I am a big fan of fine dining. But sometimes you just can't justify the price tag, especially since most of these delicious treats are out of town. Thankfully for those times when you are ready to eat like a star there are plenty of high powered cookbooks to quench your foodie desires.
Eleven Madison Park This is a large format beauty of a book. Sometimes I just like to read this one and fantasize.
Bouchon Bakery This delight from gastronomic powerhouse Thomas Keller is full of the best desserts you have ever dreamt of eating!
The Family Meal Ferran Adria is a superstar in the cooking world, the owner of the renowned yet sadly now defunct el Bulli restaurant. He is now blazing a trail in the science and art of cooking by re-imagining el Bulli as a sort of Cordon Bleu in Spain, only with a lot more chemistry and imagination. The Family Meal Cookbook is great for beginners (and pros) since it has great step-by-step illustrated guides to the recipes. From the size of the chop to the amount of spoonfuls of a seasoning this cookbook really breaks it down for you. In each meal there is a course, a dessert, and usually a recommended beverage.
Momofuku David Chang could be credited with the pork belly revolution that is sweeping the nation, one of the first chefs to use this cut in new and interesting ways like his "Pork Belly Steamed Buns" and his Pork Belly Ramen, his family of chefs also invent fascinating dishes like the cereal milk soft serve ice cream and the compost cookie (way better than it sounds!). These delightfully odd recipes can be found in the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. Also check out his awesome Mind of a Chef produced and narrated by the fabulous Anthony Bourdain.
The French Laundry Cookbook Do watch for the size of the portions, I myself had a difficult time shrinking the "Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Beluga Caviar" recipe down from the restaurant proportions to one that would serve two, it came out way too salty but otherwise completely delicious! (There was also way too much leftover Panna Cotta which I then turned into Cream of Cauliflower soup by thinning it out with more milk, oh man it was yummy!)
Alinea Grant Achatz might most notably be known for his battle with tongue cancer and what this devastating disease threatened to take away from this up and coming five-star chef. In his Life, On the Line Achatz takes readers through his harrowing ordeal with cancer and how he came back to be at the top of his game once again. There is also an awesome video which shows just how much care is put into each plate at an Achatz restaurant.
Amuse Bouche This tasty little cookbook is full of five-star hors d'oeuvres traditionally served at fine dining establishments to highlight a chef's current obsession, a favorite seasonal ingredient, it is a way for the chef to say "Hello, this is where my mind is at right now, welcome to my restaurant." These tarted up appetizers should please all the senses but particularly they are meant to "amuse the mouth"... sometimes these seem like more of a joke than an amusement, but food should be fun!
Mizuna: French-Inspired Contemporary American cuisine Fine dining isn't just in New York and Chicago there is also some spectacular cooking right here in the mile high city. Just stop in at any one of Frank Bonnano's restaurants and you will be treated to a wonderful meal, from the family style Lou's up in Sunnyside, to the posh Mizuna at the foot of the Capital Hill neighborhood. Bonnano is at the helm of some of the very best restaurants in town!
A little more homestyle than foodie, the Moosewood Restaurant has published several cookbooks from which I have made some of the most delicious vegetarian meals ever. Grab one of their cookbooks from the library, head over to your local farmers market, and experience the joy of farm-to-table dining.
I am so hungry! Can you use a sturgeon substitute for the Beluga in the cauliflower panna cotta recipe?