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Sourcing kitchenware around the ATL

Kitchenware stores are the equivalent of FAO Schwartz for culinary-minded adults. Even infrequent cooks are seduced by the tactile pleasure of traipsing around a shop full of high-tech food processors, pre-seasoned cast iron skillets, ice cream makers and scores of other utensils and appliances. Sure, you can squander senseless dollars on a cherry pitter you'll use once a decade, but I've also made purchases that have actually inspired me to cook. I remember one baking dish in particular that set off a year's obsession with perfecting the art of fruit crisp.

These are some of my favorite places around town to lose myself in gustatory reverie (and probably snag a new toy or two while I'm at it).

Cook's Warehouse
The Midtown branch of this store has become the unofficial grande dame of Atlanta's kitchenware stores in the last few years. It's got top-of-the-line stemware and knives, waffle irons that come in at least five different shapes, stacks of pots and pans, nifty salad bowls ... the choices go on and on. Kind salesfolk are more than happy to steer you toward an item and proffer their veteran opinions. The Brookhaven branch has a Northern California vibe, largely due to the well-organized Sherlock's Wine Shop that shares space with the store. Cook's also offers an extensive array of cooking classes, many taught by the city's prominent chefs. 549-1 Amsterdam Ave., 404-815-4993; 4062 Peachtree Road, 404-949-9945. www.cookswarehouse.com.

Kitchen Fare
Carol-Ann Berardi has owned this personable store, tucked away in the deceptively quiet heart of Buckhead, for over 20 years. There's a deft blend of the traditional (where else can you find a selection of camisole aprons?) and the cutting-edge (Berardi carries an impressive selection of top-of-the-line bakeware you certainly won't find at Target). Requests for specific products and special orders are taken seriously. This is an independent gem worth a visit. 56 E. Andrews Drive, Suite 12, 404-233-0289.

Ranch 99 Market
OK, so I'm cheating here a little: This could in no way be considered a kitchenware shop. But it is an Asian market with a quirky, inexpensive assortment of cook's supplies (head to the sunken room on the right with the produce when you enter the store). Fun stuff includes porcelain spoons, funky teapots, a dozen different types of strainers, skewers of all sizes and shapes, and bowls whose patterns I recognize from local restaurants. And hey, if you've got a yen for chrysanthemum tea or sweet taro buns, they're right here at your fingertips. Asian Square, 5150 Buford Highway, Doraville. 770-458-8899.

Viking Culinary Arts Center
Think of this place as Williams-Sonoma Plus. The cool, professional space with tiled floors and white walls still has that new smell in the air. Among the Martha-worthy display of baking dishes and gadgets galore is a succinct offering of cookbooks and a wide range of those tasty little packaged products we all love to blow cash on -- blood orange marmalade and margarita mustard, anyone? Of course, there are also gleaming demonstration kitchens (where workshops and classes are held) to tempt you to invest in a Viking range. 1745 Peachtree St., 404-745-9064, www.vikingrange.com.

Know a good place to buy a melon baller? E-mail bill.addison@creativeloafing.com.


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