Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Cookbook Store: Toronto

Why isn't there an independent bookstore in the Boston area dedicated to food and drink? I think that is a gap which a clever, food-loving entrepreneur could fill. There is Stir, but its selection is relatively small and it is more dedicated to being a demonstration kitchen. The major chains all have food & drink sections but they are not independent and usually lack the more esoteric titles.  Boston needs a specialized food & drink bookstore with a significant inventory of both new, esoteric and used titles.

The closest such bookstore is probably Rabelais in Portland, Maine, a worthy destination for a day trip. Other cities around the country have excellent food & drink book stores, such as Omnivore Books in San Francisco, California. Whenever I travel, I seek out such stores, if they exist in the city I am visiting.  Most recently, I had the opportunity to visit The Cookbook Store in Toronto. Located on Yonge Street, at the intersection of Yorkville Avenue, it is easy to find, and there is a parking lot nearby.

The Cookbook Store has been around for over 25 years, and the store manager, Alison Fryer, has been there from the beginning. It is a small store, but there are thousands of books lining the shelves, separated into various categories, from International to Vegetarian. Essentially, all of the books appear to be new and in print, and include a number of more esoteric titles.  You will also find books by Canadian authors and publishers that you won't find in the U.S., such as the fascinating Taste Buds and Molecules by Francois Chartier. Unfortunately, they do not carry used or antiquated books, which would make it an even better store.

The books are well organized and neat, so it is easy to peruse the shelves and you could easily spend a few hours checking out all the available titles. There are even a few chairs where you can sit as you skim through the various cookbooks and other food-related titles. The store also runs many different events, hosting numerous authors and famous culinary professionals, as well as running demonstrations and seminars. I am sure this is a very popular destination with local food lovers, and it is good that the locals are supportive of this independent shop.

Overall, I enjoyed the store and wished I could have spent more time perusing the titles. I purchased a couple interesting books, which are not readily available in the U.S. As I mentioned earlier, my only minor complaint is that the store does not carry used or antiquated books like Rabelais and Omnivore Books. If you visit Toronto, stop by the store and find something new to read and enjoy.

1 comment:

burgerboy said...

I love the cookbook store, I always stop in when I'm visiting Toronto. Locally I love Book Fair for all of my cookbook needs. The BU bookstore and Brookline Booksmith also have great cookbook selections.