Friday, 15 July 2011

Taylor st baristas - london v brighton

oddly this past week I've spent time in two coffee houses with the same name. Both the original in the City and the version in brighton (aka london on sea) were fantastic. although, whisper it, the Brighton home of finely crafted coffee just edged it. A bit more relaxed and a little more service. Or maybe its just me? coffee always tastes better on holiday!

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Thursday, 26 May 2011

Water Taxi - Soufriere, St Lucia

Water Taxis are only way (if you ignore cars, buses, coaches) to get around St Lucia and if you come across George he sells the freshest just picked pineapples too.

He travels really really slowly, which he suggests is to save petrol....

It normally takes five minutes to speed across the Souffriere Bay - with George its at least half hour.

This works out rather well if your not in a hurry and want to take everything in...

Both of us were Happy and Dazed, both of us for different reasons.

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Monday, 23 May 2011

Bread + Cheese Plant - St Lucia

Its always rather boring in English Gardens hearing mothers-in-law drone on and on about the beauty of the Begonias they cherish.

In St Lucia they call it the bread and cheese plant and at Boucan Restaurant they add the dainty little flowers to the most divine salads.

Bread and Cheese - so much more fun than Begonias.

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Chateau Mygo / Marigot Bay - St Lucia

Watching the sun go down, drinking Piton beer, a fantastically economic lunch of shrimp roti and getting roundly beaten at dominoes by a beautiful woman. Nothing could be finer.

I may be some time.

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Sunday, 22 May 2011

Cacao Adventure - Hotel Chocolat / St Lucia

Wow what a day.

Visiting a cacao plantation is one thing spending it with some of the worlds experts and getting every little question answered is another.

Alphonsus and Cuthbert are engaging and excited hosts, passionate about doing things the right way however long it takes. I spent quite some time learning to graft one sapling to another, time discussing the differences between ICS 95 and ICS 1 strains of trinitario beans and a lot of time with my mouth wide open in amazement at what a wonderful thing it is to work in the field of chocolate.

To top that in the afternoon we made bars from beans direct from the Rabot Estate with ace chef Jon and then dined on fine cacao cuisine at the Boucan Restaurant.

More fun than you can shake a chocolate covered stick at!

And my bean to bar bar was waiting for me as lunch finished- I popped it out of the mould straight into my mouth! perfect... well for a first timer!

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Mrs Theresa's Bakery - Soufriere / St Lucia

Still thinking about these little lovelies days after the cookie jar ran empty.

Go find them - its worth the effort.

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Container Cafe - Hackney Wick / Olympic Park Borders.

A very good coffee and the worlds most exciting view.

Just thinking about those glory days of next summer gives me goose bumps already.

If you need me I'll be here.

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Farmers Market - Soufriere / St Lucia

Although some stalls are open most days of the week on saturday morning from 6am till about 10am the farmers market in Souffiere really comes alive.

Open back trucks full to falling with bananas compete with grizzled fishermen with wheelbarrows full of fish, ladies frying breakfast and an enterprising youth with barrels of petrol. Every Lucian crop is here; love apples & wax apples papaya & pineapple, mango, melon & many spring onions!

What I couldn't find however was cacao or cacao pulp. The search continues!

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Sunday, 1 May 2011

Chewing Gum Art - Wobbly Bridge

I've often heard tales of the nutty chewing gum artist who lays prostrate across the streets of Crouch End, causing chaos on a busy high-street whilst he paints the flattened gum of others. Looks like he's moved up in the world. Cross the wobbly bridge form tate to st Paul's and little works of wonder flood the bridge. Charming and oddball.. like all the finer things in life.

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Foodie Graffiti

As you amble along the canal after brunch at the container cafe keep your head down .. not because this is a dangerous part of town (it isn't any more!) but because someone has taken the time and love to highlight all the wild garlic, brambles, herbs and fruits that dot the pathway. Take a basket with you ... today lunch is on London.

If only id thought of it myself.

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Charles Lamb - Royal Wedding Street Party

Hobby and Cammi you did us proud. Such a wonderful day, the food was perfect the cocktails were strong and milly won first prize in the dog competition. Britain should be proud. London shone.

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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Broca - Brockley

Since the closure of the Brockley mess I've been wondering where the denizens of this fine locale go for a little fix of the blackstuff. Today I found the answer - they go to the train station - oi stop giggling its not a gag about the best part of brockley is the train out - its where you'll find Broca. Home made cakes, decent coffee and loads of community art. You know the type of place, old school beaten up sofas and miss matching crockery.

South London's answer to Central Perk.

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Metcalfes Skinny Popcorn - Available everywhere, soon, probably.

Another product to add to that ever growing list entitled 'things I didn't know I needed until a food marketeer dreamt it up'.

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Rose Bakery - Dover Street

We all know how great it is here ... but may I simply add that its so much finer than the trio of Parisian versions.

Although I'll always love that in the Marais you can idle away hours watching bakers bake - the carrot cake in London is just enough, the crumble is better than ever and the little sun trap of a terrace a hidden smokers gem.

Perfect for a little respite while someone else carries on shopping.

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Rochelle Canteen - Arnolds Circus

With sunshine on my shoulders and a perfect b'day pressie in my bag for my wife, and as its taken all day to find, I thought I deserved a treat. You know that feeling - one pressie for her, one pressie for me!

And here they are. Macaroons with the adult extra ingredient of loads of sharp sharp lemon .. quite perfect. Welcome back sunshine its been too long.

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Berry Bros - Mayfair

This window display of fine wine and great bread really drew me in. Spent a fortune that i don't have and enjoyed every minute of it. Very english and truly wonderful.

Bread, dripping and a Burgundy 09 for dinner then!

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Cadburys Chocolate Cafe - Bluewater

Not my first choice for a lunch but little Nelly enjoyed every moment. This kids lunch included little crust less sandwiches, a big slice of cake and a gingerbread man. oh and just in case that wasn't enough it comes with a tiny likkle hot chocolate too. A lot of sugar indeed, Nelly has hardly slept since!

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Mrs Marengo's - Soho

Particularly good cake - especially the modern version of victoria sponge.

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Cafe + tapas - saville row

Nice to see this addition to the same-old-same-old -lunch-time-grab-something quick market. A few pinxcos and a coffee - such a great way to while away your twenty four minute lunch hour. feels a bit like a chain though. Maybe somewhere in the world it is!

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The Food Secret - Soho

The tills don't work and the staff are grumpy but if you're searching for the next big thing in food retail start here. The next level in food labelling and freshness. perfect for assuageing guilt / picking the healthy option. So what is the food secret? simply that there are no secrets - they tell you everything you need to know. No hidden nasties and no staff training either!

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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Merce and the Muse

Taking a lead from the UKs third wave of coffee Paris is slowly catching up. American born and bred Merce (an ironic name for a Parisian resident!) has got it spot on . With record decks behind the counter playing tunes that would be perfect should Tarantino pop in, Merce is the perfect host and not a bad Barista either. Her dinky chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes cheered my day and the flat white was the only one i found in three days.

If i ever move to Paris i want to work here!

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Bar des Artisans - Rue de Vinaigriers - 10th Paris

An amazing place indeed. At the back of this funky little whole food deli is as foodie treasure trove. They sell, amongst many many other treats, roasted cacao nibs and even blocks of cacao butter - of course i bought some even though i've no idea what to do with yet.

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Baking for all.

Found the most amazing cake decorating store up in the 10th. Every concievable taste and occasion catered for. Plenty more to come on the 10th - it's like the new Dalston or maybe Nakamegura in Toyko.

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Sunday, 13 February 2011

Gontran Cherrier - Paris / Montmartre

The bad boy of French baking certainly knows his baking. He may be a French Jamie Oliver but I've never seen Mr Oliver on the floor and he's certainly never made me an esspresso while I chatted in bad french. He takes a simple thing and makes it better. A simple poolish roll with squid ink - looks great tastes amazing. However using curry to flavour bread upsets the beating patriotic heart of the parisian man on the street. Good. France never had a monopoly on great bread (foccacia / Bloomer / Chapati anyone?)

Gontran is here to remind them.

Come to England Bad Boy we understand you.

Maz - Paris / 15th.

Perhaps the most beautifully designed deli in Paris. Just trust me.

Friday, 10 December 2010

The Best Highstreet in London - Hackney Wick

It's not exactly a highstreet but it is a rather wonderful circular walk so why not include it..... Hackney Wick is full of surprises, not least that I live so close and had no idea where it was. I always thought it was just off Mare Street. It isn't - it faces the Olympic Park in Stratford and is well worth a little Brunch time ramble.

All the money being spent on the Olympics is not just going on sport but classrooms, walkways and lovely little places to potter.

So start your day at the View Tube, a social enterprise, funded by Olympic Dreamers and built out of reclaimed shipping containers. On the Ground floor is a sexy little brunch place called the Container Cafe and seeing as it's hosted by Aussies it's the perfect place for pre games gloating.  Maybe just have coffee though as the cafe is owned and run by the same people that have the Counter Cafe a little further around the corner. So memorise the menu (it's the same) and ponder your tummy as you wander on.

Next up could be a rather fine dine over the lock at Forman and Sons. A London Institution since 1905 and recently moved to a spanking new smokehouse and restaurant opposite the Stadium. With views as good as the this it's the perfect place in the world to try the London Cured Smoked Salmon.
Or possibly amble around the corner to The Counter Cafe who hold the record for the bestest damn egg and bacon sandwich in the east. Super Cool and on Fridays all the guys wear Jackets. Dress Up Fridays an idea that should be nationalised for the casual amongst us. Allowing for the fact they you've already eaten three times and it's only just lunch time perhaps the Schwartz Gallery the very essecnce of an urbane art gallery or the Elevator Gallery which is better.

 With a head full of ideas and art the canal is the next stop. Full of extra-ordinary graffiti that have long been ignored. This leads perfectly to the Hackney Pearl . And a pearl it is. Stuck in the middle of a grime ridden estate the pearl shines out. I loved a lot the home pickled Onions that added something east to the cheese plate, which incidently uses local turkish bread to compliment the monty's cheddar. The cocktails and coffees too are better than ever. 

Drink the night away here - but remember to order you cab now.
In three hours time you'll have no idea how to get home.

Hackney Wicked.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Chocodeli - Pimlico

This little gem is a new must see for trips to town with my nieces and nephews. Not only is the selection of sweets a liitle'uns dream but up above is a tin train that puffs and chuffs around the architraves. Joyous for adults too, toot!

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Tricot Studio - Shopkeepers Gloves

A special Commision from a talented studio have brought joy to me and my customers alike.
These Tricot Studio Gauntlet Glove leaves my fingers free to dress and perfect the shop, the heart in my palm a perfect little surprise when handing over change.  I love them!

Caravan - Exmouth Market

This weekend we decided to turn our phones off completely and have a secret holiday in London - living here it's easy to let things pass you by and in the end we could neither name another city we'd rather travel too 48 hours of leisurely rambling. The highlight said holiday was a long walk in the rain to Exmouth Market, as we arrived the traders packed up for the day, yet Caravan's lights shone brightly (particularly so as very few restaurants seem to be open for an early dinner or very late lunch these days) The food was far better than expected for such a hyped site and the service was perhaps even better than that.. The Thai Mussels lasted seconds they were so good and the pork bun not much longer. I've no idea if the meal between lunch and dinner has an official name (dunch?) regardless I'll be eating mine here in future, if you need me don't call.

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Morito - Exmouth Market

After a fantastic early meal at Caravan we excitedly waltzed over to the spanking new Morito where the queue was no where near as bad as the urban grapevine suggests. Baclava and sherry, a beer and some biscotti made for a perfect after dinner treat. Morito looks amazing, the service is impeccable and it makes you feel like your on holiday. Promised to visit again soon but next time for a whole night. Can't wait.

Federation Coffee - Brixton Arcade

Two words : wonderful, wonderful.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Nude Coffee Tips Jars - Spitalfields

The coffee at Nude may be great every single time but I look forward to seeing which of the two tips jars is fullest. Last visit 'Boys' was almost empty and 'Girls' full to the brim. Today 'Paris' confirmed it's status as a city on down, the jar being nearly half empty with shrapnel and fluff while 'New York' was half full of gold and silver (coins) plus at least one note.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Breads etcetera - Brixton Arcade

One man bands are not known for creating beauty - normally simple rackets. Yet the intimacy of this tiny haven demands low staffing. One man bakes all the breads both sweet and sour, the cakes and the treats etc then opens the doors and smiles safe in the knowledge that his hands alone have provided for a busy days custom. This man even roasts his own coffee too; maybe he's found an extra hour in the wee small hours or maybe he's just bloody great at his job. Either way breakfast was memorable. A perfect start to a damn fine day.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Bramble Cafe - The Brompton Quarter

The word enchanting may be overused by others but here I'm going to use it repeatedly and mean it.
This little pop - up had everything going for it, great space, stunning light, great food care of Sarah Bilney & La Fromagerie plus an enchanting foyer featuring a 30 foot long creation of living mushrooms, bicycle wheels and magnifying glasses (no i can't describe how beautiful it was - can we just stick with enchanting?  ... oh and never to be forgotten)
Yes this pop-up it's popped off and closed.
Thank you for the memories. Next time get here sooner and stay a little longer!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Yasar Halim - Green Lanes

If these looks are deceiving you, don't be fooled - I'm just a dreadful photographer. Yasar Halim has long been a family favourite for fresh baked treats and Cypriot street food. With three premises side by side selling the full range of Cypriot wonders from oils and olives to breads, baklava and meat.Who could resist the temptation of the Gozleme, the Borek or the Tahini Bread? I couldn't, I bought all three and got seven pounds change from a tenner. Yasar is the best, the busiest and maybe even the oldest.

Green Lanes never lets you down.

Yasar Halim, 386-390 Green Lanes, N13 5PD (020 8340 8090) Palmers Green rail. Open daily 8am-10pm.

Antepliler Patisserie - Green Lanes

This unassuming little patisserie in Green Lanes holds a secret. A secret revealed to me by the wonderful Leila whilst I was interviewing her for another soon to be revealed project. The secret is in the ingredients and all you need to know is that they bake and create simply the best Baklava in London. Especially the Burma. Moist to the touch, oozing sugar, flavour and aroma these are worth the trip no matter the weather.

Antepliler Patisserie - Green Lanes, London N4 1AG - 020 8809 1004

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Newspeak Exhibition - The Saatchi Gallery

I've little idea why this haunting painting by Hurvin Anderson has taken hold of me and even less of a clue as to why such darkness should make me happy - but it has.

Go figure.
Go see for yourself.

Mount Street Deli - Mayfair


Mount Street Deli does exactly what it says on it's overpriced darling little biscuit tins. It's a chi chi little deli on Mount Street and it's quite nice. Nothing more to say really and I can't imagine I'll ever go again. Although it could of course be handy for demonstrations at the nearby American Embassy; you really shouldn't protest without a good coffee first. Not really my cup of twee.

Union Street Urban Orchard part two - Bankside Southwark


The Urban Orchard also has this delicious reclaimed ping pong skip by Oliver Bishop Young. Maybe we should all club together and send it over to the table tennis loving Boris Johnson household. The more time he spends out of the office the better.

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Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The Union Street Urban Orchard - Bankside Southwark

Disturbingly simple and utterly charming this pretty little thing yesterday made my day. With wooden pallets stacked waist high to support the saplings and some of the many trees already baring fruit the Urban Orchard has the touch of a green fingered hobo fantasy, and that's a compliment. I was tempted to make myself a cuppa and sit down for the afternoon life drawing class but as it was raining i nipped around the corner to the always welcoming White Horse and had a pint of cider.

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