Monthly Archives: October 2011

La Vanille

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Chocolate or vanilla?  The question has always troubled me. I love chocolate. In fact, it’s a vice I can’t live without, but sometimes it can be a bit too much. Vanilla, on the other hand,  is  innocent, uncomplicated and understated. La Vanille cafe on ul. Krucza in Warsaw captures vanilla’s elusive character perfectly. The cafe is open at 8pm on a Sunday night, and on a crisp October night like tonight, the scented candles outside beckon seductively with their French-manicured fingers. Inside, white leather and black wood minimalism reigns. The contrast ensures that the atmosphere is not at all oppressive and saccharine. I’m not sure if the delicate vanilla aroma comes from the candles or the rows of perfect, white-iced cupcakes displayed on the bar. Flavours include tiramisu, apple & cranberry, carrot, toffee, orange and a mysterious “red velvet”. I order white chocolate and strawberry and an espresso and sit down. On the sofa next to me is a pile of French Vogues. I leaf through one as I wait for my coffee. It arrives in a light bone china cup, with a glass of water. I LOVE when coffee is served with water. How is it possible that most cafes omit this crucial detail? The cupcake is unexpectedly understated: the cake contains real fruit and the icing is fluffy and not as sugary as most cupcakes. Minimalism. Balance. Perfection. Another reason to love Warsaw. 10/10

The Half Term Challenge

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I’m spending my half term playing Julie & Julia and cooking my way through Geetie’s Cookbook. The autumn recipes include braised rabbit, duck, mussels and all kinds of variations on seasonal produce like butternut squash, pumpkin, chestnuts walnuts and quinoa.

I’ve been really inspired by Geetie’s Cookbook: Recipes from the kitchen of the Duke of Cambridge Organic Pub . I stumbled upon it when a friend invited me for dinner at the Duke of Cambridge. Everything about the pub was perfect, from the décor to the menu, even the organic soap in the bathroom. The food was simple, unpretentious and unbelievably good. I’ve always been really sceptical of the whole organic movement but the Duke is proof of just how good food can be.

What really drew me in was Geetie’s philosophy about food. She grew up in a commune where all the food was grown in the garden or locally sourced. When Geetie opened the Duke of Cambridge in Angel, north east London, she had a vision for an all-organic restaurant. She didn’t just want to sell food with the organic label; she makes sure absolutely everything that comes into her kitchen is local, ethically farmed and sustainable. She also makes sure that nothing that can be used goes to waste: “Using an animal from nose to tail needs to become part of our lives once again. At the Duke we order whole animals and use everything.”