Like me, Pepper Reece believes that every retail shop is a little sweeter — and a little more successful — when it includes books, whether it’s books on wine and wine country travel in a wine shop, regional art in a gallery, or local ghost stories in a coffee shop! In the Spice Shop, Pepper’s haven in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, you’ll find shelves and shelves of cookbooks, especially those that focus on spice or cooking for whatever holiday she’s celebrating! You’ll also find a healthy dose of foodie fiction, combining two of her favorite things — yours and mine, too!
In Peppermint Barked, Pepper sends a customer with a daughter just learning to cook home with Mark Bittman’s classic How to Cook Everything and Ian Hemphill’s go-to compendium, The Spice and Herb Bible. The customer adds a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Dorie’s Cookies to the stack for a friend, then treats herself with David Lebovitz’s Drinking French. Not coincidentally, three of those four are go-to books in our house. And while we don’t have a copy of Dorie’s Cookies yet, I do love her classic Around My French Table, not least because it includes a recipe for a fabulous pepper steak from Bistro Paul Bert, a restaurant we discovered on our first trip to Paris in 2009 and revisited in January 2020. It also includes the marvelously simple recipe for chocolate mousse from the back of the Nestle’s chocolate bar sold in France, which we make often. (My girl Erin Murphy, from the Food Lovers’ Village mysteries, adds a Montana flavor to it with huckleberry syrup. Here’s the recipe for her Huckleberry Chocolate Mousse.)
Of course, Pepper loves a good mystery, too, especially one with a foodie theme. In Peppermint Barked, she’s enjoying the delicious combination of crime, retail, and food served up by Cleo Coyle, Ellen Byron who also writes as Maria DiRico, and Maddie Day aka Edith M. Maxwell.
And as always, she calls on her spirit guide, the medieval monk and herbalist Brother Cadfael, from the oh so good series by Ellis Peters that she discovered in a box books and videos her parents left in her storage locker before heading off to Costa Rica.
Here’s what Pepper was reading in The Solace of Bay Leaves and Chai Another Day, along with Parts One and Two of Pepper’s Bookshelf, dishing on her discoveries in the first three books of the series, Assault and Pepper, Guilty as Cinnamon, and Killing Thyme.
I’m deep into Book Seven as I write this, and I can tell you, she’ll have some great fiction to recommend as well as some intriguing nonfiction diving into Seattle history.