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$200 Gift Certificate at Kitchen Arts and Letters. Ideas?

  • roxlet Jun 22, 2010 05:42 AM
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When I get back to NY, I have $200 in gift certificates to spend at Kitchen Arts and Letters. It seems to me that it is not worth spending that money on very recent and/or popular books that can be gotten for much less money -- and sometimes half price -- on Amazon or ecookbooks. Does anyone have suggestions for slightly more unusual and/or arcane books that it would be worth traveling to KAL to buy?

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  1. This strikes me as right up MMRuth's alley, I've seen her comments on this store. I've only ever been in it once and was amazed both at the selection and at the prices (I'm a Strand/online booksellers girl myself, i.e. cheap).

    19 Replies
    1. re: buttertart

      I was actually just there a little bit ago. As you say, they have an incredible selection, but readily available books are at full retail price, and newish books from the U.K. etc., are expensive. They do have thousands of out of print books in the basement, but one can't just go browsing down there (I'm hoping ... one day!). So, my suggestion would be to somehow try to identify out of print books that one can't find elsewhere, and see if they have it. Not terribly helpful, I know.

      There is a beautiful book on Irish cooking that I'd love to have - don't remember the name right now, and also several huge gorgeous books by a man from Louisiana - I think we discussed him when we were picking Cajun/Creole book for COTM. If I come up with names, I'll post back.

      1. re: MMRuth

        I think the cajun / creole books you saw might have been "The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine" or "Hook, Lies and Alibis" - both by John Folse. I recently picked up both of these books. No cooking out of them yet - just reading. Interesting history of cajun / creole cuisine in the first and good reading on the history of man and fishing in the second. I'm sure either would be less expensive elsewhere. (I could be wrong, as there are a number of Louisiana cookbooks out there).

        I am in NYC from time to time and Kitchen Arts and Letters is at the top of my list of bookstores to hit, along with Bonnie Slotnicks Cookbooks. Either way, it will have to be when I have driven into the city in my suburban and without husband or daughters in tow...

        1. re: Mothership

          Those are the books I was thinking of.

          1. re: Mothership

            I looked at Folse's books on Amazon, and they are strangely only available from third party sellers. I wonder why. It sounds like an extremely well-produced book, but there is no mention of the publisher. It looks very interesting and certainly gets a lot of love in the comments.

            1. re: roxlet

              The publisher of Folse's books is listed on Amazon as Chef John Folse & Company Publishing. I do not imagine that they are all out of print, as the listed dates are reasonably recent, but perhaps he doesn't have a deal with a distributor that makes them available through Amazon, or it may be that because he is publishing them through his own imprint, he does not want Amazon's deep discount prices on his books. (This is only speculation on my part.)

          2. re: MMRuth

            I've never been there in person myself. But they've been very good about letting me know what they do have when I've had a specific question. So if you do have a specific question in advance, you can always call ahead.

            I also like JoanN's suggestion of letting them guide you. Noone is more knowledgable.

            1. re: MMRuth

              Agree with MMRuth. Many years ago I wanted to replace a book. The publisher was no longer in business. Kitchen and letters found the book after a 2 years search.

              1. re: MMRuth

                I just saw this title on the Kitchen Arts and Letters newsletter, and I wonder if this is the Irish cookbook you meant:
                Darina Allen. FORGOTTEN SKILLS OF COOKING

                1. re: roxlet

                  Butting in: I've had my eye on that but it's available on Amazon etc at a discount, I wouldn't buy it at KAL myself.

                2. re: MMRuth

                  2010's IACP Cookbook of the year = "The Country Cooking of Ireland" by Colman Andrews. It is a big, beautiful book and perhaps the one you covet.

                  1. re: Sherri

                    I just checked it out on Amazon, and pikawicca's review as well as one other give me pause. Plus, it's that old "buy it cheaper on Amazon" thing -- list price is $60 but it's $31.50. Not sure that I would spend nearly a third of my stash on this...

                    1. re: roxlet

                      My reply was to MMRuth who was seeking an Irish cookbook. I'm not suggesting that you use your $200 for it. My earlier reply to this post stands - if you have any interest in Food's history, Nach Waxman, his staff and store can be a treasure trove (as is Bonnie Slotnick and others but that won't be helpful with your KAL gift certificate). This is the place to seek out the hard-to-find NOT the easily available.

                      Roxlet, I own this book, courtesy of the Amazon pricing, and have never cooked from it. That I'm in the middle of our Arizona summer and this book heralds the glories of the cool, damp Irish countryside might have something to do with it.

                      1. re: Sherri

                        There is also a cookbook store in the Village - used/rare only I think. Can't remember the name, of course, and haven't been.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          That's likely Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks. She's wonderful to deal with and will hunt down your wish list. I can't say enough good things about her (and I'm NOT her mother!), Bonnie is a treasure.

                        2. re: Sherri

                          Thanks Sherri -- I will definitely peruse it when I get the chance. And hard-to-find is what I am in search of.

                      2. re: Sherri

                        That is the one I covet.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          The Colman Andrews? I've looked at his books over the years and not been thrilled with them, but haven't seen this one in the flesh.

                          1. re: buttertart

                            Yes.

                            1. re: buttertart

                              It sounds like it is gorgeously produced (and Ireland certainly lends itself to heartbreakingly beautiful photography) but that two of the seven reviewers on Amazon had issues with errors in the recipes. I would like to look at it...

                    2. I was going to suggest The Last Course by Claudia Fleming. I just checked the price on Amazon though and it's astronomical, so it would probably be a lot at KAL too.

                      I'm going to put my copy under lock and key,

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: karykat

                        I have The Last Course, which is wonderful. If you don't have it and want it without paying a fortune, you can get it from North Fork Inn and Table in Southhold, Long Island, which is the resto that Claudia and her husband own. She has reprints there.

                        1. re: roxlet

                          Roxlet, that's how I got my copy, too, but I was recently on their website and they don't seem to have the book for sale through the website any more. Do you know if they are out of books?

                          In any case, it can't hurt to contact them. http://northforktableandinn.com/about/

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Sorry, TDQ, I don't know, but we are planning a dinner there in August and I will inquire about inventory for the future. I'll bet that they still have some copies since it was a reprint...

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              We will be having dinner there in August, and I will ask them about the book and its availability then, but I agree TDQ, a quick call can resolve it now.

                              1. re: roxlet

                                Tell us about the dinner afterwards. (On the appropriate board.) I am curious about it and would love to get there someday.

                                1. re: karykat

                                  I ate there once 3 years ago, and although the details are fuzzy, I do remember floating out of there in a haze of happiness. One standout that I do remember was the fresh corn soup that was sort of a corn chowder and that had the most sublime corn taste. And we had the donuts for dessert (they are in the book I believe), and those were divine. It was also in August, so I will assume that we will have the full range of the fantastic North Fork produce featured in our meal. Can't wait!

                                  1. re: roxlet

                                    Sounds fantastic. Staying there and eating at the restaurant is my idea of the perfect vacation.

                                    1. re: karykat

                                      We're renting a house very near there, so we will have to make do with dinner only...

                        2. If you are at all interested in Food History, Nach Waxman (KA&L owner) has some hard-to-find volumes that are worth a look.

                          1. If I had $200 to spend on any book, I wouldn't hesitate:

                            Patisserie of Pierre Hermé

                            That's just me, of course!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: butterfingers

                              Yow! That looks awesome, but the price on Amazon is over $300!

                              1. re: roxlet

                                Yeah, but 2/3 of it is paid. And that would be as close as I could ever get to affording it. I HAVE seen it closer to $200 though.

                            2. I would recommend that you not go into KA&L with a preconceived idea of what you want to buy. Go in, talk to them, tell them what interests you, tell them you’re not interested in buying books you can buy on Amazon at half price. Having the conversation is more than half the fun of buying there. Let them take you in a direction you might never have thought to go.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: JoanN

                                Perfect suggestion.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  I will probably wind up doing that, but I have to say that I have never had a really fulfilling conversation with Nate. There is always something remote there. My son used to rehearse with a group at the 92nd St Y, so I used to stop in nearly every week, and never got a warm-and-fuzzy-let's-chat-about-cookbooks kind of feeling, so I would be happier to go with some concrete ideas....

                              2. I collect but more in the fashion of letting bizarre books come to me. Wondering what I would get if such an opportunity arose I Googled around and came up with this list from the NY Times http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/28/boo... Funny enough I just collected the Bull Cook one at the local hospice sale. Who knew that strange book would have a cult following? Hope the list gives you a few ideas.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: just_M

                                  Great list.

                                  Fernand Point's "Ma Gastronomie" - is back in print - got a copy of it at KAL a while back.

                                2. So Ms. roxlet, did you get there yet?