Some cookbooks are meant to be splattered with ingredients; others look really good on a coffee table, opened to a spread. They're like design books, but the topic is food. That's something we can get behind—and the kind of thing we want to gift to cooks and non-cooks alike.
Here are some coffee table-cookbooks we're gifting this year:
Exploring the rich culinary history of Scandinavian cuisine through classic home-style recipes—and through photographs of the recipes and the natural beauty of Scandinavia—Darra Goldstein’s Fire + Ice cookbook is so absorbing that you’ll be tempted to book a flight to Denmark (or Iceland, or Sweden) after first flipping through it.
Hartwood, a restaurant on Mexico’s coast where all the produce comes from the surrounding farms and forests, all fish is spear-caught, and all dishes are prepared over open fire in a handmade wood-burning oven and grill, sounds too idyllic to be real. But with this book, we have proof!—in the form of recipes like Roast Chicken with Poblanos and Tomatillos and Rib Eye with Pepita-Lime Butter and larger-than-life photos by Gentl & Hyers. Even if you can’t get your hands on epazote, nopales, or wahoo filets, you’ll have no problem letting the book transport you to the jungle.
The NoMad Cookbook, named for the NoMad Restaurant at the NoMad Hotel, is really a celebration of the neighborhood north of Madison Square Park (NoMad—get it?); between the recipes are peppered photographs of the surrounding street corners and shops—sights that we, neighbors of the NoMad, see on our way to work. Our favorite parts of the book are in the details, like the folded vintage map of the NoMad neighborhood tucked into the library slip-like pocket, or the fact that, when opened, the cookbook reveals a mini, hidden book of cocktail recipes.
The definitive guide to the contemporary craft cocktail movement—from one of the highest-profile, most critically lauded, and influential bars in the world, based in New York City—also happens to be beautiful, with a black cloth cover and illustrations and photographs throughout. Not only does it make the most convincing case we've heard for craft cocktails, but it shows you with meticulous detail how to build a drink, taste a drink, and even invent your own.
Some other lookers from our gift guide for cookbook buffs: