Only in New York

While not eating in New York this weekend (stay tuned for a dining report later today), I went window shopping, one of the best ways to walk off calories in the mecca of design and fashion.

Setting off for a long, post-prandial stroll down Fifth Avenue, I had no intention of buying anything, let alone shoes, one of my top retail weaknesses (I'm also a sucker for books), but there it was, the 57th Street location of Arche. It's one of my all-time favorite pit stops for Frenchy shoes that I rarely can afford. The newly launched sale strengthened the temptation, and lo and behold, I walked out two pairs heavier.

cook book
The mini-version of the "Art and Cook." cookbook. (Kim O'Donnel)

Another favorite haunt (also on West 57th) is Rizzoli, the most stately and grand of any book store I've ever laid eyes on. Is it the store's mansion feel, with its dark wood and plush carpeting? Or is it the most unusual, erudite collection of titles that could only be painstakingly hand selected by geniuses with a knack for wooing folks off the street?

Case in point: I came across "Art and Cook," a collection of recipes upstaged by wonderfully strange and provocative Dada-esque photography and politically conscious commentary. Authored by New York photographer Allan Ben, the book was first released in early 2004 (Post design columnist Linda Hales wrote it up in Style at the time). But it was the updated version that caught my eye (published in October 2005), a miniature of the original, wrapped in a custom-designed egg carton. Of course I bought a copy, egg carton and all. Upon unwrapping my copy at the hotel, I discovered the book's Web site, which further explains Ben's mission. A recipe for "Middle Eastern Chopped Salad," for example, is a way for him to comment on the war in Iraq: "In the salad bowl, you have salad mixed with green soldiers; the tomatoes are the color of blood, and the salad looks like a war zone with soldiers being killed over there."

Only in New York.

By Kim ODonnel |  June 27, 2006; 10:52 AM ET Cook's Library
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