Pleasures of the Table by Florence Fabricant (Harry N. Abrams: 175 pp., illustrated).
Beware! Make no mistake about this book. It's a beautiful volume with photos, mostly by Matthew Klein, that woo the senses. But, and this is a big "but," this book belongs on the kitchen bookshelf where it is handy for the cook, not in the living room.
Based on the monthly column that food writer Florence Fabricant has written for Signature magazine over the years, the book offers a selection of menus that range from formal dinner parties to some delectable suggestions for dining alfresco. With the varied menus, Fabricant offers suggestions for compatible wines in a decidedly unstuffy manner.
A knowledgeable cook and hostess, Fabricant has developed menus that fit a variety of occasions and guests. She has a healthy overview of what entertaining is all about, placing more importance on enjoying her own parties than on serving extraordinary and complicated foods. Admittedly an organized person, Fabricant's menus are designed with the cook's well-being in mind. Good ingredients, well-seasoned and simply prepared, dominate in her recipes.