Food and Drink, London
There are quite a few Farmers’ Markets to be found around town these days, and in the surrounding suburbs, but this has to be one of the better ones, with a large number of food stalls selling high quality produce (chosen no doubt to appeal to the discerning and well-heeled shoppers of Chelsea!) The website below lists the full range, which includes organic fruit and veg, wonderful cheeses (always a magnet for me at such places), homemade cakes, chocolates bordering on art-forms, fresh juices and smoothies and several selling prepared dishes such as Thai, Moroccan and South American. There is even an oyster bar!
What to buy: On my most recent visit I bought some delicious cheese and good olives, and also managed to sample a very good lemon cake. You could easily eat a very good meal here while stocking up on the ingredients for the next few to be cooked up later at home.
What to pay: Prices aren’t cheap (it’s not that sort of market) but they are fair for the quality which is excellent.
I had heard of this business for some time, and this was an unexpected find when we had been in the Covent Garden area. It is quite small, but has some seating for sitting in and having a coffee.
They bake everything on site and look to share the best of Swedish bread and cake products.
The bakers are Daniel and Sven-Gunnar.
What to buy: Try the nut biscuits and the jam biscuits.
I think the Kinks never imagined that Lola would return at London as a cupcake chain. Still, there are over a dozen locations in London where you will find Lola's cupcakes. I even have seen some Lola's on wheels.
Some are part of a department store like Harrods and Selfridges. Also there is Lola's at Spitalfields Market. and Covent Garden.
What to buy: Cupcakes
Recipeas is the shop linked to Jamie Oliver, the well-known BBC television cook.
In this food and kitchen shop, anyone can learn to cook and make great food
Mo-Sa: 8AM - 9PM
Su: 9AM - 9PM
What to buy: Food to go
The Tesco supermarkets are convenient stores with fresh food and drinks.
Also the non-food section offers many articles. Furthermore the stores offer other services (banking & postal).
These are the center London locations:
22-25 Bedford St
40 Bernard St
2-4 Dean St
10-16 Goodge St
17-25 Regent St
170-176 St. John St
This shop first opened in 1887 specialising in coffee and teas from all over the world. It's reputed worldwide as one of the leading suppliers of coffee and tea. There is a wide range of choices of over 200 coffees and teas from many countries.
There is a nice authentic atmosphere in the shop when I browsed around with its original interior features and a traditional shop layout. The shop also does takeaway coffee at reasonable prices. I like to pop by to purchase either an espresso or cappuccino which was only 1.00 gbp or 1.20 gbp respectively (May 2014) which is cheap for central London! I look forward to another espresso or cappuccino on a return visit!
What to buy: Coffee, teas and confectionery. They also sell coffee makers.
What to pay: Varies.
The English are famous for drinking tea, especially for breakfast and in the afternoon.
So if you are looking for something "Very English" to buy, just go to a supermarket and get yourself some English Breakfast tea. It is usually a blend of several black teas derived from several countries like India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, China etc.
I discovered Ben's Cookies during my wanders on Oxford Street on one of my recent London trips (March 2014). A wide range of cookies (16 flavours in total) are sold. I specially loved the triple chocolate chunk and dark chocolate chunk ones and these are always prepared with locally sourced ingredients and freshly made on the premises. Cookies are charged by the weight and a cookie costs an average of 1.30 - 1.50 gbp (March 2014). I visited the Oxford Street (East) Branch. There are branches in London, Bath, Brighton, Oxford and also in the Middle East and Asia.
What to buy: Cookies!
What to pay: Cookies are charged by the weight and a cookie costs an average of 1.30 - 1.50 gbp (March 2014)
An incredible independent chocolatarie, founded in Brighton, with incredible sculpture themed celebration cakes. The chocolate, confectionery and celebration cakes are very expensive.
There's a cafe upstairs offering a variety of chocolate themed goodies and cakes with a wide range of choice of drinks. I just opted for their dark chocolate truffle milkshake as I wasn't hungry and absolutely adored it. It cost me 3.00 gbp (March 2014). I love to revisit the cafe on a future London trip to try one of their sweet treats listed on the menu.
What to buy: Chocolate, confectionery and celebration cakes.
What to pay: Expensive
On my wanders I came across Hummingbird Bakery (Wardour Street branch) and made a mental note to visit because of the recommendations and the shop with its cupcakes and cakes displays looked very attractive.
When I got to visit (January 2014) I've treated myself to a couple of cup cakes (including a gift for my friend who craved for a cup cake earlier in the week). The cup cakes aren't cheap but worth it for the quality of baking and the presentation of them in the bakery as well as them being individually boxed for the customers. The cupcakes I pruchased were 'Vanilla Base' Cupcake (2.00 gbp) and 'Hummingbird' Cupcake (3.25 gbp).
The Hummingbird Bakery offers American Style baked goodies including cakes, brownies, pies and cheesecakes as well as cup cakes. There is also a small cafe inside the shop where you can have a drink with your chosen baked treat.
On my 2nd visit (February 2014) I indulged in a slice of their 'Rainbow' cake. The portion was very generous though expensive (5.40 gbp) and it went nicely with a cup of coffee which I enjoyed in their cafe.
What to buy: Cupcakes, cakes, brownies, pies and cheesecakes.
What to pay: Pay from 2.00 gbp to 6.00 gbp for a cupcake to a cake portion (January 2014)
This place sells bread. Read bread. Made from dough, kneaded, allowed to rise, baked. It's okay bread. Not nearly as good as the Breadstore in Bristol....but at least it is edible. What is truly shocking is that i think this is the nearest bakery to where I live, and int's a twenty minute bike ride. Each way. If I was witless enough to try and do the journey in a car I expect it would take over half an hour. And the bike ride takes me past at least two defunct bakeries, one now appartments and the other also ceoverted to another use.
Well, I'm sure that there is a bread shop of sorts the other side of the river, but I have neither the means nor the inclination to shop in the sort of food-as-hobby chi-chi horror that I would find in Chelsea.
This is a great little place that I use quite a lot. It is essentially a seafood wholesalers, but they will also sell to the general public. I know that many of the local pubs and restaurants source seafood there,. which is of good quality and competitively priced.
Unfortunately, you have to buy commercial sized packs. I do this and then freeze them.
I realise this tip may be of most use to London residents, English day trippers or long-term visitors, but if you are in those categories, it's a good place.
Update August 2013
Readers of my pages will know that I like to keep them as up to date as possible. This was one of the eatliest tips I wrote on Virtual Tourist (June 2005) and there was no website available for Barney's so I am adding it here.
Regrettably, since I originally wrote this tip one of Barney's best customers, the iconic Tubby Isaacs seafood stall in Aldgate, has closed down. Barney's seems to flouris though, as it has done for so many years.
Open seven days a week 0500 - 1330.
What to buy: Any sort of fish and shellfish you can possibly imagine.
What to pay: Comparable to or cheaper than supermarkets and much better quality.
If you are searching for health food Holland and Barrett can be found in most high streets or shopping malls.(there are 700 outlets). Alfred Barrett and William Holland started the business in 1870 but back then it was a grocery and clothing store. The business changed hands several times but it was a 100 years later in 1970 before they concentrated on health foods. Nowadays the business is owned by the Carlisle Group and Holland and Barrett have marketed their own brand of vitamin and mineral supplements.
Toward the end of our 2nd full day in London back in 2008 but before dinner we wandered over to the South Thames. Near the London Bridge we happened upon this shop with all sorts of treats in the windows telling us to come on in.
As I'm writing this tip 4+ years after the fact, but having just found the menu and the items we circled that we bought I figured I had better write this now before I lose the menu again.
We bought a couple of different treats for a snack later on. These I have listed below.
The picture I have shows the shop in the background with me writing notes in my travel journal (upgraded to writing notes in my iPad on our 2012 trip)
What to buy: Cakes, little snacks, breakfast goods.
In our case we purchased the following:
Whisky Orange Bombe
Bramley Apple Pie (just a piece)
What to pay: Anywhere from 1 to 140 pounds depending on what you buy.
Whole Foods market has got excellent vegetarian and vegan food. This store has saved me when in London and living in a hotel not being able to cook. As I am allergic to certain types of food, so I cannot eat in restaurants so this store and the stores in Chinatown are lifesavers. They sell the best vegan spinach pankaces and calzones I have ever tasted. The calzone is out of this world (in my opinion). It is made by the firm "Laura's Idea" (see my photo). You can buy ready made food like this or warm food in The Whole Foods market. I just love this store, but it is expensive - which is a pity as vegetarian food doesn't have to be overly priced like this.
There are 5 Whole Foods market stores, but the ones where I go are in Soho and Camden Town (49 Parkway).
This store used to be called Fresh and wild.
Now (2012) the store which used to be in Brewer street in Soho has moved around the corner into a much bigger place in Glasshouse street, in the same building where Regent Palace street used to be located. That hotel had to be torn down due to asbestos and a new building was built there looking almost exactly like the old hotel.
What to buy: Health-food.
What to pay: A lot, health-food seems to be getting more and more expensive. So I buy only necessities there, like the vegan calzone and the vegan spinach pancakes. For other stuff I go to the Japanese store opposite this store and to Chinatown.