Food Lovers’ Guide to Napa Valley: The Best Restaurants, Markets & Local Culinary Offerings by Jean Saylor Doppenberg
(Globe Pequot Press, 2012, 258 pp., $14.95)
Admit it: As an East Bay resident, you usually wing it when you lead your friends and relatives on a wine tasting-culinary tour of the Napa Valley. Now you don’t have to, thanks to Jean Saylor Doppenberg’s latest guidebook, a great little resource to bring along to impress your guests with an inside track on everything from the fanciest and highest-regarded restaurants and wineries to the most obscure food-related cottage industries, brewpubs and microbreweries. Her tour moves Upvalley from Napa toward Calistoga with a wealth of well-written and well-researched info packed into the pages of the refreshingly odd shaped and surprising flexible guide that is handsomely illustrated with simple black-and-white line drawings. The writer, also the author of Insiders’ Guide to California’s Wine Country, lives in adjoining Sonoma County and courageously admits not having had the “legendary 9-course, sit-down dinner at the French Laundry.” Why include beer? She responds with a familiar Napa Valley convention: It takes a lot of good beer to make great wine.
The Wildness Within, Remembering David Brower by Kenneth Brower
(Heyday, 2012, 287 pp., $20)
If David Brower isn’t your environmental hero, he ought to be. The iconic conservationist and activist would have turned 100 this year, and the centennial has prompted his eldest son, Kenneth Brower, a fine writer himself, to ask some 19 leading environmentalist friends and followers of his late father to remember the man most credited with truly putting environmentalism as known today on the map. Eco leaders — Paul Ehrlich, Dave Foreman, Harold Gilliam, Jerry Mander and Paul Hawken among them — whose lives were deeply impacted by the prolific writer, photographer, organizer and climber sit down with Kenneth Brower to share remembrances of the late Brower, the Energizer bunny of the modern environmental movement who reigned over the storied institutions of the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and Earth Island Institute. Pick this one up to share with all your outdoorsy, eco-minded East Bay friends. They’ll thank you.