5 Must-Read Food Books for Summer

With food on the brain and recipe books falling short of a good beach read, Chow Bella has put together a list of our top 5 picks for summer food reading. 

Savor them in small bites or gorge yourself on all five because these summer reads are guilt-free foodie non-fiction.

See Also:
-Graphic Novelist Lucy Knisley Talks about Family, Recipes, and Illustrating Some of Her Favorite Food Memories
-Laurie Notaro's Dish of Death
-The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, Coming This Fall

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The PDT Cocktail Book: Does It Belong on Your Shelf?

Generally, cocktail books are easy. Slap a few recipes together, pair each one with a drool-inducing photo, put out a few thousand paperback copies, and you're bound to make some cash. Providing value -- and doing it stylishly -- is another task entirely.

The PDT Cocktail Book was released in late 2011 to much acclaim -- it was called "the book of the decade if not more" by mixologist Dale DeGroff. After sitting down for a chat with its author, Jim Meehan -- who, as the behind-the-bar owner of New York speakeasy PDT (short for Please Don't Tell), has been responsible for many of the trends that influence cocktail culture in the Big Apple and, as a result, the rest of the country -- we picked up a copy.

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Bitters, Beef Cutters, and Cheesemongers: A Taste of the 2012 James Beard Foundation Book Award Finalists

The 2012 James Beard Foundation Book Award finalists include several of our favorites. Any of yours?

Chow Bella Book Club read one of the finalist's books: Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton. We'll be reading another nominee, Extra Virginity by Tom Mueller, for April's event at Changing Hands -- details on that to follow.

Here's the complete list of books nominated for a 2012 James Beard Foundation award:

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Blood, Bones and Butter Signing at Changing Hands Bookstore Last Night with Gabrielle Hamilton

Photo: Jennifer Woods
For those of you who couldn't make it to Changing Hands Bookstore last night for Gabrielle Hamilton's packed house -- the very last stop of her paperback tour -- here's what you missed: 

We found out that Hamilton's marriage has, in fact, ended and that she has returned to Italy, though only after she had to make the call to her children's grandmother, not to ask permission but to say she was coming. Want more details?  Hamilton's recounted details of all of this can be found in the bonus chapter at the end of the just-released paperback edition. She also discussed her writing process, about finding the right voice for her book that wouldn't bore people (we don't believe she could ever bore anyone) and how she's never had to really pitch any books/essays -- the opportunities have all come to her.

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Blood, Bones and Butter Author Gabrielle Hamilton Chats with Chow Bella Book Club

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
We got a chance this weekend to chat by phone with chef and author Blood, Bones and Butter. She'd just touched down in Louisville, Kentucky, in the middle of both the country and her book tour for the recently released paperback version of the book. This Thursday she'll be in Tempe at Changing Hands Bookstore (our Chow Bella Book Club partner) at 7 p.m. for a signing and talk.

This isn't the first time that Hamilton has visited the Valley. She was a guest at the wedding of her good friend chef Suzanne Goin (of Los Angeles' Lucques, Hungry Cat and A.O.C.) at Chris Bianco's Pizzeria Bianco.

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Chow Bella Book Club January Selection: Blood Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton


​We're starting the year in style by choosing the memoir  so stellar, it inspired us to create Chow Bella Book Club. We're reading Blood Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton this month and it will be capped off with a visit from the author herself. We are beyond excited.

If you happened to miss all the buzz last year about BBB, don't worry. The paperback is now out and you can start another wave of love.

More about BBB and Chow Bella Book Club meeting date/time after the jump.

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Comfort Me with Apples: Chow Bella Book Club Meeting, Now In Session

Jennifer Woods
Come grab a seat, you've just arrived at the third meeting of the Chow Bella Book Club! We've gathered to discuss Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl.

As you probably already know, apples don't really make much of an appearance in this book. It's really more of a feeling Reichl wanted to convey. No, this book was filled with so much more than just apples, taking place from 1978 to 1993, it was filled with love, sex, tears, work, leisure, luxurious flights to far away places, fine dining, simple foods, babies and a wonderful peek into the beginnings of the foodie craze in America.

Before we dive into it, a little housekeeping. Don't fret if you haven't finished the book or if you read this book when it first was published in 2011, jump right on in, we're eager to read about your insights. If you're wondering what Reichl is doing these days, we shared her list of holiday gift picks at Gilt Taste. If you still would like a copy of the book, quickly head on over to the Changing Hands Bookstore/Chow Bella Book Club site for a link to a 20% off discount, before we announce next month's selection.

The meeting begins right after the jump. Spoiler alert!

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December's Chow Bella Book Club Selection: Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl


Chow Bella Book Clubbers, are you ready for the holidays? We're already deep in run-around-and-be-festive mode, why not a book that might be familiar to some of you that's already been a New York Times bestseller - so we already know it's good one.

It's also full of recipes, stories of family, and written by one of the most revered food authors.

We chose Ruth Reichl's second memoir, Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table. It's this month's Chow Bella Book Club selection.

All the sweet and crunchy details on this month's book after the jump.

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Chow Bella Book Club Review and Online Discussion: A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

a homemade life book Dec 4, 2011 10-44 PM 2592x1936.jpg
Jennifer Woods

Welcome to the second meeting of the Chow Bella Book Club! How nice to have you here.

I told you I was going to make orangettes for our visit tonight. I made good on my promise. I have them right here (I would have posted a pic but they don't look nearly as delightful as they taste). I wish I could share mine with you through the computer.

First, a little housekeeping. If you missed any early posts on this - like the bio of Molly Wizenberg or the recipe for orangettes, or if you are still reading the book, go ahead and jump in wherever you are. If you still need the book, head on over to the Changing Hands Bookstore/Chow Bella Book Club site for a link to a 20% off discount.

We'll get the meeting started after the jump. Spoiler alert!

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Make Molly Wizenberg's Orangettes for the Chow Bella Book Club Meeting Next Tuesday

First step, slice off the ends and cut the peel into strips.
Hello there, Chow Bella Book Clubbers. One more week until we gather for our "meeting" to gab about A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. Are you having as much fun reading through the essays/recipes as I am? I'm so glad we picked this book for this month because it's full of inspiration for this part of the year when we're cooking for our families, friends and anyone else in our celebratory eating path. There's still time to jump in and read up for next Tuesday's discussion.

After the jump: the recipe for orangettes (perfect to jump start your holiday cookie/candy making -- and hey, a snack while you're reading is always nice!), author Wizenberg's personal food blog, and how to get a discounted copy of A Homemade Life.

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