Appetizers

A trio of books takes foodies and sippers on tour

Each year, the publishing industry adds hundreds of new cookbooks to national and regional bibliographies. This trio takes a different tack, though, keeping you out of the kitchen and amused in other ways.

“Death & Co.: Modern Classic Cocktails” by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald and Alex Day (Ten Speed Press, $40, 320 pages). The first thing to know is that the innovative Death & Co. is a bar in New York City that has been at the forefront of the craft cocktail movement since opening in 2006.

In hip and informative text, world-class photos and cool illustrations, its book tells home mixologists everything they need to know about making great cocktails, along with lore and the fundamentals of basic spirits. Plus: The inside info on garnish and bitters, bar tools and techniques and much more is all there, along with 500 cocktail recipes, all ata a bargailn price. Are you sure you know the proper way to stir a cocktail?

“A Century of Restaurants” by Rick Browne (Andrews McMeel, $40, 408 pages): Browne, who was one of the judges at the Best In the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off in Sparks, Nev., over Labor Day weekend, hit the road to compile “stories and recipes from 100 of America’s most historic and successful restaurants.”

Yes, the Acme Oyster House (1910) and Antoine’s (1840), both of New Orleans, are included, along with Jake’s Famous Crawfish (1892) in Portland and the Southside Market & Barbeque (1882) in Elgin, Texas. Closer to home, we have Fior d’Italia (1886) in San Francisco, Fenton’s Creamery (1894) in Oakland and Philippe the Original (1908) in Los Angeles.

One of my personal favorites is there, too: the Tadich Grill at 240 California St. in San Francisco. The seafood house has survived six fires and three earthquakes, Browne writes, and still manages to pack the house every day. The recipe for its killer cioppino is included (halibut, scallops, prawns, bay shrimp, crab and clams).

“A Curious History of Food and Drink” by Ian Crofton (Quercus, $20, 256 pages): This oddball offering of centuries-old encyclopedic lore is funny and informative. How did turkey get its name? What was the first fish ‘n’ chips shop in London? Who invented Shredded Wheat? Need a recipe for fried locusts? Was there really a debate over goose versus turkey for Christmas Eve dinner? And, once and for all, here’s a cure for the common hangover, circa 1660.

Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.

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