Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shopping For The Kitchen: Local Spots To Find Cookbooks, Kitchen Items, And Specialty Foods

Cookbooks at Nest in Clarksville
Cookbooks have now become specialty shopping.

I'm almost surprised when I see cookbooks in person, when I can page through them and see if I get inspired to buy.  Now, they're curated in small collections at stores across Howard County.  They're the kinds of places where you could shop for kitchen gifts.

Plates at Sweet Elizabeth
This week, I'm writing a "Gift Week" series of posts aimed at inspiring folks to shop at local spots.  Williams Sonoma in the Columbia Mall sells terrific stuff.  But interested shoppers could check out a few other shops.  We may not have Harbor East, but we have enough shopping to make a meal.

The appetizer is Nest in Clarksville on Rte 108.  Maybe the largest cookbook selection other than Barnes and Nobles, which is impressive since I think it's all vegetarian books.  Any eater would benefit from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop. Then an entire shop of organic items -- a lot of clothing, jewelry and stuffed animals.  The kitchen stuff runs to wooden bowls and serving pieces or pottery platters.

The main course is an afternoon walking down Main Street in Ellicott City.  
  • Su Casa near the top of the hill and the big parking lot.  This is the modern outpost on Main Street.  They have a design company in the back that will sell you furniture, but we enjoy the "icing on the cake" stuff like retro bottle openers and fun placemats.  It's thoughtful, cool chat
  • Randy and Steve's.  Imagine a Main Street version of Williams Sonoma's jars and mixes.  This new store on Main Street started selling all kinds of gourmet ingredients -- salts, oils, jellies, sauces, etc.  Right now, they have a wall of Stonewall Kitchen items, and they carry clothes and other items.
  • Sweet Elizabeth Jane.  This is a happy store with winding paths through an eclectic warehouse of displays.  Some clothes.  Some jewelry. A bunch of kitchen items like spatulas, plates, mugs, cheese trays, and butter crocks.  It's smart stuff.  Mrs. HowChow can browse here for longer than most stores, and she will often walk out with something that she didn't plan like a cookbook or Hammond's candies at the checkout.
  • The Breadery in Oella.  It's a pretty walk up the hill from Main Street Ellicott City, and the bakery will feed you while you peruse their shopping.  Again, they have carried the national brand Stonewall Kitchen, but they have also sold Baltimore stuff like Zeke's coffee and inFUSED spreads.  (You can always drive up to the Breadery as well.)
A Danish bowl set (sold off HA site)
Dessert is Home Anthology.  This is the Catonsville vintage store where people find reasonably-priced (and moderately used) tables, chairs, cabinets and other furniture.  But they also stock vintage kitchenware if you need a gift for someone who loves a 1950s to 1970s vibe.

Colorful Danish bowls.  Fondue sets.  Vintage shot glasses.  You never know what you will find, but Home Anthology has real pieces of the mid-century in cups, pots, and teak salad bowls.  You need the right friend, but a walk through Home Anthology is always fun -- especially if you get snacks a few blocks away at Atwater's.  They're open Saturdays and Sundays, and you can also check inventory on their Web site.

What am I missing?  What other local stores stock cool kitchen items or cookbooks?  I thought about the Asian pottery and kitchen items at the Hanoori Home Plaza in the same shopping center as H Mart -- both in Catonsville.  Bento boxes or whimsical chopsticks might be stocking stuffers, but most of the items tend more useful than gift-like.  What do you recommend?

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