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The key to Zena Alkayat’s little book is the invitation to indulge in a very British institution which is loved by all. The wealthy in London had always enjoyed refined teatimes but in 1894 J Lyons and Co opened their first tearoom in London so that ordinary Londoners could enjoy a good cup of tea around town. The total soon grew to around 200 cafés and their waitresses, the ‘Nippies’, in their black and white uniforms, became familiar figures to all.
For those of us who have always enjoyed a lovely cup of tea and a very good cake the latest interest in partaking of tea is a little puzzling. We have always loved tea and cakes but now they are being raised to a new trendy level. Are ‘ladies who lunch’ taking tea instead? The tea scene is taking London by storm, it is the latest indulgence and Tea and Cake London is a comprehensive guide to the very best places to take and enjoy tea across the capital.
What has captured Cassone’s interest, however, is the fact that the book is illustrated by superb evocative photography. You can taste some of these cakes, the images are so compelling. Most establishments not only have their wares pictured but also their interiors. The photography credits show that several artists were involved and so the publishers have to be congratulated for such a high standard of photography and design.
From bookshop tearooms such as those of London Review cake shop and the Café at Foyles to Maison Bertaux, established by French communards in 1871 which boasts a gallery, to tea at the Ritz. There are over 70 establishments listed and if you know of someone who likes to takes tea around the city this is a lovely Christmas present and at £9.99 will not break the bank!
Tea and Cake: London by Zena Alkayat is published by Black Dog, 2011. 192 pp., fully illustrated £9.99. ISBN 978 1 907317 484
Media credit: Photo: Leonardo Collina of Black Dog Publishing