In January 2016, regional publisher Sasquatch, based in Seattle, is releasing a guide to an ingredient that unites North America’s West Coast from California to British Columbia: Oysters: Recipes with a Taste of the Sea from the Pacific Coast by Cynthia Nims. “The trend started in restaurants and oyster bars,” says Sarah Hanson, v-p and associate publisher, “and is migrating to cooks who are looking to prepare and serve oysters at home.” Though jarred oysters may be used in some of the book’s 30 recipes, the author encourages home cooks to shuck oysters themselves, with instruction on how to do so safely.
Another Sasquatch title, September’s Theo Chocolate: Recipes & Sweet Secrets from Seattle’s Favorite Chocolate Maker Featuring 75 Recipes Both Sweet and Savory by Debra Music and Joe Whinney, provides background on North America’s first organic and fair trade chocolate factory.
Moving south from Seattle, Heartlandia: Heritage Recipes from Portland’s The Country Cat by husband-and-wife team Adam and Jackie Sappington (HMH, Sept.) is, according to HMH executive editor Justin Schwartz, a sophisticated comfort food cookbook “inspired by the American heartland.” Rustic recipes include bread pudding–stuffed lamb shoulder and crispy fried oysters with smoky bacon and green apple ragout.
Further down the coast, San Francisco’s Chronicle is publishing Guittard Chocolate Cookbook: Decadent Recipes from San Francisco’s Premium Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Company by Amy Guittard (Sept.). Her grandfather founded the company, which is still family owned, in 1868. In December, the publisher is releasing chef Travis Lett’s first book, Gjelina: California Cooking from Venice Beach, which features some of the California-Mediterranean recipes that Gjelia, his Los Angeles restaurant, is known for. It’s one of several cookbooks highlighting California’s emphasis on healthful cuisine.
Artisan’s October release Crossroads: Extraordinary Recipes from the Restaurant That Is Reinventing Vegan Cuisine showcases recipes by author Tal Ronnen, owner of the Los Angeles–based Crossroads restaurant. Judy Pray, executive editor at Artisan, says that Ronnen “was among the first professional chefs to take vegan cooking seriously from a culinary perspective.” The recipes include fig caponata with polenta fries, and acorn squash ravioli with kale and black (nondairy) garlic-butter sauce.
Another high-end California restaurateur turned author is Dominique Crenn, who is the first female chef in the U.S. to be awarded two Michelin stars. Her first book, Atelier Crenn: Metamorphosis of Taste (HMH, Nov.), features her signature recipes based on organic, sustainable ingredients and also details her rise to fame in the food world. HMH executive editor Justin Schwartz says that Crenn’s cuisine is usually called modernist or molecular gastronomy, but her presentation “reflects and incorporates nature and art.”
More Pacific Coast Cookbooks for Fall
My Pantry: Homemade Ingredients That Make Simple Meals Special by Alice Waters with Fanny Singer (Pam Krauss, Sept.). Chez Panisse owner, Edible Schoolyard Founder, and California cuisine doyenne Waters invites readers into her home kitchen in this volume, which features sections on cheese making, pickling, preserving, and more.
Not Food for Old Men: Baja California, A Mexican Culinary Adventure by Annabelle Rosell Aguilar (Sime, Oct.). Traditional Mexican cooking meets Southern California and the American Southwest in the cuisine of the Baja peninsula.
Sea and Smoke: Flavors from the Untamed Pacific Northwest by Blaine Wetzel and Joe Ray (Running Press, Nov.). Wetzel, a Pacific Northwest native, was chef de partie at Noma in Copenhagen before becoming executive chef at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island in Washington State; his hyperlocal cuisine has since earned him James Beard awards for Rising Star Chef of the Year (2014) and Best Chef: Northwest (2015).
Olympia Provisions: Cured Meats and Tales from an American Charcuterie by Elias Cairo and Meredith Erickson (Ten Speed, Nov.). Step-by-step instructions for confits, pâtés, sausages, salumi, and frankfurters (plus noncharcuterie dishes) from Portland’s first USDA-certified salumeria, which now encompasses two restaurants and a mail order business.