Hot on the Highstreet Week 163

When the sun decides to shine on London we all panic about how to make best use of the warmth. My preference for Sunday mornings has to be Columbia Road, the lovely East London street full of quirky things to discover. Obviously the fragrant flower market is the main reason to visit, but even if you don’t intend on buying a bunch it is great fun to wander through observing seasonal plants and magnificent flowers whilst listening to the cockney geezers giving their best spiel.

After picking up a bouquet and gorging on Italian brunch at Campania, there are a host of independent shops to eat up your loose change.

Choosing Keeping is a stylish ubercool stationery shop for magpies like me! It is all arranged in a systematic layout that is very attractive and tempting. The type of shop that can urge you to make a credit card purchase in the hope that you can make your office look more like Choosing Keeping. I loved the rainbow-coloured Sakura Coupy pencils, the neon yellow fountain pens, and the dinky Japanese miniature desk accessories.

Vintage Heavens sells gorgeous sets of teacups and saucers, plates, vases, and ornaments. Affordable and one-of-a-kind, it is perfect for kitting out a new home.

Two Columbia Road is a bit pricey but the spectacular vintage finds here are worth the dollar. We found wonderful art deco lamps and an old map of the world.

Suck and Chew is the shop to satisfy all your sweet-tooth childhood fantasies: liquorice, sherbet, and chocolates of every kind are presented in wacky retro jars and pots. Fill a bag with your favourite sweets and indulge while you walk around the flower stalls.

At Number 94 Columbia Road you will find a special little jewellery shop ideal for picking up a present or treat for yourself. When I visited I saw the ‘Wear it Out’ collection, and particularly loved the matchstick range from artist Petra Bishai.

If you need a caffeine kick there are plenty of hidden baristas to attend to your cravings. A blackboard stating “Coffee, any style” is the best for a creamy Monmouth blended flat white.

Tip for the day: take lots of cash, ATMs are hard to come by and the market traders don’t take card!

Hot on the Highstreet Week 152

Chocolate has never been my vice, though even I understand too well the pangs of cocoa cravings at the end of a meal. The palate naturally desires a sweet conclusion to a meal. And despite not being an obsessed fan I can appreciate the taste of good chocolate.

In Grenada last year I experienced cocoa farming first hand… Learning about the qualities of the cocoa bean, the unusual process and the miraculously final product. This sustainable and ethically sourced raw ingredient is exactly what chocolatier Amelia Rope preaches… Making a single origin collection that is “all about quality, taste, purity and indulgence.” Alongside her brilliant brand of delicious chocolate she hopes one day to build a Chocolate Education Foundation to teach everyone about the whole story of chocolate and emphasise the importance of the geographical, sociological and cultural aspects of this worldwide indulgent snack.

Amelia Rope has always been interested in food and eventually found her way into confectionary following a course at Valhrona in France at ‘Les Bonbons de Chocolat’. She was immersed completely in cocoa and has never looked back opening up her own luxurious chocolate brand in 2007.

Beautifully wrapped and perfectly packaged these chocolates look as good as they taste. Dark and light varieties are available in bars, slabs and cubes and Amelia even offers the option of personalising your own product for a particular project or special occasion. I can imagine creating an eccentrically pink variety of rose flavoured chocolate to match the Thoroughly Modern Milly website!

I was sent two appropriately pink bars to sample. Aromatic, rich and tasty you only need a mouthful to satisfy your cravings. Fragrant rose flavoured milk and dark chocolate, are girly but grown up.

Chocolate has never tasted, felt and looked so good. Focus your fixes on Amelia Rope chocolates and you’ll never look back.

Visit Amelia’s website and buy her chocolate here: www.ameliarope.com

Hot on the Highstreet Week 98

As it is Easter I thought I would write about one of my favourite chocolate shops on the highstreet.

Rococo was founded in March 1983 by Chantal Coady. With a deep passion for chocolate, she believed there was a need to communicate her enthusiasm for delicious, luxury chocolates and opened a shop on the King’s Road in Chelsea. Born in Tehran, her family settled in South London, and her exotic background comes through in the unique chocolate flavours she creates, including Basil and Persian Lime and Cardamom. Chantal’s inventiveness and taste for the theatrical are evident in the distinctive packaging of her products.

Rococo is luxury chocolate with a firm ethical foundation and uses fairly traded cocoa produced on Chantal’s own farm in Grenada. The farm is a joint venture between Rococo and the Grenada Chocolate Company (GCC) and every Rococo organic bar now includes its Grenada chocolate in the recipe.

For my birthday I received the Superior Seagull Eggs, luxurious salted caramel in delicious chocolate, topped with a sugar shell. Twelve eggs are presented beautifully in a box, perfect for sharing amongst the whole family. Their packaging is quaint and cute with fountain pen drawn illustrations on the pretty blue packaging. A box of Seagull eggs costs £7.50, but are so rich and exquisite they will last you a while, I relished mine and managed to make them last a month!

Rococo has four shops to visit: Motcomb Street, Marylebone High Street, King’s Road and Chester. Each shop is beautiful, with wonderful displays and elaborate presentations of chocolate goodies, each is an emporium of sugary delights.

Or buy online here.