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Spread the Word: Gift Books for Food Lovers

These handsome books go from coffee table to kitchen with ease

The joy of entertaining

In Raising the Bar (Artisan, $27.50), author Nick Mautone takes the art of mixology well beyond the usual bartender’s guide. Sure, he covers the basics of cocktail making, from choosing the right tools and glassware to stocking your liquor cabinet. But he also discusses the importance of using the freshest and finest ingredients and garnishes, offers tips for matching drinks with food, and reveals the techniques that will make you look like a pro. In addition to some 250 well-crafted drink recipes, there’s an entire chapter devoted to snacks and hors d’oeuvres.

Anyone who loves gathering friends around the table would be grateful to receive Peggy Knickerbocker’s new book, Simple Soirées (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $35), which makes entertaining at home seem like the simplest, most natural thing in the world. Filled with gorgeous photos and 100 of the author’s favorite recipes, organized into accessible seasonal menus for any festive meal—from dinner for two to feasts for a crowd—this book has everything you need to make wonderful meals for friends.

Cheese (Clarkson Potter, $32.50), by Max McCalman and David Gibbons, is a pictorial guide to the 200 very best cheeses in the world, from Swiss Aaraurer Bierdeckel to Spanish Zamorano. The entry for each cheese includes a large color portrait; practical buying, storing, and serving advice; and helpful wine-pairing tips—including a “match made in heaven” for every cheese.

New classics

First published in 1950, The Silver Spoon (Phaidon, $39.95) is considered a kitchen essential in Italy. And given the popularity of Italian cuisine in this country, it seems safe to say that American cooks will embrace the first-ever English translation of this hefty tome. With 2,000 recipes (tested and rewritten for American sensibilities) and 200 color photos, it’s hard to imagine a more comprehensive resource of Italian classics.

The Cook’s Book: Techniques and Tips from the World’s Master Chefs (DK Publishing, $50), edited by Jill Norman. This may well be the technical reference book we’ve all been waiting for. Chock full of 1,800 color photos and 650 recipes, it illustrates more than 350 techniques, from essential basics to far-out flourishes. Whether you’re looking to thicken a sauce, fold an omelet, hand-shape sushi, skin an eel, or make potato foam, this book can show you how.

A feast for the senses

Mangoes & Curry Leaves (Artisan, $45), the fifth glorious book by the talented husband-and-wife team Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, brings to life their delicious journey through India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The evocative photos, touching stories, and mouthwatering recipes will whet your appetite—for food and for life.

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