Violet Cookery

  When the railway line at Dawlish washed away back in 2014, the last things on most people’s minds were little purple flowers. A century ago it would have been a different story. The spring ‘violet train’ would have been unable to pick up Dawlish’s sweet-smelling harvest. Eliza Doolittles at Covent Garden would have had…

Tart or Pud? The Bakewell Conundrum

There are several mysteries to do with Bakewell, at least two of them down to its most famous sweet treat. Is the world-famous Bakewell Tart the authentic dish or should we be lauding the less well-known Bakewell Pudding? And why does virtually every bakery and tea shop in the town claim to be the first-ever…

The Royal Chocolate Kitchen

Hampton Court Palace. Thomas Tosier is pounding roasted cacao beans to a paste on a hot granite slab. He is wearing full periwig, breeches and a long waistcoat. The slab has taken an hour and a half to heat up but that’s nothing to the 30-odd hours it will take to grind the beans to…

Afternoon Tea at the Fan Museum

I’m not sure I’d recommend the Fan Museum at Greenwich to non-girls. Don’t get me wrong, it’s gorgeous, frilly froth, beautifully presented in a jewel box of a building. I utterly adore it. Men I have taken there, however, have developed a strange, glazed look halfway through Room Two. Perhaps that’s why up to now…

Maids of Honour

Some say Hampton Court, some say Richmond Palace. You pays your ha’penny and you takes your choice when it comes to legends about Henry VIII’s eating habits, especially when it comes to melt-in-the-mouth pastries dainty enough for a nursery rhyme. The story goes that the king, visiting his queen du jour in her apartments at…

Chocolate for Men

Damian Allsop’s ‘water ganache’, dispensing with the traditional butter and cream.  The extraordinary exploding chocolates of Gorvett and Stone. The understated elegance of William Curley. Chubby cherubs gallivanting around Rococo’s fabled blue and white cornucopia. In the past few years, a chocolate revolution has burst onto our tastebuds, relegating the old choice – between cheap…