Feeling chuffed, David and I headed off to Notting Hill for the second time to visit Books for Cooks. It was a gorgeous Spring day, heading for 24 degrees.
Books for Cooks is tiny and was crammed with people browsing the shelves and also having lunch in the very tiny test kitchen up the back of the shop where every day they create a lunch menu from books in stock. Today was a Middle Eastern lentil soup and lamb kofta with a nice red wine to accompany it and lovely cakes on display. We elected for the soup and wine (£12 for two) which was a lovely light lunch.
I was very excited at the prospect of visiting and eating at this iconic destination, but I must admit to being in two
minds about it. On the one hand the test kitchen and the workshops held upstairs are a model for how something like this should be run; on the other hand I could not help but feel that the books have become secondary. It is very hard to browse many shelves because the dining tables are crammed up against them and getting a book from the shelves requires reaching over someone's head as they eat. I also felt that there was an over-emphasis on 'popular' titles like the Australian Women's Weeklys which were everywhere, and less on the serious cooking and food titles. Of course they also have virtually no second hand or antiquarian stock which makes it if less interest to me. While there were some interesting titles I hadn't seen before, some shelves were noticably bare. So a not altogether satisfying visit to the temple of cookbook shops, although still quite interesting.
The other must-do visit of the day was to the Aga shop where I picked up a famous Aga toaster as well as a new cold plain shelf for the fraction of their cost in Melbourne. Now they have to compete for room in the luggage with 4 Mrs Beeton's!
Tonight we're packing for the drive to Cornwall and here is a better photo of some of my older treasures from Monday's shopping
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