Heaven is a book shop. Any book shop. From the dusty, heaped to the rafters second-hand shops, the sections in charity shops (which I miss terribly here, the culture of charity shops just doesn’t exist in the same way as in the UK), through to Waterstones and smart, independent book stores with their coffee machines and comfortable armchairs, it’s hard to pass any of these without nipping in and having a quick browse.
Nirvana, however, is a cookbook shop.
And that state of nirvana can be reached just off Notting Hill’s Portobello Road at Books for Cooks.
Floor to ceiling shelves groan under the weight of cookbooks for every possible cuisine, with titles and chefs many of us are familiar with and many more we may never have heard of.
However, this is not just a store of recipe books, there are also a wealth of volumes covering topics such as food history, cooking for children, nutrition, biographies, fiction and that absorbing subject of cooking chemistry.
For those lucky enough to live locally the shop runs an extensive choice of workshops which take place in the kitchen at the rear of the store, this they also use to test-cook dishes from their book collection and feedback on the recipes.
I believe they have compiled a book of their own based on these trials. It’s good to see ‘Seasonal Secrets of Catalan Cooking’ feature in the autumn workshop list and I’d be tempted by ‘Meals in Heels’ if it meant learning to be stylish and seductive from the kitchen (in a non-Nigella way of course), unfortunately my furtive imagination was disappointed to read that the title just refers to having a dinner party prepared in time for you to get your lipstick and heels on. Boo.
For those of us living on foreign soils, Books for Cooks will send your order in the mail, although you’ll have to know what you’re looking for as they have over 8000 titles and no catalogue, but if you find yourself in London, make the pilgrimage and get one step closer to heaven.
Books for Cooks, 4 Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill, London
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