FOR THE ONE WITH WANDERLUST
A TASTE OF PERSIA
by Naomi Duguid ($50, Artisan)
Canadian cookbook author Naomi Duguid's approach to research and writing has as much to do with anthropology as it does with gastronomy. She spent three years jetting back and forth from the Persian culinary region, hanging around tiny towns and hamlets, orchards and mountainsides in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Kurdistan. She struck up conversations with the locals, who welcomed her into their kitchens and invited her to picnics. The result is a lovingly assembled compendium of some of the region's finest home cooking, oozing with tart fruit, walnuts, pomegranate and fresh herbs, plus plenty of evocative tales from her travels.
FOR YOUR LAZY FRIEND
SLOWER IS BETTER
by Ricardo Larivée ($34.99, HarperCollins)
You know those buddies of yours who are perpetually complaining they're too busy to cook but too broke to keep eating out? (Bonus points if they're doing this while scarfing down a $17 entree. Double bonus points if this is actually you. Triple points if this is you and you're roasting yourself in a holiday gift guide.) Get them a personal-size slow cooker and throw in this book by TV chef Ricardo Larivée. Following up on his tome Slow Cooker Favourites, he offers dozens of throw-in-and-go recipes, from pulled beef tacos to duck confit to bread pudding, that will work for a bag lunch, a dinner party and everything in between.
FOR THE SUSHI AFICIONADO
SUSHI: JIRO GASTRONOMY
by Jiro Ono and Yoshikazu Ono ($16.99, VIZ Media)
Most food lovers have a cheapo sushi joint they keep in their back pocket for a weeknight dinner - but you and I both know you're not going to get a true spiritual experience with a green salad and a miso soup for $8.95. To take your favourite Japanophile's culinary education to the next level, give this handy guide co-authored by the sushi master himself, Jiro Ono (of Jiro Dreams Of Sushi fame), who lays out the etiquette and customs of sushi-eating ("pulling off the topping is the greatest insult to the sushi chef") as well as outlining 30 types of seafood you're likely to encounter at the bar and the ideal seasonings for each.
FOR THE PINTEREST ADDICT
SCANDINAVIAN GATHERINGS: FROM AFTERNOON FIKA TO MIDSUMMER FEAST
by Melissa Bahen ($24.95, Sasquatch)
Blogger Melissa Bahen, of Lulu The Baker (luluthebaker.com), peppers her debut book with festive entertaining ideas from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. That extends to the kitchen - Norwegian silver dollar pancakes, Swedish meatballs with gravy, braided cardamom bread and a soul-warming hot almond and citrus punch are all on the menu - and to every room of the house, since Bahen backs up the recipes with plenty of instructions for crafty DIY projects that will turn any kitchen or bedroom into a sweetly rustic Scandi retreat. This one ought to keep your favourite crafter/chefs up to their elbows in flour and hot glue for weeks.
FOR THE SUGAR FIEND
BOBBETTE & BELLE: CLASSIC RECIPES FROM THE CELEBRATED PASTRY SHOP
by Allyson Bobbitt and Sarah Bell (Penguin, $35)
It's not that tough to make top-notch baked treats, provided you've got the know-how of two professional bakers and their years of trial and error (plus all of their moms' and grandmas' recipes) on your side. The dynamic duo behind Toronto bakery Bobbette & Belle have pretty much given all their trade secrets away willingly in the form of this pastel-toned tome, walking readers through perfect pie crusts, homey cookies and squares, cupcakes and Bundts, rustic bread puddings and even the dreaded macaron. [Read our October feature here.]
FOR THE BEER GEEK
THE ONTARIO CRAFT BEER GUIDE
by Robin LeBlanc and Jordan St. John (Dundurn, $16.99)
Two of Toronto's most notable beer writers and experts put their heads together and came up with this, a fantastically comprehensive guide to Ontario's snowballing craft beer scene. The duo list hundreds of breweries around Toronto and beyond, rate over a thousand (!) brews and provide deeper histories of some of the province's most notable producers. Brew-hounds will have tons of fun reading and even more fun doing their own field research.
Get more great gift ideas here.