7*7 Favorites of 2009: No. 1 - Let's kick off with cookbooks
January 7th, 2010

The preference of making lists seems to be widely spread among food bloggers – many interesting ones popped up in my Feed-Reader over the last weeks. Personally, I’ve been writing lists myself forever. As long as I can remember, anyway. Lists about what to pack for riding holidays, lists for movies I want to see, wish-lists with plenty of books I’d like to be given for Christmas (which I still do) and many more. Don’t even get me started on shopping or todo lists (which I write daily). My plans to end 2009 – yet again – with a favorites list was heavenily boycotted by the wonderful time we spent in Rome with our friends Hande and Theo. Who, right in their mind, would sit in front of a computer, when you could stroll through the bustling city instead? See, I knew you’d understand me!

Yet I couldn’t let go of the thought to miss a great list opportunity, hence, over the next days or so I will try to compile seven favorites lists (7*7) of kitchen related things, events, recipes or else. Let’s kick off today with seven of my favorite cookbooks of the last year (not necessarily published in 2009):

Chocolate – A Love Story by Max Brenner
A feast for your eyes. If you’re into colorful illustrations, this one is for you (if you’re looking for luscious dessert photography, it’s probably not the right choice though). Some day I might actually attempt a recipe from this huge orange title, for now I’m just in awe about the sheer beauty of it.

The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet
A brickstone of a book. This impressive volume has everything one could wish for and more, basic instructions, background knowledge and full page photography, all assembled in a very approachable layout. The medley of traditional and rather innovative recipes holds something for baking novice and advanced bakers alike. Everything I’ve tried so far was a hit (that potato, onion and gruyère galette!). Measurements in both volume and weight.

Mastering Cheese by Max McCalman and David Gibbons
Although I’m usually a bit intimidated by single subject cookbooks (food books), because they tend to overwhelm with depth of knowledge, this one is indispensable for cheese lovers. Within 22 chapters maître fromager Max McCalman takes you on a trip to become a cheese connoisseur, from buying to arranging cheese tastings to judging, let alone history and production. So much more than the typical guide book, it pulls me in whenever I just want to check some facts about a certain cheese.

Leon by Allegra McEvedy
I’m a little biased about this one. I doubt that another cookbooks out there comes even close to Leon‘s adorably designed and very informative ingredients part (first half of the book). When I first held it in my hands, I couldn’t wait to turn each page, always curious what the designers might have cooked up next. The removable cheese territories map alone made me swoon! But truth be told, since one or two recipes didn’t work out as expected, I use it more as a reference book than to actually cook from it.

The Songs of Sapa by Luke Nguyen
Back to the brickstone department, again. Some may know Luke Nguyen from Secrets of the Red Latern. This time he travels his home country Vietnam and shares family recipes and stories. He introduces the reader to the regional diversity as well as the beauty of his country and the exceptionally stunning (food) photography draws you in immediately. Together with the modern layout and the choices of fonts this book is utter eye-candy.

Wild, Wild East by Bobby Chinn
Yet another book about Vietnamese cuisine, this time with a different spin. I mean it in the best possible way, when I compare Bobby Chinn‘s recipes to Jamie Oliver‘s: fast, approachable, manageable list of ingredients, often with an unusual twist.

Little Italy by Laura Zavan
To convince me to add another book to my copious collection about Italian cuisine means the book either needs a new approach, great recipes or a capturing design. Little Italy has all three. I especially value Laura Zavan‘s general tips on what to do with typical Italian ingredients and her chapters on fresh pasta.

Not satisfied, you still crave for more? A lot of the usual suspects have found their way into my extremely packed Billys, too. Momofuku, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, The Blackberry Farm Cookbook, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day or Encyclopedia of Pasta are – not without reason – all crowd-pleasers and have added both, inspiration and good recipes to my kitchen repertoire.

Not to forget: the sudden death of Gourmet left a gap that will be hard to fill. Thank god my subscription already ended, because Condé Nast’s sent substitution (Bon Appetit) couldn’t charm me. Instead Jamie magazine could. And the German magazine Effilee could, too (although I agree with the frequently expressed point of criticism: the spare fashion shots with extra slim models I do need not).

And – although this is not a cookbook – the documentary Food, Inc. has left a huge impression last year. Sadly this film won’t get the audience it deserves, the people I know, who watched it, are already very much interested in the subject of food (as well as the politics and problems behind it). You haven’t seen it yet? Order it now!

How about you? Any cookbook you enjoyed in particular last year?

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