It’s time to bin those London travel guides. My advice? Fill the gaps in your bookshelf with either of Zena Alkayat’s ‘Tea and Cake London’ or Susan Cohen’s ‘London’s Afternoon Teas’, and begin to replace the usual attractions with tea shop after tea shop after tea shop.
‘Tea & Cake London’, a compact yet comprehensive guide to the diverse cafes in London, covers both ‘Everyday Specials’ (ch1) such as Peggy Porschen, Fleet River Bakery and Primrose Bakery, as well as more lavish ‘Grand Affairs’ (ch2) such as The Ritz, Fortnum and Mason and The Savoy. Next, Alkayat writes of a number of ‘Pop in, Take out’ (ch3) bakeries and patisseries such as The Hummingbird Bakery in Portobello and Clarke’s in Kensington. Finally, the last section of the book is dedicated to pointing out a good number of vegan and allergy-friendly specialty cafes and cake shops in London.
Similarly, ‘London’s Afternoon Teas’ spans both traditional and formal tea related locations, although they are not divided into any particular groupings. Cohen manages to include a brief history of the establishments and what they have to offer in terms of foodstuffs as well as decor and overall ambiance. Moreover, essential information for potential visitors is presented as Cohen includes contacts (tel, e-mail, web), the time at which tea is served, tea sets available (Claridge’s, for instance, is noted to stock ‘Rose Champagne Afternoon Tea), as well as the nearest underground station and places of interest in the vicinity.
‘Tea & Cake London’, and ‘London’s Afternoon Teas’ are both compact enough to fit in a visitor’s (or indeed a local’s) daybag, and, as both books feature luscious photos of venues as well as baked goods (such as cakes, scones and other tea accompaniments), these two books serve as perfect light reading throughout the day.
Renewed thanks to Black Dog Publishing as well as to New Holland.