When I was a teenager I dreamed of living in New York. Visions of a tiny apartment in a brownstone and interesting people, subways and the Automat, and, oh, yes, loads of tiny shops with interesting merchandise, not the sort of thing I eyed at F.W. Woolworth in Flat River. Now New Yorkers revel in the appearance of big-box stores ("Can you buy that at Best Buy?" recently demanded an acquaintance who lives in Manhattan.) I don't completely understand it; the small-town dreamer still lives in part of my soul.
Said dreamer was more than happy, then, to finally make it to Bonnie Slotnik's Cookbooks. Somehow, on many trips to New York, I'd never gotten around to it, and when I did, the last couple of times, the shop was closing - but then moving, thank goodness, when she found a great new location. Now she's settled in and I headed for East Second Street, in the East Village, between the Bowery and Second Avenue. Located in one of those partly-below-ground-level basements (technically called an English basement), the new location is homey, welcoming and well lit. It even has access to the back garden, where there's a place to sit and peruse whatever books you're considering buying. While it's technically one room, there are niches and cubbyholes enough to leave a customer always finding something they'd overlooked.
Please note these are, almost entirely, used cookbooks. There are also old pamphlets and magazines - I came away with a vintage World War II cooking magazine. (For a major selection of new cookbooks, there's the great Kitchen Arts & Letters uptown on Lexington Avenue.) Prices are more than the Book Fair, but not heart-stopping. Cookbook geeks like me can spend an afternoon browsing, as long as they please don't pull the books out by the spine. Period pieces like an elderly stove and tablecloths from the mid-20th Century relax the atmosphere even more. Bonnie's as much a host as a businessperson - when she found out I was from St. Louis, her first question was, "Do you know Tim Brennan?" Well, yes, he made our wedding cake.
Usual hours are afternoons only, six days a week - the closing day may vary so check her phone recording. But she says she's willing to open odd hours if need be. The block also has some interesting interior decor shops if you need to kill time until the (usually 1 p.m.) opening. There's a subway stop nearby and several bus lines.
Bonnie Slotnik Cookbooks
28 E. Second St.