Monthly Archives: February 2013

In search of decent cake

Well, another New Year’s diet begun with good intentions and abandoned shortly afterwards… I just don’t care enough to be stick-thin. And I don’t trust those who watch their weight obsessively. They seem unhinged on a basic evolutionary level, somehow. And cursed with poorly developed taste buds, to boot. Eighty per cent is perfection, in my books, when it comes to healthy eating, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being generous with your definition of 20 percent if there’s good food around.

Anyway, if I were in London I’d celebrate the ditching of my diet with a trip to Violet’s. It was just across the road from my old flat, and a couple of years ago, when I gave up chocolate [for what turned out to be about three days, I mean, really, what’s the point? It’s not like it’s crack bloody cocaine, for god’s sake] and I realised it left a rather substantial calorific hole in my diet. Which I happily filled with ginger cake from Violets. Oh, my god, it’s fabulous. Dark and sticky and kind of airy at the same time, shiny, with generously applied white icing. So good with a cup of tea, in the weak winter sunshine.

ImageViolet is a terribly English café – you can almost imagine Enid Blyton stepping through the pale green door after you – all windfall pears from the neighbour’s garden on the countertop and the ceiling is low and there are crumpled newspapers and pots of tea poured into proper china teacups. Well worth a trip if you visit this city.

And the prices! So cheap. Just as I write that, I receive an email from Jamie Oliver offering a three-course meal for 24 pounds in January at Fifteen. Do you know how much it costs to eat out here at the quiet end of Australia? Put it this way, if you did it every night you’d have a flight to London in a fortnight.

Weirdly, though, I have no desire to get on a plane to London. I think it’s because I don’t have a home there now, and I remember all too well the feeling of trudging around that city with a crappy old suitcase. Hardest pavements in the world, as my Dad always said when he used to visit. It would be like eating foie gras all day without a drop of water; too rich, too exhausting… just too much.

But here’s a tip: if you do find yourself in that situation, haul your suitcase to Violet and have a slice of ginger cake and a nice cup of tea.



47 Wilton Way, E8 3ED, London

Tuesday to Friday 8:00–6:00

Saturdays 9:30-6:00

Sundays 9:30-6:00


020 7275 8360


Broadway Market, E8, Saturdays 9:00–4:00


PS here is some info I received about a youth art project at the brilliant Chisenhale Gallery.

Propeller, Chisenhale Gallery’s Youth Forum, is currently recruiting for new members to join in 2013.Propeller is for young people aged 15-20 who have an interest in art and want to have an engagement in an arts institution, to collaborate with artists and make new friends. The next meeting is on Wednesday 13 February, 5-7pm at Chisenhale Gallery. The group usually meets on the first Wednesday of each month.

In 2013 Propeller members will work collaboratively with a local artist to produce a permanent artwork for Victoria Park. In 2012 projects that Propeller were involved with included taking a canal boat from Birmingham to London, making a collaborative exhibition, screening their film at Tate Modern and recording their own radio show on Resonance 104.4fm.

Propeller is free to join. To book a place or for info email:

CHISENHALE GALLERY: 64 Chisenhale Road, London E3 5QZ UK

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