Chowder’s Choice: Artisanal Wellsprings

1206032070There’s a new book for food lovers in stores this month, and one well worth finding. Rebecca Gray‘s American Artisanal (Rizzoli, $26.95, 258 pages) is a modest-looking thing: a small hardback with a dun-colored, matte cover of recycled paper, ornamented with a woodcut-style image of an apple. Like the food it honors, it’s light on packaging and fillers, and big on satisfying content.

Each well-reported, engagingly told chapter profiles one of the country’s best food artisans, punctuated by a recipe or two inspired by that maker’s work. No surprise that New England—where you seemingly can’t swing a wheel of hand-ladled, ash-ripened goat cheese without hitting a regional food artist—is amply represented here.

Almost half of the book’s two dozen profiles are devoted to local favorites like Vermont Butter & Cheese, Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, L. A. Burdick, and, most delightful for this bread addict, Clear Flour Bakery in Brookline.

Anyone who, like Gray, believes that “to know your food is to find great flavor in it” should be on the lookout for American Artisanal. It’s a great way to get that knowing going.