The Hangover Platter – Breakfast Delivery – South West London

Granted, it’s a first world dilemma but don’t you hate it when you wake up in the morning after a heavy night, there’s nothing in the house to eat, and your belly sounds like an angry bear? Topping it all off like a rotten cherry on top is also the fact that in order to get food you’re going to have to circumnavigate your local profit-distorting grocery store (with all the other morons who drank one too many gin and tonics the night before) in order to bring home the bacon.

PLUS none of your favourites on Just Eat have even starting firing up their deep fryers yet.

Who are you, quite literally, going to call? The Hangover Platter perhaps? These folks have come up with a new concept which frankly I wish I’d thought of. You order when you’re hungover, choosing from a mixed selection of savoury and sweet plates, they bring it to your door. The service operates between 9am and 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays, delivering (at the moment) in the following postcodes: SW2, SW4, SW9, SW11 1, SW12, SW16, SW17.

Why small plates? They say it’s because when you’re hungover you can never decide what to eat. To be fair this is true; when I have managed to haul my ass out of bed in order to buy food after an evening of inebriation, I tend to buy the shop. So what do they serve up…here’s what I got delivered to me!

Above is baked egg pot with supergreens and toasted parmesan crumbs. Really quite tasty and the egg was still runny. I think they’re working on their packaging still as it was lukewarm on arrival but very fresh and something that I could never be arsed to whip up at 11am on a Sunday morning!



Above, from left to right working clockwise, toasted granola with grated apple and yoghurt pot; fresh guacamole (which came with some granary bread) – seriously this was banging!; classic full English breakfast pot with a twist – this was a tad on the sweet side and needed toning down a bit; and the baked egg dish again.

I also tried the brownie (drowing in chocolate already!); fresh fruit salad and the Haribo (I don’t think they’re homemade but we’ll forgive them in this instance).

You know what, I love this idea, and the food was totally fresh and really reasonably priced. I know they still have a few things to iron out as they only launched at the end of October but it is off the ground, it will fly. Seriously, have a go when you’re hanging next Sunday. It’s almost worth getting drunk for.

The Hangover Platter delivers in the following postcodes:
W2, SW4, SW9, SW11 1, SW12, SW16, SW17.
Open: 9am-2pm on Saturdays & Sundays



SW12 Clapham – Old School Thai curry pastes

So you’ll probably have guessed by now, either from this blog or my Twitter account, that I am middle class enough to have taken a Gap Year. I am not however, sufficiently upper class to have taken a Gap Yah. I’ll leave that for my pashmina-ed pals across the river in South Ken. But yes, yes…I’ve been to Thailand. I’ve bought a Chang vest from that chap on the Kao San Road. I got a PADI qualification in Ko Tao. I’ve drunk Thai whiskey out of small buckets with iridescent straws. Those days however, are over. I am wise enough now to know there is another way; if you stay in the comfort of your own home, then the buckets are much larger.

I didn’t have a spiritual awakening in Thailand; I was too busy eating for that to happen. Travelling to the Isaan region in the north east, completed the trip with respect to Thai cuisine. When Mekong catfish is barbecued, served with steaming sticky rice in a reed basket, with a side of som tam (a spicy salad comprised of unripe papaya) it is like eating what you’d dream of serving up to Daniel Craig if he were to attend your imaginary dinner party. Me and ‘Dan’ are pretty close* so I don’t have to imagine – I’m sure he told me once that he liked a good Laarb Gai.

Thai curry, be it green or red, is the most overdone thing in the book, right after pad Thai. I rarely make it because the sheer volume of ingredients make it a ridiculously expensive – cost per head – dish. Also I can guarantee you’ll always find, some weeks later, a lemon grass stick at the back of the fridge which is beyond redemption.

I was approached by a company called Old School Thai (presumably they had not heard about my lewd exploits in Pattaya – I jest, I jest!) who asked me to try a couple of their Thai curry pastes. They’re based around south west London, and, as as you know I’m always in the business of supporting good, local producers. Founder Brett Cowie claims his pastes will take you “on a trip back in time to Thailand when my grandma was still making curries herself”. That’s marketing speak if ever I heard it (in the day job I hear it a lot). But let’s get down to brass tacks; what we all want to know is, are they any good?

Well yes, they’re not bad. I like the idea of having something which is incredibly fresh at hand which negates those ‘bugger it’ moments when you realise you missed out ONE ingredient on your Tesco shop (you’d sworn you’d bought everything). I put together a prawn curry with the red curry paste. All the ingredients I added were some sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, prawns, coconut milk, chilli, Thai basil and palm sugar. Still seems like a substantial amount of ingredients – but then there’s about double that in the paste itself.

Old School Thai Red Curry Paste

Old School Thai Red Curry Paste

Some additional ingredients

What I missed from the sauce was the rich intenseness of flavour. The packets tell you to add more paste to increase the heat; I didn’t find this. Adding more paste made the sauce darker with more floaty bits of lemon grass and galangal (etc.). It was a nice,well-rounded taste – aromatic – but I sought more of the spikes in flavour that Thai food is so famous for; the peaks of the salty, sour, and sweet. I don’t wish to convey that the sauce was un-flavoursome – it just didn’t pack a punch. My taste buds need a royally good arse kicking and the backbone of the curry paste wasn’t going to be that bully – regardless of my extra additions of lime, chilli, fish sauce and palm sugar. Milder palates would disagree, I’m sure.

Old School Thai Red Curry Paste with king prawns and sugar snap peas

The recipe card ideas which come alongside are useful are informative. I especially liked the inclusion of Tod Mun Pla infused with the Gaeng Ghet paste – fishcakes in any shape or form are consumed in abundance at mine and the Welshman’s house. This is something that I know I’ll try with Old School Thai’s pastes in future (they’ve got a reasonably long shelf life).

What we’ve got then is the raw materials for a busy person to make a decent, Thai-inspired meal. I know other food bloggers read other food blogs, and maybe Old School Thai wouldn’t be the one for them: GOD DAMN IT –  they’ll make the sauce themselves, rogue or no rogue lemon grass stalk! Even if it is just to take Instagram snaps for every stage of the recipe.

Old School Thai curry pastes can be bought online on their website or at selected stockists priced around £3.90.

I was generously given the pastes by Old School Thai.

*we’re not sadly.

SW11 Battersea – Sambrook’s Ale – Brewery Bash

I’m sure you’ve made the joke in your head already. A party? In a brewery? With beer? Well, yes, we all made that joke yesterday. Even the Welshman did – and he’s not known for being the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Beer barrels – disappointingly not made of wood

Although I can feel the wind turning September ever more wintery, yesterday was a cracker of a day – sunshine with the need for a scarf. My favourite kind of weather. Hay bales and the smell of Ginger Pig sausages on the barbecue greeted the real ale fans (some of whom I have encountered before) who came to celebrate Sambrook’s successes, and four-year birthday celebrations.

Sambrooks Brewery Bash

Hay bales and a hoedown!

The usual favourites were on tap; Wandle, Junction, and Powerhouse Porter. Tokens could also be exchanged for the new (ish) Lavender Hill pale ale which was overly drinkable, infused with honey and had notes of orange blossom. Pumphouse Pale Ale was also a winner in my book (glass).

If I wasn’t in drinking an industrial estate in south London, I would have thought I was getting merry at a hoedown in Somerset. A live band on the back of a lorry played jigged up versions of pop tunes that made you want to squeal – yee haaw!

Thought I’d share some of the snaps with you.

A man proffering sausages

Legal tender at the brewery

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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

SW4 – Clapham – Venn Street Market

I am fortunate enough to work as a freelancer – legitimately – this is not code for unemployed. Technically I can wake when I like, wrap up the working day when I like, and take arbitrary random days off without aeons of notice.  I also used to work from home; in my pyjamas, mostly. Officy people are curious about the world of freelancing.

Officy person: “Do you work set hours?”

Me: “I try to keep as closely to a working week as possible, it’s easier that way.”

Officy person: “But what motivates you to work?”

Me: “Money, mainly.”

You see, if I don’t get up and work, then I certainly don’t get paid. And any time I take off – those arbitrary random days I mentioned earlier – is not paid either. Like any form of employment, there are pros and cons. I always like to look on freelancing positively though.

However, times are a changing. For the last two months I have been invited to work in an office which belongs to one of the companies for whom I freelance. Conveniently, the office is about a mile from my house, so even the commute walk into work isn’t bad. I’ve lost at least half of you now, haven’t I?

A short stroll from my desk is Clapham High Street, which even when I lived in Battersea, was a misnomer to me. I think the only thing I have ever successfully done on the High Street was to have a haircut under £25 (successes are relative). The bars are dire, the restaurants (save for Fish Club) leave much to be desired. There are barely any decent shops either.

Now that I work in the vicinity I have forced myself to try to seek out the diamonds from the (my own self-perceived) rough. Clapham High Street must have some interesting foibles which a food fan like me could entertain?

The most obvious (and middle class) of intrigues is of course, Venn Street Market. I’ve not blogged about it properly before, so where better to start? Just off the Clapham Common end of the High Street, this petite marche consists of a handful of stalls. Cheese, cake (Brixton’s Ms Cupcake too), some live action – a hog roast, burger flipping and rotisserie chicken – are the stands which stand out, if you will.

Chocolate chip

Une Normande a Londres

Une Normande a Londres

Unless one is buying mild cheddar for a child, there’s no excuse for going supermarket for cheese. You buy cheese at the supermarket? How could you? Get off my blog! You must try before you buy (it also appeals to one’s inner freebie seeker) and there’s no finer place than a market to do it. I’m no expert on cheese, but I knows what I likes. Plus, the person behind the wheel of cheese knows their shit. Ask them, try different things, chances are you’ll end up buying something which you can barely pronounce but you’ll thank me for it when you’re in the la la land of a cheese coma. The Borough Cheese Company were really helpful when I bought some of their Tomme de Savoie; initially creamy and sweet finished off with an earthy mushroom kick. How their stall supports the huge wheels of Comte I’ll never know. I also got a pretty awesome pecorino from Italian cheese specialists Gastronomica.

The Honest Carrot is another producer which intrigues me. Think vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free burgers and morsels; chickpeas, beetroot, and carrots creatively and attractively made into falafel and patties. I haven’t yet ventured to trying any, so if anyone has ever bought from The Honest Carrot then let me know what you think.

Although they weren’t at Venn Street Market when I was getting inspiration for this post yesterday, the Arancini Brothers frequently make an appearance. Fried risotto balls in a wrap. Need I say more?

The Honest Carrot

It’s a carrot, only more honest.

I don’t need to add my voice to the hype about Bahn mi 11, and I won’t because I’ve not tried them, but they had sold out of baguettes which pissed me off (I was hungry, OK?). I want one!

*Sad child’s face*

So Venn Street Market is the first contender to add its voice to the ‘save Clapham High Street from Room 101’ campaign. But who’s next? All suggestions will be seriously considered, unless you try to convince me about trying the Shalamar kebab house which plays Backstreet Boys videos on a loop.

I’ve already tried it.

Venn Street Market is open 10am-4pm every Saturday.

SW11 Battersea – The Fabulous Feast

Naughty, naughty blogger! No blogposts for ages. But before I chastise myself for a paragraph and you move elsewhere, I have the excellent excuse that I was away on holiday. In Morocco, in case you were wondering. A blogpost on my culinary travels is imminent.

Meanwhile, I’ve landed in back in south west London with a thud (that’s a metaphor, not a literal representation of my tagine-related bodyweight) and I’ve completely settled back into my old routines and kitchen habits.

It’s also nice to be greeted with a number of events on the culinary calender south of the river. First up this week, is The Fabulous Feast up on St John’s Hill in Battersea. I thought I’d jump in and tell you all about it now (before the self-indulgence of my holiday) because it starts today. Fortunately, it continues for the whole of this week.

And a fabulous feast The Fabulous Feast is! For those who aren’t personally acquainted with the lovely St John’s Hill in Battersea (the hill on the right as you turn out of the odious Clapham Junction station) it’s a road (wonders will never cease) with a huge array of restaurants and drinkeries. This week participating venues will be offering special £15 menus, showcasing the best of their culinary flair. I’m heading to Adulis to sample some Eritrean specialities. I will of course let you know how it goes.

And on Saturday 19th, you can be a fly on the wall (albeit much more hygienically), seeing what goes on behind the scenes of a restaurant – including watching demonstrations and understanding cooking processes, meeting suppliers and load more. The ‘open kitchen’ events will be organised and run by host venues. A list of confirmed events are listed on the St John’s Hill website. If you don’t fancy trying your hand at filleting fish at Fish Club (my top pick), then you can always just head to the street between 11am and 5pm, where the road will be lined with stalls full of ready-made goodies to tuck in to.

Sounds like that’s the weekend pretty much sorted then – and it is only Monday!

SW11 – Battersea – Sambrook’s – Challenge the brewer!

Armed with a bottle of red wine and a box of chocolates, I intrepidly set out last week to a good friend of mine’s birthday. But don’t worry – I arrived – and have since come home (doesn’t always happen).

What I am trying to convey to you is that I was armed with wine! Yes – that’s right – not my usual aperitif of choice which would normally be a six-pack of deliciously chilled Red Stripe. Knowing full well that this was to be a sophisticated birthday party (the kind with Kettle Chips), chardonnay (no, OK my friend definitely has better taste than that) and respectable chatter, I think I was appropriately bottled up. I don’t think my six pack would have gone down too well (my other one might have).

NB. The kind of parties I normally go to, usually involve me imposing martial law on the music system at the end of the night (as the Scouser and others will testify), and playing something that I’ve been listening to on loop that week.

But hey! Slow down. Enough. Where was I? Beer. Yes, I like beer. But recently, and thanks to my inaugural attendance at the Battersea Beer Festival, I have become a fan of ale (there may be hope for my burgeoning sophistication yet). I blogged about my experience on the Lavender Hill community site too. What has peaked my interest, and ultimately this post, is that Sambrook’s – makers of one of my favourite ales, Wandle, and coincidently Battersea’s very own brewery – have started brewing a new spring ale to add to their collection.

A proper pale ale, needs a proper name, and, at this moment in time it doesn’t have one! If you have ever fancied challenging a brewer to a drinking competition then I think you’re absolutely mental, but if you want to Challenge the Brewer to rename this latest addition to the Sambrook’s family, then I urge you to get involved. You can submit your entry in one of four ways:

Text message: Start a text with Ale then a space, then your name for the ale to 07786 205 227
Tweet them: @sambrookale
Facebook: Sambrook’s Brewery

You’ve got until midnight on April 6th. The astute ones among you will realise that is tomorrow night. So, get your thinking caps on. Get those juices flowing with something to assist the creative process and don’t forget to send in your entries. Duncan Sambrook himself and his wonderful minions will be judging entries. For more information see their blog.

So it is Thursday night, I have limited work to do tomorrow. Who would like to join me and ease into the bank holiday weekend with one of these?

Sambrook's Ale

SW9 – My food week in pictures – Brixton Farmers’ Market

I remember when I was a child sitting up at our kitchen’s breakfast bar watching my mum curate culinary activities and prepare the dinner. Quite often there was only me and her in our house; my dad worked away from home, sometimes several months at a time, and I used to sit and keep her company while she cooked up mountains of food for me – I may have been an only child – but my appetite was equivalent to that of two other siblings. We used to chatter about our days, plan the activities for the week, or sometimes she would tell me about her jungle experiences when she lived in Brunei.

While we chatted I would give her a hand with the preparations. Even though I was young, I was given responsibility with the sharpest Kitchen Devil – chopping and peeling the vegetables – checking every now and then that the carrots were the correct  thickness. My mum liked things just so, and as her only daughter, I aimed to please. By helping out and observing her I learned how to gut fresh fish, make gravy from scratch, and test how al dente the pasta was – never has there ever been a better excuse to thrown spaghetti at the wall! I learned ridiculously simple, yet ridiculously useful tips – tips which cooks learn only through experience – at a very young age. Most importantly I learned about timing. A roast dinner is one of the simplest meals to cook, but allowing the chicken to rest, ensuring the potatoes have a crunchy exterior, making sure the gravy doesn’t burn, and not overcooking the broccoli can be one of the hardest things to coordinate.  Yet by my early teens I was a comfortable kitchen hand and cook.

Between the ages of 19 to 24 I lost my love for the kitchen and the joy of cooking fresh food. It started when I moved to London. I was studying full time, paying out of my nose to live somewhere that, really, I couldn’t afford. It’s not that I couldn’t afford to eat – I obviously did and have survived to tell the tale – but when you have a limited budget you cook up meals with no more than four ingredients. It means the cooking experience lacks joy and creativity. Meals are filling, but uninspiring. Those who try to pay an affordable amount of rent in London do so through the mechanism that is the house-share. We all shudder with the term ‘Gumtree’.  When your living space is not your own, and you share with strangers, you keep yourself to yourself.  Kitchen space is at a premium and you become increasingly accommodating to a lack of utensils, space, and others’ unusual culinary habits. Also, making soup is mightily difficult when the household only has one bowl (my house-mate and I affectionately, and somewhat originally, named it ‘the house bowl’).

But there is a light ahead of this story’s tunnel. It came in the form of The SW Food Blog. I’ve been blogging now for just over a month, and unintentionally it has given me more impetus and desire to cook that I ever have had before.  I set out to review a few restaurants and local producers, but now I’m finding myself planning dishes for a Sunday night and inviting friends over for dinner. I’ve been rekindling those tips and tricks my good old mum taught me (less of the old, she’d say), and for the best part of Sunday I was completely engrossed in the kitchen; making brownies as a teatime treat, as well as home-made fish cakes and cauliflower cheese.  Not only have I been consumed by cooking once again, I have also been consuming the cooking.

The ingredients for Sunday night’s cauliflower cheese were sourced from Brixton’s weekly Station Road Farmers Market which is open from 10am until 2pm.

Meat and vegetables at Brixton Famers' Market

Perhaps it was the sunshine, but the market seemed to be more bustling than usual. Turning the corner under the bridge off Brixton Road, the eyes were greeted with Brassicas of all hues and varieties. Cauliflowers were selling for as little as 60p, and the purple cauliflower (actually a broccoli, although different from purple sprouting broccoli) was one I couldn’t resist. Cavolo nero, other varieties of kale, and leeks, were among the glut of potatoes, onions, carrots and storeroom essentials.

Brixton famers market broccoli

Sampling the wares I settled on a mature cheddar made by Green’s of Glastonbury. Strong, creamy with a grainy texture, it was going to give my cauliflower cheese a tangy bite.

There are so many other stalls there which I have yet to try. I did however pick up Giggly Pig’s Irish sausages; I have it on authority that they were meaty and filling. They didn’t lose any volume on cooking, which says a lot about the amount of water in your average supermarket saucisson.

Colourful and intriguing was the greenery of Wild Country Organics‘ salad leaves. Tatsoi, claytonia, and their mixed salad with spinach and rocket were just some of the highlights.

Wild Country Organics at Brixton Farmers Market

Veggie lovers can delight at Brixton Farmers’ Market, but those looking for something altogether less wholesome can still tuck into the Carribean vegan cakes of Global Fusion foods, and the pastries of the Old Post Office Bakery.

I even had a go myself at counteracting all this beautiful fruit and vegetables. Decadent brownies made with Green and Black’s cocoa, and a whole bar of 70% chocolate, made my Sunday cooking and domesticity a pleasure. It’s so great to be back in the kitchen after this long overdue absence and put the love of cooking and fresh food, learned from my ma, back into practice.

70% Chocolate Brownies

SW4 Clapham – Nardulli’s Ice Cream – local producer

It was snowing only a few weeks ago…what the hell has happened? I find myself without coat, in a skirt with a thin long-sleeved top, eating ice cream on Clapham Common. I’ve certainly picked the right day for it,  and by the taste of it, I’ve definitely picked the right ice cream.

Nardulli’s Ice Cream parlour sits conveniently opposite the common – going towards Clapham Old Town. On Sunday it was as busy as a summer’s day, albeit the beginning of March – I had to queue!

Nardulli Ice Cream

As you’d expect from an Italian gelateria they’ve got the whole shebang of flavours. I would say that the ones they offer are more classical than some of the weird and wonderful that I’ve tried on my imaginary vacations on the Italian riviera (I went to an ice cream parlour in Sardinia once – does that count?), but the shop is petite and we are in Clapham, lest we forget.

There’s still a comprehensive selection as you can see from the photo.

Among the flavours were coffee, cherry, pistachio, rum and raisin, chocolate, coconut, hazelnut, and several sorbets were available to cleanse the palate. I opted for cardamom flavour – not one I’ve tried before – and hazelnut. Two small scoops set me back a little over £2. Considering one cannot get a Mr Whippy 99 these days for, well, under a £1, I’d say you are in safe hands with Nardulli.

The first few licks of hazelnut were delightful; but like Bruce Bogtrotterafter a whole chocolate cake, one tends to feel a bit sickly. The cardamom was like chai. Delicately spiced and milky, it was a new and welcome taste experience.

Ice cream! Ice cream! We all scream for Nardulli's...

Nardulli's cherry ice cream

With summer on its way (18 degrees I hear on Thursday) Nardulli’s is going to be my frozen cream destination of choice.


Nardulli on Urbanspoon

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…


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.

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