Greenfeast: Spring, summer
By Nigel Slater (Fourth Estate, $49.99)
He calls himself the cook who writes and oh my, these words are delicious. Slater's gnocchi is "fudgy", his white bread buns are "daisy fresh" and he applies sunflower seeds by the "pebbledash". To be honest, he had me on the first page when he declared "dinner must be delicious" because that is not always a given in this world of light green eating. There is a minimalist simplicity to this cookbook that is shaped like a fiction novel and decorated with calligraphic swishes and comma-heavy recipe titles ("beetroot, curry leaves, crisp onions"). But if contains no meat there is meat on its bones, nonetheless. Slater doesn't just rely on some of the freshest food writing you'll read - his recipes glow and his advice is useful (he still salts his aubergine because, he says, it relaxes the flesh which means it soaks up less oil). This is a companion book to his autumn/winter book, but it will be asparagus, miso and mustard season before you know it.
By Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay (Ten Speed Press, $55)
Want to become the dinner party go-to for hot (beef) takes? This is not so much a recipe book as a bible for the buying, dry-ageing and cooking of the beasts that we've been eating for so long, their aurochs forebears appear in cave paintings. Franklin is best-known for barbecue (fans include Barack Obama and the late Anthony Bourdain) but pit-mastering is a long, slow business. A man's gotta eat while his brisket briskets and steak is an obvious choice. Skip the American restaurant recommendations and head to the instructions for home-built hybrid hibachi cookers, a worthy discussion on grass versus grain fed meat, and a "how to" for creating your own dry-ageing fridge. Or just follow the flow-chart on the inside cover for perfect tri-tips, T-bones, tenderloins and more.
Warndu Mai - Good Food
By Rebecca Sullivan and Damien Coulthard (Hachette, $55)
You know you're in Australia when they're salt-and-peppering the crocodile and serving the (kangaroo) meatballs on lemon myrtle pasta. Traditional foods have become contemporary cool but there is a very serious message at the heart of this renaissance. "You can't eat our Aboriginal food if you can't swallow our history," writes Australian indigenous historian Bruce Pascoe, in a foreword that challenges readers to think beyond the Vegemite sandwich (even if Aboriginal people did invent bread 65,000 years ago - "a difficult piece of news to deliver to the French," notes Pascoe). Kiwi readers may not be able to easily access finger limes, quandongs or, for that matter, emu prosciutto, but this guide to native Australian ingredients will make you rethink bottlebrush trees (fermented flower water literally takes nothing more than time) and, just generally, think. The kangaroo, for example, is high in iron, low in fat and light of foot - it does not compact and ruin plant-growing soils the way imported cattle did. Come for the meatballs (and the tamarind and thyme brulee et al) and stay for the food for thought.
In 12 Dishes: How to eat like you live there
By Leanne Kitchen and Antony Suvalko (Red Pork Press, $24.95)
Sure, you could spend 14 hours down an internet rabbit hole chasing Shanghai's best beggar chicken or figuring out whether Singapore's black carrot cake contains carrot, but why bother when these lovely little travel guides have it all in one, non-Wi-Fi dependent place? The series currently spans four food meccas - Singapore, Penang, Shanghai and Ho Chi Minh City - with a Bangkok version due for release later this year. Detailed explanations of a dozen must-have dishes come with recommended restaurant lists and extra picture spreads that explain the likes of Vietnam's green vege, hawker stall fare in Malaysia and the curious appeal of the durian anywhere. A backpack (or designer handbag) must for anyone who has ever ordered roast "goose" and wondered why they were served tofu.