HOLIDAYS BY THE BOOKS READ ALL ABOUT THE SEASON'S HOTTEST GIFTS By Beth Levine | Photography by Rebekah Flores Ah, the holidays. That time of year where we search far and wide for what to get our friends and family as gifts. Fear not, we have the answer to your prayers with these fantastic cookbooks that are truly the gift that keeps on giving … just make sure whomever you give them to prepares some of the delectable recipes inside these books for you. First up on our list is one from Houston’s most recognizable restaurateurs, JOHNNY CARRABBA of Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Founded by Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of dining in one of their restaurants. (I personally am a sucker for their mussels appetizer.) Thi s November, coinciding with their 30-year anniversary, Johnny released With Gratitude, Johnny Carrabba, chronicling his family history, love for his staff, associates and customers, and about 100 original recipes (and some new additions from sister restaurants Grace’s and Mia’s). A great read that encompasses his humble background and the sense of community that Houston offers, this book makes a great gift for the holidays, even for yourself. Hardcover retails for $50.00. Next up on the list is Miss Ella of Commander’s Palace. Brennan’s, the local establishment of Miss Ella’s New Orleans family, was one of the first restaurants I went to when I moved to Houston. I had never even heard of turtle soup before moving here, and had the pleasure of dining at Commander’s Palace for my 40th birthday. ELLA BRENNAN turned 90 last year and is heralded by many in the industry as changing the way America eats. More of an autobiography than a straight-up cook book (but don’t let that sway you!), this fantastic read published in September offers a very candid look into this remarkable (and feisty) woman’s life along with the insight into the sheer grit and determination behind her restaurant empire. Hardcover retails for $27.99. 40 L O C A L | december 16 Next up, we come to ANTHONY BOURDAIN. Thanks in part to his recent visit to Houston for his CNN show “Parts Unknown,” Bourdain has been on the tip of everyone’s tongues lately (I watched the Houston episode at Axelrad’s viewing party). Like most of us, I have been watching Bourdain for years; “No Reservations” was one of my favorite shows. And I once reached out to his PR team to see if he would do an at-home cooking event for my sister’s husband (he does but trust me it’s pricey!). Appetites, his first cookbook in 10 years, hit shelves this October, covering his 40+ years in the industry and traveling around the globe. The book is a very entertaining read, encompassing home-cooking, cooking for guests and Bourdain’s personal favorites. Hardcover retails for $22.50. Rounding out our list is The Moon Juice Cookbook: Cosmic Alchemy for a Thriving Body, Beauty and Consciousness by AMANDA CHANTAL BACON and currently on the reading list of LOCAL’s own Carla Valencia. Bacon is the founder of one of Los Angeles’s hippest wellness boutiques, and the book hit stores this October. Focusing on her approach to healthy living, Bacon's beautifully crafted book (seriously, this book is so pretty I almost didn’t want to give it back) details more than 75 recipes that are as good for you as they are delicious. Her recipes are designed to deliver a multitude of benefits, from enhancing your sex drive to your immune system. As someone not artfully skilled in the kitchen (I am the queen of takeout), I truly appreciated the layout of the book, guiding me through the basic techniques of the Moon Juice way, so I hopefully knew what I was doing. Hardcover retails for $30.00.