Bouchon Bakery was opened in 2003 in California by Chef Thomas Keller after a lengthy time spent living and working in Paris. Nine years later, when the smell of baking bread he had woken to each morning from a tiny local boulangerie was only a residual memory, he published a book on the art of baking.
And why are you reading about that on a bar site? Because creating flavour is a skill, one which crosses the boundaries of food and drink. And bakeries, like bars, are anchor points in a community. As Keller says "People come together at and around bakeries. Baking is a unifying force."
If the recipes inside this stunning book don't stimulate your palate and get your taste buds aching for fluffy pastry and doughy bread, then the images surely will.
It isn't all about the sweet stuff either, although there's plenty to go around. Discover the art of bread making, with the likes of whole wheat-pecan toast - its rich nutty flavour perfectly matching to ripe blue cheese. Delve into the world of artisanal butter makers or the different textures found in brioche, baguettes, pain palladin and sourdough boule.
What makes Bouchon Bakery such a joy to read, to pour over, and to gather inspiration from, is the deep attachment and affection towards baking evident on each and every page. They treat each type of cookie, cake, bread, flan and sweet as a blank canvas for which they see no end to the creativity you can bring. Take the macaron, a best seller for the team, which they make both traditional - chocolate and vanilla, lemon and raspberry - and playful macarons, ice-cream-filled or enrobed with chocolate.
The recipes are also grounded in memories and usually revert back to a richer, more flavoursome past, before baked goods became standardised and packaged. Their gingerbread, for example, is moister, darker and denser than the classic American light and airy dough we all know.
With easy-to-follow recipes, and beautiful glossy pictures to help motivate you along the way, Bouchon Bakery is a delight to have at home. Its craft is one that should pull us all together over a flaky pastry or savoury bite and it's a testament to all the pastry chefs and bread bakers who send out uniquely made, devinely smelling, produce everyday.