Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Field Trip! - Cakes and cafes in England

series of posts from visiting interesting little (and large) cafes, food-related establishments and other places of inspiration.

I sampled a few cakes and sweets over the Christmas holidays in the UK. Here are some of the establishments I came across, from the trendy to the traditional.

London sweets trends included big dollops of fruit-flavoured meringue, and salted caramel everything – shortbread, chocolates, toffees. For display, huge plates, cake stands galore and piling up into pyramids were employed more often than refrigeration units.

Ottolenghi in Islington was very cool, and busy, with the communal table in the restaurant area full. The cash register was hidden behind mounds of meringue and cookies and made for a bit of a hectic time for the staff with people ogling food and queuing to pay in the same standing space. Breakfast here is supposed to be good, though we couldn't fight through the crowds.

Nipping into Curzon Soho cinema for a matinee I noticed for the first time that the café (photos below) is catered by the very trendy Konditor and Cook who are currently showing off their mince pies, voted best in Britain by the Telegraph.

Up North things were a bit more old fashioned, with neon-lit chilled glass cabinets more common than in London cafes. Here, as modeled by the Odeon cinema in Manchester's Printworks is how we're familiar seeing our cakes presented, somewhat folornly strip-lit.

Also in the north I visited a small deli café called All Things Nice in Marple that has a formidable cheese counter along with bakery goods, hams, pies and cakes. They have a small cafe seating area at the back of the shop, and do events like wine and cheese tasting.

Finally I wanted to share with you this magnificent dessert trolley as wheeled out at the end of a festive meal in Chester's restaurant in Macclesfield. Complete with wobbly wheels and a slide-out shelf for plating the desserts, this very British piece of restaurant furniture was piled with cheese cake, apple pie, pavlova, carrot cakes, lemon meringue, chocolate cake, trifle, and strawberries. Everything doused in cream on request.

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