SW9 – Stockwell – Dolcezza

Let’s start with cake.

Dolcezza Stockwell Italian Fruit cake

An Instagrammed cake nonetheless. Filter or no filter, you’d definitely eat it.

A cafe in Stockwell? In my mind, I envisioned small, budget, basic. Instead guests were greeted with chic, bare brick walls, contemporary lighting and some freaking delicious cakes and pasties. Dolcezza, is a traditional Italian sweet bakery, or ‘pasticceria’.

Dolcezza cafe Stockwell welcome mat

And now for more cake…

Dolcezza Stockwell mini apple cakes

And some more…

Dolcezza cafe stockwell mini patisseria

And Aperol and prosecco, with a generous slice of orange.

Dolcezza Stockwell aperol and prosecco cafe

Dolcezza cafe Stockwell launch event 1

Dolcezzo Stockwell Italian coffee

The launch party sent off some very good signals for Dolcezza.  There was a stance which lent towards detail, and intense, well-balanced flavours (my observations are based on the canapés and sweet selection they offered round at the event). From my experience on Thursday evening, I would make the effort to go there for a weekend occasion. If you live close by, lucky you.

Dolcezza is open from July 4th on Clapham Road, near Stockwell Tube station. It serves hand-made cakes, pastries, tarts and chocolates alongside Italian coffee. More substantial lunch bites include sandwiches, pizzette and salads. Dolcezza is open at 7.30am for breakfast until 6pm Monday – Friday and 9am – 5pm on Saturdays.

http://www.dolcezza.co.uk/

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Hywel fawr jet stream

There are lots of things which make me happy. Is it the smell of home made bread in an oven warmed kitchen? Is it playing an unnecessarily long-winded game of Uno with the kids? Or is it getting them involved in the kitchen with food colouring and a sponge mix, whiling away a few hours to make this?

Rainbow Cake

Rainbow Cake

Perhaps is it sitting out in the evening sunshine, with a barbecue on the go, and a cold beer in hand?

That one ranks pretty highly actually.

All of those things which make me happy happened this weekend. Yeah, although I sometimes like to give the Welshman a bashing in my blogs, a long weekend away in the Brecon Beacons is one of the few perks I get from going out with someone whose balance oft becomes a daily liability, and whose sense of humour can be childishly inane.

Having lived in Cardiff, I know that Welsh weather can be tremendously shit. I’ll take this weekend’s glorious sunshine as a small life win and I’ll lift up my chilled Peroni and bid adieu to the jet stream which has festered around us for weeks like a bad smell.

My trip to Mid South Wales has given me a bit of blog fodder; it has made me want to write about working hard and what you can achieve from scratch with drive and talent. I wanted to write this post because although I am effectively giving a plug to the Welshman’s ma,  she is also a mighty fine baker and cook who has worked astonishingly hard to get her business to where it is today. Regardless of my connection with her, she deserves the recognition in this small humble blogpost (trust me, if she wanted to promote herself she could – she’s got an audience of several thousand Twitter followers). In the beginning she just made bread and cakes for friends, and with word being spread as quickly as the jam that buttered them, she quickly gained a reputation for melt-in-the-mouth Welsh cakes, flapjacks, juicy pork-filled sausage rolls, in addition to so many other things. Then the business started expanding, and for a while she catered for a local society, stood outside Crickhowell Market every Saturday come rain or rain (remember this is Wales), and catered for well-attended local events.

Then came Welsh Cakes Online. It does what it says on the tin, but you’ll have never had a Welsh cake like hers before, I can guarantee.

Deb’s Kitchen opened in March. Initially she’d wanted it to be just that, a kitchen shop; a place where you could pick up a light bite to take away and have a browse at kitchen utensils and equipment made by local traders. A few enquiries for a fresh coffee with their sausage roll, and a a couple of patio chairs later, Deb’s Kitchen is fast becoming the honey pot cafe of Crickhowell.

Deb’s business started off from home; long hours spent quite literally over a hot stove, 4am starts, midnight finishes. It all started in her home kitchen. Despite all the hard work that has, and still does go on, I love coming here. There’s fresh eggs from the chickens and in the corner and you can guarantee there’s leftovers waiting to be picked at on the family-sized table. The shelves alternate between clear glass containers of sultanas, dried coconut, demerara sugar, and family photos. Pots and pans hang from the ceiling; everything has its own space and is tightly packed in – I dare you to remove something – it’s like kitchen Jenga that Debs has perfected.

Free range eggs

Free range eggs

Country kitchen (with the cricket playing in the background, naturally)

Whenever I leave Wales I get an irrepressible urge to cook more at home, be more experimental, and just generally make more of an effort. Working can quite quickly shake that sort of idealism out of you. However, I do appreciate the time spent in here to give me that kick up the backside every three months. And let’s not forget, when you see a view like this for the past four days, with a cold beer in one hand, there’s no finer way to recharge.

A view from the Breacon Beacons

A view from the Breacon Beacons

My food week in pictures – £5 for 5lbs – A lot of food

I will give you £5 if I’ve not put on five pounds this week. This week’s gastronomical extravaganza will be difficult to surpass.

Monday was the day of the trout; fresh from Brixton Village market, I left it whole and steamed it with ginger, garlic, bonnet chillis, spring onions and a dash of soy and lime zest. It wasn’t rainbow trout, but you can see from the spectrum of spices and colours, it might as well have been named as such.

Fresh trout, lime, soy, ginger, garlic, chilli

Although I have no pictures to show for it, I reviewed The BreadRoom in Brixton on Tuesday – check it out if you fancy a cheap lunch.

Wednesday heralded the mid-week beer (I’m trademarking that phrase), in celebration of my friend’s birthday. We may have enjoyed food from the voucher-friendly All Bar One (which I will not be reviewing), but the festivities were not complete without a quartet of cakes from the one and only vegan-friendly Ms Cupcake.

Chocolate chip

Saturday was a treat. Beating the queues at 11.30am, the Welshman and the Scouser and I sampled, what for pizza aficionados can be best be described as Mecca.  Franco Manca in Brixton Market has a reputation for its glorious sourdough bases. It has, whether you agree or disagree, been crowned as one of the best pizza joints in London. I made notes. There will be a review. Watch this space.

The number 5 at Franco Manca

On what was a very windy day post-pizza, our trio left Franco Manca and headed to the vintage market which had set up shop on Station Road. Catching my eye and nose, was not the rustle of a musty mink vintage fur coat*, but the fragrant waft of roasting coffee. This traditional Ethiopian coffee vendor, who I am assured comes down to the road opposite the Rec every Saturday, roasts whole Arabica beans in a small tin handled pot, before grinding them and brewing them in a beautiful Jebana (long necked coffee jug). You’re poured a lovely little cup; the actual coffee is thick and grainy with a comforting amount of  astringency (when unsweetened). There’s also a large reed basket full of popcorn to snack on while you sup. Please visit – it’s a real treat.

Ethiopian coffee

Just when I thought the week couldn’t get any better, the Sunday comfort club (me) decided to cook up, not a roast, but a hearty wholegrain smoked salmon tetrazzini (spaghetti bake) with lightly smoked salmon, cream, chestnut mushrooms with a parmegiana topping.

Smoked salmon tetrazzini with mushrooms, cream, and a parmigiana topping

Happy Sunday!

*I don’t wear fur. Please don’t e-attack me!

SW9 Brixton – Ms Cupcake – local producers

I must admit, I like a pint. Liking pints over the years has taken me from pub to pub, and from a size 8 pair of jeans to a size I’m-not-telling.  It means that as I have skirted (waisted – wasted?) from pub to pub from Thursday Friday to Sunday, I have had to sit with my fellow pub-goers, watching the rugby, football, and putting the world to rights (in a most left-wing manner, of course). My fellow pub-goers have generally been men. I’m not talking romantic liaisons – just guy friends. When I go out to celebrate birthdays with said guy friends it nearly always involves a pub, and almost never involves buying him a present, or card.

The birthday currency with the highest exchange rate is a pint.

I can hear some of my close friends reading this (ahem) guffawing at the fact that I do have female friends. I do! And, I do socialise with them. Yes, yes, I really do! Such an occasion was this, that is obviously warranted my writing of a blogpost.

Celebrating her birthday on Wednesday was a dear female friend of mine. My close female friends always buy one another presents, and obviously, being the generous beer-swilling girl that I am, I happily reciprocate. But the question is; what to get the woman who has everything – including a Mulberry handbag (I am told this is valuable), without matching the value of said Mulberry handbag.

I decided the only thing that would be sentimental enough to make her blush and think well of me (and that I could afford), would be live candle-blowing shenanigans and a lovely bunch of flowers.

Cake was the order of the day.

Hell yes, I could have gone to Greggs the Baker and picked up some tooth-wrenchingly sweet iced cake that would have gone down reasonably well in a dark and noisy All Bar One (don’t judge me). But I didn’t.

The spirit of this blog is all about eating and buying local – supporting the people and businesses who  live and operate in the area that we do.

When you think of cake shops in Brixton, for me there is only one place which springs to mind: Ms Cupcake.

Dashing to the bastion of iced goods, I was met with a cabinet of colours and cupcakes which couldn’t look more at home than at a magazine photoshoot; photoshopped perfection. What did I choose?

Unfortunately no nut allergies among my girlie party meant that any cupcake could potentially be mine. I couldn’t tell you what was what, such was the choice. Fortunately the astute shop assistant knew that I meant business and quickly pointed out the most appropriate flavours:

Chocolate Chip

Red Velvet

Almond coconut cupcake

Rather messily, and because no one wanted to miss out, we chopped each into four to share between our now, quite tipsy, quartet. After eating them I slipped them a sly one…

THEY’RE VEGAN!

Yes to those in the know, Ms Cupcake, whose shop resides on Coldharbour Lane, sells sugary goods which are completely vegan.

Exclamation all around…but in truth no one gave a cherry on top. This was because Ms Cupcake’s vegan cakes – although they contain no butter, milk, eggs, nor animal products –  are quite simply everything you’d want in a cake. You can’t even tell that they’re vegan. Moist, and the fact their buttercream was bafflingly creamy, ensured they were devoured.

Thanks to Ms Cupcake for penultimately rounding a great girly night out. The ultimate round off was, of course, a cold pint of Estrella.