 glossy of Johnny? . Adorable. Oh, yeah, and he ‘ain’t’ a bad baker either.

  • Now I really want to hear you try saying Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I love _The River Cottage Meat Book_, and I suspect I’d love River Cottage anything, and I’m thrilled with _Fat_. Thanks for bringing the others to my attention.

    Do let us know how you like them all.

  • Yay – or not yay?

    More books to add to my collection!

    I have the “Bones” book by Jennifer McLagan….Must get the “Fat”!

  • Hopefully I’ll be highlighting some of the recipes from these books in the coming months. If anyone has the books and has any particular favorites, let me know!

  • I can’t wait to see the Alinea book. It’s a little off topic but the New Yorker did a fantastic profile on Grant Achatz earlier this year. If you’re not familiar with what he’s gone through in the last few years it’s a fascinating and uplifting story.

  • I am sooo getting Dessert Fourplay and the Alinea cookbook too! :-)

  • I have been seeing “Fat” all over the place. I’m going to pick it up tomorrow.

  • I see forplay doesn’t go on sale till dec 30– so there is room for marshmallows!

  • I too will have to wait for a trip back to the states to check out these books (and probably add a few to my collection), but for now, just looking at the cover of “Dessert Fourplay” certainly satisfies a craving…..

  • Judy & Barbara: Yes, I can’t wait to get my hands on Johnny. I mean, on Johnny’s book. Am having lunch at Jean-Georges so perhaps I’ll get my chance at both.

    Wish me luck!

  • Right in time for my birthday! I’d like books 1 through 4, please.

  • The cover of the fat book is pretty amazing, the fat is so white and pure, i bet it could be used directly as a cold cream :D

  • Wonderful hearing you on Evan’s ‘Good Food’ yesterday! Your hamburger
    craving may well be an ‘end of summer’ response. Good luck with the search.

  • That is the silliest thing I’ve seen since all the Naked Chef brouhaha! Now, don’t get me wrong, he IS nice to look at, but seriously, I like my food porn separate from my um……hmmm….Ewan McGregor movies.

  • I’m ALL about Fat and Dessert Fourplay!! Yummy, yummy, yummy, I need dessert and fat in my tummy, and I feel like eating now!


  • Richard Olney has always been my food guru.
    All his books are an inspiration (even when he’s acting the bitch).
    All he’s recipes lean to the french they have a definitive and distinct “Olney flavour” in every dish. And boy does he love and know his wine…

    I met him in Sydney once and he was absolutely delightful.

  • Nice! Just starting to make my Xmas wishlist and A Platter of Figs is going on it. Keep the cookbook recommendations coming!

  • I’ve been eyeing “Platter of Figs” myself.

  • Dessert Fourplay looks scrumptious as do the recipes, so I’ll get that one and Hugh’s book I’ll get but only the one with him on the cover, when I clicked on the link, the cover was different (a big piece of meat instead of Hugh cuddling two piglets) and to be honest, I’m only buying it for the cover, thanks again for the tips.

  • I only have the River Cottage Book – it is good though I’m not sure how useful you will find the tips on raising chickens and pigs. One thing. Why are you bringing a British cookbook back from the States? Why not get it sent over from the UK?

    As for the Alinea book – looks incredible. And an interesting publishing story to it too. Am keen to find out what you think about it.

  • Eliane: True, I’m not raising any chickens (although there are a few cochons around here that could use some training…) but I loved the River Cottage Meat Book mostly for the information and his writing. I know it’s cliché, but I found that book so inspiring.

    Am picking up things in the states, since even if they’re European, like Le Creuset and Staub, they’re a lot less expensive than they are in France.

    Plus I think I need to do my share to help the US to pay off that $700,000,000,000.00 bailout, plus the other $1,000,000,000,000.00 down the pike.


  • I’ve been ogling a couple of these. David Tanis’ Platter of Figs got highlighted in Gourmet’s new Cookbook Club. The premise of the new column is great: Gourmet gets swamped with thousands of cookbooks to review, and they’re sharing the greatest hits each month. If you want to test out recipes, or get a feel for the cookbook before you commit, you can check out their selections here:

    I agree with other commenters above that Fat looks incredible. I’ve been working surreptitiously in my circle of friends to erode the purely negative view of fat in our diet, and a beautiful book like this would help the cause tremendously.

  • “Hugh Whatever-His-Last Name-Is”

    Hugh Ferny Whittering-Bottom as he is known in our household. (By me mainly. Susan can remember his name)

    We love the meat book, and spending a lot of time in France (and wandering around French markets) it is an essential addition to the kitchen, especially when the” I wonder what the *~##*&!! you’re supposed to do with that” question arises after visiting the butcher’s.

  • I don’t even LIKE dessert, but DAYUM. I might have to get Fourplay!

    The Fat book looks fantastic. I’m not sure yet that I’m sold on Alinea.

    That River Cottage book makes me kinda sad — what’s he planning to do with those cute little piglets? Ugh.. I don’t wanna know.

  • Holy moly, fourplay indeed. I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for the Fat book too – nice to see somebody celebrating something “bad” for a change. The world is going to hell in a handbasket, so why not indulge a little?!

  • Pshaw, I say. Bittman (from yesterday’s post), Tanis and Iuzzini may all have their points, but you, My Lebovitz are completely wonderful. Goofy socks and all, don’t change a thing.

  • Being a Brit, we’re somewhat ahead of you in the publishing schedule so I already have the UK version of the River Cottage Cookbook. ’tis certainly a good read, although doesn’t see quite as much use as the Meat book.

    And it’s pronounced ‘fern-ley wit-ing-stall’

  • Damn, the fourplay one is hot.