Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Love the Independents

My adoration of french macarons has been well documented here. They are the perfect morsel, cloud-like and gently flavorful. And like so many food items, the best are found in Paris. By the way, how amazing is this packaging? Pierre Herme, apparently, according to Dorie Greenspan.

I have dreams of finding out how to make them like they do over there, thereby supplying myself with only the creme de la creme of the macaron world despite my inferior location (this is the only context in which I would ever deign to call New York inferior, by the way). Obviously, given that even professional pastry chefs don't always seem to get these things right, it is unlikely that I will.

However, this beautiful book from the maker of some of the best macarons in gay Paris makes me think that I might have a shot in hell of making it work.

It is, unfortunately, only available here, at Amazon France. Boo. Expensive shipping and handling, and a pain to return if I end up not liking the book, or if it turns out to be in French (by the way, I am not stupid, I realize that it probably will be. It is a joke. Realistically, I would like to take a gander through and see if my rusty french will be of any help at all in deciphering one of his recipes).

What to do? Thankfully, New York, despite the encroachment of some truly horrid big box chains, does still have some wonderful independent stores around. One of the most unique is a bookstore called Kitchen Arts & Letters on Lexington between 93rd and 94th Streets that is dedicated entirely to cookbooks and books about food.

The store is tiny, but it is packed to the ceiling with books about all types of foods, in all languages and on all subject matters. They even carry a fair number of out of print titles. The owner is an absolute treasure. Go in and ask for a recommendation and he will give you a very informed one. The man is responsible for buying all of his stock, and takes that role quite seriously, so you can be sure that every book is there for a reason. It is unusual to go in there and find the blockbuster books, for instance. In fact, I remember reading somewhere the he only buys 25% of the new cookbook titles that come out in a given year, which I believe speaks very well to the selectivity of the inventory.

If you have any interest in food, even if you are not a cook, you cannot miss this place. Browsing here is the perfect rainy afternoon activity. Just make sure you do not have any appointments to attend to, as it is easy to get lost in the collection for hours on end.

The next foul day that falls on a weekend, am I making the trek uptown in search of the book that promises macaron nirvana.

UPDATE: They stock this book! It is unfortunately sixty some-odd dollars, but I'll at least take a look at it.


Unknown said...

Hmm, could you get it delivered to the UK for less, and I could bring it next time I'm through?

Laura said...

It's OK...I'd like to take a look at it before I buy it. Thanks though!

Little Ms Blogger said...

OMG. I would never leave the store. I love cooking, own hundreds of cookbooks and books about chefs and/or food.

I love the fact that the owner is knowledgeable.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin