The leaves are falling, the days are getting shorter, and the fall harvest has arrived. However, this autumn is yielding considerably more than just super-sized zucchini.
Publishers have produced a bountiful supply of ripe new cookbooks, including a slew with links to the Bay Area. No wonder. When it comes to culinary magic, California boasts an embarrassment of delicious riches, from Daniel Patterson's Coi and David Kinch's Manresa to Karen Mitchell's glorious Model Bakery in Napa.
Some of the new books appear to be more destined for coffee tables than kitchen counters. Others will make you lunge for your saute pan. These are the volumes we're most excited about, plus a few recipes to further whet your appetite.
The chef monologues
Let's get real. The average home cook is unlikely to whip up a little duck tongue sous vide after soccer practice. But we want to want to -- or rather, we want to nestle on the couch, put our feet up and browse the pages of "Coi: Stories and Recipes" (available Oct. 13 from Phaidon, $49.95, 304 pages). We'll linger over the stunning images of chilled ratatouille soup, a trio of soups that's swirled together and garnished with cilantro and nepitella flowers. Or we'll swoon over "Summer, Frozen in Time" -- plum ice with frozen meringue and yogurt, set atop a glistening block of ice. Then we'll make reservations at Patterson's San Francisco restaurant, because there are no nepitella flowers in our pantry.
Kinch's "Manresa: An Edible Reflection (due out Oct. 22 from Ten Speed Press, $50, 336 pages) weaves a similar spell with photographs, stories and recipes from the Los Gatos restaurant, famed for courses such as the 40-ingredient "Into the Vegetable Garden." It's a perfect gift for your favorite foodie's coffee table -- or yours.
And if you'd rather read about the Bay Area's dining scene, not pore over recipes, pick up San Francisco chef Joyce Goldstein's latest, "Inside the California Food Revolution" (University of California Press, $34.95, 360 pages). The book covers 30 years of culinary change, from Berkeley's Chez Panisse and Beverly Hills' Spago to San Francisco's Incanto and Bi-Rite Market -- and Coi and Manresa.
The Napa contingent
More than 1,000 customers clog the doors at Napa Valley's Model Bakery every day -- and that doesn't even include the diners who enjoy Mitchell's breads, rolls and sweets in the Wine Country's major restaurants and wineries. So when a review copy of Mitchell's "Model Bakery Cookbook" (due out Sept. 17 from Chronicle Books, $35, 208 pages) landed on our desk, we began frantically flipping through, muttering, "Please let there be Morning Glory Muffins! Please let there be Morning Glory Muffins!"
Yes, the recipe is there, along with recipes and how-tos for the bakery's ridiculously popular English muffins, pain au levain, croissants, scones, galettes and scores of other delicious things.
If Napa's savory side is more your thing, then doubtless you've stood in line at the Fatted Calf, the famous charcuterie launched by Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller, the husband-and-wife team whose résumé includes stints at Berkeley's Cafe Rouge and Napa's Mustards Grill. Their new book, "In the Charcuterie" (Sept. 17 from Ten Speed Press, $40, 352 pages) boasts more than 125 recipes for everything from pate and cassoulet to a chapter titled "Sausage, Salami and Their Cousins." The book is a meat-lovers' dream.
The home kitchen
You know those dog-eared, sauce-spattered, butter-smeared cookbooks in your collection? These are going to look just like that.
Sunset magazine has long been a source for great recipes, and the cookbooks produced by food editor Margo True and her staff are consistently terrific. Their newest, "Cook Taste Savor: 16 Inspiring Ingredients for Delicious Dishes Every Day" (Sept. 17 from Oxmoor, $26, 288 pages), may be our favorite yet. It's divided into chapters dedicated to tomatoes, berries, chicken and all the other ingredients that form such a delicious foundation for Northern California cuisine. The only difficulty will be deciding what to make first: Caprese Eggs? BLT Chicken Burgers with a basil-lemon aioli? Roasted Corn-Poblano Salad?
James Beard award-winner Judith Choate has penned more than 100 cookbooks and volumes about food during her lengthy career. Her newest, "An American Family Cooks: From a Chocolate Cake You Will Never Forget to a Thanksgiving Everyone Can Master" (Sept. 24 from Welcome Books, $45, 320 pages), was co-written with her family, including her son, San Francisco wine pro Christopher Choate. Think of every favorite comfort dish you ever craved. It's there, from corn fritters and chocolate fudge to "The Chicken Potpie That Nana Made and We All Still Make."