A previous blog post featured San Francisco restaurants and cookbooks. Here is the follow up post featuring Napa Valley and the East Bay.
Napa and Beyond
Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
One place I have yet to try, that I have heard good things about is Ad Hoc. Ad Hoc exists, through a bit of serendipity, and the full story is included in the book. Basically, it’s about home cooked meals, without fancy garnishes or flashy presentations. The cookbook has some handy tips, like how to cut up a whole chicken. And it also includes some fairly simple recipes that even I might be able to whip up, such as the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Poached Salmon, and Apple Fritters. I love the layout, and use of photographs to teach.
French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller With Susie Heller And Michael Ruhlman
Dining at French Laundry is at the top of my bucket list. While I can’t quite imagine spending over $250 on one meal, I have dreamed about the food at this mecca, and have heard it described as “heaven.” Those who cannot afford this luxury, can appease themselves by delving into the cookbook. From the first recipe for “cornets” of Salmon Tartare with Sweet Red Onion Crème Fraiche, to the final, Sally Schmitt’s Cranberry and Apple Kuchen with Hot Cream Sauce, each one is a wonder to behold. I only wish there were more photographs of the finished creations.
Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking by Masaharu Morimoto
I spend my most recent wedding anniversary enjoying a leisurely and stunning meal at Morimoto Napa. The Toro Tartare appetizer is legendary, and appears on the Food Network show, “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” This truly lived up to its reputation on my palate, and the recipe and photograph of the dish in all its glory is featured in the book. Other unique masterpieces include Squid Ink-Salmon Gnocchi, Miso-Braised Short Ribs Tempura, and Squid Strawberry Ice Candy. The recipes and abundant array of photographs made me want to weep. You can almost taste the dishes by gazing longingly at the beautiful photographs. Enough said. Check it out.
Mustard’s Grill Napa Valley Cookbook by Cindy Pawlcyn
Some might say Mustard’s Grill kick started the food revolution in the Napa Valley, and whenever I drive up to Napa, the parking lot here is always full. As famous for its wine list as its food, Mustard’s is a seasoned favorite. One section of the cookbook caught my attention, that is “From the Smoker & Grill,” which contains such morsels as Hanger Steak with Watercress Sauce, and Tea-Smoked Duck with 100-Almond Sauce and Ginger Pickled Mango. Desserts such as Caramel Apple Bread Pudding, and Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Tart had my heart racing as well.
The Tra Vigne Cookbook Seasons In The California Wine Country by Michael Chiarello
Another Napa Valley restaurant I have enjoyed a couple meals at is Tra Vigne in St. Helena. Their pizza is more than your typical dough and cheese. Some of the recipes in the cookbook are the Famous Roast Garlic Crab, and Crispy Herb Gnocchi with Braised Lamb Shanks and Wild Mushrooms. Recipes are arranged by Season, which is unique, and thoughtful.
BayWolf Restaurant Cookbook by Michael Wild
BayWolf Restaurant has been around since 1975. Seasonal menus blend flavors of the Mediterranean, Tuscany, Provence, and Basque regions. Recipes are organized by month, a nod to their seasonal menus. From Warm Duck Liver Salad, to Goat Cheese Ravioli, and Chocolate Puddle Cake with Crème Angaise, there is something to please every palate.
Cesar: Recipes from a Tapas Bar by Oliver Said and James Mellgren
Cesar, a tapas bar, was born of three Chez Panisse alumni, housed next door to the venerable institution, and was a big hit. The bar is just as vital as the food in this restaurant, so the cookbook includes information on sherry, cocktail recipes, and coffee drinks. The tapas section includes soups, salads, rice, meats, fish, sweets, and more. Recipes include Gazpacho, Lamb Meatballs in Almond Sauce, and Squid Stuffed with Carmelized Onions and Bacon.
Chez Panisse Café Cookbook by Alice Waters
The first thing I noticed about this book, is that it does not contain a single photograph of the food. The print illustrations by David Goines are lovely, but I really like to see pictures with recipes. Chez Panisse in Berkeley is legendary, and has been delighting diners since 1971. Alice Waters practically pioneered the notion of using fresh, local produce and ingredients. Many of the recipes are fairly simple, such as Pickled Beets, Rustic Pizza with Anchovies, and Plum and Pluot Galette.
The Pancake Handbook : Specialties From Bette's Oceanview Diner by Stephen Siegelman
Bette’s Oceanview Diner in Berkeley does not have an ocean view. It does however, have some awesome breakfast offerings, including pancakes. Again, the cookbook doesn’t use photographs. But I suppose if you’ve seen one pancake, you’ve seen them all. Recipes include Gingerbread Pancakes, Double-Chocolate Devil’s Food Pancakes, Blini, and Phil’s Famous Potato Latkes.
I know there are many more restaurant cookbooks out there, if there is a favorite if yours I missed, feel free to leave a comment. I am always on the lookout for more good food and recipes.
DeAnn O. has been a children’s librarian for over 15 years. She is a self declared foodie, with a mean sweet tooth.