Reading About Eating

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We’re blessed by photo editor Michael Harlan Turkell’s picture prowess, but his culinary connections are just as much a marvel. Want to take him to a crazy-good calzone place you just discovered? He’s been eating their spleen sandwiches forever. Want him to shoot a revered restaurant? He staged in their kitchen years ago. Want pics of a rock star’s refrigerator? He’s friends with the chef who lives next door. Want him to photograph a brewery? They’ve named a beer after his cat, Mason.

So it’s no surprise he was the shutterbug tapped to shoot The New Brooklyn Cookbook, the gorgeous new tome that celebrates the “31 Restaurants that put Brooklyn on the Culinary Map.” In it authors Melissa Vaughan and Brendan Vaughan track Brooklyn’s recent restaurant renaissance by plotting the eminent eateries that forged its ethos in the smitty of their souls. No bagels or cheesecake here; the book examines a decade of top dining destinations, from the pioneers at Al Di La, Saul and Rose Water through Franny’s, iCi and Palo Santo, all the way to Prime Meats and The Vanderbilt. The ravishing photos (some of which have appeared in our pages) and in-depth profiles and recipes (which we wish had) make the book equal parts cookbook, art book and yearbook.

Another just-out book, Food Lovers’ Guide to Brooklyn, which covers 337 eating experiences in 300 pages, reads more like a Lonely Planet, and for good reason. Sherri Eisenberg has reviewed restaurants from Bora Bora to Bangkok, in 33 countries; now she’s given her hometown the travel guide treatment. At times one senses her target audience is, shall we say, bridge-and-tunnel: She assures readers that cabs will take you “to Brooklyn,” explains the acronym DUMBO and defines “stoop sale.” Plus her quick descriptions of beloved spots like Franny’s and Roberta’s can give the impression she ate there once. Our advice? Crack the spine at page 178, gently remove the first half, which covers gentrified neighborhoods, and give it to someone who moved here last week. The remaining five chapters will guide you to well-worth-thetrip eats in nabes like Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, and Sheepshead Bay. Flip open these chapters to any page at random, then spend your weekends riding the R to cheese-filled Russian bread called khachapuri, roast beef in Mill Basin or date juice in Bay Ridge to wash it all down with.

The drawback to giving away the front half of the book is that you’ll have to part with its gorgeous cover, which naturally was shot by Michael.

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