I thought we’d start our little trip round Notting Hill on the south side of Westbourne Grove, the beautiful street which winds through the heart of the area. It used to be full of antique shops and galleries, but now, while some of these remain, it has been overtaken by some very chi-chi shops indeed, including big designer brands such as Joseph, Mulberry, and Ted Baker.
However there are still some absolute gems to be found.
The first place to show you is Tavola – the Italian deli which is top chef Alastair Little’s (scroll down for biog) latest venture. Alastair runs a cookery school in Italy and clearly spends a lot of time out there sourcing wonderful products, though he can also often be seen in the deli preparing fabulous pre-cooked food to take away. It’s the deli I visit least as it’s furthest from my apartment, but, being half-Italian, the one I think I love most. The staff scrub up quite nicely too….
Just along from Tavola is the Tea Palace, another newish venture – a large and beautiful room dedicated to the great British tradition of afternoon tea (though you can get a light lunch there as well).
It feels like such a treat to go there – your cakes arrive on silver stands, the table linen is thick and luxurious and I love the wallpaper covered with cake doilies. The homemade crumpets with butter and honey are stratospherically good. The range of teas on the menu is quite breathtaking and are all for sale in elegant purple tea caddies, as well as a lot of other teamaking paraphernalia. The only downside is that they don’t take reservations, so sometimes it’s really difficult to get a table.
The final stop on our trip today is the Diptyque shop, which requires no introduction except to say that it’s scented candle heaven and they always have lovely window displays.