Caffe Trieste and Cafe Leila in North Berkeley are both quite delicious; Leila has comfortable couches and a lovely garden patio, and Trieste has a good crowd all day long and really awesome drip (chemex) coffee as well as espresso drinks. If you want good coffee beans, my favorite store is in the city - the Castro Cheesery. Where in Ithaca are you from?
Rachel at Petite Patisserie made our wedding cake and it was FANTASTIC. So delicious there was absolutely nothing left over. Good thing I didn't care about taking the top layer home! Rachel is wonderful and runs the business herself - I enjoy supporting organic business even more than I enjoy supporting small local ones, so friendly + local + organic + delicious and beautiful is a sure win for me. I hope it works out for you, and congratulations! The website: http://www.petitepatisserie.com/
Wonderful project - I am sure you will enjoy the research! 2 of my favorite books at the moment are: San Francisco Flavors - favorite recipes from the Junior League of SF. This book has beautiful recipes, a serious farmer's market bent, great photos, and also wine recommendations. The ingredients can be expensive but this is a fabulous book for entertaining, and some of my weeknight standards are from here as well (Spicy Thai Prawn Soup, Grilled Coriander Chicken with Walnut-Cilantro Pesto, and Chicken Breasts with Wild Mushrooms and Balsamic Vinegar).
Savoring Southeast Asia - this is one of the Williams-Sonoma series, which I normally don't think much of, but this one is really worth it. You can get it new or used on Amazon, although I don't think WS sells it direct anymore. The flavors from these recipes are suprisingly authentic (at least the Thai ones are - I haven't been anywhere else in Asia so I am really not qualified to say, but they sure do taste good!) and the pictures are great too! Good reading between recipes. Favorites from this are: Clay pot catfish (to die for), Goi Cuon or fresh spring rolls (amazingly tasty and juicy and fresh; the sauce is suprisingly good!), Yam Woon Sen (delicious, even better the next day), and Khao Tom Moo (rice soup with little balls of ground pork, perfect food for when you're sick and can't handle tremendous flavor variations but still want something that tastes good). Let me know if you find/like these!
I'm looking for a bookstore that specializes in food writing and/or cookbooks. Food doesn't have to be the store's sole specialty, but I'd love your recommendations on bookstores that have great selections of food-oriented bits. Thanks!