Favorite vendors abroad

This item appears on page 42 of the October 2012 issue.

A rare-book dealer? A talented tailor? A source of coffee beans? ITN asked you to tell us about your favorite vendor outside of the US. Along with the details, we wanted to know the shop’s location or contact info and when you last made a purchase there. A number of subscribers wrote in.

We never visit London without stopping at John Sandoe [Books], Ltd. (10 Blacklands Terrace, Chelsea, London, England, SW3 2SR, U.K.; phone 020 7589 9473). It’s an easy walk from the Sloan Square Tube station.

We always find intriguing books we have never heard of and didn’t realize we couldn’t do without. My last purchase, in March ’11, was “The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists” by Robert Tressell, a spellbinding read penned a century ago and reissued in 2008.

This store defies a category. I would call it eclectic, with offbeat selections (not just bestsellers). The staff is very knowledgeable.

Robert Hetzler, Bay City, MI

My favorite overseas vendor is Taylor of Old Bond Street (74 Jermyn St., London, England, SWIY 6NP, U.K.; phone +44 [20] 7930 5544).

I have bought shaving supplies (brushes, shaving creams and aftershave lotion) from them ever since discovering this special barbershop in the early ’60s. On each trip to London, I buy enough to last until my next trip. I am now 80.

They have everything for a gentleman, arranged in collections called “shops”: Shaving Shop, Face & Body Shop, Hair & Scalp Shop, Brush & Comb shop (over 20 different combs!), Mirror Shop and more.

A.J. Cavenaugh, Wallace, NC

Taylor of Old Bond Street also sells its products online. — Editor

I have an interest in medieval things. In the gift shop at Lincoln Cathedral in England in 2000, I found wonderful resin-cast reproductions taken from molds of original subjects in the choir stalls.

While revisiting the UK in 2006, I got close enough to Lincoln to stop in again and picked up another reproduction. And now I’ve just ordered some more from the company that makes them: Oakapple Designs, Ltd. (10 McLoughlin Way, Kiveton Park, Sheffield, England, S26 6QJ, U.K.; phone 01909 774532).

These charming little wall hangings have medieval motifs — people, activities, whimsical animals, fantastic creatures, etc. The folks at Oakapple are allowed to make molds in many UK cathedrals and abbeys (Carlisle, Ely, Ripon and others), and they do an excellent job.

When I e-mailed the company, the owner personally contacted me to say that part of my order was not in stock and it would take two days to fabricate the item.

He also told me that if my order could be delivered in two packets, it would save me a lot of money in terms of shipping costs. I found this extremely helpful and incredibly honest.

We had a number of e-mail exchanges, and, in the end, all of the items I ordered were delivered via Royal and US mail within an 8- to 10-day period.

Abigail B. MacDonald, Quaker Hill, CT

In New Delhi, my husband, Clyde, and I couldn’t resist entering Roopak (6/9 Ajmal Khan Road, Karol Bagh, New Delhi, India; phone +91 98 1018 0606) the first time we walked past it in 2004.

Gift plates of dried fruits, nuts and sweets were stacked up along the big glass windows. Bikkies (British slang for cookies), nuts and dried fruits filled the center aisles, and bottles and bottles of spices, pickles and syrups lined the walls of this third-generation landmark.

We bought treats to take with us for the entirety of our long India trip. On our return to Delhi before flying home, we bought many plastic bottles of spices packaged for export.

We also bought many bags of chaat, a savory, spicy snack mix (something like Chex® mix) which sells under names like “Bombay Mix,” bhelpuri and sevpuri.

We also picked up rewri*, a terrific, bite-sized crunchy bikkie made of sesame seeds and jaggery (aka gur, a concentrated cane-sugar product similar to brown sugar).

After visiting Roopak, you can cross Ajmal Khan Road to Punjab Sweet Corner (15a/65 Karol Bagh, New Delhi, India 110005; phone +91 11 2575 5982), where you can find a variety of spicy and sweet snacks and fast foods to make an excellent lunch, including the stuffed, breaded and fried snacks samosas and pakoras.

Then proceed a bit farther down the street to Anjlika’s Pastry Shop (6/78 Ajmal Khan Road; phone +91 2572 4824), which has chocolate rum balls to die for. As Clyde rightly says, I would go to Delhi just for these rum balls.

Bringing spices and packaged food through Customs worried us, so on a March ’10 visit we packed all our purchases into a separate small tote bag. On our return home, we stopped at the agriculture checkpoint and put the bag with all the spices isolated through the x-ray machine. We were on our way in about five minutes, with thanks from the agent for making his work so easy.

Jane B. Holt, Hinesburg, VT

*In the print edition, ITN misspelled the name of the treat of sesame seeds and brown sugar, which is actually "rewri."