Well I've finally made it to the bookshop in the Tenderloin (mentioned below) and have to say that it suits its environment. It advertises itself as 'A dirty, poorly lit place for books' however having been inside I would describe it more as 'A filthy disgrace'- the very bottom of the barrel in bookshops (worse than McLeods, Meryll). I was directed to a side aisle for the cookery section and had to step on and over boxes of magazines. Glancing down to make sure I didn't fall over, I realised these magazines were, shall we say, of the hardcore variety? The owner seems to provide a drop-in centre for the local down-and-outs and in a back aisle was a young man beavering away on a computer (probably trapped in there). Anyway I came out of there (perhaps appropriately) with a first edition of Alice's Restaurant Cookbook. No return visit planned.
On my way back to my hotel I came across a queue about 100 people long and followed it around the corner to the Williams-Sonoma store where they were waiting for a book-signing by Ina Garten who has a cable cooking show called Barefoot Contessa. I wasn't interested in the book-signing but thought I would share some photos of this amazing foodies heaven. I always schedule a visit here when I'm in the US. This place is top shelf and stocks everything you can imagine for cooks and a lot of things you can't. Most of it's food products are aimed at home cooks looking for short-cuts (viz Pumpkin Bread mix, pre-prepared mulled wine base all very expensive) but their cookware range is amazing - check out that range of Le Creuset.
I've also visited a few other cookware shops today to track down good prices on microplane graters. They retail at $22 - $35 in Australia, around $US12 - 20 here. Put in your orders before next Thursday!