When I travel I like to plot my list of food shops to visit on a map so that I can focus my energies in the right areas. You generally find that there are some key streets or areas that become the focus for great food places and once you wander around you find others to inspire as well.

In London, my favourite is Marylebone High Street, closely followed by Columbia Road on a Sunday. It’s Abbot Kinney in LA, La Boqueria in Barcelona and a tour of the vineyards off the beaten track in Cape Town. You get the idea.

This weekend, we were at lunching at friends who live in Clapham and it’s not generally an area I know well. But I have read about many places that seem to centre around Northcote Road and my cake-making crony was waxing lyrical about a new patisserie that had opened on her doorstep, so I went to investigate before lunch. She was right – this is one to add to your food discoveries.

Firstly, all the craft trades are well represented on the Northcote Road, with butchers (Dove & Hennessy’s), bakers (Breadstall) and cheesemongers (Hamish Johnston) all doing a great job along with the historic market which dates back to the 1860’s. But more interestingly is the fact that many new concepts are launched here. The original Jamie Oliver’s Recipease was created nearby on St John’s Road and Franco Manca is a centrally situated serving up their signature sourdough pizzas which was the first outpost of the original Brixton Village pizzeria.

Queuing for the marvellous meringues

Queuing for the marvellous meringues

The new place to discover is Aux Merveilleux de Fred. You can read about the history of these creations on their website, but needless to say, there is a very good reason why they translate into ‘wonderful’. The concept originated in Lille and now has two outlets in London, the second one here almost on the doorstep of my friend’s house! Here you have two perfect meringues bound together with cream and coated into a perfect ball of sweetness that seem to be incredibly popular, if you note the queue of people waiting to pay £1.70 for a mouthful of meringue. They are created in front of the customer and make the most perfect gift with beautiful boxes just like all the best French patisseries.

Les Merveilleux assembled front of house for all to see

Les Merveilleux assembled front of house for all to see

A wonderful meringue, made at home

A wonderful meringue, made at home

Luckily enough, my friend is in her own right an award winning cake maker and she told me very clearly not to buy anything from there as she had made her own, so after an indulgent long lunch we were treated to her version which disappeared in a melting moment. When you are as talented as she is, you too would conclude that you could do it yourself for a much better price, but my skills are not in that league, so know that you can find Fred’s on the Northcote Road or in South Kensington!

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These meringues are only one of a few French patisserie outlets that have crept over the pond recently. The other one I have visited in the past weeks is La Patisserie des Reves at the top of Marylebone High Street (my fave – remember). This is an impressive shop with bold domes of patisserie screaming from the central table, although I have it on good authority that the pastries are not baked fresh, but only baked off, so not as wonderful as their Parisian counterparts.

Clever domes of patisserie grace the central table here

Clever domes of patisserie grace the central table here

Nevertheless, they are pretty impressive and sit alongside the revival of doughnuts, the cronut imposters, the macarons and all the other classic French pastries that have been inspired by our renewed interest in baking. Thanks Mary Berry. We like this fashion and look forward to ever more concepts travelling across the channel.

A dome of Tarte Tatin

A dome of Tarte Tatin

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