There I was settling down with March 2016's Observer Food Monthly and a little blurb on the cover of the magazine caught my eye. It read, The Food Lover's Ultimate Book Shop (it also serves lunch).
Could it be?
In that instant I knew what my ultimate food lover's bookshop would be but could it be the same one? A quick scan to page 52 confirmed that it was indeed Books for Cooks a place that to my shame I had last visited in the mid-nineties when my professional life took me occasionally from Belfast to London and more exactly, Notting Hill Gate. It was at a meeting that a colleague hearing of my interest in culinary matters suggested I visit this unique bookshop at Blenheim Crescent. I had time; I did; and immediately fell in love with the place. That was twenty years ago!
In my memory its shelves were (of course) packed with cookery books but what I remember was how special the place was, how different and how welcoming. I recall whiling away a pleasant time on an old sofa browsing recipes. I also remember a small but busy kitchen with a cookbook on a stand opened at the recipe which was being served that day. That's the deal you see, it's a niche bookshop that practises what it sells and does a recipe a day from its thousands of books.
What a great idea!
I couldn't leave that day without buying a book and having read Tim Lott's piece in the Food Monthly I was transported back and easily remembered the book that I bought. Yes, I was able to go straight to my bookshelf and locate it. Among the hundreds we have at home it was the first one I picked out. How among all of our books could I be so sure that this was the one bought at Books for Cooks?
There inside was a postcard from the shop and a little bookmark in the shape of a rolling pin. The book I bought was Great British Chefs by Kit Chapman Vol 2.
The selection has biopics of many now household names including Belfast's own Paul Rankin. It was published in 1995 and being new then provides a chronological coordinate for my visit.
Tim Lott's article has brought me right up to date and I am definitely heading back to the shop on my next visit to London. I am also recommending friends who live there to check it out for themselves.
I think it's still a brilliant idea, I wonder what they're cooking today.
Over to you
For more on Books for Cooks visit this article in the Guardian.
Do you have a collection of cookery books? Do you just read them or do you follow the recipes?