Honey and
food and travel

Monday, 4 November 2013

Lily Vanilli

It has become a favourite Sunday morning.

Tea and breakfast in bed, a run round Victoria park (preferably in bright sunlight, crisp coldness, with fallen leaves all around), a quick shower and a brisk walk up to Columbia road. Once I'm there, I know this Sunday will be as good as it can be, that it will be the one I dream of.

There's no use barging through the crowds of East-Enders who fill the narrow corridor which separates the orchids from the roses, the cacti from the lemon trees, the herbs from the hydrangeas. To get through at any pace would involve knocking over pots, stamping on sausages (of the dog variety), and unlocking a toddler's hand from its mother's clasp.

Laden down with orchids, mint, sweet peas, and snapdragons, with a longing gaze at the lemon trees on the corner, we turn off the main route, heading to the bustling haven that is Lily Vanilli. A seat is a lucky strike, a rare occasion to be celebrated and remembered. But the pavement with the jazz band outside can hardly be deemed inferior.

This splattering of snapshots will explain more about Lily and her baking than my words can. She is my inspiration and most definitely my idol (I fear I may end up dedicating a yoga practice to her one of these mornings, I am that grateful for her creative, cake-filled life). When I dream of opening my own bakery, a slightly more regimented and orderly version of the wonderfully chaotic Lily Vanilli is what I imagine.

The use of seasonal ingredients that kids would turn their noses up at if served for supper become a cake stuffed full of flavour, colours, moisture and a little hint at nutritious wholesomeness. A far cry from the overly butter-creamed american-ised cupcakes that have slowly and surely taken over London in the last few years.

And yet, despite the happily conspicuous absence of chemical dye and sickly sweet sugar frosting, Lily's decorating is beyond anything seen or aspired to on the Bake Off, and a far cry from the fiddly twiddly mousse and snappable sugarwork of the Parisian pâtisserie.

Lily Vanilli on a sunny Sunday morning is a flower and cake filled wonderland.

Lily - if you're reading and looking for a new employee... well, you'd make me very happy.

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