I have always maintained that New York is the best food city in the U.S, and after spending the past 5 days here, I continue to stand behind that statement. From big name chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mario Batalli to street carts featuring everything from amazing falafel to soft serve ice cream, this city is a diner's paradise.
I'm not here to write about restaurants, though, not this time at least. I"m here to write about another, related obsession of mine — cookbooks. Considering New York's reputation for being a world class restaurant town, it's not surprising that it is also home to two of the greatest cookbook stores on the planet, Kitchen Arts and Letters and Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks.
Kitchen Arts and Letters, owned by Nach Waxman, is located on the upper east side of the City and has been the ultimate cookbook resource for more than 20 years. This cook’s paradise has floor to ceiling books and references for just about every food related subject under the sun. One of my favorite sections of the store features books in languages other than English and while I can't usually read what is written in them, I love to just soak in the photographs and get a glimpse into what chefs in other countries are up to.
While it took a lot of restraint, I managed not to buy up the entire store, and instead left with just a copy of a great new food and recipe journal called Canal House Cooking.
Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks is another cookbook mecca that is tucked away in a small storefront in Greenwich Village. Slotnick opened her store in 2000 and carries thousands of books, specializing in older books. Compared to Kitchen Arts and Letters, Bonnie Slotnicks store is a bit like rummaging around in your grandma’s attic (only much better organized) and that is part of the fun. I spent almost 2 hours there the other day laughing at old, cheesy cookbooks from the 70's, drooling over first editions by some of my culinary heros and marveling at the impressive collection of vintage books, some dating as far back as the 1800's.
In addition to books, Slotnick also carries a good amount of culinary mementos like vintage appliance recipe manuals, food embossed greeting cards and small cooking gadgets. Currently Slotnick is boasting the use of many of her books and utensils in the movie Julie & Julia and any items she sells that were used in the film are noted as such.
I held off on buying any books this time and instead picked up an adorable, milk glass spice shaker with a wagon-red screw top from the Julie & Julia collection. I’ve been anxiously anticipating seeing the movie and when I do, I will now take extra care in trying to spot my cool, new shaker.