I’m just back from a quick three-day trip to NYC. I was there on business–attending a director’s meeting for a grant I run and meeting with an exec at CBS about creating educational games with them–but more importantly, I took advantage of the opportunity to eat some fabulous food and visit Kitchen Arts & Letters. Let’s start with KAL. I had seen KAL in magazines and read cookbook reviews written by its owner–Nach Waxman. For example, Waxman is featured heavily in this month’s Saveur magazine and on their website, commenting on some of the top cookbooks every home cook needs.
With a spare couple of hours free one afternoon, I caught a taxi to the Upper East Side, where KAL is located. It’s an innocuous street, fronted by shops visited, I expect, mostly by the local residents. Given that the shop is considered the premier culinary bookstore in the U.S., I was shocked when I walked in the door. Don’t get me wrong–I appreciated the number and variety of volumes on the shelf–but it was so small! I think that I had been expecting something more along the lines of London’s Books for Cooks, which is housed in a tiny space, too, but has test and demonstration kitchens, in addition to books. Plus Books for Cooks is PACKED! I mean major fire hazard. Kitchen Arts & Letters was not like that. It is housed in two small areas well organized and ordered with stools and seats strategically placed for in-shop reading.
After getting the lay of the land, I browsed. Others joined me, and the shop was busy with folks the entire time. That’s promising in this bad economy. I was surprised to realize that I’d seen most of the books in the shop–having browsed them either online, in a store, from my library, or in my own collection. Not bad for a gal from a small Texas town.
An hour later I ran out the door, dashing through a cold rain with my package in hand. I limited myself to one new book–an Italian classic I didn’t already own–and a blissful hour spent reading around the world through food. I didn’t get far, though, because there was a bakery just across the street where I dashed in and bought a black & white. One of New York’s most famous cookies~