(...Or How to Spend the Perfect Day)
If you're looking for the perfect foodie day out, you would be hard pressed to do better than Notting Hill.
Crammed with cafes and chocolatiers, Notting Hill and its neighbouring Portobello are also home to numerous specialist cuisine stores with delis and restaurants as famous as many of its residents. Follow my footsteps in a food tour that will tick the boxes for all curious food fanatics...
Start the day on Westbourne Grove with a visit to Kitchen Ideas. Crammed to the rafters with cake moulds, casserole dishes and chef knives, the place resembles a pound store more than a specialist equipment shop. Surprisingly good value, it is a worthy supplier for both amateur and professional cooks- and is even recommended by the cookbook of nearby deli Ottolenghi's.
Cross the road and you will find yourself at Artisan Du Chocolat, flanked by tables resembling slabs of chocolate. This is an elegant chocolate boutique selling silver coated chocolate moulded stilettos (too beautiful to contemplate eating!) and their famous liquid salted caramels. With chic Chanel-esque branding, these little round chocolates come in a range of experimental flavours, from sage and thyme (No.15) to Madagascan pink peppercorns (No.4).
(A full review and more flavours will follow in a chocolate blog... Coming soon!)
Stop here to peruse their amazing cafe menu, offering a number of stunning sounding chocolate based cocktails, or buy a Red Fruits and Violets O and No.7 Liquid salted caramel. You will find out what it's infused with when you try it...
Visit the first of Notting Hill's many Delis- Travola. Small and beautifully presented, its highlights include huge flat breads, tubs of soup and homemade gellati. The rustic decor includes a wall of sweet decorative plates reminiscent of a french farmhouse.
Trot onwards to DaylesfordOrganic for the fresh fruit and veg, or to pick up a recipe card (Beetroot soup, if you're quick.) Recap on this season's freshest produce- not only displayed in wooden crates, but listed on the walls.
For a change from the rustic-chic vibe projected in most modern delis, head to Tom's, a sweet and nostalgic Enid Blyton-esque shop decked out with St George's Flags.
Bright, busy and British, it stocks old style sweets, lollies and cakes, including the oh-so-fashionable and ever so English Pistachio and Rose Cake.
Before breaking for lunch, finish off the morning in The Grocer on Elgin, for a wide range of ready meals- Notting Hill style.
As well as beautiful bread and sandwiches, The Grocer caters for high end pre-made dinners such as Teryaki Chicken and seafood risotto.
For lunch, remortgage your house, don your Sunday Best and - remember...to...breath.
Ottolenghi's is situated on Ledbury Road, and with the window piled high with enormous, beautifully coloured meringues and tarts, its hard to miss.
Inside, huge wooden bowls are laden with a vast range of salads. Mains include seared tuna, rare steaks and marinaded salmon fillets- all from recipes featured in the Ottolenghi cookbooks.
This small deli is unsurprisingly rammed at lunchtime, so LouLovesFood recommends taking Ottolenghi's offering out onto the streets and finding a bench to enjoy your lunch in some of London's most elegant streets.
Now you are a member of the 'Church of Ottolenghi', celebrate by heading to 'Melt...'
Displayed 'how a chocolate shop should be' and with caramels to rival Artisan's, Melt... is lined with bowls of chocolates, their flavours written in chalk on blackboards mounted onto the walls. Watch the chocolatiers at work, hand piping their chocolates ar the back of the shop before buying a Melt... Ice cream, made in-situ with 50% fruit.
With your ice cream (and chocolate dipped wafer cone!) in hand, make your way to Portobello Market. Whilst exploring the endless antiques shops, you will naturally stumble across the Hummingbird Bakery- if the smell of baking doesn't draw you to it first.
The Hummingbird Bakery looks as good as it smells and sells all manner of loveliness- from red velvet muffins to thick wedges of carrot cake.
If you're really impressed, pick up a copy of The Humming Bird Cookbook. (Good enough to eat!)
Dip into Garcia's- a deli dealing exclusively in Spanish produce- smoked meats, olives and all manner of tinned Spanish supermarkets produce. On a clammy day Garcia's is a cool and fragrant respite from the heat. Wind your way through the market stalls and take in the kind of bread fresh fruit and veg you would expect to find at one London's quality markets.
Crossing the road by an incredibly stocked spice and herb shop on Blenheim Crescent, you will find yourself at the piece de resistance- Books for Cooks.
Need I say more? Let your geek out amongst hundreds of recipe books for all tastes, cuisines and palates.
Take your time- this is where your tour ends. (I for one couldn't take much more excitement, and I wouldn't want to be responsible for any cardiac arrests. Or am I the only one..?)
... You're welcome.