London's Bread Trail, From the Simple to the Sublime
London is like many other cities, in that great bread is hard to find – you really have to look. Since my arrival a year ago I have discovered a few favorites and with an immanent move to the east end I am sure my search will continue…
A local favorite is Gail’s on Northcote Road in Battersea. It is packed with yuppies on the weekends, but push your way through all the prams and you will discover a huge selection of hand made bread. Their offerings change with the seasons and be sure not to overlook the window of pastries – crackin! My top pick for the moment is the sour-cherry loaf. As I write I am enjoying a plate of French toast made from the bread (with a generous drizzle of warmed Canadian maple syrup). Have I mentioned my sweet tooth?
Imported from Italy, Princi is a destination in Soho, known not only for its’ cutting edge store design but for also for bread made in a seriously beautiful wood fired oven. Walking in you will be instantly captivated by the buzz and the massive selection. The counter may seem mad but the Italian staff, in their little white caps, will shuffle you through. Look for the gorgeous mini olive ficelles stacked like match sticks – eat one and I can assure you will want a second. On a recent trip I couldn’t resist tucking into my own personal mini pannetoni – Christmas must be coming!
My French colleague Charles introduced me to Green Valley, a delicatessen near Marble Arch Tube Station, that has now become my spot for flat breads and all things middle-eastern. Made fresh throughout the day in a dome shaped oven the bread is always warm. Once you have your bread, head to the deli counter for all the typical accoutrements. For a recent party I bought the entire dinner here of kefta, spicy sausage, lamb mince with pinenuts, olives, pink pickled turnips, hummus, smokey aubergine dip… the list goes on!
My first trip to Beigal Bake was five years ago, in the heart of Brick Lane, in London’s east end. It has been there since 1855. Don’t be discouraged by the huge queue that stretches out the door – it moves quickly. Get them in, get them out, reigns here! I love the simplicity of this place and no doubt it has not changed since it opened. My order is the same every time – bagel with cream cheese & smoked salmon, and a dozen to take away.
I have barely scratched the surface of what this incredible city offers — so make sure you check back for more of my discoveries. I am off to Italy in a month for Christmas and rest assured the bread trail will continue.