Editor’s blog: A foodie weekend of brunch and ice cream

Monday, 3 September 2012 1:02 PM

By Esme Fox

With so much always going on in London, you would never need to go to the same event twice and there is always something new to explore. Having lived here for four years now, I haven’t tired of it yet and always take the opportunity to go out and explore something new. Each week I’ll be sharing with you some of the things I get up to, both in the capital and further afield.

Brunch at The Modern Pantry

Raspberry and ricotta pancakes

I’d been waiting to try out some of the places on Time Out’s list of London’s Best Places for Bruch for a while now, so my partner and I decided that this weekend was the perfect chance. After trawling through the extensive list to find one that was both reasonably priced, providing more interesting options than a fry up, and wasn’t too far away – we settled on The Modern Pantry.

Situated in the heart of Clerkenwell, in amongst historical buildings and design hubs, The Modern Pantry is set in a beautiful old town house dripping with hanging baskets of flowers. When we arrived though, we were told there were no free tables unless we had booked. I hadn’t realised that brunch was taken so seriously in London and had not expected that we would need to book ahead. Luckily there were a couple of free tables outside and since it was not too cold, this was a perfect option.

The menu was full of classic brunch selections such as waffles, pancakes, eggs Benedict, scrambled egg, muffins and toast, but all made with an innovative and exotic twist. The waffles were made from corn, feta and green chilli, with streaky bacon and curry leaf, whilst the toast was sourdough topped with Madagascan villa and gooseberry jam. I chose the raspberry and ricotta pancakes, served with a liquorice and berry sauce and crème fraiche.

Service was friendly and professional, the atmosphere both quaint and cosy, the coffee fragrant and strong and the pancakes sweet and rich (delicious but I could hardly manage it all). I would definitely be coming back for brunch again and next time booking ahead.


King’s Cross Ice Cream Festival

Ice Cream ice sculpture


When I heard there was to be an ice cream festival this weekend I just knew I had to go, being one of the world’s biggest ice cream fans. An odd event to be held on a fairly chilly day in September, The King’s Cross Ice Cream Festival actually made for the perfect summer’s day out, complete with squirting fountains, a mini beach, sand sculptures, and of course lots of ice cream.

After first scanning the festival for some freebie tasters – I found that it was all for sale apart from  one rather interesting car-like contraption, where ice cream concoctions were made in small mixers on the back. The queue for this was impossibly long though, and after making and dishing out port and stilton ice cream on crackers to the first 20 people, we were informed that it was all finished.

At the science tent, I got to make my own ice cream, made from a creamy vanilla liquid and dry ice. Although the idea sounded the glamorous the reality was just mixing frantically for 20 minutes (with the added bonus of looking like a mad scientist with steamy smoke rising from your bowl) – it tasted just like a Mr. Whippy though. There was also a small petting zoo with sheep and goats and the chance to milk a cow (albeit a plastic one, but you can’t expect a real cow to stand there for hours while you children tug on its udders). 

Ice Cream Festival, Granary Square

After looking around at the many varieties of ice cream stalls (all with exceptionally long queues), from artisan, to those made with liquid nitrogen and even frozen yoghurt, I opted for Shepherds – artisanal ice cream made from sheep’s milk. Innovative flavours included chocolate and hazelnut, liquorice and blackcurrant, chilli and mango, but there were also the classic vanilla and mint choc chip. I went for a scoop of blackcurrant and liquorice and one of mango and chilli.

A small skit explained the history of ice cream in the UK and how it was brought to the masses by Italian Carlo Gatti in 1851 and how ice from Norway was brought over and stored in brink shelters along the Regent’s Canal.

Although thoroughly enjoyable – I felt this was really a festival for the kids and probably wouldn’t have felt so silly joining in if I’d had a couple in tow.

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