My coffee table cookbook of choice for the last few years has been Thomas Keller's double pack of French Laundry and Bouchon, packaged in that neat wallet that looks like (and at a push could probably act as) a fisherman's slab. I kept trying others, like the weighty and depressingly grey Fat Duck Cookbook or the El Bulli one, but always went back to the Keller compedium. Not anymore, though. It's been swiftly replaced on my coffee table by Eleven Madison Park, and I reckon it could be moving in for a good long while.
The reasons aren't just aesthetic, though it is an impressively gorgeous looking book. It's also that the recipes are in fact extremely enticing, even if I won't end up following them that religiously onca day to day basis, saving that for a special occasion. Instead, what I tend to use the book for are ideas. So the "John Dory Seared with Sweet Corn, Chaneterelles, Radishes and Lemongrass" has triggered a succesful dish using those same flavours in my own kitchen, though a stripped down and less complex version of the Eleven Madison Park original, for certain. Ditto the combination of Cauliflower with Grapes, Almonds and Curry. Absolutely delicious, I'm telling you.
When I have attempted one of Daniel Humm's awe-inspiring dishes, they've worked perfectly and tasted utterly delightful... I'm thinking in particular of a Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake with, wait for it, candied green olives, which is truly sensational, the sweet/salty acidity of the olives and lemons a superb pairing that works splendidly in a martini so why not in a cake...?
A truly incredible coffee table cookbook that is extremely workable in the kitchen too.