Sunday, 9 October 2011

Charity shopping in Kensington

People buy me recipe books for my birthday and Christmas, which I love. And I admit to browsing the sticky jackets of second hand cook books in charity shops - something which I indulged in today, whilst second hand shopping in Kensington. There is something I adore about the pictures and the words of recipe books, even though I rarely use them except for baking. Sometimes, when I’m tired and feel like zoning out, I sit down with a cook book and leaf through. Look at the pictures, skim through the recipes. I guess like other people do with fashion and gossip magazines. Is that weird? I have never actually admitted that to anyone, though I’m sure many people have seen me doing it.

On Thursday night last week, we went to dinner at our favourite local pizza place, Delicious. This tiny 7-table restaurant is actually much more than a pizza place, they have a lot of other very delectable sounding things on the menu – classics that I’m sure will be done brilliantly like spaghetti cabonara and fish cooked in lemon sauce. But, I cannot go past good pizza, when I know it is excellent. We started with a salad, ‘Caprese’, which I pronounced completely wrong and the waitress had trouble understanding me. The simplicity of Italian food is exquisite; good fresh tomatoes, basil and a little other random greenery, a ball of fresh mozzarella that disintegrates when you slice it, sweet olive oil and salt. Beautiful.

After pizza, which was as usual, wonderful, we attempted to finish the enormous carafe of wine we had ordered. We eventually got bored of this and ordered some tiramisu, £4.80. This was a prettily-presented tiramisu. Sweet mascarpone and cream mix, with bitter drenched savoiardi and a good coat of cocoa. The texture of the coffee-soaked biscuit was complemented beautifully by the light cream mixture. We didn’t manage to finish our carafe of wine, though we tried.

Today, as I mentioned, I went second hand shopping in Kensington. Kensington is a very affluent suburb of West London. Walking the streets of Kensington you pass lovely looking restaurants, Italian cafes, delicatessens, organic grocers, and designer stores. It is full of Louis Vuitton-toting, stiletto-on-Saturday wearing, fur-coat clad, blonde-haired lunching ladies. And these ladies dispose of their prior season designer wear to the poor and needy (like me) via the local charity shops. Kensington, is thus an excellent destination if you are a fan of rifling through racks of second hand clothes. Diane von Furstenberg dresses, DKNY and Burberry coats, Dolce & Gabanna, Moschino, as well as lots of obscure (well, probably not obscure to someone who reads fashion magazines instead of cook books) Italian and French labels, and quality high street labels like Jaeger, Massimo Dutti and Zara.

I have an excellent path mapped out if you are feeling energetic and eager to shop, from Knightsbridge (Piccadilly line) to Gloucester Rd (also Piccadilly line):
Note - locations are approximate, keep your eyes open! 

I am writing this whilst listening to the new Jess Chambers album, Desire. My boyfriend tells me we have the CD arriving in the mail soon, but I couldn’t wait and downloaded it from amplifier. The fragility in Jess’s voice captivates me. Perfect at-home-on-your-own music. I particularly like Haight St. (that is, Haight St. of wonderful San Francisco), and also Jess’s version of Let it Shine

Before embarking on my second hand shop adventures, I stepped off the tube at Knightsbridge, home of the British institution that is Harrods. A department store, but so much more than a department store. I’ve only ever browsed the ground floor, but there are floors and floors more – I have heard that the Persian rug department is particularly good.
So here I found myself on a Saturday midday, with thousands of tourists, admiring rows and rows of chocolates and truffles, pretty tins of unnecessary things and stacks of fruit and vegetables. Who buys their fruit and vegetables at Harrods I do not know, or perhaps they are just there for decoration. However, Harrods is the place to go for anything slightly unusual, it has just about every kind of food I could imagine, from fresh truffles of the mushroom variety, to British pork pies, French macarons, Indian curry, and of course, a dessert selection including tiramisu.

I took my tiramisu, £3.95, to a Churchyard park somewhere in Kensington. It was wrapped beautifully in a Harrods box. I sat there, amongst the squirrels, and ate my Harrods tiramisu. The cream on top was just that – cream, and very sweet. There was a good amount of cocoa on top, and a strange plastic thing that you used to inject something into the tiramisu – coffee? Alcohol? Not sure, it was very strange. This was a puddle of sweet cream and soggy biscuit, completely lacking in flavour. I advise, if you go to Harrods, stick to Tarte au Citron, surely they can’t get that wrong?

Now, back to my recipe book...... (What’s for Pudding? By Alexa Johnston – thanks sis)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for another lovely journey through London. I couldn't resist Jess Chambers too, I bought one for me and one for a friend- my fave song is Full of Fire. Three wishes: I wish I could come and op-shop with you in Kensington! And I so totally get the zone-out with the cook book thing (I still get the Fairy Godmother Cuisine mags in the mail), only I wish that that would translate into divine culinary creations as it does for you (I'm obviously missing the follow through : ). And number 3 I wish to help you finish a carafe of wine sometime, with tiramisu and your expert tiramisu commentary x


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