I’m back, baby.
I took a short (okay, maybe the longish kind of short) break from my Yin and Yolk posting schedule to take a course on front-end web development in my free time to learn how to raise this blog baby of mine into something bigger. But now I’m back and ready to feed your appetites, starting now. Are you ready?
I know some of you may be tired of reading about the trip to London I took a few months ago, but I have just this one final post to share, and it’s a yummy one. After this, I promise I will share a recipe. It’s been a while, I know.
Let’s begin with the first dessert I had in London: a decadent chocolate fudge cake layered with strawberry jam at a L’ETO Caffe, located right next to Hummingbird Bakery in SoHo. The atmosphere was one of casual comfort and excellent hospitality, and the dessert spread by the front window was credited for drawing in so many customers – myself included. I accompanied it with a decaf latte (it was almost time for bed, guys) and I let myself fall into the arms of that sweet mistress that is dessert.
I would share a pic, but it was dark in there. So instead I’ll direct you to their Instagram to get your drool on.
One afternoon, I got together with a friend whom I met in Dublin who shares my love of food. She took me around to the usual London sights, but when it got late enough and our stomachs started to protest, we went on the prowl. She has done her homework on where to find London’s best creme brulee, her favorite dessert. That special place was Cote Brasserie. We ordered tea and dessert. My friend, of course, got the creme brulee, while I got the hazelnut praline crepe with caramelized bananas.
If you know me at all, you know I love all things banana and all things hazelnut. While this was a French bistro, I knew it was going to be the best dessert spot I hit in London….and I was right. Kind of.
On my second to last night, I was wandering the streets aimlessly, just trying to soak in the city vibes. I passed by Cote and suddenly my feet were taking me to the door and I was pushing it open, as if that had been the plan all along. I was immediately seated and felt right at home. I again ordered a decaf latte, but this time opted for the molten chocolate cake. This was the best dessert I had while in London. So sinfully smooth and dark, made with obviously high-quality chocolate, this cake was just what I needed to pick me up after a long day of meandering under London’s gray, leaky skies.
From the very moment I purchased my ticket to London, I knew that I couldn’t go without treating myself to some high tea. So I went to the department store called House of Fraser near Oxford Circus. On its top floor it had a cafe called the Tea Terrace, which felt a little like Lewis Carroll threw up on the top floor of a Macy’s.
I ordered tea (duh) and the standard fare – some crust-less sandwiches, scones (pronounced “scahns”, apparently), and a variety of tea cakes. The highlight of this meal was without question the scones with clotted cream. I don’t know why clotted cream is not served with all things all the time in all the places.
Seeing as this is a dessert post, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ben’s Cookies in Covent Garden. The shop was tiny but you could smell the cookies from around the corner, and the cookies’ generous size made them feel like a real treat. I got a dark chocolate chunk cookie (surprise, surprise) and devoured it on a bench that was just barely covered from the mid-day showers. Definitely a good spot for a sweet snack while you’re meandering the Covent Garden shops, even in the rain.
Another friend whom I met in Dublin is a grad student in London and got tickets through her university to go to the Harry Potter studios not far out of London. Now you may not know this, but I am a huge Harry Potter fan. Unlike some other fans, though, I hate the movies with a fiery passion. They don’t sync with my imagination at all, and I feel as though too many changes were made to make the story work on screen. I have never been able to watch a single movie all the way through, and I now avoid them like the plague.
But I knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and that a lot of sets, props and costumes were designed with help from JK Rowling herself. (Like the Great Hall, above, as modeled after the dining hall at Oxford). As long as I didn’t have to watch the movies, I was excited to step into a world of Harry Potter. And it was ultimately worth it, because I got to fly on a Nimbus 3000 around London – via green screen, but still – while in Hogwarts robes.
At the Harry Potter studio’s cafeteria, I got the butterbeer and butterbeer ice cream. I was pleasantly surprised by both – the butterbeer tasted like vanilla root beer with butterscotch and a marshmallow-y froth. The ice cream was similarly flavored, and my friend and I made quick work of them. For a Harry Potter nerd with high expectations of butterbeer, I thought it was pretty on point.
Finally, on my day trip to Oxford, I stopped into this old shop Fudge Kitchen on Broad Street. I tried some samples, even though I’m not really a tooth-achingly-sweet fudge kind of person, and was pleasantly surprised. It actually tasted so chocolatey that I had to buy some for the train ride back.
I also sampled some of their strawberry flavor, and it did not disappoint. My favorite part of this little shop is how open the back is – I was able to watch a fudge-maker make “Eaton Mess” fudge, and he even posed for a picture or two. Gotta love him.
And that’s all, folks. That’s the final installment of London posts – check out where I had some awesome breakfasts and dinners if you haven’t yet. I’m back on schedule and will be posting a recipe very soon, so keep your eyes peeled. If you have any special recipe requests, leave ’em in the comments.