Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple recommends

Don't forget: this book is available at 20% off for tablehopper readers for two weeks following this mention at Green Apple Books—simply use the code "tablehopper" at checkout (either at the store or online) for your discount.

I’ll just start by admitting that I’m in way over my head today. Nonetheless, I’m going to try to tell you about two books on or near the cutting edge of cuisine.

The first is A Day at El Bulli: an insight into the ideas, methods, and creativity of Ferran Adrià . El Bulli is a restaurant on a nature preserve in northern Spain; it’s only open for six months a year, for one seating a day, and it receives over 2,000,000 requests for 8,000 places each year.

The previous books on El Bulli (which we carry, if you’re up for a splurge) are $350.00 each. So for those desperate for at least a visual and textual taste of this phenomenon, at last there’s a $49.95 entrée into the world of El Bulli. And at 500+ pages, with over 1100 photographs, it’s a pretty good deal.

What’s in here besides 1100 pictures? Way too much detail and complexity for a home chef and recreational diner like me, but probably some pretty cool insights and recipes for professionals and the hardcore “foodies.” Like how to make freeze-dried cold white miso foam, peanut oil marshmallow, or venus rice stock jelly. I wish I could say more, but I got lost at the frozen green pinecone powder.

Today’s second book is the simply titled and sleek Alinea, Grant Achatz’s Chicago restaurant. Achatz’s pedigree is solid: he was sous chef at French Laundry and executive chef at Trio (also in Chicago). And the accolades for Alinea (the restaurant) are many.

As for Alinea (the book), it’s a gorgeous oblong hardcover with plentiful color photographs. The food is more easily recognizable as, well, food, though the style of cuisine is hard to classify beyond that, other than to call it avant-garde. And there are special tools and/or ingredients in most recipes that even the most dedicated home chef may lack, like an “anti-griddle”—a unique item that cools its surface to -45 degrees Fahrenheit for freezing ingredients. Â

All that said, there are some do-able recipes and plenty of professional information about menu planning, sourcing ingredients, etc. And it is a beautiful book if you’re looking for straight-up food p*rn (rhymes with horn).

Home chefs and fellow simple folk: there are plenty of new accessible cookbooks on hand and coming for the holiday season—I’ll review a few next month. But for the serious cook, A Day at El Bulli and Alinea both provide windows into minds, kitchens, and restaurants that most of will never otherwise see. Â

Thanks for reading.