Peggy Porschen Parlour

Image

Other than my delight at the alliterative nature of the name, this pink paradise of cake was a truly charming place to spend an hour on a Saturday afternoon. The sunny decor sweetened up an otherwise dull Saturday and the first day of the Easter holidays.  Meeting some friends in Chelsea we ventured inside to see what was on offer. 

There are only a few tables inside and more outside so we were lucky to find room for four. The parlour mainly serves cupcakes but there are slices available as well. We all chose a drink and cupcake, and Doug had a slice as well to try out as much as possible! The cupcakes were impressive. I chose the Champagne Strawberry and was delighted to discover it actually tasted of champagne. The buttercream was gorgeous and every cupcake had a gooey middle surprise. Mine was a strawberry compote with real chunks of strawberry. The sponge was flecked with black vanilla seeds but was just that tiny bit on the dry side which prevented it from reaching a seven. The buttercream, gooey fillings, and fresh strong flavours meant that these are some of the best cupcakes I have tried yet. Doug wasn’t as impressed with the slice of cake because it wasn’t very chocolatey, despite appearances. 

The white tables looked rather plain until covered in candy coloured teacups. The teas were well flavoured, mine a delicate rose, but the coffee was average. Overall, not a cosy cafe for the afternoon but more a sophisticated and super girly cake hangout to get a cupcake fix in a lovely area. 

Ratings:

Cake; Me Strawberry Champagne: 6 Tash Salted Caramel: 6 Lulu Banoffee: 6 Doug Salted Caramel: 6 Chocolate Slice: 4. 

Atmosphere: 6 – a very sleek operation all round. 

Image   Image

Advertisements

Colosseum made of Cake

What happens when year 11 ask if they can do something fun on their last lesson before Easter? Do you say yes or no?

“What kind of fun thing?” I ask, suspicious. This year 11 class aren’t the basic Disney Hercules watching kind. They are more inventive. “Can we make something out of cake?” “What about the Colosseum?” “Yes! Can you make us a cake that we can carve into the Colosseum?”

A cake carved into the Colosseum by three 15-16yr olds. What a brilliant idea! I obliged.

Here are the results. I know there is only one tier but forgive me because on a Thursday night in the last week of term I could only manage one cake. And remember, this is my students first attempt at carving cake into Roman amphitheaters with basic kitchen utensils. I am impressed they got so far without eating it all.

Image

Start by hollowing out

Image

Carve in some arches and ice the top

Image

Add some slanted seating and a stage

Image

Finish off with some buttercream sand and tiny chocolate cake gladiators. Job well done year 11!

Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea

Image

It is the time of year when we all celebrate our mothers. Last year the pub we chose for lunch had a hidden surprise, the beer garden was tidal. We thought that having to climb up a fire escape clutching our roast dinners to avoid rising Thames water would make the most memorable Mother’s day yet. We might have been wrong.

This year we pre-planned. We booked an afternoon tea at the Knightsbridge Green Hotel. We had a voucher from TimeOut. It should have gone perfectly. We turned up at the hotel at the appointed time. There was a small room of full tables and no members of staff. The hotel receptionist said she was unable to help us, we needed to wait for dining room staff. They didn’t come. Eventually the only table for 6 became available so we sat down. A waitress turned up and looked confused. She told us we hadn’t booked. She insisted that our e-mail confirmation was for yesterday, even though it clearly said Sunday. She said they didn’t have enough cake to feed us. This was unacceptable – not enough cake! She went to get the manager, and after she left two women seated nearby called over to us. ‘Escape while you still can’ they said, ‘we have been here half an hour and we only have water so far.’ We needed no extra encouragement, we up and left.

Oh dear. Mother’s day not going well again. Rude waitress and no afternoon tea, mothers displaced in London with no cake in sight.We headed down the road and went to a safe haven, Harvey Nicks.  We were offered chocolate alcohol to taste as soon as we entered. Much happier mothers! Thanks Harvey Nicks.

Soon we were all sat down waiting for an afternoon tea! The Easter themed chocolate tea was a good treat. Strangely presented not in the normal tiers but on a large piece of plastic, but it looked impressive and sprawling. With so many of us, there were many opinions to be dealt with. Mothers always do have high expectations, and rightly so. Main areas we all agreed on; the savoury options were good but we needed more of it, the scones were too big because we couldn’t finish it, and the cake was a little heavy, also because none of us managed to get through it all! So in summary, a generous amount of cake that would have been easier to eat if it was a little lighter! For me the headline act was the homemade candy floss bedding for the chocolate eggs and macarons. The best presented part of the tea. The sandwiches were fine but nothing too special, the poached salmon on dark rye was the best. The scones were tasty, too large for us to eat two each! They did come with sultanas however which would not have been my preference if I were asked and I had to pick them all out. The various cakes were all nice and moist and tasty although still rather too raisiny for my liking. The one with orange curd was unusual in a good way and a dark chocolate tart was the perfect amount of not too sweet and not too bitter.The cake was let down by some very inviting looking chocolate Easter biscuits sprayed with gold which turned out to be inedibly burnt.

The service was very polite compared to our first experience. Our order didn’t turn up as quickly as our stomachs wanted and there was an incident with a mistaken tea, but we were given doggy bags with not a hint of judgement. The waiter even went back and fetched us Harvey Nichols carrier bags to display our doggy bags in high style. The atmosphere was lively as we were in the cafe but beautifully decorated with flowers and very spring like. Not a cosy tea shop, but far better than your average cafe in a department store experience. Truly another memorable adventure of a mother’s day – can’t wait for next year!

 

Ratings: I hope i have remembered these correctly! Tell me if not.

Cake:  Me: 5.5/7 Clare: 4.5/7 Nicki: 5/7 Jane (my mother) 5.5/7 Alison (mother of Clare) 5/7 Margaret (mater to Nicola): 6/7

Atmosphere: 5.5/7 – an average.

Image

Very Tasty Candyfloss!

Treacle, Flowers, Kahaila

20140324-213444.jpg

This week I was at work on Saturday. Boo. I had to think carefully about where to go on Sunday to make the most of a one day weekend. I went to a place that many people have heard about, but perhaps many have not ventured to.

It started off with a trip up the East London line – always far more pleasant than the tube. Then a short walk took us to Columbia road flower market! Only running on Sunday, this market is buzzing and beautiful. You may have to squeeze your way through the crowds but the sea of pretty flowers is worth it. The market sellers provide great comedy value – think of your typical burly, deep voiced, East London market trader. Now imagine him saying:

best orchids, I’ve got the best orchids here, better than Steve’s peonies

We hadn’t had time for breakfast because we went for a jog. Yes, I know, you were wondering, blog=jog is still going! 3 consecutive weekend jogs in a row. A personal record.
With our post jog empty stomachs rumbling we stumbled into the Cafe Columbia for tea and his&hers breakfast bagels. A lovely little place that I would definitely recommend.

20140324-211336.jpg

Cake! We were there to look at a place called Treacle. It wasn’t difficult to find, but a quick peer through the window didn’t show any cakes. Instead it appeared that Treacle was now the fancy wine bar next door! A pic of the cake-less shop to prove it is provided.

20140324-211856.jpg

Disappointed, we sought pastures new and headed to the Brick Lane market. The Columbia Road Flower market and the Brick Lane is a batman and robin-esque power duo of relaxed Sunday wandering. Brick lane has street food, local craft stalls and stolen bikes, so if yours has been stolen recently go down and take a look. You may be able to buy it back for a reasonable price.

We still wanted cake and luckily we soon came across a tantalising shop display. We were convinced and discovered the cafe Kahaila. It is a charity and church and gives all its profits to the local community, and they sell cake. I chose the rather adventurous rose, raspberry and pistachio. Charlie went for chocolate and banana. The cake was moist and the portions large, but all the flavour was in the icing. I discovered I like the flavour of rose in my cake, but I couldn’t taste any raspberry or pistachio despite there being bits of raspberry in the sponge. Charlie says his cake was everything he wanted from a cake – but nothing more. Plenty of ganache but no panache. (That was me not Charlie.) Atmosphere was pleasant, many East London residents using the free wifi and enjoying the hessian themed decor. Overall a fine place to have a quick sit down away from the bustle.

A good weekend in one day if ever there was one to be had. If you haven’t discovered the Brick Lane market on a Sunday yet I would suggest you go along, it’s a bit like Camden but without the tourists. So far.

Ratings:
Cake: Amy 4/7 Charlie 4.5/7
Atmosphere: 5.5/7 – very friendly, a charity! Not a cosy tea shop.

20140324-213358.jpg

20140324-213408.jpg

Black Vanilla

20140316-181915.jpg

Sometimes I forget how awesome London is. I moan that it is full of tourists in the summer; crowding the centre, holding you up at the barriers, generally getting in your way. Then the sun comes out and London looks beautiful and I think “yes tourists, you are right, London is awesome.”

I took some friends along to Greenwich who hadn’t been along before. Greenwich is a place for sunshine. Parking at the top of the hill, cruising the market, visiting the naval college and imagining the filming of Thor: The Dark World and how come you didn’t know before so you could try to sneak a look. They were suitably impressed I am glad to say, like tourists.

We spent the afternoon doing girly things like catching up and looking at jewellery. We ate market stall food in the park. If you haven’t spent a sunny day in Greenwich I suggest you do soon. Go on, treat yourself, take the boat! Look at the Cutty Sark! Drink a pint next to the Thames!

Enough of sounding like a tourist brochure. As the day drew to a close it was the time for cake. Black Vanilla was what the book offered us for Greenwich. It was an ice cream parlour mainly but we found the cake towards the back. After some confusion over how to order we were sat down in the garden with tea and cake. 3 red velvets and 1 passion cake. The red velvet had a good chocolate flavour and the icing wasn’t too sweet but could have had a stronger cream cheese flavour. The passion cake had better icing but was a little stodgy. The atmosphere was poor and lacked a homely feel, but may have been better in the upstairs cafe. The service was also sub-standard. Our tea was confused on paying and forgotten when we were served. The name ‘Black Vanilla’ does sound rather cold though so perhaps not surprising. As the weather was also turning chilly we quickly headed back to the car before she was locked into Greenwich Park overnight.

Our rather mediocre cake experience did not put a dampener on the day and there was still time for some sunset photos before home.

Ratings:
Cake: Me 4/7 Rosie 5/7 Helen 4.5/7
Atomsphere: 4/7

20140316-182023.jpg

Blog = Jog

20140309-193100.jpg

What a beautiful weekend!! I was at work yesterday supervising children cutting down trees with saws in the sunshine. I wish my school had made me learn to use a saw. It seemed somehow an appropriate thing to teach girls to do on International Women’s Day. I hope you all had a liberating International Women’s Day, or Women’s Independence Day, as one of my form group called it. I fully appreciate how important my job is when I think of how far we (women, ladies, females, the fairer sex) have come, but also how far we have to go and how in my role as an educator of young women I can try to teach my students the importance of being a woman and carrying on a fight for true equality. I am still trying to get ‘woman up’ to catch on but it just doesn’t roll off the tongue. If you have a better alternative let me know.

Without time for a cake trip this week I decided to make time for some exercise instead. Although eating cake every weekend this year so far has been awesome I am worried for my waistline. So I went for a jog this morning. I normally jog once a year for a few minutes before realising that running is evil. I managed a complete circuit today. I might even go next week. This is definitive proof for everyone that eating cake improves your fitness. You can thank me later.

I am deceiving you. I have let you think I went without cake. I did not. When I arrived back from work there was a HUGE slab of chocolate truffle cake waiting for me. Charlie had picked it up from Del’ Aziz. This is one of my favourite cake places and will feature in its own blog at some point soon, but I will leave you with a picture….

20140309-193250.jpg

Konditor and Cook

20140302-151906.jpg

I have had a driving license for over 2 years now. I drive to work every day. I thought I could drive. Saturday morning tried to persuade me otherwise. On a trip to Tesco I stopped to fill up with petrol and, for the life of me, I could not undo the petrol cap. In the end a voice behind me asked if he needed to help. He did. Embarrassed I even said to the nice man “this never normally happens”. Not a lie, but only because the petrol cap has always been a mystery I have avoided. I once just drove home with it open.

Then to Tesco itself. I went to park, as one does, but yesterday my parking abilities had abandoned me. After 6 attempts I finally managed to back into a space while still leaving enough room to get out of the car. Embarrassment again; more so as a man in another car waited for me and gave me sympathetic smiles. I very much wanted to shout “I am not driving this badly because I am a woman! I am driving this badly because my boyfriend always parks the car and he isn’t here right now!” Just to let him know. As if that somehow makes it better.

But this blog is about cake. I was going home to Windsor for the weekend so the plan was to pick up some cake from Konditor and Cook at Waterloo and jump on the train home. Not now. Now I had a new Saturday challenge. Prove to myself I can drive. So we set off to tackle the congestion charge zone. 1.5hrs later and we arrived back in Berkshire without having crashed, driven down any bus lanes or maimed a cyclist. I have proven that a woman can drive through Central London on a Saturday with just as much skill as any man and perhaps a little more road rage; woe betide you if you don’t indicate around me. You will be on the sharp end of my strongly worded chastisement from the driving seat. I won’t go so far as to beep, because that is rude, but I will be miffed at you.

Our reward was tea and cake back at home. We shared everything 4 ways except the nutty pyramids which Dad ate, so the ratings this week will be per cake rather than person. Konditor and Cook did not let us down, the phrase “best brownies ever” was even heard. From me. The bakery I went to in Waterloo doesn’t have seating but is more than worth a trip to to pick up some cake. We had 3 types of brownie, 2 nutty pyramids, carrot cake and chocolate and hazelnut cake. The Boston brownie was the best but all were the perfect mix of soft, dense, squishy, chewy inside and crunchy outer. So many brownies are just chocolate cake pretending; these are the real deal.

Ratings: Brownies: 7 Cake: 6 Nutty Pyramids: 5 – we still aren’t really sure what they were.
Atmosphere: 7, there’s no place like home.

20140302-174328.jpg

20140302-174337.jpg