Today I thought I would take you on a little mini tour of my neighbourhood, Dalston in East London. Arty, edgy and pretty darn fabulous if you ask me (biased of course) its where the fashion cognoscenti gather and the cool crowd hang out. Forget uptight formal haunts think more, cafes with scrubbed tables, bijou little stores and artists studios selling fabulous stuff.
I thought we would start with Violet a fab bijou cake shop at the bottom of my road. Itâs owned by Claire Ptak a former pastry chief to Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and a favourite of Jamie Oliver. Cupcakes are the speciality and made with limited edition butter cream icings that change with the seasons. Chocolate or vanilla sponge cakes are baked with organic flour, sugar, milk and eggs. Many of the other ingredients are organic as well, like Madagascan vanilla pods and pure cane molasses. The icings that top the moist little sponge cakes, are made by whipping up butter and sugar then gently folding in fresh fruit purees, melted Valrhona dark chocolate, freshly brewed espresso, homemade flower cordials or dark caramel made with sea salt.www.violetcakes.com
Also located on Wilton way a super duper little wine store just literally opened. These guys have a shop in Borough market which they started as a way to promote the wines of Chateau Ponchapt their family vineyard in Bergerac. Itâs a destination for connoisseurs with an interesting collection of wines. The best bit if you are a local is to buy from the barrels of white and red on tap, sweet refillable glass litre bottles are on hand for just that purpose.Maud and I popped in and had a snoop yesterday and brought back a bottle from the barrel. Delish! Wine tastings are held on quickly basis and wine makers are regularly going to be holding talks there. Yay hey www.boroughwines.com
Next up the Farm shop on Dalston Lane â chickens on the roof, mushrooms in the basement and herbs grown up the walls. It also houses a cafÃ©. We get eggs there a couple of times a week and they are amazing!
Arcola theatre and CafÃ© Otto sit virtually side by side and are more or less opposite the farm shop. home of creative music and theatre alike that exists outside of the mainstream.Â Graham and I at the end of a long week often times find ourselves particularly in the summer at Otto listening to some live jazz. Its got that kind of NY downtown sort of feel, unpretentious and outside of the mainstream. www.arcolatheatre.com, www.cafeoto.co.uk
E5 Bake house
The Bake house is located in a spruced up railway arch, totally organic, Michel Roux Jr is a fan and their multi grain bread is to die for. e5bakehouse.com
Enough on food (anyone would think I am obsessed) lets move on to vintage furniture
Dog in the wardrobe The Dog & Wardrobe is a favourite founded and fronted by Vishal Gohel, Jane Money and their four-legged friend, Porto (who I might add is a friend of Maudâs) these guys have a fantastic eye. Artfully presented and constantly evolving retro and industrial stuff itâs worth keeping on your radar. www.thedogandwardrobe.com.
Arch 389 is next to London Fields railway station (right up from the bake house).Â Fab selection of mid century, industrial stuff and again worth keeping on the radar. Finally Stella Blunt is packed full with delightful vintage finds â a mix I think I read of gloriously antique and east end grit. Cool, crowded and eclectic from 50s chairs to art deco mirrors.
I could go on but I fear you may have all nodded off by now. Broadway market is the jewel in the crown Food stalls high-quality fashion, vintage clothing and independent boutiques excite and inspire. There are a zillion more places to mention but that should keep you going I reckon. Happy holidays the store is closed tomorrow (open Saturday) and then closed for the next two days as we have an extended bank holiday in the UK.