I recently hooked back up with an old friend of mine. That’s not to say that either of us are old per se (!) but that we were friends at school and as ever lost touch when our lives took different paths, but thankfully now those paths have merged together and it is lovely to be sharing experiences again.

When we first caught up, my friend told me that her youngest daughter got to the finals of Junior Masterchef and when I went online I was able to catch up on the wonderful exploits of Amber. This girl is special. There is no doubt about that. Her drive and determination to be a successful cake shop owner will undoubtedly come true and I am sure there will be lots of other success to follow her.

Once I met her (and tasted her incredible carrot cake) I really wanted to help out in whatever way I could and as I am more experienced in the food field, I suggested showing her around some of the places in London that I admire and today was the day we were to do that.

Melrose and Morgan, Hampstead

I obviously started at the wonderful Melrose and Morgan, showing her the original Primrose Hill shop and then the newer Hampstead one. Ian was working hard as ever and later on we caught up with Nick who was full of good advice for a budding new baker. Whilst in the NW area, we also popped into Maison Blanc, Ginger & White, Gails and Primrose Bakery.

Then we made a detour from the cake route to experience Chin Chin Laboratorists ice cream in Camden.

The Laboratory that is Chin Chin

I took Amber there to try and show an original idea as that is what she is capable of bringing to the already cluttered cake market. If someone said they wanted to create a retail environment that looked like a lab and displayed food in flasks and test-tubes, then they would probably be treated as ever so slightly mad, but this is exactly what works at Chin Chin.

Laboratory toppings

Vanilla ice cream with salted caramel sauce – my fave!

We chose a simple but favourite combo of mine, but I have to make special mention of the other flavour I tried which is this week’s special: cigar smoked caramel. Clearly this is not one for the kids, but as they say… “salted caramel, yawn! We smoke milk with Cuban cigars and then turn this into a rich, peppery, smokey caramel that’s strictly an adult’s only indulgence!” and indulge you should. It is genius.

Hopefully Amber was suitably inspired to think differently and so it was time for that classic outlet, Ottolenghi. Clearly the gods were looking down on us as the sun broke through the clouds and a parking space appeared right opposite and so it was we entered Yotam’s holy grail.

Salads the Yotam way

Now I know we were on a cake tour, but even this irresponsible temporary Mum couldn’t just purchase cake all day and what better alternative to offer than Ottolenghi salads. These give new meaning to the definition and whilst many have tried, the original really cannot be bettered. We both selected our favourites for a takeaway box to avoid the queues and realised that these offer much better value than the plated version anyway. It sufficed for my lunch and dinner and leftovers after that!

Cakes galore

Then we had the impossible choice of which cake to take with us. Everything was as fabulous as ever.

So replenished and inspired, we got the tube to our final destination for the day: Borough Market. I really couldn’t leave that out even though Saturday is not my ideal day to visit. Amber took to it like a pro, purchasing some choice goodies for the whole family to indulge in and really embraced the market experience.

Borough in all its glory

We watched raclette being scraped over potatoes, pufferfish guarding the fish counter, wonderful arrays of Summer berries and of course piles of chocolate brownies. We sampled salty fudge, smelly cheese, spicy sausage and lots more.

So tired, stuffed and happy we trudged back home to Mum to share our day and our purchases. And the highlight for Amber? well that would be the Fleur de Sel fudge and the innovative Chin Chin Labs.

Amber is a girl after my own heart. She will, I am sure, create something unique and wonderful to bring to the cake world when she is old enough to do it and until then, I am looking forward to sharing some inspiration and discovering new places with her in the very near future.

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