318 Chiswick High Street, Chiswick, London, UK
On a business trip to London, I was staying in the Chiswick area for a few days. My explorations of the Chiswick High Street on foot uncovered the delicious looking Valerie Patisserie, which enticed with a window display full of luscious cakes and pastries, crowned by a huge piece of decorative frilliness rendered in dark and white chocolate. Amongst the mouth-watering cakes and slices in the window was a neat row of milles-feuilles, looking for all the world like classic Aussie vanilla slices, complete with the traditional drawn brown icing lines on a top of white icing.
I discovered this early in the day, on a post-breakfast walk before a day full of business meetings, and had already bought a more robust scone from a nearby bakery to serve as morning tea. So I filed the shop away in memory, to return that evening after the work had been completed for the day and buy one of the slices to take back to my hotel after dinner for dessert. The price was £2.95, and for that the lady behind the counter, rather than tossing it in a brown paper bag as would happen back home, placed it in a neat cardboard box emblazoned with the logo of the patisserie, using no less than three logo stickers to seal the box. This was then carefully lowered into a paper carry bag with handles, again decorated with the shop’s logo.
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Borough Market, Southwark, London, United Kingdom
On a lightning business trip to London, I decided to make the most of my bit of free time by seeking out some sausage rolls here in Old Blighty, the original home of the sausage roll. Near my hotel in Chiswick, there were some bakeries, but they concentrated on bread, cakes, and pastries, with no sign of pies or sausage rolls anywhere. So I took to the Internet, seeking the “best sausage rolls in London”. Several list articles mentioned the Borough Market, a lively food market in Southwark, just on the south side of the Thames River from the City of London. I’d been here before, but was happy for an excuse to return.
Amidst the sights and smells of this wonderful market, I spotted my first quarry, sitting in a neat pile on a silver tray on the counter of a stall bearing the name of Northfield Farm. These were clearly sausage rolls, but they were obviously cold. The stall mostly appeared to be doing a line in hamburgers, fried sausages in buns, and steak sandwiches, with nary a pie warmer to be seen for heating up the sausage rolls.
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503 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, USA
I was visiting San Francisco for a conference, and outside of conference hours I spent some time exploring the city. The North Beach area is famous for its Italian heritage and modern day Italian restaurants. Mixed in with the pizza and pasta places are a few little pastry shops. One is the famous Stella Pastry & Cafe, which I’ve visited before and is so good that I wanted to return for dessert after a dinner nearby. But alas, for the week that I was in town, Stella’s was closed for renovations!
But this being North Beach, fortunately I didn’t have to go far to discover another Italian pastry shop. I was walking down Columbus Avenue when my eyes were drawn to the sugar-laden windows of Mara’s Italian Pastry. This hole-in-the-wall was a tiny cafe with only three small tables inside, and a counter loaded up with biscotti and other baked goodies. The real treat was in the front window, however, which contained succulent looking fruit danishes, poppy seed cakes, slices, rolls, and countless other delicacies. There were also a couple of trays of square dish pizzas, cut into slices, for anyone silly enough to come in here and want something savoury.
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