Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cooking the books

Every time I go to Melbourne I do new things. On a fine Tuesday morning, R. knew exactly what she wanted to do - go to Fitzroy and find Books for Cooks - and I was very happy to go along (though I couldn't resist pointing out that I was probably the only person she knew who could be counted on to happily spend most of the morning there with her). We caught the free No. 35 tram up to Carlton Gardens, walked up Nicholson St and turned right into Gertrude St. After a couple of blocks there are lots of beautiful designery shops along it, and another marvellous bookshop devoted to textile arts and crafts. My favourite title was The Anarchist Knitting Book.
          Books for Cooks is at 233-235, and it's - astonishing.

This is just one wall of its books - there are three more in its two rooms, plus many more fitted into the ends and the middle. As well as hundreds of new and recent and older recipe books covering every possible region and topic (we spotted Lois Daish and Alyson Gofton and some other NZers, though they were in the Australian section!) it has every other kind of book to do with food - classic reprints, histories, memoirs, art books, polemics, the lot. It has long out of print and second hand books as well, and lovely foodie cards. Heaven. The most esoteric book I found - which gives you a good idea of the incredible range of books there - was The Centaurs, by Patience Gray, a history of the Italian, Greek and Mediterranean food served on the ships of the Blue Funnel Line from the 1950s on. Harvey's birthday was a really good reason for doing more than just looking (I can't tell you what I bought, because he reads this).
       By the time we'd done our dash, and cash, it was lunchtime, so we sensibly asked the very helpful owner where to go. Just two doors up, he said, to the Gertrude Street Enoteca.

It was full, so we had to perch at one of the crates in the back part where there are wine bottles lining shelves from floor to ceiling, but we kept an eye on the marble tables in the front room and leapt to grab one as soon as it came free.

A smallish but satisfying menu. R. had the goat's cheese and sorrel tart with salad, and I had the winter plate - chicken salad, potato cake, winter salad, a soft stuffed baked onion, artichoke, tiny olives, green tomatillos, bread.

R. chose the wine (she's much better at it than me) - a delicious Australian pinot gris, but I forgot to note which one.  We sank into the lovely state of relaxed happiness you get when you're travellng and manage to find exactly the right place at the right time.

(PS - I've just found the winelist - it wasn't Australian, it was an Italian KRIS Pinot Grigio 2009.)


Deborah said...

That winter plate looks delicious. I find a plate of small portions of various delicacies immensely appealing.

AnneE said...

Exactly. And everything on it was superb quality. Wish we could have gone back for dinner, but they do that only on Fridays...

Sandra - too heavy to stand on a soapbox, but undeterred said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip.

I enjoy your posts Anne, and want to express my appreciation for your stand on food quality in your post "Not Fit to Eat" and your comments on the subsequent Hand Mirror debate.

AnneE said...

Thank you very much, Sandra, I really appreciate that.