So about a year ago there was this townhouse near Barracks Row – the bar and restaurant district just across Pennsylvania Avenue from Eastern Market – that got our attention. Mike and I used to press our noses against the window and try to make out what was happening inside. No, we weren’t being pervy. We were insanely curious about the future of this townhouse: it was going to be the home of Hill’s Kitchen, a new gourmet kitchen goods boutique owned by Leah Daniels. What would it be like? When would it open? And dammit, why didn’t we think of that name for our blog??

In May 2008, the wait was over. Much to our delight and the delight of food shoppers across DC, Hill’s Kitchen opened its doors.  The boutique has been going strong since then, building a veritable army of loyal shoppers. Hill’s Kitchen reflects a specific view of what Leah envisioned for a retail story – a friendly, homelike place to shop for kitchen goods – and reflects her own warm personality as well.  Leah is an attentive, hands-on store owner. I’ve never visited the store without seeing her behind the register or helping a shopper select the perfect kitchen accessory to fit their needs. 

You’ll find a wide selection of well-edited merchandise in Hill’s Kitchen, from pots and pans to gadgets and accessories to cookbooks. Some of my favorite gift items are the foodie books for kids with titles like Yum Yum Dim Sum and First Book of Sushi. Items in the store reflect Leah’s close monitoring of her customers’ interests. “Hill shoppers look for good quality and creative products they have not seen in other places, ” Leah shared with us. “They savor originality!”

Leah took some time out of the holiday shopping season to talk to us about her store and share some foodie holiday shopping tips. Check out her interview after the jump!

Does Hill’s Kitchen have a specialty?
Leah: I am not sure that I would ever have thought that I would own a cookie cutter store, but it seems that I have chosen to specialize in cookie cutters. I sell all sorts of cutters from animals and train cutter sets to cutters for all the states. The store also specializes in cook books. The selection has grown considerably since opening and I hope that it continues to expand as new titles come on the market. Hill’s Kitchen specializes in both the practical items that a basic kitchen would need  but also fun and beautiful gifts.

Any special recommendations for holiday gifts?
Leah: For the holiday, I am loving Emile Henri’s Urban collection of baking dishes and bowls. Absolutely stunning colors and shapes that are quite different from their traditional line of French pottery! Of course cookie cutters can be tied on to any present, but a cookie-themed present is lots of fun in itself – a few cutters, a cookie sheet, sprinkles, turner, and Cookie Jar Spices from TSP spices makes a wonderful gift.

For kids and adults, I have great aprons (my favorite kids apron is vinyl with images of bears and bees on it) and potholders to match. Another great gift is flexible, silicone mixing bowls from iSi; they are in vivid colors and are a fun twist to the traditional concept of a mixing bowl. And not to be forgotten are bamboo cutting boards, bowls, and salad servers – everyone is looking to be more Earth friendly. Cookbooks! And for little items, I am a fan of Loofah-Art scrubbers. They are vegetable/dish brushes that are made from natural loofahs and are in fun shapes like carrots, penguins, and crabs. They are a great stocking stuffer.

What is the best selling item in Hill’s Kitchen?
Leah: I have two items that have far and away been my best sellers – my Washington, DC shaped cookie cuter that I had made by a company in Pennsylvania, and pod hooks. The pod hooks are odd little hooks that can suction on to smooth surfaces such as glass, finished wood, and polished granite. The pod hooks have been wonderful and surprising items, but unfortunately I believe are being discontinued! I am devastated.

Did you bring in any special merchandise just for the holidays?
Leah: For the holidays I brought in new selections of cookie cutters, mixing bowls, and a huge assortment of tea towels. In addition to the holiday dressings, I brought in more book titles and quite a few new barware accessories – wine openers, cocktail shakers, ice buckets, etc. I am also stocking more fondue pots now as well as bundt pans. Special for the holidays I also brought in the Emile Henri Urban baking dishes, although I love them so much, I might just have to find a spot for them in my more permanent collection.

What foodie gifts are you sharing with your loved ones? [SPOILER ALERT for Leah’s friends and family]
Leah: I gave my best friend a pie pan from Emile Henri, a pie bird, and a book on pies. I am also giving quite a few poach pods (silicone egg poachers that float in boiling water), garlic choppers, and collapsible mandolines. But, I believe that everyone will be getting a bag of coffee beans from Peregrine Espresso. Support local businesses, right?

Hill’s Kitchen
Eastern Market / Barracks Row
713 D St SE
Washington, DC 20003