Updated on September 19, 2019
Hot Chocolate and Old Books in Kent
Have you ever bought a book because you liked how it smelled?
Well, I just did.
This is how it all began.
We were in Kent, a town in Connecticut’s Litchfield County, often described as “quaint.” For the better part of the 19th century, it was one of the leading iron-producers in the state. It has a lovely stretch of Main Street, cafes, covered bridges, waterfalls, jazz festivals, and so much more.
Right across the Visitor’s Center, they have the Kent Coffee & Chocolate Co., a place that looks made to order for a crisp fall afternoon. We got the dark chocolate barks, a vegan hot chocolate with almond milk, a buttered bagel for a carb-happy kid, and an Irish Cream Mocha. When asked about the egg content in the barks, they took the extra effort and confirmed that it doesn’t. When you have a kid with allergies, this is the sort of service that makes you life-long patrons of a place.
The barks, especially the one with cranberry, were the lip-smacking melt-in-your-mouth kind, and lasted until the next morning’s Sunday paper and coffee.
We stepped out into the tree-lined street, feeling warm and content. Dark hot chocolate, the kind you can wrap your fingers around on a cold day, has a certain kind of power. It can rival wine and coffee on a good day.
Rows and rows and books lay before us, separated into categories like politics, mysteries, history, travel, humor, children’s, cooking, beverages, philosophy, etc. I picked up an old tattered copy of Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, and as soon as I opened the book, I got a whiff of what can best be described as an old book scent, the exact same one from my childhood.
So of course, like any normal person, I had to get the book.
Then I found this edition of The Beauty and the Beast, exactly like the one I read and re-read as a kid. I had to get that too.
Apart from memories, we found other books – a tongue-in-cheek one on British humor, graphic novels, a beer encyclopedia, a cookbook by Bill Granger, and so on and so forth.
There are many ways to spend a Saturday. But one in which you browse books on a sunny fall afternoon in a small New England town, and get transported to long summer holidays in a far-off country on the other side of the globe, is up there with the best.