by Paige Donner
Any season is a good season to give the gift of an exquisite, illustrated book about food and/or wine. Here you will find three selections, all of which are authored by French experts in their fields of food and wine, Gérard Bertrand (wine), Eric Kayser (pâtisserie) and Régis Marcon (mushrooms). The books are printed in French, for now, but with such exceptional picture illustrations, they very easily span the cultural divide.
Champignons by Régis Marcon
Selected here are Régis Marcon's book about Champignons, and I mean all kinds. This Loire-based three-star French chef came out with his book from Martinière publishing in 2013. In early December he won another accolade for it, this time from Champagne Collet who holds a culinary book competition every year, the Livre de Chef. The event's official name is Champagne Collet du Livre de Chef and you can read more about it here and more about the illustrious chef Régis Marcon's 416 page book about mushrooms, here.
*Author's note: as a stunning example of the cultural communications chasm that still exists between France and the rest of the culinary world, imagine standing in a room of food and wine journalists at a chef's book award event in France and having everyone swear to you that they've never heard of Zagat's! No kidding. The main problem with this scenario is not ignorance, since not everyone can know about everything, even when it comes to such important food and restaurant Bibles as Zagat's (which does, officially, have a presence here in France, even since Google bought them out a few years ago). No the real problem with that scenario is the self-assured smugness of local, francophone culinary journalists and marketing/export teams who insist that if they haven't heard of something, there is no merit to it. I assure you, however, that even though my anglo restaurant and food critics friends got a thorough kick out of this anecdote, to stand in a room full of culinary journalists (mainly francophone but also New Zealand and Australian) and have them all glare at you when you insist that Zagat's is, most definitely, a foodie's Bible and is of great import in our world, is NOT a fun experience.
It is these cultural divides, no, strike that, communication chasms, that I will continue to tackle in my newly expanded radio program, Paris GOODfood+wine. You can listen to that on World Radio Paris.
By the way, the only thing that saved my neck from the threatened lynching at the above noted event was that, thank goodness, the CEO of Champagne Collet had spent a bit of time abroad and did know about Zagat's, knew it well, in fact. But imagine, the only one in a room full of culinary professionals, wine marketing and export pros, and food-wine journalists (for the French market) who did! YOWZA!
L'Atelier Gourmand d'Eric Kayser
Boulanger Eric Kayser is the darling of the fresh bread world here in Paris. He also has five or maybe even six now, bakeries in NYC. All of which are flourishing.
This new book of his focuses on his pâtisserie offerings. It follows his previous book release in 2013 that was all about the bread. With 20,000 books sold, it has seen great success.
This new book, just released in time for the end of year festivities, is all about his simple cakes achieved with great finesse. You will find 70 recipes and tons of mouth-watering photos in the book of things like: strawberry macarons, caramel cakes garnished with nougatine mousse along with the traditional French offerings of fraisier, éclairs, mini-financiers and other assorted cakes and fine pastries.
Find out more at Maison Kayser.
Gérard Bertrand, Le Vin à La Belle Étoile
Last, but not least, is the book for wine lovers, especially of France's southern wines. Former rugby star turned wine mogul, Gérard Bertrand, has just released his book, Le Vin À La Belle Étoile. The success of the marketing of his wines in the U.S. in recent years has defied previous market trends, introducing the American consumer to affordable French wines. Bertrand is also a champion of bio-dynamic wines and a lover of jazz music. My video interview HERE.