Cuisines: Dona Tomas (Mexican)
Is it easy to get good Mexican food in the Bay Area or is it impossible. The ongoing debate never ends. But you can't talk about Mexican food anymore without talking about Dona Tomas, a restaurant that has reinvigorated what we think it's all about. No standard Tex-Mex fare or Taqueria, this is a restaurant that celebrates regional cuisine and uses the best ingredients possible to create something truly special.
Restauranteur: Big Small Plates (Cindy Pawlcyn)
Who doesn't love the food created by Cindy Pawlcyn? From Fog City Diner to Mustards Grill her recipes have always been about big bold flavors and twists on the classics. In this book Pawlcyn shares credit with two of her chefs who are also her restaurant co-owners. Dishes have a variety of influences and bright flavors--Mexican, French and Asian all find their way into signature dishes from Bix, and Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen as well.
Bartenders: The Art of the Bar (Absinthe bartenders)
The bartenders from Absinthe have created a gorgeous coffee table book on cocktails. Read about the history of your favorite drinks and ingredients, all mixed up by the chefs of the bar. Want to make your own bitters? Create syrups flavored with fruit and herbs? Or muddle a kaffir lime leaf? Then this is your book too.
Chef: Michael Mina
Our dual Michelin starred restaurant Michael Mina has produced a cookbook. Having only eaten there once, I was curious to understand what won over the Michelin inspectors. This book shares Mina's philosophy and artistry which focuses on multiple preparations of ingredients. This is involved restaurant cooking. But the book is written in such a manner that you can take a desired element and make it your own. It also makes a great souvenir of a memorable meal.
Chocolatier: The Essence of Chocolate (Scharffenberger)
A source of local pride, Scharffenberger makes some of the tastiest chocolate in America. In this book you get a chance to follow the journey of the chocolatiers and learn all about how chocolate is produced. The recipes are from some of the best chefs and pastry chefs around, David Lebovitz, Alice Medrich, Elizabeth Falkner, Stephen Durfee, Craig Stoll, Jacques Pepin, the list goes on and on. There are plenty of sweet treats here, but also savory uses for cocoa nibs, one of my favorite ingredients to play with.
Anyone who's been to Tartine knows how popular it is from experiencing the line out the door. Recipes are a cross between traditional French and classic American. The local influence is seen with an emphasis on fresh fruits and a more natural style. I haven't baked from this book yet, but the reports I've heard from home cooks and pastry chefs are good. The book has a retro old-is-new-again feel to it, with matte rather than glossy pages and binding that keeps it open during use. Nice.