Though we do our best to fill our summers with concerts, cookouts and cool vacations like everyone else, we appreciate any quiet moment we can get with a good book, too. We’re so excited about the thought of one-on-one time with our Kindles and iPads that our editors have put together a list of books we’re planning to read over the next few months. Some of the works are food related. Others are travel centered. All of them are going to be great to cozy up with on our next five-hour flight.
Jennifer Kester, Executive Editor
Book: My First New York, New York Magazine
Why: To get into the Empire State of mind for my upcoming trip to New York, I’m reading this new paperback from Ecco (the same company that’s publishing Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Anthony Bourdain’s line of books). In this collection of short stories, more than 55 notable celebrities, chefs, comedians and others share their first experiences in the merciless but magical city. While some lived the high life (then-Princess Diane von Furstenberg dined at spots like Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star La Grenouille), others struggled to make it (public radio host Ira Glass fantasized about being able to afford a meal at Dallas BBQ). Of course, there are the requisite NYC tales about rodent encounters (actor Andy Samberg) and crime (the late writer David Rakoff), but the transformative newcomer-beats-all-odds tales (filmmaker Jonas Mekas) stay with you.
Star Stories: Chef David Chang began his culinary career by taking reservations for Tom Colicchio’s Craft restaurant; and gossip columnist Liz Smith had an unlikely start as a real-life Peggy Olson from Mad Men.
Laura Janelle Downey, Managing Editor
Book: The Luxury Traveler’s Handbook, Sarah and Terry Lee
Why: I’m all about staying at the best hotels and garnering the best experiences when on a trip. But thanks to husband-and-wife duo Sarah and Terry Lee, I can now plan for future vacations without breaking the bank. In the couple’s book, they share planning and savings tips, provide more than 30 luxury hotel brands to visit—including Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Savoy and iconic Four-Star The Plaza Hotel—and they recommend seeking out hotels whose concierges are members of the esteemed Les Clefs d’Or organization. This tome is the perfect traveler’s tell-all.
Star Advice: “Finding ways to see the world for less and in style is a recipe with three ingredients—one part know-how, one part tenacity and a good sprinkle of confidence.”
Sarah Gleim, Senior Content Editor
Book: I Love New York, Ingredients and Recipes, Daniel Humm and Will Guidara
Why: I travel to New York several times a year and almost always at least once during the summer, and my taste buds have me extra eager to visit now that I’ve gotten my hands on Tastemakers Daniel Humm and Will Guidara’s new cookbook (they’re the duo extraordinaire behind Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Eleven Madison Park). I Love New York is a massive 500-plus page tome that reads like a reference guide to New York’s best ingredients, farmers and producers. Unlike the duo’s first cookbook, Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook, which might have served you better as a coffee table book, this one is full of recipes you’ll actually be able to reproduce at home, plus anecdotes and stories about the farmers Humm got to know as he traveled around the state.
Star Sites: The unexpected highlight of the book is Francesco Tonelli’s stunning food photography, as well as his incredible portraits of New York’s farmers.
Amanda Arnold, Senior Content Editor
Book: Travels With Charley: In Search of America, John Steinbeck
Why: The only problem with traveling is that it means parting ways temporarily with your dog—mine lets out woeful high-pitched cries as I roll my red suitcase out the door and down the hall. I think that’s why I’m drawn to the John Steinbeck classic, Travels With Charley: In Search of America, in which the opposite happens: The author’s panting standard poodle, Charley, piles happily into the truck for a long, cross-country journey. I’d love to finish up this great American travelogue this summer while road tripping with my own mutt. In the book, Steinbeck camps quite a bit, which I’m not against; but I wouldn’t mind also hitting up some nice hotels, though only ones that allow my dog to soak up plenty of time outdoors—like, for example, Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Point, set on a lake in the Adirondack Mountains, where dogs run leash free.
Star Passage: The first paragraph of this book is a humorous and moving description of wanderlust sure to resonate with any travel lover, young or old.
Michelle Doucette, Senior Content Editor
Book: The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create The World’s Great Drinks, Amy Stewart
Why: As a traveler with a healthy habit of sampling destinations’ unique tipples, I’m enjoying The Drunken Botanist, a quirky new compendium of the plants that have been picked, muddled and crafted into drinks from Pisco Sours to Sazeracs. As much an around-the-world tour of global spirits as a gardener’s guide to growing boozy botanicals, the alcohol-spiked book is already enhancing my travels. I now know the history of the maraska-cherry liqueur I sipped in Zadar, Croatia, for example, and the next time I’m at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The St. Regis New York, I’ll recall that it was one of the first places to serve grenadine (mixed with gin, lemon juice and soda in a cocktail called the Polly). The Drunken Botanist also contains dozens of drink recipes and growing notes for gardeners.
Star Drink: I can’t wait to try Stewart’s recipe for the apricot-based Valencia cocktail, a drink that first appeared in 1930s The Savoy Cocktail Book from famed bartender Harry Craddock, who once helmed London Five-Star The Savoy’s American Bar.
DeMarco Williams, Senior Associate Content Editor
Book: On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, Harold McGee
Why: When it comes to my skills in the kitchen, they pretty much begin and end with chopping and slicing. I’d ruin ramen noodles if I didn’t stare at the stove while they were boiling. That’s a fact I’m not terribly proud of; it’s also one I’m determined to do something about this summer. In my search for a cooking clue, I stumbled on a blog post where Aaron Haga, chef at perennial Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Broadmoor, named his five favorite cookbooks. One title on the list was On Food and Cooking, a 1984 release that was updated in 2004 and has essentially become the culinary world’s go-to resource for understanding where foods come from and how they become something tasty. It’s going to be a demanding read, no doubt. But it’s time for me to get smarter in the kitchen. Plus, I’m tired of hearing the smoke detector go off so much.
Star Quote: “Today dairying is split into several big businesses with nothing of the dairymaid left about them. Butter and cheese, once prized, delicate concentrates of milk’s goodness, have become inexpensive, mass-produced, uninspiring commodities piling up in government warehouses.”
Natalie Wearstler, Associate Content Editor
Book: Smart Casual: The Transformation of Gourmet Restaurants Style in America, Alison Pearlman
Why: I’ll admit it—I love getting dolled up for a date, but most nights I’d rather enjoy a slice of Neapolitan pizza in my favorite jeans than a plate of caviar in my finest dress. Alison Pearlman’s fascinating new book, Smart Casual, was written with diners like me in mind. Drawing from personal dining experiences, interviews with chefs and an eye for detail sharpened by years as an art historian, Pearlman explores how gourmet restaurant style in America has shifted away from the maître d’s stand and toward a “come as you are” mentality over the past several decades. Open-kitchen concepts, relaxed dress codes and haute upgrades to everyday favorites (remember the gourmet hamburger trend?) all come under Pearlman’s insightful study in this quick read, making it a perfect accompaniment for solo trips to Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery or fellow Tastemaker David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar—New York eateries that represent the scope of Pearlman’s commentary to a casual, tasty T.
Star Setting: I’d love to spend an evening watching chef Masa Takayama work his magic behind the sushi counter of New York’s Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Masa that fuses sophisticated ingredients with casual ambiance.
Caroline Patek, Content Editor
Book: The Art of the Restaurateur, Nicholas Lander
Why: While I certainly enjoy a good meal, I’ll admit that I tend to forget about the crucial behind-the-scenes operations that make a restaurant stay on course. The Art of the Restaurateur is a fascinating read, detailing the ups and downs of the life of a restaurateur in the quest to maintain a successful establishment. Written by Nicholas Lander—former owner of L’Escargot in London and now a food columnist for the Financial Times—the book also includes the author’s own lessons learned from running his eatery in the 1980s. Lander interviewed 20 restaurateurs from around the world, including Danny Meyer of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Gramercy Tavern and The Modern. Understanding the complexities behind running a restaurant will certainly give me a new perspective when I go out to eat.
Star Restaurateur: One of the book’s interesting profiles is James Beard Award winner Maguy Le Coze, who has run one of New York’s most successful restaurants, Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Le Bernardin, for more than 25 years.
Hayley Bosch, Content Editor
Book: Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, Danny Meyer
Why: As a self-proclaimed foodie, I can’t help but admire the restaurant empire that Danny Meyer has built. He has 12 successful restaurants under his belt, including Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Gramercy Tavern and The Modern—not to mention the ever-popular Shake Shack burger chain that’s expanding globally. While I don’t plan on creating my own restaurant business any time soon, I do think Setting the Table is filled with valuable hospitality lessons a young foodie like myself can appreciate. From a business standpoint, it’s extremely commendable that Meyer could form a successful restaurant group at such a young age, especially in New York; and I can’t wait to dig deeper into Union Square Hospitality Group’s history. I may not get any recipes, but I will certainly appreciate the behind-the-scenes work the next time I eat at one of his restaurants.
Star Lesson: In the introduction, Meyer sets the tone with a simple, but insightful, quote: “Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.”
Jordan Lawson, Content Editor
Book: Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, Gustavo Arellano
Why: Who doesn’t love a good burrito and margarita, especially during warmer months? Flavorful Mexican fare really says summer, so I picked up Taco USA to read on my upcoming travels. The book examines the journey Mexican food has taken to become a staple in the U.S.—from the feasts enjoyed by conquering Spaniards in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán (present-day Mexico City) to how Chipotle and Taco Bell became fast food empires. The book also discusses well-known gourmands in the Mexican scene such as Forbes Travel Guide Tastemakers Dean Fearing (of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Dallas restaurant Fearing’s) and Roy Choi (who’s known for his Korean-Mexican fusion and Los Angeles-based food truck, Kogi BBQ).
Star Success: My mouth watered reading about the 1971 invention of the frozen margarita machine at Mariano’s Mexican Cuisine in Dallas thanks to the high demand of margaritas and near walkout by owner Mariano Martinez’s bartending staff.
Alex Skjong, Content Editor
Book: The Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock
Why: When it comes to the art of the cocktail, I typically fall somewhere between the classic whiskey and coke or a beer. That is to say, I’m severely lacking in this department. So, in order to broaden my drink horizon, I thought it only fitting to turn to the classic bartender’s bible—The Savoy Cocktail Book. At more than 80 years old (it was first published in 1930), this mixology tome contains hundreds of recipes from Harry Craddock, who retreated to London during the Prohibition Era to become the head barman at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Savoy’s American Bar. The man certainly knew how to mix a drink (as evident from his creations, the White Lady and Corpse Reviver No. 2, and popularization of the eternally classy dry martini), and even though I don’t think I’ll be entertaining any Prohibition-dodging jet-setters anytime soon, honing the craft of a well-balanced drink is hardly a chore—even the mistakes are fun.
Star Cocktail: Corpse Reviver No. 2—1 ounce gin, .75 ounces Cointreau, .5 ounces Lillet Blanc, .75 ounces fresh lemon juice, absinthe rinse, garnish with a Luxardo cherry.
Photos Courtesy of iStock-iChuck, Full Flight Press, Penguin, The University of Chicago Press and HarperCollins Publishers