By Jill Currie
With Christmas and The New Year upon us, tis’ the season for gifts and lists. I’m a terrible shopper and always leave things to the last minute. so if you’re anything like me, a little guidance is helpful during this somewhat stressful time of year. I’ve complied a list of my top 5 books that will make for wonderful gifts for the food and drink lovers in your life. I’ve read and loved all of these books and found them all extremely useful. With that said, get your shopping done early so you can raise a glass and enjoy the season. As for me, I’m going to try to follow my own advice for once. Till next year, Cheers!
Home Butchering Handbook by Jamie Waldron & Angela England
This is one of the most used books in my kitchen. An illustrated how to guide for all things butchery, from the tools necessary to get the job done to step by step instructions on breaking down whole animals. I met Jamie Waldron when he did a butchery demonstration at Silversmith Brewery a few years back. With style, grace and technique honed from years of practice he broke down a side of pork while we watched. While the meat lover in your life may not always have a whole pig on hand that needs butchering, they most certainly will find the pages on poultry extremely useful. There are also some tips on making homemade charcuterie and jerky. The best place to find this book is on Jamie’s website jamiewaldron.com $30 will get you the book, includes shipping and if you’re really nice, Jamie will even personalize it for you.
Niagara Food, A flavourful History of the Peninsula’s Bounty by Tiffany Mayer
Niagara Food is a great round up of all the places, events and farms that help to make Niagara a great culinary destination. And whom better to pen this book then our all things local champion Tiffany Mayer. You may recognize her name from her blog Eating Niagara or her honourable work as the brains (and a lot of muscle) behind Garden of Eating, an organization that harvests fruits and vegetables for local social agencies. This book reads like a who’s who of Niagara food and drink. With chapters that range from ‘Local Sustenance’ to ‘This Niagara Foodie went to Market’ Tiffany fills us in on all of the hidden gems, long time standards and the people behind them. Niagara Food gives such a sense of place that even if the locavore in your life lives elsewhere, they will still enjoy this read. Find Tiffany’s book for $21.99 at Coles and Chapters bookstores as well as locally at Lake Land Meats, Della Terra Olive Oil Tasting Bar and Figg Street Co. And finally, it is also available on chapters-indigo.ca and amazon.ca
Curbside, Modern Street Food from a Vagabond Chef by Adam Hynam-Smith
If you’ve ever eaten from El Gastronomo Vagabundo and wondered what exactly Adam has done to make the food you were eating so bright and flavourful, then this cookbook is for you and your friends and your parents and anyone who loves to cook and explore exotic flavours. Adam was born and grew up in Australia and travelled extensively through south east Asia during his early career and training so the flavour profiles in Curbside aren’t exotic to him, but they are for many North Americans. Thats what I love about this book so much. It has not only expanded my palette but my pantry as well thanks to the section on ‘Mise en Place’ . Filled with recipes for stocks, sauces, garnishes, spice blends and curries this is where the wow factor comes into play. You can find Adam and his book at Niagara Oast House Brewers on Highway 55 in Niagara-on-the-Lake where he runs the Beer Shed Kitchen on Friday evenings as well as Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Retailing for $32.95 Curbside can be personalized while you enjoy a pint and have some lunch.
Lost Breweries of Toronto by Jordan St.John
Jordan St.John is a Certified Cicerone and lover of beer as well as history. In combining these two passions, he has compiled Lost Breweries of Toronto. This volume chronicles the history of the pioneers in the industry from the 1800’s through to the 1960’s. Filled with rare photos, old bottle labels and even a few historic recipes, this book makes a great gift for the history lover as well as the beer lover in your life. Available on amazon.com or $21.99 with the Kindle version retailing for just $7.51. Make sure to check out his blog at st.johnswort.ca to enjoy more of his musings on all things beer. Jordan will also be releasing a new book in May co-authored with Robin Le Blanc (thethirstywench.com) called The Ontario Craft Beer Guide which is available for pre-order on amazon.com for $15.99
The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook by
David Ort is the author of the blog foodwithlegs.com and his first book is The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook. This cookbook is amongst the most loved guides in my kitchen since there is always different craft beers hanging around my house. I’ll often start with a beer I want to drink or use and go to David’s book to find out what I should make for dinner. This cookbook features recipes that highlight craft beer as an ingredient, and the possibilities are almost endless. From appetizers and sides, soups and seafood, to full main dishes, you can learn to use beer in cooking through different techniques. There is also a great section detailing how to make hop salt and beer vinegar. Available for $22.18 on amazon.com this will make a great addition to anyone’s arsenal of cookbooks.