Over the years I’ve collected a mini library of books about all things food—over 100 cookbooks, plus literary musings and oddballs like the one called Strange Foods: Bush Meat, Bats and Butterflies —a favorite that’s not for the faint of heart. Most just sit there looking good, but some, like The Zuni Cafe Cookbook are spattered and stained with use.

Recently, some favorites of mine have been revisited and re-released. Classic Stars Desserts by pastry chef extraordinaire Emily Luchetti is a melding of her two main cookbooks: Stars Desserts and Four-Stars Desserts. The former was my first real go-to dessert cookbook, and I can remember making the Goat Cheese Cake with Mixed Berries when I was just out of college.

The other two live permanently on my desk and always will. Patricia Unterman’s San Francisco Food Lover’s Guide has just been published in a pocket guide-sized format—perfect for toting with you to Clement Street and Chinatown. Patty knows her Asian food: Eat whatever she says.

And last, but never ever the least, is a book we use religiously here: The Food Lover’s Companion , written by Bay Arean Sharon Tyler Herbst. Sharon past away recently after battling cancer, which is hard for me to wrap my mind around. She was hardly a bookworm, the type you might imagine writing a guide that spans from arrabiata to zwieback. She was about having a good time, wore gold-rimmed sunglasses, laughed really loud and hugged really hard. She and I met for the first time ages ago—a gorgeous work-day drink of Ramos gin fizzes on the deck of Horizons in Sausalito. Herbst’s husband, who co-authored some of her books, says that the fourth edition of the guide is due out in the fall and he promised to get it out for her. “It was her legacy,” he said. If I had a drink in my hand, I’d toast to a wonderful woman who made herself indispensable for food writers everywhere.
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