Monday, 24 May 2010

La Bottega - THE ULTIMATE CAPPUCCINO

OOOooooo there it is.


Where:
La Bottega, 65 Lower Sloane Street, London SW1 8DH (closest tube Sloane Square)

The coffee:
I was recommended this little cafe from my friend Alex and he said they did a cappuccino the real Italian way, so I went to test it out with my mate Issy. For someone who normally doesn't like coffee that much I had two and they were perfect. I normally burn myself as I'm too impatient but these bad boys were ready to drink. You also got a light and crunchy amaretto biscotti, amazing for scooping up any left over milky foam.

The service:
Great, quick service from some cheeky Italians...the two below asked me to take this.


The price:
It was worth every penny at £2.80 a cup.

An ideal place for:
Chilling out with a friend in the outside seating infront of the cafe.


There's my friend!


What I took from this experience:
It was so nice to go some where other than Starbucks or Pret A Manger for a quick coffee and definitely the quality was ten times better. I highly recommend it.

Selfridges food hall with Flick



So after playing around in a few shops looking for ice cream inspired merchandise (sported above) and having a delicious lunch at Busaba Eathai we headed for some pud at Selfridges food hall.

(The Thai is well worth checking out round the corner from Selfridges on Bird Street)

http://www.busaba.com/

The food hall had so much to offer including Oddono's gelato (see my review) and many other sweet treats, such as marshmallows. (below)





Some incredible looking meringues




And not too expensive for how delicious they looked!



Next up were some amazing and very appetising macaroons in every flavour you could imagine.




If you were feeling particularly indulgent then forget two...get a whole box!




LOLA's CUPCAKES






As you can see it is possible to sit in but it is quite hectic so we took ours to go.



Got'em!



AHHH Yesss! So we went for two, a red velvet and a chocolate GU.






BOOM!






So much better than Hummingbird Bakery and more or less the same price. You could taste the difference in quality and these cupcakes did not make you feel sick after one, so having two would not be a problem. I have found in the past that with Hummingbird you enjoy the experience but it does leave you a feeling a little cupcak'd out.











OOpps! A sad end to such a happy day! :(





http://www.selfridges.com/en/Food-Flowers/


Marine Ices - Chalk Farm



Where:
8 Haverstock Hill, London, NW3 2BL (opposite The Roundhouse and Chalk Farm tube station)

First impressions:
Traditional....old school Italian ice cream parlour. Perfect!




The service:
Typical friendly and charming Italian waiters who all were wearing smart penguin esq. outfits which I appreciated.



Oohhh what are you getting Amy??


The ice cream:
I went with my friend Amy and we had fun chatting to the gelato man who was happy to let us try a few flavours before making our decision. We both ended up going for hazelnut although they had an array of different flavours, possibly about 30. This was the most choice I have ever seen in an ice cream parlour and it showed that with more selection equals less quality. Despite this, it was traditional inside and did all the favourite golden oldie desserts, such as knickerbocker glory, peach melba and banana split which are seriously hard to come by in the city.


Happy girl!

The price:
Best price for ice cream in town at £1.80 for a small pot, I'm not sure I'll beat that.



An ideal place for:
There were lots of families when I was there and it has a friendly atmosphere for children to run around in. I would suggest going with someone from the age of 9 to 90 and you can enjoy some of ice cream's oldest and most memorable desserts. It's also a stone throw away from Camden market so it is equally great to grab a scoop or two and browse through the town on a sunny afternoon.



Amy, as you can see thoroughly enjoyed this trip!

What I took from the experience:
I loved the fact that this place had a menu with lots of ice cream variety and has a retro style and atmosphere. It's been around since 1931 so they must be doing something right as I had many recommendations from all over to try it out. I think there is better ice cream in other parts of the city but when it comes to character and a particular vintage of ice cream parlour they have the whole package.

http://www.marineices.co.uk/

Gelato Mio



Where:
Notting Hill, Pembridge Road, London W11 3HG

There are also two others:
138 Holland Park Avenue and 138 St John's Wood High Street

First impressions:
There is a large cow in the window?


I'm not sure if this is a message to promote that they use milk in their gelato or they just think it's a pretty orange and brown cow. Personally, I think it's an big, ugly distraction from the ice cream, but on the up side when I have asked people about Gelato Mio they always say " Ahha! Is that the place with the weird cow in the window?" So it makes it memorable? Maybe they are on to something.

The service:
The staff were friendly and happy to talk about their ice cream and how they made it. They were proud to admit that its was all freshly made and with good quality ingredients.




The ice cream:
I had stracciatella and chocolate. The chocolate was good but the stracciatella was a little tasteless. I was a little disappointed because the staff were so enthusiastic about their product but I cannot lie and I have had a lot better. There were many other flavours that looked appetising though and I tried their mango sorbet which was yummy.

The price:
They were good value at £2 for a small pot which is filled generously high.

Extra thoughts:
I saw that you could also buy some authentic Italian biscotti and they sold brands such as bacio chocolates...




...and Mulino Bianco - best biscuits!




An ideal place for:
If you're wandering down Portabello Road then grab a pot on your way. The Notting Hill branch is situated perfectly next to one of London's busiest tourist attractions, THE MARKET, so I think it would be a shame to sit in when you could enjoy it on the go.




What I took from the experience:
I liked the real Italian gelateria vibe when I walked in and saw all the Italian biscuits and many of the staff are also Italian. They claim to be a shop that "wouldn't be out of place on the trendiest streets of Milan" which could be the future for them as they sell good ice cream and they stay true to authentic Italian gelato flavours. But it has to be said would they bring along the famous orange and brown cow to the Milan store?

We will have to wait and see...


http://www.gelatomio.co.uk/

The Cute Show - Heartschallenger

The Heartschallenger



This is something my friend Ned told me about and I think it's quite cool. These pretty pink ice cream trucks call themselves the Heartschallenger and are located in New York, Miami and Los Angeles with the intention of spreading "art and love" to everyone. The girl behind these cute powder pink trucks is Leyla Safai, an L.A. based artist who travels round with her musician boyfriend, Ben Pollock. Together they serve up ice cream and global treats and they have brought back a retro feel to the ice cream truck in true Americana style.

Here are some photos of the interior of the trucks





Miss Leyla herself!



They even have a website where you can buy t-shirts, lolly pops, star shaped shades, animal faced key rings....you name a random cute coloured thingy and they have it.

http://www.heartschallenger.com/

Check out the video I've posted to hear Leyla chat about the Heartschallenger.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The south of France...

This is Del Rey. In my opinion it was the best ice cream parlour ever.

There are loads of great places for ice cream here and this is where my love for it originates. When I was younger there used to be a bar called Del Rey in Port Grimaud, just outside St Tropez, which was without a doubt the best ice cream parlour I have ever been to. Unfortunately, it has now changed owners and has become something entirely different which is not worth even reviewing. There are still many other delicious places in the pretty, little, (slightly famous), fishing town of St Tropez. Here are four great dessert treasures:

Where:
Barbarac
2 Rue de General Allard, St Tropez, France

What for:
Gelato




Where:
Crêperie Grand Marnier: The best crêpe on the planet!
Rue des Remparts, Saint Tropez, France





The chefs as you can see wear these old school style chef outfits, and I swear they have looked like that all my life. You can feast yourself on the perfect crêpe with homemade dark chocolate sauce and a generous drizzle of Grand Marnier liqueur. This is the perfect combination although I cannot resist going for Nutella on most visits. This truly is the ultimate crêpe!

La Pause Douceur




Where:
11 Rue du General Allard, Saint Tropez, France



This tiny shop has homemade chocolates that are all beautifully displayed in a number of appealing flavours, including about 5 different pralines. This place is for serious chocolate lovers who also have quite a bit of cash.

Homemade = expensive = but still totally worth it!




They even make their own marshmallows

The last place that I would recommend is Senequier, situated in the famous port with its memorable red chairs and awning.

Where:
It has two addresses. The restaurant, which opened its doors in 1887 is on the port on the Quai Jean Jaurès. The other, the little patisserie round the back is at 4 place aux Herbes.



The little patisserie is where you can buy bread, nougat, marzipan, cakes and the town's signature dessert, la tarte Tropézienne. You can buy this indulgent, creamy fantasy in all sizes and each one is like heaven. It is fundamentally a kind of sponge with a creamy middle but that doesn’t do it justice. The filling is a lovely smooth custard with a sneaky hint of amaretto, which is covered with a light brioche type sponge, finished with a generous dusting of sugar. POW!


http://www.senequier.com/

ST TROP!

Friday, 30 April 2010

Scoop - Covent Garden's hidden gem


Where:
Scoop, 40 Shorts Gardens, London, WC2H 9AB

First impressions:
The ice cream looks delicious!



The service:
I wasn’t too sure that the guy understood me at first but after a little kerfuffle he seemed nice enough. He was quite happy to chat away about Scoop and how they make all their gelato fresh, daily and in house.




The ice cream:
Right, well, it looked appetising and the colours of the flavours were beautiful but they still looked natural, which if you hadn’t guessed is BIG on my agenda. I went with my two mates, Charlie and Flick for some extra feedback (and they are quite a tough crowd). Charlie and I both had Vanilla and Madagascan Chocolate, while Flick opted for Vanilla and Stracciatella. OK, so not too adventurous but they are normally the best flavours. They were pretty good and as you can see Miss Charlie is thoroughly enjoying herself. The texture was close to perfect as the gelato was thick, creamy and a little fluffy, just how it should be!


Check out the concentration
The price:
I thought it was worth it at £2.80 for a small cup, filled amazingly high.

Extra thoughts:
I am always keen to try any extra sweet things on the menu and they offered crepes and waffles. I got very excited and ordered a waffle as I actually couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a waffle making machine, (hard to come by in London)! I asked eagerly if they made their waffles fresh, a stupid question you may think. I hate to say it but they buy the waffles, frozen!!!! They only used the waffle maker to heat, I repeat, HEAT the bought waffles. Their street credit definitely went down after that as I didn’t understand the point in even having the machine in the first place. Surely a microwave would have sufficed and would have been cheaper? (I am a bit of a fanatic so please excuse the waffle chat, many people would not mind this so much)

Anyway, after that ordeal and whilst Flick had calmed me down from ranting we decided to try a crepe avec Nutella. This is one of my favourite snacks and I must admit they made it freshly in front of me. It was the right amount of soft pancake and a little crispy round the edges, finished with a sprinkle of icing sugar. Nice!



An ideal place for:
Centred in Covent Garden makes it the perfect stop-off after the theatre or even a shopping excursion.

What I took from the experience:
The gelato is delicious and I think it is the best that I have tasted so far. They appear to spend more time making it to create a great product rather than mass producing rubbish for the public. Even though the interior is not anything to shout about we did find ourselves spending a few hours chatting in the little seating area. I would recommend it for takeout though, as there is lots to see round that area and a wander with some of this creamy, delightful, indulgence is best enjoyed on foot.


Oddono's Gelati



Where:
Selfridges Food Hall, 400 Oxford Street, London W1.

First impressions:
Good location and the ice cream looks appetising although not a tasteful branding.

The service:
It was great and a lovely man called Luis explained the story behind the ice cream. He claimed that Christian Oddono was proud of his gelato and openly shares how it is made. This was great to hear because so far in my research if you have something to hide then that is when you start to question the product.

The ice cream:
It was well presented in the classic display cabinets and they change their flavours every day. It has a yummy chocolate ice cream made with real Valrhona chocolate.

What did I have:
I had panettone ice cream and mango sorbet. They pride themselves on providing “fresh natural Italian gelato” and I chose the mango because Luis said that they do not put any added sugar as the mangos are naturally sweet enough. I liked the ice cream because it had lovely chunks of real panettone mixed in. After having this delicious bread daily for breakfast with my cappuccino at L’Anima I can definitely say that I know what I’m talking about and this was good panettone!




The price:
Their prices were pretty reasonable for a standard 90ml pot and they were generous with their scoops.

£2.00 for a small

£3.00 for medium

£4.00 for large

£5.00 for very large


Take-out:
You could easily get a litre to take home although I think that the prices were too expensive, especially as it was an enormous difference in comparison to their smaller pots.

Extra thoughts:
It is like your standard Gelateria and the ice cream is of a good quality, but I did find something strange. They pride themselves on fresh, good quality ice cream yet they have waffles on the menu which are those sticky, pre-frozen ones in plastic. When I asked Luis about them he simply said that they bought them frozen. I thought it was a pointless product to sell because it ruined their whole philosophy, why sell great ice cream but bad quality waffles? Why not make the waffles fresh?



My friend Luis


An ideal place for:
This one in Selfridges was an amazing place to go if you are about shopping and wanted a little treat whilst in between purchases. It is right by the, also, very tempting Lola’s cupcakes and various other naughty indulgences, so a stop-off round the food hall is a must. Although I do warn people that the choice is so vast that it is often hard to make a decision (particularly on a hangover)!

Alternatively, the one in South Kensington on Bute Street is great for a sneaky trip after dinner.

What I took from the experience:
This was the first of many places that I plan to explore in London and I thought it was good ice cream. It has rave reviews, but I am not convinced that it deserves all of them when I compare the ice cream served at L’Anima, but it was a fun experience. I think it is definitely the place to go for a scoop or two but not to eat in as the surroundings are not tasteful.




http://www.oddonos.com/

http://www.lolas-kitchen.co.uk/