Food and travel are two of my greatest loves, which is pretty fitting considering my day job is running an independent travel bookstore.
Not that I need an excuse to get on the road, but this year I made a food travel reading list to give me even more motivation and I wanted to share it with you. It’s a calendar – arranged month-by-month and made up of everything from memoirs to cookbooks – to inspire cooking more and traveling often, even if the only traveling you do is from your dining room to your kitchen.
January – Plan A Worldwide Culinary Tour
I can’t imagine a better way to start the year than to throw diet to the wind and start a must-eat list. This new guide to the world’s best food, by former New York Times restaurant critic Mimi Sheraton, makes our dreams of eating our way around the world a distinct possibility. Filled with local delicacies, exotic snacks, gourmet flavors, and tried-and-true staples, this book has enough to keep even the most ambitious eater busy straight until 2016.
February – Love Letters And Cooking For Those You Love
It’s the month of love, or at least Valentine’s Day, which means snagging a table at your favorite bistro is like winning the lottery and paying for it. This year stay home to cook for those you love and cuddle up with a good book, like Letters to Sartre, which gives intimate insight into one of the world’s most legendary literary couples.
March – Erin Go Bragh
Colman gives new life to Irish cuisine or, depending on your Irish food perspective, convinces you to fall for it for the first time. Here he pays homage to classic Ireland while celebrating the new Ireland in its people, landscape, and of course, its pubs. Travel to the Irish countryside by cooking monkfish in beer batter, Guinness cake, roast pork belly, or shepherd’s pie.
April – April In Paris
Listening to Ella and Louis’s sultry rendition of April in Paris gives even the biggest cynic a desire to pack her bags and head to the City of Lights. And, as if you needed more fodder, Paris Magnum celebrates the city via a collection of photographs and negatives of jazz clubs, cafe life, and iconic buildings. Put this on your coffee table to inspire you to finally learn to speak like a Parisian – or at least to live like one.
May – Top Restaurant Picks By Top Chefs
This is the ultimate guide to where to eat around the world. Chefs of worldwide recognition – Chang and Ottolenghi – give their favorite food spots city by city. With 3,000 restaurants in over 70 countries as well as detailed city maps, insider tips, and reviews, this is one of those only-Phaidon-can-create-it books.
June – Northern Heights
It’s the start of summer and, while everyone seems to be flocking to the beach, those seeking adventure set their compasses due north to Iceland. Gunnar Gislason’s restaurant Dill, which opened in Reykjavik’s historic Nordic House, is a destination in and of itself. His cookbook celebrates the drastic landscape, the people, and the stories that make Icelandic cuisine as unique as the country.
July – Happy Birthday United States!
It’s the United States’ birthday month and so it’s time to hit the road. After all, what is more American than a road trip? Covering seemingly every highway, byway, and roadway, this is a manual to the best local eats from coast to coast, including close to 900 barbecue joints, lobster shacks, diners, and drive-ins. Hop in a vintage convertible, gather up some friends and let your stomach guide you as you eat your way across the States.
August – Sonoma County
With wine harvest kicking off, it’s time to sip the Sauvignon and let the others do the cooking. Sonoma is known for its rich soil and vast terrain, which provides the meat, produce and wine for all the restaurants in the area, and this little book is packed with the region’s must-sees.
Not to miss Paradise Ridge Winery with its wood-fired pizza and ocean views; Rodney Strong Vineyards with its Estate wines and sustainable practices; and Gloria Ferrer for bubbles and a place to toast the end of summer.
September – San Francisco, Vietnam, and Spring Rolls
Early September is an ideal time to visit Vietnam, but if you can’t head east, let this iconic San Francisco restaurant’s cookbook inspire dreams of Vietnamese coffee and big bowls of bun. Phan’s stories of hard work, a little luck, and devoted customers are woven throughout the over 100 tongue-teasing recipes.
October – Day of the Dead
While most lose the spirited vibe after the trick-or-treating is through, in-the-know travelers head to Oaxaca to witness Day of the Dead celebrations. Start the festivities early by cooking and tasting your way through the country with this authentic and comprehensive Mexican home-cooking bible.
November – Anguilla and White Sand Beaches
The mere mention of Anguilla brings to mind warm breezes, turquoise water, and toes in the sand. Filled with stories of the Blanchards‘ tribulations in starting a restaurant, the kind Anguillans who helped create their new life, and recipes to transport you there, this charming memoir will keep you daydreaming of island life even as the cold weather sets in.
December – Holidays with Southern Charm
Chef Brock is a tattooed hipster award-winning chef devoted to preserving the heritage foods of the South. This cookbook combines personal stories, recipes with regional flavors, and an easy mix of comfort food and fine dining – all reflective of Brock’s style and the cooking he and his Charleston restaurants are so loved for.
Add to it that Charleston has a love of the holidays – ample decorations, culinary tours, Gullah spirituals by candlelight, and horse-drawn carriage rides – and it’s clear why this is the book for this time of year.
Opening photo by Catherine MacBride