I live relatively close to a slightly more upscale area of London than my own neighbourhood – Queen’s Park. It has a lovely park (duh) in which I jog, the nearest Starbucks, lovely tiny bookstores, my doctor’s office, a Pilates studio, and all the other necessities for a neighbourhood of upper middle class Londoners.
Certain lazy Sunday mornings, I love to walk over to this area of London to browse the cookbooks in the bookshops, have a lazy coffee with the paper at Baker & Spice, and visit the tiny weekly farmers’ market they hold in the yard of the local primary school.
There are several reasons I love Baker & Spice – the first of which being that it has 1 big giant communal wooden table down the centre of the space where everyone must sit together. I hate going to cafes and feeling like I can’t relax because the tiny wire table and chair that I’m sitting at are so imbalanced and uncomfortable that I might as well bring my beverage home and drink it in comfort. At Baker & Spice I feel like I’m sitting at my great grandmother’s kitchen at her (fictional) country summer home, and I enjoy sharing my space with fellow patrons who also enjoy the silent communality of the experience.
There are also giant bowls of communal jam and a large pat of butter for scones, croissants, or rolls to be adorned with at will. It’s perhaps this sense of rustic simplicity in presentation combined with care about quality ingredients and beautiful creations that drew me in from the street to eat at Baker & Spice in the first place. It was as if a giant sign was saying “Slather at will my darlings!” — and I found myself powerless to resist.
Now, Baker & Spice isn’t cheap by any means, and I often must exercise restraint and caution while purchasing things there that is difficult to say the least. It’s difficult not to feel like a small child in a candy store who wants wants wants in the presence of all their wares. Although overall I’ve never had a bad time here, I once had the shock of being charged £12.00 for a mozzarella and tomato salad. (Apparently it was a main course, not a ‘salad’ and the mozzarella was really expensive. It was a nice surprise.) But beyond cautioning readers to ask for prices before ordering the savoury dishes (which are soooo good, by the way ), I can say that their coffee, scones, muffins and cakes are far superior to say, Starbucks’, and cost the same.
However, on this particular Sunday I wasn’t on the lookout for a lazy paper, coffee and scone by the window. I was on my way to the farmer’s market, and I bought my scones take-away, to be consumed with clotted cream and jam later. I headed over to the farmer’s market.
The trip was more for scoping than for buying purposes. I wanted to see what was on offer. I was slightly distressed to see a Sunday fishmonger — as you know it was impossible that the fish could have been caught fresh that morning. I would steer clear of them. However, there were many other delectable sights. Behold:
It was my first visit to Queen’s Park farmers’ market, and I was most impressed with what I saw. I had expected 3 or 4 stalls with a few pumpkins or something, but it was actually a really cute little market with lots of different things to buy to eat at the moment, or later — which are definitely two things I love about markets (food for now, food for later). I was really tempted by these giant paella-like dishes filled with French-esque delicacies and the pretty groups of berries available for purchase. When it comes time to make jam, I know where I’m going. But in the meantime, I had scones with clotted cream to eat — so I headed home to try and do as little as possible for the rest of the day.