I used to go to London all the time, but lately (since my sister moved back to New York) I've been going less and less. So I was really happy to spend an entire week there, with my daughter Sophie. (She'll be going to "uni" there this year, and we were looking for a "flat.") I even managed to discover some completely new things I had never seen before. Granted, I hadn't been there in a while. But even when I used to go often, I would tend to make the same old rounds of museums and shops. Great food experiences (except for Books for Cooks, Neal's Yard Dairy, and The Spice Shop) weren't even on my radar.
My great food discovery of this trip was thanks to my friend Meg, who lives in London. She suggested a visit to Chelsea Physic Garden, preceded by lunch at Daylesford Organic. We visited the Pimlico Road store, and in my life of seeing some gorgeously styled and designed stores, this one reaches an entirely different level of chic.
Every single item in this shop, which is made almost entirely of pristine Carrara marble, is perfect. Even the wooden crates, tilted and piled up just so, look as if they've been weathered in some distant French village. Vegetables are perfectly imperfect, with clumps of mud clinging to their jewel-like flesh. But if it sounds cold and off putting, it's not. This is the kind of perfect you want to buy and take home with you. And you can.
Daylesford Organic started out life as a farm shop on the Bamford estate in Gloucestershire. It is the brainchild of the truly fabulous, wealthy, and super-connected Lady Bamford, who took the idea of "farm to fork" and turned it into something not only delicious and sustainable, but also heavenly stylish. So trendy did her farm location become that she expanded her wares and empire, with several outposts in London and even one in Munich.
At the Pimlico Road store, we headed upstairs first, for a light and wonderful lunch. The menu isn't huge, but it's all organic and what I had was superb. English onion soup (made, of course, from organic produce from their farm) and a perfect green salad (ditto). The bread (baked with their own flour milled at their farm) was delicious, especially when spread thickly with butter (made from their own organic milk from their herd of Freisans). Starting to get the idea?
The upstairs dining room, outfitted with communal tables, shares space with the home section, filled with minimally designed housewares and 100-percent organic candles, soaps, and creams. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the space with light.
After lunch I headed downstairs. The ground floor is given over to food, with artfully arranged cheeses, meats, and vegetables (all direct from the farm) piled high atop slabs of Carrara marble and rustic wood. I was restrained in my shopping only because I knew we'd be garden-hopping for the next four hours. Of course I bought a loaf of bread, as well as a bag of porridge. I regret not buying the green tomato candle, but since Sophie will be in London for the next three years, I know I'll be coming back.